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Old 07-08-2019, 07:40 PM   #1
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Broken window on-road strategies (Interstate van)

Before today, it never occurred to me *HOW DIFFICULT* it would be to cope with a simple thing like a broken van window while in transit.

What I'm going to describe is the infamous T1N Sprinter window regulator failure scenario - this is a well-known problem, SO well known in fact that I was carrying recommended hardware for its repair (which turned out not to fit, by the way - Sprinter Forum was incorrect in specifying it). What I did NOT foresee was such a failure occurring when outside temperatures were hitting as high as 106 degrees F, which made the skin of the van so hot that (a) duct tape simply melted when placed on it, and (b) it was too hot for human hands.

Similarly, someone could be in very cold temps when this kind of thing happened to them - and maybe it could be a rock or a chunk of ice causing a broken window, rather than a mechanical failure.

So let's make this thread the repository for all information and thoughts regarding how to deal with broken windows in Airstream Interstates.

Gear to carry:

(1) Gorilla tape, at least two full rolls. Skip duct tape.

(2) Which previous thread was it where we decided that carrying a transparent shower curtain liner was a good idea?? **LIFESAVER!** It was my driver's side window that failed - I could not have used anything opaque there because I must see my two mirrors and I must be able to look out and see traffic.

For the future, I actually want some kind of plastic that is tougher than shower curtain liner, but still see-through (because the shower curtain liner itself was deforming in the intense heat - I was afraid it would rip at highway speeds). Anyone have ideas on such a product?

(3) All the common tools, organized, in case you have to disassemble some part of the van.

(4) If you lose your driver's side window, trust me on this - you are going to require an ear plug for your left ear. I drove 3 hours with deafening freeway noise and my head is still ringing even though I did have an ear plug.

Considerations:

(1) Weather extremes will prevent patches from sticking to the van. In my case, it was heat. My workarounds were:

(a) Actually tying the whole shower curtain around the cab door, with the knot on the inside, and slamming the door on the curtain to help hold it in place. And then taping the edges in place and reinforcing the entire thing with Gorilla tape. I made a small fortress of Gorilla tape, but with enough peep holes so I could still see traffic out there.

(b) I kept having to pull off the freeway every X miles as the tape was melting, to put new tape in place.

(2) Remember, these Sprinters started their lives as cargo vans. Who cares if there's a broken window in a cargo van?! Throw something over it and drive on. But with a camper van, there are endless complications:

(a) What are you going to do if it starts raining? Your cabinetry will be ruined if it gets exposed to rain. I hit rain twice on my way back to Texas.

(b) Do you have pets in your vehicle? Are they going to make a leap for it out the broken window? How do you manage that?

(c) If you are traveling solo, how are you going to procure any repair materials you need without having your van stuff stolen? Are you going to walk away from your van standing open to the world, and go into a store?

My strategies: I had business to do today, so I actually left my standing-open van with a client's construction foreman to watch, and rode to a meeting with someone else. Fortunately my van was inside a security zone when the window fell out, so the only people in that area had security clearances and were probably more trustworthy than average. Nothing got stolen.

Alternative idea: If you need to leave your van in a public place, call Uber and pay the driver twenty or forty bucks to stand next to your open window and make sure that nobody raids your van while you are in the hardware store getting emergency supplies.

Also: Your strategy may be dictated by whether your window becomes broken-nonfunctional or broken-smashed. I could not initially tell whether mine was still intact - I will tell you that it made a terrific CRASH when it landed in the bottom of the door well - it's a big heavy window, and it fell at least one foot onto an exposed metal surface. I was praying that the 3M CR-70 I'd had installed on it had helped to strengthen it, and it was still in one piece. It was!! Thank goodness for small miracles.

Anyway, does anyone have anything to add on the topic of window losses? Strategies you have used? Resources?

Here's my descriptive collage. This looks like WAY overkill on the Gorilla, but you have to remember the heat - it was weakening the tape so badly that I needed a lot. My first effort with less tape actually blew off.

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Old 07-08-2019, 08:04 PM   #2
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Yikes!

I think you handled it superbly.

As to enhanced ideas, there are very few clear materials that are thicker or rigid enough to be any better than the shower curtain.

One idea that did come to mind would be coroplast, which is the plastic corrugated board like the mail carrier bins are made from. It's opaque, not clear but could be used as a frame to fill in some of the opening and cut to create a hole for mirror visibility.

There are also clear plastic floor runners that come in rolls. These would add thickness and still be somewhat supple. Weight may be too much for a vertical install.
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Old 07-08-2019, 09:10 PM   #3
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Thought

I think that answers your question of ďwhat nextĒ Hopefully you are close to a shop when something like this happens. But if not and If you can remove door panel, why couldnít you wedge something to hold up the window. You could maybe use small block of wood or improvise something. Alternatively maybe a screwdriver holding window regulator up or vise grips on regulator.
If you cannot get door panel off there are little wedges available to hold windows up as well as two suction cups with a cable attached. We use them whenever we are doing repairs.
I have installed many small blocks/vice grips as temp repairs for people until they can get proper repair.
Plastic over a window while driving is not an ideal temp repair in my eyes. Not being able to clearly see out drivers side window could be a problem. Not sure how much of a deterrent plastic would be for a thief. A leash for your pet would be an easy answer for one situation. The right dog on a leash and you wouldnít have to worry about safety!
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Old 07-08-2019, 09:58 PM   #4
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This literally just happened to me also (it was a 95 degree day in NH - very rare) and the sun had been beating on the window all day. Our Interstate lives indoors for the winter. Our passenger window is the one that is busted at the moment.

Here is a link to the post that I found on Sprinter Source - extremely helpful...

https://sprinter-source.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=16098 - named "Power Window Track Fix"

The same part broke on ours. There is a YouTube video of a guy that bends the arm and puts it back in the slot - a possible emergency move though I wouldn't want to do this for long term. The real worth of that video is that it shows how to get the door panel off. I think that video is linked in the Sprinter forum post also.

We went to a mechanic nearby and they were able to get the door panel off and did get our window back in place, and then disconnected the electrical so that we wouldn't accidentally roll it down until we can get it fixed. The window is really heavy for one person to try and get back into place. It took about 30 minutes total for the two mechanics. I think any good mechanic could handle it - No special tools needed - I think just a torx. We went to a local mechanic that works on all kinds of vehicles.

At least the window can be seen thru and is watertight now.

I read thru the attached sprinter source post with multiple options. I did end up contacting Sprinter Store. They are sourcing a part for us that should ship to us tomorrow. (Our MB and Freightliner dealers nearby are *Not Helpful*). We decided to get the window regulator - gulp $300 (before shipping) - the local dealer wanted $379 and wasn't sure when they would get it! We will be buying some pieces and parts for an emergency kit for when the other one breaks - the sprinter forum article has several possible fixes and sources for reworking the part. I am not a happy camper having to spend this much for this part due to the failure of a small plastic part. Of course the driver and passenger part are mirror images, so can't just carry one as a spare. We will be sourcing and putting some of the temporary parts for emergency repairs in our tool kit.

Good old fashioned Hardware stores sell thick vinyl window material (sort of like plastic convertible back windows)- usually with the screen/screen material - easy to cut and tape into place with duct tape on the inside - that is what we used - we could see out and it was watertight. It worked great as an initial temporary solution.

Sending good thoughts your way.
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Old 07-09-2019, 05:20 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Autodoc View Post
.... why couldn’t you wedge something to hold up the window. You could maybe use small block of wood or improvise something. Alternatively maybe a screwdriver holding window regulator up or vise grips on regulator. ...
Clamp to hold it in place. Unfortunately, one of these wasn't within my onboard emergency kit (it will be now).

Additionally, I couldn't bear the heat long enough to get that door panel off. If I had been 100% sure that I would find an intact window at the bottom of the door, I might have tried. But again, it hit so hard that I was afraid it would be in pieces. And then I would have risked my life to get a door panel off only to find nothing use-able (I ended up with heat exhaustion as it was).

Pic shows my husband's foam wedges but I said no, not good enough because they could jiggle their way loose and pop out - we are putting a clamp to block the path of descent.

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Old 07-09-2019, 05:24 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by bugsbunny View Post
This literally just happened to me also (it was a 95 degree day in NH - very rare) and the sun had been beating on the window all day. ... I did end up contacting Sprinter Store. They are sourcing a part for us that should ship to us tomorrow. (Our MB and Freightliner dealers nearby are *Not Helpful*). We decided to get the window regulator - gulp $300 (before shipping) - the local dealer wanted $379 and wasn't sure when they would get it! ....
Million Mile Sprinter lists a replacement piece of hardware for $45, but he doesn't have them in stock right now. I checked.

I am going to work on a solution today. Many other people have gone the DIY route. $600+ for two windows is obscene. Or, I'll pay Joel $45 x 2 in a New York minute if he manages to get them in before I find another way.
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Old 07-09-2019, 06:05 AM   #7
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Cost me $800 in San Luis Obispo last fall. The hardware store had clear tablecloth that was very thick and it worked well. I'm now carrying it with me in the back well for future fails.
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Old 07-09-2019, 07:42 AM   #8
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Tablecloth - yes - that's awesome. That would work as an upgrade over the shower curtain.
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Old 07-09-2019, 07:56 AM   #9
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There is a guy on ebay with a $49 brass part - contact info in the sprinter forum thread.

Unfortunately, I didn't find the thread on Sprinter Forum until after ordering the $300 part. Ordering the sliding piece for next time and to keep on hand for emergencies!

Bugs
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Old 07-09-2019, 08:08 AM   #10
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T1N INTERSTATE OWNERS - PAY ATTENTION HERE

Here is the for-sale part that Bugs was referring to.

Nota bene: The seller's ticker lists 249 of them sold. From just this one source. On this one repair option - there are several other options for products, and ways to approach this repair.

What that statistic means is that this is not an "occasional" failure. This is happening morning, noon, and night to a huge number of T1N Sprinters.

If I had known that, I would have replaced ours preemptively. BUT, it was one of 10,000 different research issues on my plate, and I had not gotten to it on the priority list.

The take-away is this. If you continue to own your T1N Sprinter, you have exactly three options on this issue:

(1) Repair your cab window lift mechanisms preemptively before they fail, under controlled conditions.

(2) Repair your cab window lift mechanisms under emergency conditions when they fail.

(3) Repair your cab window lift mechanisms under emergency conditions when they fail, AND replace your broken window glass at the same time, if the window happens to shatter when it hits the bottom of the door well.

You choose.
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Old 07-09-2019, 09:41 AM   #11
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You did a fantastic job and Mcgyver should be added to your resume if not already on there. Great problem silver.

Not a Sprinter but a similar situation. We had the driver's side window on our pickup truck drop on a vacation trip. 20 some hours from home and we could not imagine doing that with the window down. Luckily the local GM dealer had one mechanic left at 5pm when we drove in. He removed the door panel and permanently affixed the not broken window in the up position by putting through some screws into the mechanism. He let us watch what he was doing so should we ever be in that scenario again we could fix it. We also bought the door panel removal tool and carry that with us.
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Old 07-09-2019, 09:54 AM   #12
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I was able to take the door panel off and bend the arm out just slightly. All you want is to have positive pressure on the track. The window will not only stay up, but will go up and down just fine. There will be a slight clunking sound at some point, but who cares.

After we returned home, I took a small tie wrap and put it around the two nylon pieces and put it all back together. Working just fine. There isn’t a lot of stress on that part, just a cheap piece of nylon.

Another option for a more permanent fix is to get a manual window riser and rivet that to the riser motor. It is essentially the same part minus that stupid nylon piece. I think these are about $50 at MB. Look over at Sprinter source forums for detailed instructions.

https://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo...468&cc=1434748
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Old 07-09-2019, 03:28 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InterBlog View Post
T1N INTERSTATE OWNERS - PAY ATTENTION HERE

Here is the for-sale part that Bugs was referring to.

Nota bene: The seller's ticker lists 249 of them sold. From just this one source. On this one repair option - there are several other options for products, and ways to approach this repair.

What that statistic means is that this is not an "occasional" failure. This is happening morning, noon, and night to a huge number of T1N Sprinters.

If I had known that, I would have replaced ours preemptively. BUT, it was one of 10,000 different research issues on my plate, and I had not gotten to it on the priority list.

The take-away is this. If you continue to own your T1N Sprinter, you have exactly three options on this issue:

(1) Repair your cab window lift mechanisms preemptively before they fail, under controlled conditions.

(2) Repair your cab window lift mechanisms under emergency conditions when they fail.

(3) Repair your cab window lift mechanisms under emergency conditions when they fail, AND replace your broken window glass at the same time, if the window happens to shatter when it hits the bottom of the door well.

You choose.
InterBlog,
First off very sorry to learn of this on-the-road misfortune you experienced...wow.
Secondly, thank you very much for sharing this experience for it certainly should serve as a reminder to stay prepared for the various perils that can occur to us all.
Question or two; this part you referenced is for a 95~06 Sprinter...is there a similar part applicable to more recent AI vintages (2018)?
This appears to be something that if prevalent in recent AI vintages that replacing this plastic part with brass may be something I'd strongly consider doing(?).
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Old 07-10-2019, 04:37 AM   #14
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.... this part you referenced is for a 95~06 Sprinter...is there a similar part applicable to more recent AI vintages (2018)?
This appears to be something that if prevalent in recent AI vintages that replacing this plastic part with brass may be something I'd strongly consider doing(?).
Good question - I don't know. I believe that the raise/lower mechanism was modified at some point in time, but I don't know what year the changes were made.

I haven't heard of anyone with newer Interstates having window failures, but I tend not to pay attention to some of the NCV3 issues, as they are not relevant to my rig.
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Old 07-12-2019, 06:14 AM   #15
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.... I took a small tie wrap and put it around the two nylon pieces and put it all back together. Working just fine. ...
Just FYI, shortly after you made this comment above, this meme below appeared in my Instagram feed. A note for those of you who imagine that you have any privacy on the internet.



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Old 07-12-2019, 10:01 AM   #16
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Just FYI, shortly after you made this comment above, this meme below appeared in my Instagram feed. A note for those of you who imagine that you have any privacy on the internet.



Thatís weird, I donít know what or how Instagram works, but that is weird.
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Old 07-12-2019, 10:16 AM   #17
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I am saving that image, lol.
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Old 07-12-2019, 10:29 AM   #18
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This same part failed on mine the day we left on this trip.

I had it repaired several weeks later, using duct tape to cover the gap in the window until then, keeping bugs and near freezing temps out.

When the guy got the door panel off, he found a zip tie fix from a precious problem.

These parts seem to fail notoriously. We had it fixed twice I believe on the other Interstate.

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Old 07-12-2019, 12:43 PM   #19
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Thatís weird, I donít know what or how Instagram works, but that is weird.
It's not Instagram per se. The entire web is tracking everything each one of us says, and everyone we say it to. And then the algorithms select what we see partly on the basis of that.

Instagram is owned by Facebook, and most of the larger forums are now owned by an LLC that IIRC is unrelated to either. So the personal information sharing is happening not just cross-platform, but cross-corporation as well.

If I had GONE LOOKING for a meme like that, as a mere human, I never would have found it. But because we were discussing zip ties for broken parts, the algorithms knew to get it.

The frustrating part is that the impressions we are given are not necessarily related to our interests - they are related to who happens to be selling stuff that might be on the periphery of our interests.

So, for instance, across multiple platforms I beat the dead horse of van security to an absolute pulp, and during all of that, not one time did the internet ever impress me with an image of the OwlCam, which is the one product that I would have wanted it to show me.

But Owl doesn't need to advertise - they are already making money hand over fist. So that 411 actually came via a buddy of mine in downtown Houston, rather than from the algorithms.
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Old 07-12-2019, 03:35 PM   #20
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Here's the American brass.

German plastic can go ahead and k... well, I won't say it, but it has something to do with embracing my asset management portfolio.

Husband is like, "No, it's not American - they come from Estonia." That would explain the Russian dude's name on the return address (which is in Illinois but he must be the domestic distributor).

As Professor Mark Perry would say, markets in everything. Some dude decided to cast this piece of trash, and now he has about $12,000 in American eBay sales alone. I wonder how much it cost him to have the mold made?
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