Slider Window

We often thought it would be nice to have more fresh air in the sleeping area of the van. A small fan works somewhat, but is cumbersome and noisy. I had read about sliding window options that were available at one time, which would fit into the existing fixed window opening, - but found only photos or very expensive units in far off lands.
Here are three options.

Commercial Option 1

Commercial Option 2

Commercial Option 3

Next, we approached a window manufacturer for RVs and truck cabs. After looking at the van, he decided it was not possible.

I have seen on TheSamba.com that making a full slider, like option 1, has been done at least once before, requiring bending and welding the aluminum frame, and cutting glass or acrylic panels to fit.

But here is my version.
The route I chose was to shorten a standard Vanagon sliding-door slider-window, and keep the corners at the original radii. This would eliminate the need to rebend the anodized aluminum channel to fit the two non-square corners at the rear of the window, and having to splice a piece of channel into the back end to account for the longer diagonal.

In this version a black plastic filler was made to replace the vent unit that was originally there.

Click on the image to see it full size.

Dismantling the Slider Window

Lifting the Rubber Seal

One of the first steps was to remove the furry rubber seal of the sliding portion.

Pulling the Seal

When the seal is free for all of its length, gently work it out of the aluminum channel.

Removing the Rubber Bumper

This is glued in the upper rear outside corner. Lift it gently and pry it out.

Removing the Nylon Glides

With a screwdriver between the slider and the frame, slide the nylon glides out of the slider channel. There should be one at each end of the slider portion.

Removing the Lock

With a blade screwdriver, remove the long slot-head screw through the hole in the bottom of the locking knob. When it is lifted off, remove the two Philips head screws holding the mount through the glass.

Removing the Sliding Portion

The frame can be spread enough to remove the sliding portion.

Releasing the Lock Bar

The lock bar is held in only by silicone sealant. The locking bar is gently forced up out of the channel.

Softening Silicone

The frame is only held by an adhesive at the joint and silicone gripping the fixed glass into its channel along the bottom and end. There is no silicone along the top edge. I believe there are commercial silicone dissolving agents available at home hardware stores.

Drainage Hole

The only difference between the top and bottom of the frame are the drain holes punched in the bottom. Here is one drain hole.


The window from the sliding door is longer than the rear side window. This means it can be cut down to fit the rear opening.

I will cut the frame top and bottom at the fixed glass end, having 3 joints at the same end of the window. By having all the joints around the fixed glass, they will be strengthened and sealed by the silicone sealant.

Modifying The Frame

Cutting the Frame

After carefully measuring the top and bottom channels, the excess length was cut out.

The Shortened Frame

The three pieces of frame ready for reassembly. The cut at the back end was the original joint. The top cut was made near the back corner and the bottom cut was made further forward.

Measuring the Lock Bar

The original lock bar is now too long, so is to be cut to fit between the fixed portion and the front end of the frame.

Measuring the Lock Notch

Because the lock bar was shortened there is no longer a notch to lock the slider portion fully open. Here, the slider is opened to its maximum and the lock bar is marked where the lock knob will be.

Setup for Milling

A small mill machine was used to mill the square notch for the locking button. A drill press, small saw and files could have been used.


The frame has been cut to length and test assembled around the fixed glass and the slider. Here the window is closed. There is a lot of glass overlapping in the middle, but this avoids the need to try to cut the tempered glass, or have new pieces made, tinted and tempered.


With the slider fully open, there is still enough open window. However, because this is a Vanagon slider from the sliding door, there is no provision for fly screen. I will have to work on that later.

The plywood piece at the left of the window is a mockup of the final shape to fill the hole in the body work. The rubber seal will go around both the new slider window and the fill piece.


Applying Silicone

Clear silicone sealant was squeezed into the fixed glass channel along the bottom edge and about two thirds up the end, as was found in the original. This will hold the frame and glass together despite cuts in the frame in three places.

Frame Clamped

To ensure that the glass is firmly into the groove and the frame is the correct dimension, it is well clamped.

Fuzzy Strip

Installing new flexible strip ensures it will bend without breaking when fitted into the vertical channel of the fixed glass.

Silicone Sealant

While the slider half was still out of the frame, tinting film was added to both pieces of glass. Then the slider half was reinstalled in the frame. This required forcing the frame apart slightly to get it in - the reverse of the dismantling process.

Then the vertical aluminum bar of the fixed half was sealed with silicone, top and bottom.

Rubber Seal

The furry rubber seal was slid into the upper groove of the frame, trimmed at the back end and stuck into the channel with silicone sealant.

The rubber stop piece was then stuck into the back top corner of the groove with silicone.

Locking Bar

The locking bar is ready to be installed.

A new fuzzy strip is fitted into the groove and allowed to extend fully to the end of the bar.

Nylon Glides

New nylon glides are fitted into either end of the sliding portion bottom channel.

As a last step, the lock knob is screwed into place in the sliding glass portion and adjusted to line up with the first notch when the window is fully closed.

The Finished Slider

The finished window installed in the van.

The Fly Screen

Grey plastic strips were milled and bent to fit the slider window frame, much like the originals. However, as the locking knob has to be reachable, the screen stops above the knob and flexible clear vinyl covers the lower portion.

The Fitted Fly Screen

The fly screen frame clips into the window frame at the top and left sides. A single screw holds the lower right corner to the locking bar.

To use the locking knob, the clear vinyl flap is lifted. When the window is opened, the vinyl flap is tucked down against the window frame, making it bug proof.

The owner takes no responsibility for anyone else making these modifications.
Photos provided by owner. Contact the postmaster for permission for use.

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F. Griffiths

Last updated September 7, 2018

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