Engine Lid Seal

by Richard Atwell
(c) Copyright 2004-2011

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One of the must do's when restoring your bus especially after repainting is the job of replacing your seals (door and window weather stripping). As of today, unlike the most of the seals available for vintage beetles and split window buses, you can still get quality German made seals. Now is a great time to restore you bus before the quality parts dry up.

What I like about products from Germany is that they have a highly regarded chemical industry and as a result their products are made from quality materials. In this same vein, the VW seals I'm talking about are high quality EPDM seals made from rubber by the Metzler company (a giant rubber concern) and will last you another 25 years (maybe longer than the originals).

I don't have the money to buy seals from every vendor and tell you what fits and what doesn't. Your budget will have to decide whether or not you want to take the risk buying the lowest cost seals. In my experience correct fit is worth every penny. All I can relate is what I've learned from my own purchases and returns.

The one seal I was unsuccessful with during my restoration was the seal for the engine lid. Nobody makes a seal nearly as good as the original. I would like to get Scott Pearson of West Cost Metric (WCM) to reproduce this seal because his seals use the right kind of rubber (more on that below). In the meantime you can benefit from my investigation and choose to retain your original seal if the condition is acceptable to you as I found.

Remember that the engine lid seal is vital to keeping out exhaust fumes at stoplights. The seal is important even when driving because the shape of the bus creates a vacuum behind the engine lid as you drive. Having an inadequate seal means you'll smell exhaust especially if you turn on the booster fan.

The seal in question is 211 827 711C (72-79 bus).


The Original:

factory seal

This is the seal we are looking for. It's the factory original german (OG) seal from the 1978 OEM. It's more like a window seal rubber than a door seal rubber and is supported by the lip of the body without the need for adhesive (my acid test for all reproductions).

It is a single piece of rubber (glued at corners) with a gap in the middle by the lock.
oem versions I've noticed some variation with the 72-79 seal. The seal of the left is from a 73 bus. It's basically the same shape with a nub at the top. This is probably the seal that WCM duplicated (see below). Both style fits 72-79 bodies.

5th place:

wcm seal The WCM seal shows the most promise but doesn't fit. The rubber is the right thickness, quality and doesn't smell but the profile while mimicking the original ends up being too large to fit. You will not be able to glue this seal into place without cutting the seal! It also came in 4 sections which is annoying because you have to have to cut the ends at angles in order to glue them together.

4th place:

WW seal The next victim was from Wolfsburg West. Their part number was 211 827 711 and they claim it fits 55-79 buses (Ha!). This seal stunk like cheap chinese rubber and was completely the wrong shape. It came in 4 sections that needed to be cut and glued. Avoid.

3rd place:

JK seal The first seal I bought was from OEVeedub (also sold by Bus Depot). This was a Just Kampers seal they distribute and it is the only seal that is pre-glued into a ring. The seal came with a 211 827 711 label from OEVeedub but a 211 827 711T label from Just Kampers. It was completely the incorrect shape and was more foam like than rubber like. It would not fit the body and stay in place without the help of some adhesive.

2nd place:

german seal Bus Depot recently started selling another Just Kampers seals, 211 827 711 COE. They state this is an OE seal and the shape is very close to the original but the quality of the rubber is poor in my opinion. There was a lot of rubber preservative on this seal and it appears to be old. I'm not sure if this is a NOS seal or not. This seal was closest to the original in shape: the ends of the original seal meets just below the sticker plate for the engine lid lock. It even had the ribs on the back to help make good contact with the adhesive. Go with this seal if you have to replace yours. It's the only viable option at present.

2011 Update (1st place):

oem versions

This OEVeedub seal is very similar to the seal I bought from Bus Depot back in 2004. I sold that seal and I don't have it for comparison anymore but I do have another seal that came to me about a year ago as a sample from a German wholesaler and it is the same as this one.

You can see from this photo that the seal is very close in profile to the factory seal but distinctly different. In addition, the thickness of the tube is thinner on the reproduction.

At present this is the best seal available.

oem seal

As far as fit is concerned it works well. I've never been able to prove that the factory seal fits as well as it does because of its shape or due to the fact that it has been held in place for 25+ years by the engine lid.

I also cannot tell if the factory rubber has changed over time but it is very smooth and the only rubber I've every seen like it (engine lid seal wise) came from WCM.

Most seals fail to hold themselves in place without the aid of adhesive which VW didn't apply at the factory and this seal holds it in place. They all have a tendency to pull from the corners but having tested this seal it is only an installation issue that sorts itself out in time.

In this photo you can see the difference between the molds used. There are 5 distinct lines on the factory seal compared to 3 and the texture of the rubber that the molding process has imparted on the seal is also different.


Notes:

I went with OEVeedub for all the other window and body seals except the two front door seals. Those two seals I bought from Bus Depot because they are Genuine VW German (GWG) seals and because the came down in price by 40% recently. These door seals are the only ones that fit like the factory seals. Other seals can make it difficult to close the door. Although they come close you'll get tired of slamming the door shut. The GWG seals even have the triangular shaped corners to seal out the wind like the originals. It's not a big deal now but wait until the seals age several years.

I personally think the OEVeedub OE German windshield seal is the best fit period. It's twice the price of the Genuine VW Brazil seal that everybody sells. The Brazil seal is not the original shape and if you aren't careful you may break the window during installation!

The old adhesive comes off with 3M 08971 adhesive release agent (or equivalent) if it doesn't come off with heat from a hair drier. New seals have to be applied with new weather striping adhesive. There are many brands, 3M, Permatex, Loctite, etc. Adhesives vary by color and by setup time. The super adhesives, setup quickly so you don't get much time to orient your seal and apply it. The regular (no adjective) adhesives setup slowly so you've got plenty of time. I always use the black stuff (3M 08011) because it's designed for EPDM rubber which quality seals are usually made from. "Super" comes in yellow and black so you can't go by the color alone if you are taking someone else's advice on which to use.

History:

04/08/04 - Created
04/23/11 - Added OEVeedub seal
09/06/11 - Fixed broken photos, added translate button, updated footer