Replacing a windshield in a Mopar A-body
A new outlook on the road
Scott Lachenauer - August 01, 2011 09:00 AM
Steele Rubber Products
Norman’s Glass and Auto Services
The Eastwood Company
1 The techs from Norman’s declared my windshield a disaster area, so an extraction and replacement was in order. The crew laid out a slew of tools to do the job right. Everything has a specific job in the removal and installation of the glass.
2 Glass techs Brian Collins and Will Smith start by removing the convertible’s header and A -pillar trim. Even after being on for over 40 years, the trim came off without any issues.
3 After pulling the trim we all agreed that it looked like the windshield area had never been taken apart before. It was in very good condition for the Northeast, with only minor rust here in the driver’s upper corner. Next the interior windshield trim, rear view mirror and visors were removed.
4 A good tool to have in your arsenal is a good old-school wiper puller. This helped keep exterior damage to the wiper housing to a minimum.
5 The original gasket was pretty rough after 43 years on the car. Our techs picked and separated the rubber from the glass, and also had to cut through a couple of rough spots with a utility knife.
6 Once the gasket was separated from the glass and pinchweld, the windshield came out with just a little prodding.
7 Once out, the entire pinchweld was cleaned with a heavy-duty solvent to remove any residue of gasket and sealing adhesive. Luckily, the channel was clean of any rust or corrosion.
8 While I had the window out, I decided to repaint the forward section of my dashboard since I never had a chance to do it during my restoration. Here I taped up the dash pad, scuffed up the paint, and hit it with two good coats of Eastwood Underhood Black, a sturdy semi-gloss paint.
9 For the gasket, I called up Steele Rubber products and got a really sweet reproduction gasket and chrome locking strip. Steele is a leader in restoration products for all makes and models of vintage muscle cars. The quality was obviously top-notch.
10 The Norman’s boys cleaned the new glass and fit the gasket around it. Masking tape was used to hold the gasket in position while Brian fed the rope into the gasket channel, which will be used to pull the gasket over the pinchweld once the glass is set in position. Here you see Brian feeding the rope into the channel.
11 All ready to roll. Brian taped the excess rope and rope insert tool to the glass to keep it out of the way while the glass is fit onto the car. Everything went in smoothly. But now, the hard part, seating the gasket.
12 First off, Brian takes his installation stick and starts to work the edge, pulling the gasket over the lower edge.
13 Once the bottom edge is seated, the crew starts to seat the gasket into the frame’s edge by pulling the rope out of the gasket’s inner channel. This pulls the inner edge of the gasket out and around the frame’s edge. Here, Will Smith applies light pressure to keep the window from popping out of place as Brian pulls the rope, pulling the gasket over the pinchweld.
14 Corners are a little tricky. Due to welding buildup in certain areas and the curve of the frame, these areas are a challenge at times to get the gasket to sit properly. With a little elbow grease, the crew got it to lie down.
15 Once again, the installation stick is used to roll the gasket edge over the lip of the windshield frame. The gasket sat down nicely on the lower lip.
16 Using the installation stick, Brian opens up the contact area between the gasket and windshield and windshield gasket sealer is injected into the seam. This will act as both an adhesive and a sealer, keeping the gasket tight against the glass, and keeping any moisture and dirt out.
17 Next, a self-locking gasket tool out front is used to close the overlay in the seam of the gasket. This closes the gasket up tight, to keep the environmental elements out.
18 Next, a locking strip tool is used to get the locking strip in place. It has a U-shaped cup on the end, which lets the strip slide through as the two stems separate the channel for the locking strip. This strip pushes the gasket out and against the glass, tightening up the seal between the gasket, frame and glass.
19 The little bit of surface rust we found on the frame was sanded down and covered with a coat of Eastwood Rust Reformer to stop any further intrusion of rust.
20 Now to the trim. We reused some rubber weatherstripping, which was still in good shape. We added a little sealer to the back of the piece to help seat the rubber and to help keep moisture out.
21 Here, Will sets the upper trim after a light cleaning and buffing.
22 Once the trim is in, some of the sealer gets pushed out onto the glass. Brian uses a spray window cleaner as a lubricant and scrapes the sealer off the windshield with a razor blade, kind of like shaving. The spray helps keep cleanup to a minimum.
23 The finished glass. An amazing difference!
The windshield on this ’67 Barracuda was in pretty poor shape when I bought the Mopar A-body about eight years ago. Rather than replace it at the time, and since it was an OEM piece, I figured I would live with the small chips, scratches and wiper haze that had softly clouded my vision since getting it on the road five years ago.
Just the thought of breaking that seal and opening up another can of worms in my apple of a restoration was just too much for me – or my wallet – to bear.
The little ’Cuda found its way down to the Jersey Shore, and things never got any better. The wet, salty weather didn’t help my cause much (and wasn’t much help to the body either), and cruising it along the sand-swept beach roads of the coast blasted the last few remaining clear spots of my front glass. Since laser eye correction to improve my driving vision was out of the question, the time had come to do something about my hazy view.
I read somewhere on the Internet that some guy restored his windshield with nothing more than a gob of good rubbing compound and some 00 steel wool. Now I was pretty skeptical of this procedure, but figuring since my car’s main view finder was already on the skids, it would be no harm done to give it a shot ... why not? Well, needless to say the mission was a DOA. After about an hour of a hard-core elbow workout, and the windshield looked like someone had taken some 60-grit to it with a belt sander. Not good. So, I broke down and decided that the best thing to do for my fish car was to get the windshield replaced, hoping deep down that when we took the metal trim off, we wouldn’t find what I was so nervous about ... a complete debacle of a rotted windshield frame. Then there are the other questions that surface later on like, “Is the gasket going to fit?” “Are the guys going to get it to seat right?” And, the very popular phrase, “Is it going to leak?”
Well I put aside my day-mares, and called up some experts to help me out in this struggle to see clearly once again. I needed the right parts to get the job done. After procuring the right windshield, I needed the gasket to be OEM correct and fit right. That’s why I called Steele Rubber Products. One call to their well-stocked facility was all it took and three days later, I had a beautifully made, correct replacement gasket and locking strip on my front porch. They cover pretty much every classic car with a variety of replacement parts.
To get this big lens in the car, I called up local experts, Norman’s Glass out of Trenton, New Jersey. Norman’s is well known for a variety of car services, and they cater to clients from all of eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I set up an appointment and I had a team of pros on the way, and here’s how it all went down.