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Attempted Windscreen Replacement: 4 Hours of Doom


Davo
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I went off to the local panelbeating shop this morning to get the windscreen replaced on my 1983 Rangie. I usually do absolutely everything on my cars but this sounded like a bit too much for me. The bottom LH of the screen was cracked when I bought the car and has gotten worse over the years, and then a new crack appeared near the middle just a little while ago. I was intrigued by this, but couldn't work it out.

They let me hang around to watch and it was a good thing they did. The new screen just wouldn't go in. So we tried the new screen and old rubber, and the old screen and new rubber, and then the old screen and the old rubber, since it had been in there in the first place, hadn't it??? But absolutely nothing worked.

Confusion hung about us like diesel exhaust and then I thought to measure everything.

Sure enough, the windscreen aperture was fine on the RH side, and tapered slightly to the LH, straining the old screen and cracking it. So it seems that not only did the middle of the roof sag when the windscreen was taken out, but the top on the LH side is too low, anyway. How the factory managed to build it that way is beyond me, but it's not unlikely. Otherwise, it must be something to do with the held-together-with-screws-and-putty body construction of these things. (I'll bet the later welded ones are better.)

So now I'll . . . uh . . . take the roof off and put spacers under the top windscreen rail . . . I think . . . God almighty these cars are perilous.

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On my last Classic RR I took an old windscreen out to do some repairs and swap the perished windscreen rubber.

There was no way I could get the replacement screen back in though, so I called the professionals, and got a windscreen fitter to do it. Even though he did struggle he still made it look easy. The very kind chap even gave me a couple of his fitting tools in case I tried again.

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The windscreen on classics is fitted in the rubber in an unusual way. You sit the screen on and fold back the rubber seal guiding the glass behind. In most car window installations of the age the rubber was fitted to the glass with a string around it. The glass and rubber were fitted over the aperture and the string used to pull the glass over the metal.

On quite a lot of classics the rubber is cut on the outside in the corners because fitters haven't a clue how to dibble the glass in.

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Yes, this guy reckoned it was the first time in 25 years he's had to give up. I must say that it didn't help having a negative attitude towards the job because everyone hates Range Rovers and it's only an old car anyway and that the only reason I've managed to repair them myself is "because you're an enthusiast". Like hell - it's because if I want a decent car I don't have any choice, often doing better than a professional with their training and experience and equipment beyond what I can manage. >Rant mode off.

Anyway, here I am with a windscreen-less car next to the house so hopefully I'll report back with my solution. I did get some experience sitting the glass on the seal and then guiding the seal around the back of it, so I think I have an idea of what to do. I've got the old glass to practise with and I may as well learn how to do it - for the next time!

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Yes, this guy reckoned it was the first time in 25 years he's had to give up. I must say that it didn't help having a negative attitude towards the job because everyone hates Range Rovers and it's only an old car anyway and that the only reason I've managed to repair them myself is "because you're an enthusiast". Like hell - it's because if I want a decent car I don't have any choice, often doing better than a professional with their training and experience and equipment beyond what I can manage. >Rant mode off.

Anyway, here I am with a windscreen-less car next to the house so hopefully I'll report back with my solution. I did get some experience sitting the glass on the seal and then guiding the seal around the back of it, so I think I have an idea of what to do. I've got the old glass to practise with and I may as well learn how to do it - for the next time!

If you are taking the roof off anyway why not take the top rail off and fit the glass to the rubber fit in the 3 sides if the frame then bolt on the top rail (carefully). Theoretically it should work.

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Yes, that's my second option, the first being to remove the front half of the headlining, lift the roof a bit, and adjust the top rail up with shims, which is not quite taking the car apart. The measurements I took, (which solved the puzzle), are, for the windscreen itself, 640mm at either end of the windscreen and 610mm in the middle. The aperture in the car measures 660mm on the RH side, 655mm on the LH, and 620mm in the middle! No wonder it wouldn't fit. 5mm out on one side is quite a bit and 5mm clearance certainly isn't enough in the middle, either.

The guy did just get the top top of the RH side to go in, so it would seem that 20mm clearance is the bare minimum.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just in case someone else can use this information, it's actually the bulkhead that's been assembled a bit crooked. It looks like the spot welds have warped the bottom LH of the windscreen opening so that it's higher than it should be. So that's why the windscreen cracked!

Pondering solutions . . . which may be angle grinder-themed.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, I did it myself in the end, and it wasn't that hard. And thanks for all the replies!

I took off the decker panel and adjusted the lower lip of the windscreen opening with a screwdriver and a big hammer after trying more sensible options. I also found a great video on Youtube about doing a windscreen on an E-Type, which explained perfectly the importance of not touching the glass, and puling the rubber around it instead.

So, I was able to practise on the intact but cracked old windscreen, which went well. Even taking it out again wasn't too hard.

With the new screen, what I did was:

- Put the seal in place, making sure it was located perfectly, especially in the corners

- Unlike the professionals, who tried putting the screen in dry, I used a lubricant like KY Jelly on the seal before getting the wife, (the poor woman!), to help me put the new screen onto the lower part of the seal, making sure the screen was centred perfectly. Using this lube is crucial to get the rubber to slip past the edge of the glass so that the glass can sit down into the channel.

- I'd found some plastic trim removal tools in a local shop that included some thin, tapered tools. These were perfect

- Starting at the lower centre, I used them to carefully pull the rubber out from the glass, to open up the channel to allow the glass to start slipping into it

- At each lower corner, I used two of these plastic tools to pull out the corner of the rubber, which took some doing to get it around the glass

- But once each lower corner was done, the sides weren't too hard to do. I had the pillar trims off, but I don't think this was necessary. I pulled the rubber around from the outside but it also helped to use my fingers to push the rubber from the inside. Doing this got the glass into the channel on both sides about 3/4 of the way up

- I'd found on my practise run that removing the rear-view mirror and jacking from the transmission tunnel to the mirror mount lifted the centre of the roof by just enough to make a big difference. The mount is attached to the top windscreen rail so it's a strong point. (I'm not sure about later models, though.)

- This allowed me to get the seal through the gap between the glass and the top of the windscreen opening. It was a little tricky, but possible from both the inside and outside, once again with a little lube. I also had a little metal hook tool, (meant for o-rings), to help start the rubber moving through

- Once the runner was through, I could start pulling it away from the glass so that the glass could get into the channel. It's crucial not to force the glass - even touching it should be avoided as much as possible

- I worked my way along the top in both directions towards the top corners

- And then I pulled the rubber around the glass at the sides and tops towards each corner. This was the trickiest part but the lube and the plastic tools worked to get the rubber pulled around without the glass being stressed

- Once each corner was finished, the glass could be carefully pushed so that the seal settled into place

- Then I carefully lowered the jack

- Getting the locking strips in was about as difficult, once again using lube. I had to make a tool with some wire and a file handle - you're probably better off buying the proper one

- I left a little of each strip at the ends so that I could cut them to make a nice mitre at each corner

Incredible! The glass hasn't exploded yet. Though I still have to try it out on some corrugated roads - I'm a little suspicious of what the car gods have in store for me. Still, it's another thing I can do myself and which will thankfully help me to avoid another "it's just a crappy old Rover and you're an idiot for owning one" type of professional customer service experience.

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Good work!

I fitted an alpine window in a Defender fairly recently and the tool for putting the rubber insert in made that part of the job fairly easy. Only cost around £15 and came with all different shape/size ends

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