Starting in 1965 VW changed the sunroof design for deluxe Beetles from a sliding ragtop design to a metal sunroof which requires a crank of a handle to open and close. Although the sunroof was smaller in overall size, it was much quieter, smoother and more secure than the older design.
As with any rebuilding project, preparation is vital for a successful rebuild. Although very difficult to find today, I was fortunate enough to have purchased just about every part necessary for the rebuild many years ago. NOS sunroof parts are just about extinct today, and if you’re lucky enough to find a part, you will pay a heavy price.
The rebuild represented here is my personal 1967 deluxe Beetle that has been in the family for decades. Purchased by my mother in 1976, it was not only my first car, but I also learned how to drive in it.
With the headliner installed, it was time to fill the hole in the roof. I started by preparing the sliding roof panel. Installation of the rear seal was first. These seals are glued in and require a gentle touch to install properly. Notice that there is a grove where it attaches and centers to the sliding panel. Once located, reverse mask the painted surface and lightly sand the paint for proper adhesion. A grey 3M Scotch-Brite pad works well for this operation. Just a few passes is sufficient. Clean with Wurth Clean solve and you’re ready. Apply Wurth Black Weatherstrip Adhesive carefully to both surfaces, wait several minutes for it to properly tack up and bond. Once the locating of the seal is achieved, pull the tape from around the seal, making sure not to alter the position. Now mask the seal so it does not roll up or move in any way. Leave overnight to properly dry.
Next on the agenda is sound proofing. This step is not necessary; however I wanted to decrease the outside road noise so this step is needed. Start again with a grey Scotch-Brite pad and scuff the center area until the gloss has been removed. This aids in adhesion. Now wipe the surface with Wurth Clean Solve. Next, properly cut the Wurth European Sound deadening panels and place. They are self-adhesive and attach very well to a properly prepared panel.
With the sliding panel ready to go, it is now time to install the center, inner plastic guide and the sunroof crank gear. The gear is installed from the headliner side and secures by using two machine screws into the plastic cable guide. The guide is installed from the top of the vehicle and they pull each other together until secure. Install the crank handle, not worrying about location. This will be adjusted later.
Now it is time to assemble the sliding rail assembly. The first step is to reverse mask the car to guard against any possible scratching to the roof. I painted the rails with the proper white color some time before as part of the preparation process. The match is very nice; however I did not want the rails to scratch with repeated use. I opted to add UHMW tape to the top surface to not only guard against scratches, but also aid in the sliding movement. This tape is thin, amazingly strong and decreases friction.
I applied the material similar to a clear protection film commonly used on car hoods. With this material applied, I assembled the inner sunroof panel to the roof rails, lubed the cables thoroughly with Wurth True Glide Lubricant and ran the cable into the metal corner guides. It is very important at the step to make sure the cables, and the entire assembly is square. Once assembled, it installs into the car from the outside.
Carefully carry the assembly into the sunroof opening from the front of the vehicle, making sure to locate the rear guide pins and secure using the 4 small screws on each side. Once the rail and cable assembly is installed, it is time to attach the plastic corner cable covers. They are installed from the top and snap into place securing the cable corner guides into place. Once installed into place, they are also secured with 4 small screws. Pack the crank gear and cable guide with Wurth True Glide Lubricant. Follow by installing the outer center sunroof cable cover to secure the position on the cables.
Now double checking for proper alignment of the left and right cable, it is now time to install the sunroof panel into the vehicle. It is installed from the top, and is first secured to the cables using the spring loaded pin located on each cable. Pull the pin back and put into the round guide on the sunroof panel. Once attached carefully lower the front of the panel into the opening. Now install the front guides. These large round parts are designed to adjust the front height of the panel. I start by assembling the parts with the guides and get the front close. Final adjustment will follow. With the front close, now adjust the height of the rear sunroof cables. The lifting mechanism will allow the cables to cam into a vertical position and stop. This adjustment should be done a little at a time and will require careful adjustment to match the roof line. With the adjustments completed the roof should match the height at all 4 corners on the roof panel. With this adjustment close it is now time to remove the sunroof panel.
Now, it is time to glue in the felt seal. These seals fit tight, so a pre-adjustment as described above is recommended. The felt seal is a two piece design and should be pre formed to insure proper installation. Start with the rear portion. Using the Wurth Black Weatherstrip Adhesive, glue both surfaces and attach. It should be just slightly higher that the roof height, but not too high. About 2mm is recommended. Allow the rear portion to properly dry before installing the front piece. An extra hand is very handy and I recommend gluing the front seal doing 1/3 at a time. Glue a section and prepare the next. It is just too long to get it installed in one shot.
Once the seal is properly installed, it is time to re-install the sunroof panel for the last time. Install just as you have before. If the panel is not flush with the car, just slowly adjust until proper height is achieved. Start with the rear and adjust the front adjusters last. After all adjustments are done, slide the inner panel into place and clip using the 5 clips on the headlining panel. Remove the crank handle, install the crank cover and adjust the sunroof to close while adjusting the location of the handle to properly stow in the storage cup.
Sunroof installation can seem a bit overwhelming, but it is not too hard with some careful planning.