Windshield from heck

Article warning:

This post contains six do-hickys, three fudgesicles, and some bad words all strung together.  Read at your own risk.


Two weeks ago I caught a rock on my windshield.  

A big rock.


About a week ago I ordered a windshield online from California.  It arrived late Friday afternoon.  I opened the box, and spent that evening pondering the idea of removing the broken windshield.  It seemed to be quite the step.  With out a windshield the bus may as well not have an engine, as I sure as hell not drive it with out a windshield.  While pondering this I spent the evening getting the windshield out of the foam packing and cleaning off duct tape goop from the glass.  It was well protected. 


Saturday I took the plunge.  I used a single edge razor blade and cut the rubber gasket that holds the windshield and removed it from the driver’s side.  It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. 

I was pleasantly surprised that the rust wasn’t bad and general condition of the frame was good, it just required some grinding and painting. 

So far.   So good.

Sunday morning I went out for breakfast to mentally prepare myself for what I expected to be an ordeal getting the windshield installed.  I was concerned that I would get really frustrated and expend lots of useless energy getting angry and upset about something as trivial as a windshield.

I was right to prepare myself.  

I went home and checked online for some guidance on how to install a windshield.  From what I could find, the windshield is installed by a relatively ingenious gasket that somehow holds the glass away from the metal while keeping a water proof seal.  No screws, glue, bolts, mastic, pookey, silicone, tar, nothing but rubber holds it in place.  The articles posted online do not have many details about how to install the windshield.  Most have the same three step plan:

  1. Wrap the rubber gasket around the windshield glass.
  2. Have a friend hold the glass in place on the outside of the bus.
  3. Somehow, while using a string in the rubber gasket, you get the gasket to fit around the grove in the frame. (Yea right, and make sure you have a one eyed shrew on hand to hand you a left handed cresent wrench)

Patience was emphasized an unusual amount of times.


So I start to work on getting the rubber gasket around the window glass.  I follow the instructions that I got off of one website that suggests that I use warm soapy water to help make things slip into place.  This turned out to be insane advice.  Soapy water should be used to get the thing in place in the window frame, but not putting the gasket around the window glass.  It turns out that soapy hands and rubber and glass is a really bad combination, it’s like threading a needle with mittens on.  Every time one part of the glass went into a rubber slot another would slip out.  I got with in a half an inch of tossing the entire assembly…. well someplace.  I stepped back, went down stairs and had a fudgesicle. Took a break, too cool off a bit.


After about another half an hour or so of dicking around with the rubber gasket I managed to finally get the thing all the way around the glass with a little string in the window well groove (Not sure way this is needed but figure it will become obvious later).

I believe that the only reason I was able to get it in a all was that the soapy water finally evaporated.

I had my lovely wife hold the windshield onto the window frame while I soaped it up again, then went inside to do what ever your supposed to do with the string.  Nothing worked and the string broke.  So I got out a little screw driver and started to painstakingly move the little rubber do-hicky over the metal window frame flange.  This is where patience comes in.  It was then that I had the idea of using a plastic putty knife to try to get the do-hicky over the flange.  That not only didn’t work, but popped out the rubber flange.  Damn. Damn. Damn.

After another fudgesicle and a half an hour of watching woman’s synchronized diving live from China, I went back to the garage to tackle the rubber gasket from hell.  This time it only took me fifteen minutes to get the damn thing around the glass.  My lovely wife once again held the windshield and soapy rubber gasket over the hole in my bus.  Once again I started the painful process of getting the little rubber do-hicky over the flange.  If only the plastic putty knife had a hook to help pull the rubber do-hicky over the flange….. Hey, why not make one?  I went into the kitchen and got some butter knives that we only use for camping and or throwing into the dirt.  After some heating with a torch and creative bending I came up with this… 


It turned out to be the magic tool that saved the day.  With only one butter knife and a tiny screw driver I was able to slowly work my way around the windshield.  After two hours of sweating and cursing inside my bus I managed to get three sides of the flange covered with the rubber gasket do-hicky.  The only place left was the top of the windshield.   It started to look like the whole windshield needed to move about a millimeter down to make it fit.  I really did not want to start over simply because it was off by a millimeter.  So I took out a largish screw driver and figured that maybe, just maybe I could pry it down from the outside just a little bit.  Carefully, slowly I tried to move the gasket.


Just a little sound made my heart sink.


I just cracked my brand new windshield.

The windshield that cost almost a hundred dollars.

The windshield that took an hour to un-box from its foam filled box.

The windshield that took another hour to slowly scrape off the goo from the duct tape the packers used to protect the edges.

The windshield that took me over an hour to get the damn wet slippery rubber gasket around.

The windshield that took my countless hours of dicking around to get the gasket 7/8th the way around.


My neighbors found out that windshields don’t protect from cursing.

If I remember correctly as soon as I heard the sound I made the following statement:





Or something like that.

An hour later I was able to get the rubber do-hicky over the flange to prove, at least to myself, that it was possible. 

Now I just have to order another windshield.

I consoled myself by watching Diary of the Dead.

And I ate another fudgesicle.


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13 thoughts on “Windshield from heck

  1. planetross says:

    I feel your pane :(

    I just wanted to be the first to say that :)

    I stay away from anything involving dexterity, mechanics, or general hands on ability.

    I hope you can install the next one quick and panelessly :)

  2. Layman Pong says:

    Ohhh man; it’s usually inane to say “I understand completely,” but I understand the feeling:
    Failure at Struggle’s End.

  3. Layman Pong says:

    And no more cracks like that.

  4. caveblogem says:

    Should sell those modified butterknife doohickies on ebay to recoup some of your losses, maybe.

    Back when I worked a the furniture store we used to sell these glass-top tables that had the safety-glass tops packaged in foam and bondage straps on the bottom of the box. While the customer watched, you were supposed to check the whole thing out, taking it out of the box, making sure it all fit together and that there were no scratches, etc.

    Weird thing about the safety glass: it was somehow unstable. If you so much as touched it to cement, it would explode, quite literally, showering people with little blue-gray safety nuggets. Only happened about a quarter of the time. But it was fun to make new people get those orders. And safer. We weren’t allowed to spray profanity all over the customers.

  5. I will tackle most jobs without hesitation. I like the challenge. A windshield though? Had I been there, I would have been the one handing you the fudgesicles and saying. “You sure you want to be doing this?”

    This time around, I’d seriously consider letting a professional break your windshield. That way you can leave the swearing to them… and finish off the box in the freezer in peace.

    -Turkish Prawn

  6. Sorry but I can feel my resolve hardening. I am ordering another windshield and I will try again…. I owe it to myself to finish what I started. Besides, since I bought it my HPM has never felt the touch of another mechanics hands. I do not want to frighten it with a stranger fondling its windows. It may become constipated, leaky or hard to start. You never know, old cars are like that.

  7. Oh, and I am buying a case of fudgesicles this time.

  8. Burrowowl says:

    Still no idea what the strings are for, I take it?

  9. I have a glimmer of an idea of what the strings are for. Yes, I think they may just replace the butter knives. But I will keep them handy anyway. I am actually looking forward to another try.

  10. That story was painful. I admire the dedication. I second the butter knife sales idea. I thought they were professional tools until I read that you made them.

  11. glassman says:

    Awww. Too bad you didn’t talk to me first. See I’m mekanyuk at a large trucking company. The windshields in our tractors look about the same size as yours. We replace about 20 a week and they take less than 15 minutes if you have the right tool. Trust me, your bent butter knife is not the right tool. What you want looks like a scratch awl that somebody bent and twisted into kind of a half spiral at the pointy end. It has a handle at the other end. You’ll find one at a well stocked tool store, if you look around, for about $10. Snap On Tool Guy has one for about $30.

    1) soak the rubber with Windex
    2) hold the glass against the outside of the rubber exactly in the position it would be if it were in the rubber
    3) slide the hooky under rubber and over the edge of the glass, doing so will cause the rubber in that spot to slip up over the glass
    4) pull, don’t push, the hooky around the edge of glass, as it slides along it forces the rubber to slip up and over the edge of the glass
    5) the trick is to never let the hook bind on the glass or put too much presure on the glass, if it does it will chip the glass and it will crack there, guaranteed, so visualize how the hook is situated inside the groove and maybe give the handle a slight turn to position the hook so it isn’t pressing hard on the glass and is taking up minimal space inside the groove so it slides along with minimal resistance

    I should make a video of how to use the tool and sell it.

  12. glassman says:

    Oh, btw, I used to use the string but that way takes 30 minutes. You need special string, not cheap twisted cotton store string. That’s good for tieing up a box that has a cake in it but that’s about all. Get some braided polyester string from a kite shop, it won’t break. The hooky tool works best though.

  13. Glassman thanks for the tips. I will look for that tool and give it a shot when the new windshield comes in.

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