By Whitney S. Haist
The heavy hand of time is hard on the windshield assemblies of our beloved old trucks. The harsh elements of weather cause the glass to de-laminate, discolor and crack, and the rubber to become hard, brittle and no longer provide the seal intended. What can you do? Lot's -- here's how:
To replace the glass and restore the windshield assembly, it is necessary to separate the two halves of the frame. It's has been my experience (I've done several of 'em) that the at least some of the screws will be frozen to the point where it is necessary to drill away the head and shank to clear the frame.
Now the real fun begins. With the division bar removed the two halves should pull apart. Unfortunately, I have never seen one that was not rust frozen together as if it were welded solid. I have found the most effective way to solve this problem and minimize trauma to the frame you're trying to save, is to expose the bracket that holds the two windshield halves together. Cut away a ¼" wide strip over the bracket on the back (interior) side of the frame using a die grinder with a very thin blade.
With the edge of the bracket exposed, soak it liberally with penetrating oil and then fold the two halves for the frame together and the bracket is free. The glass will pull out of the channel and you can continue to cleanup the frame.
It is now necessary to carefully cut and fit a piece of 20 gauge sheetmetal to replace the cut away, weld it in place, grind smooth, touch up with body filler and it's ready to paint. Of course, the welding should be done by someone with the proper equipment and experience in welding light gauge material.
The glass can be cut and installed in your frame by your local auto glass shop. If you use the replacement "V" brackets commonly sold through the mail order parts houses, you'll find that angle is incorrect. These are made of mild steel and can be "flattened" in a vice to match the original bracket.
Replacement rubber is available to restore the division bar. Vulcanized into the original piece is a piece of flat steel that is best removed by cutting with a die grinder and narrow disc.
When you dig out the old hard rubber, be careful not to pry against the back of the stainless division bar as it will dent easily. Insertion of the new rubber is very tedious (you'll swear the new one is too big for the stainless bar) but can be accomplished with lots of rubber lubricant, judicious use of screw driver blades and patience, lots of patience!
Obviously, this is no small job, but you'll be rewarded for years to come by sparkling new glass and tight fitting seals in your old truck windshield.
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