Years of wiper rash and the northeast’s worst elements were no friend to my ’67 Barracuda’s original front glass. Plus, the fact I tried to restore it with some steel wool and compound …no good! Don’t believe everything you read on the Web. I called up Norman’s Glass in New Jersey and had them take a look.
New glass for an old Barracuda
Story and photos by Scott Lachenauer
The windshield on my ’67 Barracuda was in pretty poor shape when I bought the Mopar A body about 8 years back. Rather than replace it at the time, and since it was OEM piece, I figured I would live with the small chips, scratches and wiper haze that had softly clouded my vision since getting it on the road five years ago. Just the thought of breaking that seal and opening up another can of worms in my apple of a restoration was just too much for me or my wallet to bear.
Well, the years passed. The little “‘Cuda” found its way down to the Jersey Shore, and things never got any better. The wet, salty weather didn’t help my cause much (and wasn’t much help to the body, either), and cruising it along the sand-swept beach roads of the coast blasted the last few remaining clear spots of my front glass. Since laser eye correction to improve my driving vision was out of the question, the time had come to do something about my hazy view over my dash.
I read on that dang internet that some guy in East Bumblefart, U.S.A., restored his windshield with nothing more than a gob of good rubbing compound and some 00 steel wool. I was pretty skeptical of this procedure, but figuring my car’s main “view finder” was already on the skids, it would be no harm done to give it a shot — why not? Well, needless to say, the mission was a DOA after about an hour of a hard-core elbow workout, and the windshield looked like someone had taken some 60 coarse to it with a belt sander. Not good.
So I broke down and decided that the best thing to do for my fish car and my sanity was to get the windshield replaced, hoping deep down that when we took the metal trim off, we wouldn’t find what I was so nervous about… a complete debacle of a rotted windshield frame. Then there are the other questions that surface later on, such as, “Is the gasket going to fit? Are the guys going to get it to seat right? And the very popular phrase, “Is it going to leak?”
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I put aside my day-mares and called some experts to help me out in this struggle to see clearly once again. First off, I needed the right parts to get the job done. After procuring the right windshield, I needed the gasket to be OEM correct and fit right. That’s why I called Steele Rubber Products. One call over to its well-stocked facility was all it took and three days later, I had a beautifully made, correct replacement gasket and locking strip there on my front porch. They not only stock great MoPar parts, they cover pretty much every classic car with a variety of replacement parts.
To get this big lens in the car, I called local experts Norman’s Glass out of Trenton, N.J. Norman’s is well known for a variety of car services, and they cater to clients from all of eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I set up an appointment, and I had a team of pros on the way to save my sanity.
First things first. The techs from Norman’s declared my windshield a disaster
area, so an extraction and replacement was in order. The crew laid out a slew
of tools to do the job right. Everything has a specific job in the removal and
installation of the glass.
The boys started by removing the convertible’s header and A-pillar trim. Even
after being on the car for more than 40 years, the trim came off without any issues.
After pulling the trim we all agreed that it looked like the windshield area had
never been taken apart before. It was in very good condition for the northeast,
with only minor rust in the driver’s side upper corner. Next, the interior
windshield trim, rear view and visors were removed.
A good, old-school wiper puller is a good tool to have in your arsenal. It kept
exterior damage to the wiper housing at a minimum.
The original gasket was pretty rough after 43 years on the car. Our techs picked
and separated the rubber from the glass, and also had to cut through a couple of
rough spots with an X-Acto knife.
Once the gasket was separated from the glass and windshield frame, the windshield
came out with just a little prodding. To the scrap heap!
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The entire glass channel was cleaned with a heavy-duty solvent to remove any
gasket and sealing adhesive residue. Luckily, the channel was free of any rust
While I had the window out, I decided to repaint the forward section of my
dashboard since I never had a chance to do it during my restoration. I taped up
the dash pad, scuffed up the paint, and hit it with two good coats of Eastwood
Underhood Black, a sturdy semi-gloss paint.
For the gasket, I called up Steele Rubber products and got a really sweet
reproduction gasket and chrome locking strip. Steele is a leader in restoration
products for all makes and models of vintage muscle cars. The quality was
obviously top notch.
Next, the Norman’s boys cleaned the new glass and fit the gasket around the
glass. Masking tape was used to hold the gasket in position while the rope was
fed into the gasket channel, which will be used to pull the gasket over the
windshield frame ridge once the glass is set in position. Here, Brian is feeding
the rope into the channel.
All ready to roll. The excess rope and feeding tool has been taped to the glass to
keep it out of the way while the glass is fit onto the car.
The crew lays the glass in place. Everything went in smoothly. Now the hard part
— seating the gasket.
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Brian takes a soft stick and starts to work the edge, pulling the gasket over the lower edge.
Once the bottom edge is seated, the crew starts to seat the gasket into the frame’s
edge by pulling the rope out of the gasket’s inner channel. This pulls the inner
edge of the gasket out and around the frame’s edge. Light pressure is applied to
keep the window from popping out of place as Brian pulls the rope, pulling the
gasket over the metal lip.
Corners are a little tricky. Due to welding buildup in certain areas and the curve of
the frame, these areas are a challenge at times to get the gasket to sit properly.
With a little elbow grease, the crew got it to lie down properly.
The soft stick is used again to roll the gasket edge over the lip of the windshield
frame. The gasket sat down nicely on the lower lip.
Next, using a pry stick, Brian opens up the contact area between the gasket and
windshield and butyl is injected into the seam. This will act as both an adhesive
and a sealer, keeping the gasket tight against the glass, and keeping moisture
and dirt out.
A small roller with a stem out front is used to close the overlay in the seam of the
gasket. This closes the gasket tight to keep the environmental elements out.
A seating tool is used to get the locking strip in place. It has a U- shaped cup on
the end that lets the strip slide through as the two stems separate the channel for
the locking strip. This strip pushes the gasket out and against the glass, tightening
up the seal between the gasket, frame and glass.
The little bit of surface rust we found on the frame was sanded down and covered
with a coat of Eastwood Rust Reformer to stop any further intrusion of rust.
Now to the trim. We re-used some rubber weatherstripping that was still in good
shape. We added a little sealer to the back of the piece to help seat the rubber and
help moisture out.
The upper trim is set after a light cleaning and buffing.
Once the trim is in, some of the sealer gets pushed out onto the glass. Brian uses
a spray window cleaner as a lubricant and scrapes the sealer off the windshield
with a razor blade, kind of like shaving. The spray helps keep cleanup to a minimum.
The finished glass…ahhhh, perfection. An amazing difference!
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