HOW TO: FIT AWINDSCREEN

Not as dif­fi­cult as you might think. We show you how...

911 Porsche World - - This Month -

It is easy to un­der-es­ti­mate the im­por­tance of your Porsche’s wind­screen. It is, af­ter all, en­tirely trans­par­ent. Or it should be, any­way. Some­thing that you spend your many hours be­hind the wheel look­ing through rather than di­rectly at. Whether it qual­i­fies as the sin­gle most im­por­tant part of the car is open to de­bate, but you won’t be go­ing very far (or fast) with­out it. Even if you could with­stand the wind in your face above about 30mph, mod­ern cars de­pend on the pres­ence of their bonded-in glass, front and rear, for their struc­tural in­tegrity.

Your wind­screen is also vul­ner­a­ble to dam­age – but at the same time re­sis­tant to com­plete de­struc­tion. There can be few driv­ers who have never heard a loud bang and/or wit­nessed the ap­pear­ance of a char­ac­ter­is­tic star­burst on the glass in front of them, the re­sult of a piece of gravel flung up by the ve­hi­cle ahead. This writer’s VW Pas­sat has half a dozen such scars (small enough to pass an MOT); one of my 5-se­ries BMWS has a crack across the lower right-hand corner (ditto, be­cause it is just out­side the area swept by the wipers); and even though the 944 has only a few big­ger stone-chips, it looks as if the en­tire sur­face has been sand-blasted.

Sooner or later, how­ever, the time may come when you have no choice but to re­place your wind­screen, ei­ther on cos­metic grounds (and scratches can be as much of a prob­lem as im­pact dam­age), or to pass that an­nual safety in­spec­tion. Sur­pris­ingly, and per­haps uniquely within the car world, the wind­screen in­dus­try – which you might imag­ine would try to sell us ever more

‘prod­uct’, re­gard­less of whether or not we need it – has evolved some so­phis­ti­cated and ef­fec­tive re­pair tech­niques (no doubt un­der pres­sure from the closely as­so­ci­ated in­sur­ance in­dus­try), and with luck those can stave off that evil day un­til per­haps the car it­self reaches the end of the road.

This ‘how-to’ story notwith­stand­ing, that re­place­ment is not re­ally a DIY task. It re­quires few tools, and the prin­ci­ples are sim­ple. It can be quite awk­ward and time­con­sum­ing, though – not least to re­move ex­te­rior and in­te­rior trim – and as with any pro­ce­dure that in­volves large, heavy and in­her­ently frag­ile pieces of glass, as well as some of the stick­i­est ad­he­sives and sealants known to man, there re­mains the danger of mak­ing a com­plete hash of it. What we are aim­ing to do here, then, is to show how a pro­fes­sional goes about it, we hope leav­ing you with the knowl­edge not nec­es­sar­ily to do it your­self, but to be able to seek out your own spe­cial­ist, and as­sess whether he or she is up to the job.

We say ‘seek out your own spe­cial­ist’, but that is not al­ways pos­si­ble – or not if you want your in­sur­ance com­pany to pick up even part of the bill. (Most motor poli­cies in­clude the now fa­mil­iar ‘ex­cess’ clause, which re­quires you to pay the first, say, £50 or £100 of any qual­i­fy­ing claim.) The ma­jor­ity of main­stream and on-line, price­com­par­i­son-based in­sur­ers will re­quire you to have any wind­screen re­place­ment (or re­pairs) car­ried out by one of their ap­proved sup­pli­ers, and only by opt­ing for a pos­si­bly more ex­pen­sive spe­cial­ist pol­icy – or pay­ing for the en­tire process your­self – can you be cer­tain that you will be free to choose.

One such in­sur­ance scheme, here in the UK, is of­fered by Lock­ton (for more de­tails go to lock­ton­per­for­mance.com). It’s rec­om­mended by the Porsche Club Great Bri­tain (porscheclubgb.com) to its now 19,000 mem­bers, but the com­pany is also happy to con­sider en­quiries from Porsche-own­ing non-mem­bers, al­beit on per­haps slightly less favourable terms. ‘We al­ways offer a free choice of sup­plier,’ a spokesman told us, ‘whether it’s for body­work and paint, or for wind­screen re­pairs or re­place­ment. We can’t claim that to be unique, but it is cer­tainly quite un­usual, and some­thing we feel peo­ple

ought to be aware of be­fore they com­mit to tak­ing out a pol­icy else­where.’

Should you find your­self in the po­si­tion of be­ing able to se­lect your own re­pairer, then we think you will strug­gle to find a bet­ter man to re­place your Porsche’s wind­screen than Paul Ral­han of north Lon­don-based Glasstec (glasste­cauto.co.uk). Un­doubt­edly there are many other equally skilled and con­sci­en­tious fit­ters out there, work­ing for the main­stream re­pair and re­place­ment com­pa­nies. But the fact is that hav­ing one of those work on your cher­ished Porsche, rather than some slap­dash and bonus-fo­cused clock-watcher, is go­ing to be more a mat­ter of luck than judge­ment.

Such is Paul’s at­ten­tion to de­tail that we met for no fewer than three photo ses­sions. The first was for me to ob­serve him fit­ting a brand-new front screen to a 993 – the one in the car at the time was a poorly in­stalled af­ter-mar­ket item; Paul al­ways uses OE glass (and seals) when­ever pos­si­ble – and then to re­place the same car’s rear win­dow (or the back­light, as it is known within the trade). That was the orig­i­nal fac­tory-fit­ted glass, but as was – and still is – all too com­mon in 993s, was gen­er­at­ing a loud creak­ing noise as it moved against the very slightly flex­i­ble struc­ture of the body shell. Un­sur­pris­ingly the front wind­screen was be­gin­ning to creak, too. (See also the panel on page 90.)

It soon be­came ob­vi­ous that who­ever had in­stalled that front screen had ei­ther ig­nored the cor­ro­sion within the aper­ture in the body, or had cre­ated the con­di­tions for it to start in the first place, and Paul rightly told the owner that needed to be ad­dressed first. ‘I can fit the glass to­day,’ he told him, ‘but that’s just setting a pile of trou­ble in store for the future.’ It was a sim­i­lar story at the rear. The glass may have been the orig­i­nal, undis­turbed since in­stal­la­tion at the Porsche fac­tory, but it ap­peared to have been fit­ted too high within its re­bate (at least partly the cause of the creak­ing), and Paul had to use all of his ex­per­tise and in­ge­nu­ity to ex­tract it with­out break­ing it. And, no less cru­cially, with­out dam­ag­ing the ad­ja­cent paint­work.

Our sec­ond meet­ing was a fort­night or so later at in­de­pen­dent spe­cial­ist Tog­nola En­gi­neer­ing in Datchet: an­other 993 – a red one this time – in for a new front screen, and al­though still show­ing the per­haps in­evitable slight traces of cor­ro­sion within the re­bate, treat­able on the spot. The third time we met was back on the blue 993 owner’s drive­way – a month af­ter the ini­tial at­tempt, and pri­mar­ily be­cause Paul had cor­rectly re­jected the bodyshop’s first ef­forts at re­paint­ing. And there is no doubt in my mind that, hav­ing now watched an ex­pert in ac­tion over so many hours, I am con­fi­dent that not only might I fea­si­bly tackle a car like my 944, but also that I know enough about the process to check, as I have sug­gested, whether any­one else will do it to my sat­is­fac­tion. I hope it gives you the same con­fi­dence and knowl­edge, too. PW

A good eye and a steady, con­fi­dent hand with a sealant gun are among the re­quired skills for suc­cess­fully fit­ting Porsche (and other cars’) wind­screens, and Paul Ral­han of north Lon­don-based Glasstec has both – plus pa­tience, many years of ex­pe­ri­ence, and not least the de­sire to get it right

The blue 993’s front wind­screen was a poorly in­stalled after­mar­ket item that was not only leak­ing but also creak­ing loudly – the lat­ter a com­mon prob­lem in the cars even when they were new, and caused ei­ther by move­ment within the ad­he­sive, or even by the glass and the body ac­tu­ally touch­ing each other. The un­even outer trim/seal­ing rub­ber (near right) told its own story – and it was a sim­i­lar pic­ture at the rear (far right). Re­moval process be­gins by ex­tract­ing clock from dash­board for ac­cess to an­tenna wire (right), and then pulling off both that outer trim and the rub­ber on the in­side. Both items can be used again if in good enough con­di­tion, but un­sur­pris­ingly this car would re­quire new ones

Some wind­screen fit­ters will use an an­gled knife like this vi­cious-look­ing de­vice (right) to cut through the ad­he­sive – as will Paul Ral­han if in cer­tain sections of the joint there is gen­uinely no al­ter­na­tive, but his pre­ferred method is the tra­di­tional wire and ‘T’-han­dle. What amounts to a long nee­dle is pushed through the ad­he­sive bead from in­side the car, and used to pull back into the cabin a spe­cially pro­filed stain­less-steel wire. Easy when you know how; im­pos­si­ble when you don’t

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