Making A New Windshield
By clanders - Published May 21, 2014 - Viewed 923 times
This will be a fairly short post, because the secret to making a windshield is… there is no secret.
Mine, like a lot of them, I suspect, was made from quarter-inch plexiglass, which would take an oven to properly bend, but Brian Thomason, a BoatU.S. Magazine reader, sent in some advice with pictures of his awesome 1959 Crestliner Jetstreak. He used eighth-inch Lexan instead, which cold-bends fairly easily, and should be stronger than the original (and less prone to shattering), and it looks great.
Mine, on the other hand, was faded and cracked, with a panel in the middle replaced and held in with aluminum flat stock (some of these boats did have a cut-out in the windshield, but I don't think this was original. The windshield is part of what makes these boats look cool, in addition to any practical purposes they might serve, so fixing that was pretty important (and after all the destruction in the transom, I wanted to have a crack at making something look better, rather than worse).
So here's the old windshield, next to a pattern I made out of taped-together mat board. I got a 4x8 sheet of Lexan from a local distributor, cut the pattern out with a jigsaw, and tortured it into the aluminum frame. (Get some help with that. As soon as you get one side in, the other side pops out. It takes hours by yourself.) The only tricky bit is the pattern. Since you won't really be able to replicate any top-to-bottom bend in the Lexan, lay the pattern flat on the inside of the old plexiglass to trace it. The edges can be cleaned up with sandpaper, if you want, and I had no trouble drilling holes with a regular metal bit (I did use a 2x4 underneath to drill into).
Once the Lexan is fastened into the frame (I used stainless bolts and nylon bushings to allow for any swelling or shrinking), just attach the frame to the deck and the windshield to the hold-down bolts along the lower edge. The whole thing cost less than $100, even with the absurdly expensive hold-down bolts and the white vinyl deck channel, as opposed to $400 or so for a vintage MFG windshield. And it looks pretty good, if I do say so myself.
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