Northwest Nova

1962 - 79 Chevy II - Nova - Acadian
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Replacing Your Windshield???

July 31st, 2020  |  NWN  |  Glass

After working with someone recently on reproduction windshield glass fitment issues (purchased from another vendor, we will not sell them), I thought I would post a note on some known issues. A little knowledge can go a long way here.

I do not know how many manufacturer's (not vendors) of reproduction windshield glass there are, but there appear to be quite a few. I cannot speak to the quality of all of them, but I can say a good rule of thumb is avoid glass produced overseas. The issue we consistently hear about, and have run into ourselves, is the glass being too small. Normally not tall enough when installed, leaving gaps at the top of the window frame channel. We even know of a scenario where the glass was smaller than the windshield opening. There have also been issues with width, as well as thickness. Sometimes you get "lucky" and have all three...

To make things even more interesting, some of the rubber seals on the market have fitment issues themselves. The common one being the corners of the seal not fitting the glass and / or window frame channel correctly. This often leaves a gap in the upper corners that not only looks bad, it will also leak. The seal can also be very difficult to get to sit flat. Why this happens is thought to be a mixture of the seal being too small and not formed correctly in the corners. We have seen this exact issue with a 1959 Chevy truck windshield seal, so it apparently is not just a Nova problem.

The trifecta of issues—repop glass, repop rubber seal and repop stainless trim—is one you may want to avoid. This is a recipe for problems that often do not have solutions. The repop stainless trim we have dealt with is too thin and can become distorted during a "rough" installation of an ill fitting windshield. In addition, there have been cases of the rubber seals not having the trim channel cut correctly. This causes the stainless to not sit flat in the seal, if you can even get it in. In these scenarios what ends up happening is while trying to get the trim in the seal, you end up mangling the trim. Or alternatively, you end up distorting the trim trying to get the seal to sit flat in the window frame channels. A no-win situation best avoided.

So what do you do?

GLASS ––– our first recommendation is find a reputable, local glass shop. Talk to them and see what they can offer. If that does not pan out, start asking around at cruises, trusted local body shops or auto parts stores. You are not by a long shot the first person to encounter this issue. You can dig around online for possible U.S. auto glass suppliers. Hagerty has a list of glass suppliers for classic cars. As stated previously, we do not sell repop windshields or back glass, so currently cannot recommend anyone (do you have a trusted source?).

But what about good used?!? Good used windshield glass, espcially for 2-door coupes, is becoming very difficult to find. Most cars have had their windshield changed by now and the original one tossed. What used ones you do find are normally peppered by road debris, discolored and delaminating. People often chip or crack the edges during removal or storage, damage that introduces weakness that can later lead to stress or vibration cracks.

RUBBER SEALS ––– we are not going to name brands, but strongly recommend going on a forum like Steve's Nova Site and doing some reading on seal issues BEFORE making a purchase. Unfortuntely in this case U.S.A. made does not guarantee a properly fitting seal (frustrating and disapointing).

STAINLESS REVEAL TRIM ––– it is stainless steel so can normally be polished back out to a like new luster. If yours is dinged up or bent, a good trim restorer can usually get it back into shape. Like glass, first ask around locally to see who is the go–to shop for trim resto and work from there. It definitely is worth the money to have your original pieces redone.

Hopefully the info provided here will save people some time, money and headaches. Most original windshields are rough, if not damaged by this point, so replacement is usually on the resto schedule. Take the time and do some research before making purchases. It could save you both time and money in the long-run. Best of luck!