I took the day off from work to burn through vacation time before I lose it on October 1, and after my original plan for the day fell through I decided to tackle the windshield project. As it turned out, I’m glad I had the full 8 hours, because I wound up needing it.
To recap, I had a new windshield frame prepped and ready to go, because I had no idea what condition the frame on the truck was in. I might pull the gasket off and find the metal held together with Ritz crackers and wood glue. I had a new gasket ready and a clean, clear windshield from the Flintstone Scout waiting in the basement. Having pulled that glass from the truck only last year, I was familiar with the process, and all it really took was a utility knife. After cutting the lip off the gasket, I was able to push the glass outward just hard enough to get it free and put a crack right down the center. Oh well; I’m never using it again anyway. With a deep breath, I pulled the gasket off to find that the metal really wasn’t bad at all. In many respects this frame is the best of all three that I have—there were only two small holes on the driver’s side right below the channel, and the only crusty part of the lip was right above them. The rest was mainly just surface rust, and after masking things off I hit it all with the wire wheel and then some Rust Encapsulator.
Next up was mounting the gasket. This took some patience and a roll of painter’s tape, because once I’d gotten the bottom started the top didn’t want to set up correctly. I worked on it for a while and took a break with one area on the passenger’s side to go. After a snack and a pee break I came back out, looked at it a little differently, and got it in place in about five minutes. I’m glad I had the spare and took time back in May to practice on it, because it did take a while to understand exactly how it mounted to the frame.
Now to the hard part. I carefully laid the new glass in place along the bottom and eased it into the channel, then started working the edge into the gasket up the driver’s side. All of the videos and instructions say to use a special rope that has a certain amount of friction to sort of pull the gasket into place; I didn’t have that rope. I found that paracord did not work well—it was too slippery and the glass seemed to shave fiber from the edge of the cord. What I did have were a set of pallete knives I use for scraping, which have rounded edges: perfect for pushing on rubber without cutting it, and wide enough that they could handle a lot of material. With more patience and liberal application of soapy water, I got the driver’s side vertical started and up to the top horizontal section, where I stalled out again.
After some lunch I came back out and rethought the situation. Using the pallete knives I pushed on the rubber while adding careful pressure to the glass to get it to sink into the gasket as I moved to the left. It took some practice and there were some frightening moments where I was sure I was going to crack the glass, but I got the passenger’s side vertical into the gasket and then slowly pushed the glass into the top section until the gasket captured it all with a quiet “thup”.
This gasket has an integrated locking loop, which took more soapy water and the pallete knife to tackle, but that went relatively quickly compared to everything else. I ran out to the store for some rearview mirror glue, and popped the mounting puck off the old windshield with careful application of heat from a propane torch. When that cooled off I glued it in place and washed the windshield down with Windex.
I started at about 9AM and had the glass settled and sealed by 3:30; it took an hour to go get the mirror glue, prep it, and install everything (it needs time to cure on the glass). On the road, it’s a completely different story. The glass is clear and bright; the setting sun doesn’t turn everything opaque, and at night the lights from oncoming cars don’t become blinding. It’s like driving a new truck. After fourteen years of squinting through a vaseline-covered lens, it’s an incredible upgrade, something I should have tackled years ago. I’m glad I finally took the time to think it through and prepare for it properly.