How To Remove Your Imperial's Windshield


Imperial Home Page -> Repair ->Body -> Glass ->  Windshield

GREAT Tips from Jeff:

I've worked in the auto glass industry for about 14 years now and have come across just about every style or method of installation or removal of windshields possible. On a rubber gasketed windshield like on these vintage Imperials ( which is very similar to the methods used on Late great Chevys from '58-'64) I would begin removal of the chrome trim from the body cavity opening with an appropriate chrome removal tool, depending on just how much soft butyl sealer was pumped between the rubber gasket and edge of the pinch-weld where the chrome retaining clips are located the chrome should lift up and away from the gasket. A utility knife close by can be used to cut any "stringers" of sealer that might still be holding onto the trim. Work carefully and your stainless should come off without any damage.

The next step is dependent on whether the donor cars glass is still good and of use to you, if it's already past the point of saving then a little extra grunt can be applied to loosen the glass and gasket, if you want to save the glass a gentler touch is recommended. If you have a good gasket and the donor's isn't important to you just slice it away then with gentle even pressure ar the top of the glass between where the rear view mirror is situated and the outside pillar post edges push with a steady even pressure and the glass should release. In the industry we often use a nylon fiber flat installation stick tool to work around the gasket to loosen any sticky areas. A local glass shop could supply you with one of these or you can make a shade-tree version out of an old plastic toothbrush handle, a piece of hardwood dowel could be shaped to be used also or in a pinch even one of those Tupperware orange peelers does the trick!

If the glass is to be saved from the donor car I would remove the glass & gasket as one unit by unhooking the rubber gasket from the pinch-weld from the inside with a hook tool (cotter-pin removal tool, or you can make one from sharpening an old broken screwdriver, then heating the sharpened point to a 90degree bend to the handle.) Starting in the center top above the rear view mirror working to the top sides , then the pillar posts, generally at this point you and a helper could lift the glass from the bottom of the opening from the outside of the car using an upward and pulling motion to loosen it from the bottom. I've always remarked the best tool I've ever used in working with glass is a tool called patience. LOL! But if you're careful and maybe have an extra set of hands close by it shouldn't pose much trouble. Working with glass over the years one does develop a certain feel for just how much you can tweak it and how much strain it can take but that comes with time and experience I guess.

To install: Clean any old dried sealer residue with solvent, insert a thin nylon rope or cord (under 1/4") into the gasket to pinch-weld groove all the way around the gasket leaving to ends to pull at the center of the bottom all this while the glass in situated inside of the gasket and the windshield is firmly supported on a pair of sawhorses or a bench with the curved ends facing upwards. Once the rope is secure inside of the gasket/ windshield combo transplant it to the pinch-weld opening of the car to be installed in. Evenly place the glass/gasket item into the opening with the cord ends loose on the top of the dash. With a person on the outside and a person on the inside to pull the rope around the inside perimeter of the opening which will overlap the gasket over the metal pinch-weld. The angle of the cord pull will change to work the rubber over the edge as you move around the glass, spraying some soapy water mixture or just glass cleaner will help the rubber slide into place also The person on the outside can apply some gentle yet firm pressure with the flat of his/her palm to help seat the gasket/glass into place. A few slaps with the flat of your hand can help it seat also from the outside (no closed fists though as that will bust it for sure!)

After the glass is in place apply sealer between the glass and gasket and the gasket and the pinch-weld, water test, then reinstall the chrome trim in the reverse order that it was removed, just be sure to check the shape or if there are any missing clips around the opening first before installing the glass as it is risky to install them afterwards if the glass is in place. Water test again just to be sure. Clean up any sealer residue with a Varsol solvent and you're done.

One note of caution, glass can be dangerous, safety glasses, a long sleeved shirt, and work gloves made of leather ( I use a pair of tough Kevlar which are cut proof to blades, glass, tools ,etc.) are of utmost importance, in 14 years I've haven't ever had to get any stitches (knock on wood!) a record I'm proud of.

Tip from Steve:

When I was removing a windshield recently, I remembered a set of hard plastic sticks, about 5/8" wide by 6" long by 3/16" thick that the body guys at the dealer used to get us... I went to the local hardware, and the closest thing they had was a Red Devil plastic putty knife... it worked great! They only had them in a 1" width, though.

Tips from Jeff:

The best tool is patience! Take your time and pay close attention, and extra set of hands are helpful to help assist if @ all possible. Just a couple of notes though.....the rubber gasket might be an engineering marvel from the 50's and 60's in the way that it contained the glass and sealed but compared to today's methods it's quite primitive. Windshields in today's vehicles are not held in place by "buckets of tar", but are a vital part of your vehicles structure by means of a urethane sealant that actually bonds the glass to the roof and pillars and cowl with a holding grip in the area of 900-1200 lbs. per sq. inch. This adds a lot of strength to the car's structure and protection to vehicle occupants in the event of a roll-over or crash where safety items such as seat belts and airbags work with the encapsulated windshield to restrain the passengers from harm. In a lot of the older rubber gasketed windshield equipment. cars the first thing that happened when a car went off the road and crashed or twisted is the glass popped out and the guy behind the wheel got tossed thru the opening.

Some of the last vehicles on the road using this old school technology were tractor trailer transport big rigs but even they now have adapted to urethane bonded glass. A couple of tips to pass along in regards to saving those old gasketed windshields from cars such as Imperials. If the gasket is dry rotted and cracked and isn't worth salvaging just trim off the outside layer with a heavy duty Olfa knife utility style toll and gently extract it from the inside remaining layer of gasket. And in my shop I've always used a flat nylon glassman's stick/tool to work around the edges of glass and the rubber, the nylon takes the wear instead of grinding and chipping the edge of the glass and doesn't make for a hard pressure point against the glass. In a pinch some Shadetree homemade versions can be crafted from a thinned down old toothbrush handle, a piece of hardwood molding thinned down, and I've even in a pinch used one of those Tupperware orange peeler tools!

Tip from Anthony:

My '56 Imperial needed a new windshield. It was turning out to be a horror story for me. I had a glass company last November come out and it leaked. I had that company take their windshield and leave.

Well I had it done today. (My car was in storage over the winter). Alliance glass came out and put it in. They are a local shop who knows old cars. They put the new windshield in and put all the chrome that was removed outside and inside back in, and they had never seen the car before!

I am now content. A lessoned learned. When it comes to windshields check out the shops that work on older automobiles. It may take a while to find them but its worth it.

Question from Mark:

Does any one have a recommendation for a windshield installer in the SF bay area, preferably East Bay?

Reply from Kenyon:

Jeff Ingraham showed me how to do it (thanks Jeff!!). You're wasting money if you pay someone before trying it yourself.

The gasket has a zipper that's not unlike a ziploc bag. Removal is a cinch.

There is a seam that looks like it's part of the molding in the rubber. Insert a butter knife and pry up. the thing folds away and allows one to pull the rubber back.

You can gently push the old glass out with stocking'd feet.My car had a roasted piece of glass, so I used my boots and felt really good doing it.

Reinstall should be easy, but more precise, too. Start looking for the right sealant and I'll help you out. Chrysler Engineering at its best!

You'll be surprised when you see how easy it is.

Question from Mel (1959):

The clips on my front windshield and rear window (used to hold the SS molding in place) are badly corroded and will have to be replaced. I have looked through the "Restoration Specialties and Supplies" catalog as well as Andy Bernbaum's catalog. I don't see them there. Before I continue looking I thought I would ask if anyone knows a supply source. Anyone have any information?

Reply from Leslie:

I spent a year searching for mine and then found they were available all the time. Start by finding your original part number. And then what it was changed into (a Glass shop gave me the numbers it translated into) then I got a catalog from Mr. G's and they had them.

You can order their catalog from their site. They were extremely helpful and even put them out on overnight shipping as I was trying to get my car ready for a show and I only had a couple of days left.

From Charles:

I looked in my Chrysler Book (Mopar Parts Locating Guide) and found:

Glass Plus More -Ont. Canada

Bartelstone Glass- Belleville, N.J. 

Murray Park- Tiffin, Ohio

(Imperial specialist) Gary Goers  Kalispell, Mt. 

The Old Car Glass Guy--Gladstone, Or.

Quesiton from Eric (1963):

I walked outside today to find that my windshield in my 1963 Crown 4dr was severely modified by a nearby laying rock.

I'm in need of a new windshield and haven't yet shopped around. I'm presuming its an item that glass companies can make as any other piece of glass. Any recommendations?


From Arran:

I have one recommendation, when you locate another windsheild, send the bill to the kid's father, or whoever is supposed to watch him. I suspect a used one would be the most economical way to go as a new one is likely over $600, which was the estimate for replacing the windshield in my friend's 57' Olds station wagon.

From Kenyon:

Are these even available NOS?

I looked 7 years ago and some claimed to have them for $750, but I never actually tried and didn't really trust the information because it was coming across the counter from a flunky that couldn't confirm it.

Used are maybe $250-$500. Lowell howe has them if nobody else does.

There are some repros coming out of Scandanavia that are supposed to be wavy and not very accurate. Buyer beware on those.

When you are ready to go, don't let the people that are to do the replacement talk you into a new window gasket unless yours is really, obviously terrible, which they rarely are.

You can to the swap yourself using nothing but a butter knife (Jeff Ingraham showed me that one!) The existing gasket material is an incredibly efficient design and is reusable. Aftermarket stuff is BADDDD.

From Bob:

Pilkington Classics provided me with a brand new tinted windshield for my '54 New Yorker DeLuxe & maybe able to do the same for most cars. I believe they do the manufacturing for many companies. Their address is 1975 Galaxie,Columbus OH 43207 & phone is: (800)848-1351. Mine cost $331 plus $80 for shipping plus some sales tax.

This page last updated June 3, 2004.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club