Window removal and installation

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[edit] Tools needed

For non-moving windows and windshields that are sealed in with butyl tape, you will need:

  • "Bat wing tool" K-D #2038 molding removal tool
  • Window wire, piano wire, or guitar strings (available as a kit with tools)
  • A good set of needle nose pliers and side cutters
  • Possibly a pneumatic window tool
  • Suction cups
  • Pipe knife(basically a pipe that is smashed at one end to hold a blades for utility knife)
  • liquid glass cleaner
  • Extractor(very expensive, but pretty much the one tool for any glass)

[edit] Windshield removal techniques

[edit] Rubber seal type

On some older cars and even some trucks, it's really not hard to remove a front or back windshield. Many people suggest using a knife and just cutting the old seal which holds the glass. This runs the risk of the user getting cut when the knife slips.

Say you want to remove the front windshield of your 1950's car. Get inside the vehicle and start at the top. Use a flat blade screw driver starting in the middle and working towards one side of the car. Push the old rubber seal over the pinchweld. Once you get to the side of the car, start again at the top in the middle working the rubber over the pinchweld to the opposite side of the car.

After you've worked to both sides of the car, the windshield can then be pushed free of the body. Just don't push TOO hard or you may find the glass laying on the ground in pieces.

Now the windshield will be out of the car. You didn't cut your hand with a knife, and this method really doesn't take any longer then using a knife to cut the old seal.

PS. This removal method can also be used to remove a back (rear) windshield.

[edit] Factory glued-in glass

[edit] Tools

[edit] Wire to cut adhesive

Choose from:

  • Windshield wire
  • "G" guitar string
  • Stainless MIG wire
  • Mild steel MIG wire

[edit] Handles made from pipe/conduit

[edit] Sharp utility knife

You may prefer the cheap disposable type with eight or ten snap off tips. mostly because their blades have some flexibility versus the rigidity of the traditional reversible blade "utility knife".

[edit] Needle nose pliers

  • With cutter preferable

[edit] Procedure

To start, cut off a length of wire about 3-4 times as long as your window is vertically, measuring from bottom to top of glass. Remove any interior trim if possible, to make things easier.

Also, take the time to remove the wiper blades/arms and any plastic side trim or cowl fillers, so you can get to the bottom/sides of the glass edge. We will start at the bottom.

Wrap one end of your wire twice around one handle, with 8-9" of wire hanging off the middle of the handle. Wrap this TIGHTLY around the long side of the wire, do not twist together. We will be pulling and do not want kinks or twists in the area between the handles and the glass, as this makes the wire weaker by work-hardening. Think of the little springs on a factory brake line and wrap the free end so it looks like that.

Now, take the needle-nose pliers, and, starting at the bottom center of the glass edge, push the wire straight up into the urethane so it follows the inside edge of the glass towards the top. The wire should push fairly easily straight in, as if it was a needle. Once you carefully have pushed enough in to grab it with the pliers from the inside, pull about 4 feet or so into the car. Be sure it does not kink, a kink is a weak spot for pulling. Some people prefer to "slash" through a length of the sealant with a razor knife parallel to the glass and then simply feed the wire through the resulting gap. Usually around the middle of one of the A-pillars is a good place to use this starting method. Much depends on the vehicle design. Sometimes a a lot of wire sawing can be eliminated by some judicious slashing with a razor knife. On others it's a waste of time. When in doubt, the default is to just use wire.

From inside, feed the wire through the urethane along the glass at the top until it just touches the edge of the window recess. Again, like a needle would follow the inside edge of the glass. Now go outside, find the end, using the sharp knife to trim the urethane if necessary, and pull it out slowly until the wire is flat against the inside of the glass, without kinking it. If necessary feed more through until you have the bottom handle about 3 feet from the base of the glass, then with about the same amount of wire from the top of the glass, attach the second handle by wrapping it 2-3 times with wire, and twisting the loose end around the wire leading to the glass, as mentioned above.

Hold the handles from a position along either side of the car, with the wire following the glass edge to the side. The closer the wire follows the glass recess the better. Alternately pull slowly but firmly, first one handle, then the other. You will see the wire cutting through the urethane as it is pulled, the vertical part of the wire will come towards you. Keep the part sticking out of the urethane following the glass channel to the side, do not pull at an angle or raise up away from the channel.

As you get to the side turn the handles so you are pulling up along the pillar with the bottom wire, and down along the pillar with the top wire. GO SLOW! Going fast will heat the wire and make it want to work-harden and break. Once you finish cutting through one whole side you can carefully lift the side of the glass and slip your wire back under the edge of the glass to finish cutting the other side. Be careful it does not kink when doing this, a kink in the wire will break under tension. Many times if done carefully even the rearview mirror can remain in place, and the wire fed around it.

Once the second side is cut through just stand the glass up vertically, and lift it off the car.

If you are reusing the glass carefully trim any excess urethane from the edge of the glass. A thin layer is OK, but chunks along the glass edge or where the inside sits in the channel should be removed.

Trim out the excess urethane in the channel the same way, so just a thin layer remains, and no big chunks. A brand new sharp blade is good to use at this point. Some people like to leave the majority in place, I trim as much of the old out as I can and add new urethane, so I can be SURE it will seal all the way around. Any bare metal spots in the channel should be primed/painted of course, and rust removed as much as possible. If the channel has rot in it then the bad metal should be cut out and a new piece made up and welded in it's place. Pull the headliner before welding, and keep an extinguisher handy.

[edit] Side window

On some vehicles the side glass is bolted or clipped to the track assembly. On other vehicles there are rivets holding it in place. In either case, either remove bolts or clips or carefully drill out the rivets in order to remove a side window. Often the track assembly has an upper limiter which must be removed to allow removal of the side window. If you are working with an older vehicle and have no replacement glass to install, make a template out of masonite the same thickness as the glass. Bring your finished template into a glass shop and they will make you a replacement glass which you can install. Clean the window channel of all dirt and rust. Install new base tape and slowly work the glass into the channel. Keep the window vertical while tapping with an oak block and rubber mallet. Install new vertical channel tracks and replace the inner and outer weather strips for a sound-and-water-tight installation.

[edit] What to do after removal

After removal, the windshield and side windows should be stored in a safe place where they will not be damaged. If there is glue present on the windshield you may want to spend some time cleaning it off so it does not have to be done right before installation.

[edit] Installing the new window

[edit] Windshield using rubber seal

You will need:

  • A strong thin rope about about 15 feet long
  • A helper
  • A slippery substance like dish soap, but preferably KY jelly type lubricant which is water soluble and doesn't leave a sudsy mess when washed off.
  • A rag
  • Water
  1. Check the flange for ripples and burrs. Use a hammer and dolly to smooth the flange. Spot weld flash can cut your new rubber, use a file or small grinder to remove them. Don't leave sharp edges.
  2. If the rubber seal has an insert strip, install it first.
  3. Fit the seal around the windshield.
  4. Wrap the rope tightly all the way around the groove of the rubber seal, making sure the rope ends overlap. Let the ends hang on the inside part of the windshield.
  5. Apply lubricant to inside part of the seal which will contact the window opening on the vehicle. Applying lubricant to the opening will help too.
  6. Place the windshield on the opening of the vehicle.
  7. Go inside the vehicle. You will be pulling on the rope. Before you pull, have the helper apply mild pressure to the area were you will be pulling on the rope.
  8. Pull the rope toward the center of the windshield. The seal should start slipping over the ledge and hug it. The helper should be applying mild pressure just ahead of you.
  9. Go all the way around until you've pulled out the entire length of the rope.
  10. Wipe off lubricant with a dry rag, wash off the remainder with a wet rag.

Sometimes when pulling the rope the rubber does not pull inside the flange. The factory tool to pull the missed spot inside was made from a straight blade screwdriver. The flat portion was cut off then 1/4 inch ball was turned on the end. A 2 inch long taper was turned from the neck at the ball back towards the handle, then it was polished with fine sandpaper. The end was then heated and bent with about a 1 inch L leg. Use lube or a soap solution and work the ball end under the rubber and pull it out without tearing it. These days there are plastic tools meant for trim removal which work well for glass installation with less risk of cracking the glass than a metal tool. Some installers even forgo using rope and use only one such tool and some soapy water. This isn't possible in all applications but a quite common way to install simpler glass like the back windows of many pre-1999 or so model pickup trucks, especially those metal-framed sliding glass windows.

[edit] Installing flush mounted glass

You can install windshield glass in most any car that had a windshield frame or rubber molding using the S-10 filler strip and an adhesive as long as the pinchweld is behind the glass. You should always use a urethane sealant, never use silicon sealant. Silicon will actually corrode the pinch weld over time, and is not "rated" for this kind of installation. The windshield also performs a very important safety feature, which is the retention of occupants in the vehicle in the case of a crash.

The basic procedure is to get your pinchweld all cleaned up and any voids filled. If there were slots or notches for hinges etc they need to be filled. Obviously rust and loose paint needs to be removed. A coat of epoxy primer is a good idea.

Have your glass cut so that you have about 1/4 gap between the edge of the glass and the windshield opening. No more than 17/64" and no less than 15/64" gap all around. Always trial fit the filler strip before you do the install to make sure it isn't too tight or loose. Too tight and the glass may crack or pop out during installation and too loose and you will have gaps.

You can paint a uniform band around the edge of the glass with Dow Betaprime 5500 pinchweld primer. This material will create a dark band around the edge of the glass similar to the baked-on ceramic frit you see on most all of the newer cars. Mask off 1/2"to 3/4" uniformly around the edge so the glue line will look good from the outside. Mask off inside of the frit line so as to have a nice line to cut the setting adhesive to. Tape off the entire inside of the glass to protect it from scratching and excess glue.

Position the glass so that it is flush with the body using at least six rubber setting blocks; one in each corner and two in the middle. You want the glass to sit evenly on these blocks. You can maintain your 1/4" gap with some scraps of filler-strip or wooden spacers, removing them as you install the strip.

[edit] Once the windshield is positioned

  • When you install the filler strip use super weather strip adhesive on at least one side of the strip. Glue the ends with super glue. Once the filler strip is installed back fill the space behind the windshield with urethane adhesive, tool it so it looks nice and has no voids. You should have at least 3 full size tubes of adhesive ready for your install. Let it cure and you are done.

Warning Note: Optional step: You can dry fit the filler-strip. You can make a butt joint in the middle of the strip at the bottom of the window. Try to not miter corners unless you absolutely have to because it is very hard to keep the edges down. The strip can be notched on the inside of a corner to make a tighter bend. Practice making corners on a scrap to see how it works. Once the strip has been dry fit you can install it permanently.

  • That is a fairly simple set of instructions, there may be other things that need to be considered such as what to do about your dash and header panel, etc. Is the windshield 2 pieces? this may require a center seam.

Most of the better glass shops will be able to get you the required supplies and may give you some better specific instructions for your particular application.

[edit] Tips and tricks

  • When removing a glued-in windshield, instead of trying force your windshield wire through the urethane try slicing first with a razor knife. The cheap "8 point" disposable type knives are what you want. Available in Walmart (ca. 2013) with extra replacement blades for 89 cents. The blades are as good as any but the handles tend to self-destruct when used for cutting windshields out, so you'll want three or four packages. Or just use the blades and buy a higher quality knife elsewhere. These "boxcutter"type knives and blades are better than traditional "utility" knives for two reasons: First, they are thinner and the blades more flexible. More forgiving for glass cutting. Secondly, you get almost three inches of blade with a new one, allowing more access to corners and low on the dash. On many Japanese cars and vehicles that have had their OEM windshield replaced once before you can often cut the entire glass out with such knives and never bother with wire.

    After cutting out the windshield, a fresh blade in such a box cutter knife is ideal for leveling out the old sealer smoothly and evenly. PPG recommends that you don't remove all the old urethane sealer, just level and smooth it. This is/was printed on the label of their sealers.
  • On a hot day the sealer will want to stick to your knife or stick back together. Dip the blade in oil to prevent sticking.
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