I did lose a windshield years ago driving a 1974 bay window panel. I was driving along Badwater Road in Death Valley when a motor home passing in the other direction kicked up a rock about the size of an orange. I think it may have been lodged between the dual rear wheels and launched out, but I'm not sure. Anyway it struck at face level on the passenger side (luckily I was driving alone) made a large hole and shattered the entire windshield. I stopped by the gas station at Furnace Creek, removed all the remaining glass and deposited it into their dumpster. I was about 300 miles from home. As you might imagine, driving without a windshield on the freeway produces a high degree of wind turbulence inside the van (and an accompanying huge amount of drag). Rummaging around in back, I was surprised to find my full face motorcycle helmet. Wearing this bright red helmet allowed me to drive with my eyes open (preferable to the alternative) although it also made me the subject of some finger pointing accompanied by guffaws. A little rain fell on the return trip, and upon reaching home I was amazed at the diverse collection of bugs crawling about in the back of the bus.
Westly's windshield was cracked and had a couple of "bulls eyes" as well. The crack , about 27 inches long with a 3 inch branch upwards was a nuisance to passengers as it lay directly in their line of sight. When freezing weather came, it extended another 12 inches toward the driver side and then I knew it was time to search for a replacement.
New glass is relatively easy to find (comes out of China now), but I checked on Craig's List first and found just what I needed - a windshield from a '90 Vanagon, including the rubber seal for $50. I hightailed it over to Leschi to take a look. No cracks or pits, just a little scratch from scraping it on some other parts while wresting it from the loft of a backyard storage shed. It had the upper tint (my original did not) which seemed horribly blue when the glass was sitting in my shop, but now that's it's been installed, I don't really notice it. The rubber seal was pliable with just a little blue paint on the edge from a careless masking job at some point. Bonus - it didn't have the chrome plated plastic trim that was common to the older seals which after 30 years is cracked and rusty brown looking.
|The "new" glass (upside down) - the blue tint doesn't|
seem that dark now that it's installed
We removed the wiper arms, cut the old seal and pushed out the cracked glass from the inside. This was fun - scrunch down in the seat, put your feet up on the glass and push! Rust in the lower corners of the windshield frame can be a big problem, requiring repair before proceding. I was relieved to see all the supporting frame was in perfect condition.
|Windshield successfully installed!|
After finishing the installation, I took the opportunity of being in the large heated space to raise the pop-top and waterproof the canvas. A couple of 14-oz cans of Kiwi Camp Dry sprayed in two coats (had to turn off the heat and open the door for ventilation) seemed to be enough - we'll see next rainy campout. I also washed and hand waxed the entire body.
The same week, while perusing Craig's List I found a local Vanagon owner offering a set of four wheels, tires and hubcaps for a very reasonable price. He had recently purchase a new set of 15" wheels and tires from GoWesty and wanted these out of his garage. The tires were fairly new with hardly any wear, and most importantly were the correct load capacity for the Vanagon. These vans are heavy, especially when you add the Westfalia conversion. Finding 14" tires with a load rating of about 1,600 lbs is not that easy (which is one reason why the 15" or 16" wheel conversion is so popular - many more tire choices).
|Someday I'd like to find some 15" wheels like this for Westly|
Original equipment on 2000 Mercedes CLK
|Ready to go - but first, a couple of weeks of freezing weather|
|A small electric heater kept the inside warm and dry|
|I do have a cover - but didn't put it on in time|