001-1963-nova-window and weatherstrip
Brothers David (left) and Al Backes put their years of experience to use installing the windshield in Randi Scudellari’s Chevy Nova. This is one of those jobs that goes much easier with an extra pair of hands.

New Glass for Our ’63 Nova

By Ron Ceridono – Photography by Jason Scudellari

There are many reasons for replacing a vehicle’s glass. It may be broken, blasted by the elements, making it hard to see through, and, of course, there may be scratches in the windshield that look like wipers ran for months without a rubber blade. Then for project cars like Randi Scudellari’s ’63 Chevy Nova, removing all the glass, associated rubber gaskets, and trim is part of doing a primo paintjob; it’s the best way to refinish all those hard-to-reach areas around the window openings.

02 chevy nova 1963 replacement windshield and rear window were supplied by Classic Industries
Our replacement windshield and rear window were supplied by Classic Industries. The front and rear rubber gaskets came from Steele Rubber Products.

While all automotive glass looks the same, there are significant differences. Windshields are made of laminated glass, which is constructed by sandwiching a thin layer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) between two layers of glass. The combination is then heated and pressed together with the end result being glass that doesn’t shatter when broken as the middle layer holds it together.

Over the years the process of laminating glass has been refined. At one time it wasn’t uncommon for the edges of older laminated glass to become foggy due to the layers separating. Today materials and processes have improved eliminating that problem. Another development was tinted glass. Windshields are often tinted a blue or blue-green color by adding iron oxide to the glass during manufacture, or putting a dye in the inner liner to create a darker band of color at the top of the glass.

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03 1963 chevy nova windshield gasket in place, the trim is installed
With the windshield gasket in place, the trim is installed in the slot that runs around the perimeter of the rubber.

When the automaker manufacturers went looking for a cost-effective option for side windows and back glass (often called a backlite) the solution turned out to be tempered glass. While part of the appeal of tempered glass was reducing cost, another benefit of tempered glass is that it’s lighter than laminated glass. Although that may not seem like a significant factor, in some cases tempered glass knocked off as much as 100 pounds from the weight of a car. That translated into better gas mileage, which helped carmakers meet federal fuel economy standards.

Tempered glass is made from a single sheet of material that has been heated to over 1,000 degrees in a furnace then quickly cooled. That process makes the glass extremely strong, making it hard to destroy, with the added benefit of turning into small pieces rather than sharp shards if it is broken.

04 1963 chevy nova installing a cord in the slot that fits over the flange, or pinch weld, in the openings
The secret to installing the windshield and back glass gasket is installing a cord in the slot that fits over the flange, or pinch weld, in the openings.

For replacement glass for our Nova, we turned to Classic Industries. They offer individual pieces of glass or complete kits. Windshields are available in clear, tinted light green with a blue-green band at the top (as was used on factory air-conditioned cars), or clear with a dark gray band at the top. Side glass and rear windows are available in clear, blue-green, or smoke tint.

With the windshield and back glass removed the pinch weld around the openings where the rubber gaskets fit should be closely inspected. It’s not unusual to find rust in these areas that will have to be repaired; at the very least a thorough cleaning is in order to make sure the rubber seats properly to prevent air and water leaks. Today windshields are held in place with urethane adhesive, but our Nova used rubber gaskets front and rear that fit on the edge of the glass and over the flanges in the body. Like most things, rubber gaskets vary in quality lacking the proper shape, most obvious in the corners. All our rubber gaskets and seals came from Steele Rubber Products and fit perfectly.

05 1963 chevy nova positioning the glass in the opening with the bottom of the rubber fitting over the pinch weld
David and Al start the installation of the windshield by positioning the glass in the opening with the bottom of the rubber fitting over the pinch weld.

Installing the windshield and back glass can be challenging, so we called on Pomona, California, natives David and Al Backes for their expertise. They’ve helped out installing the glass in a number of our projects and make it look easy. If you elect to do it yourself, Steel Rubber Products offers their Rope-In Glass Installation Kit. It includes a rope insertion tool to aide in putting the rope in the rubber, bedding and glazing compound if sealant is required, scraper/tuck tool to clean the window openings and help seat the gaskets, masking tape to hold the gaskets in place, and even disposable nitrile gloves and a Steele rubber products decal.

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06 1963 Chevy nova typical pinch weld
This is a typical pinch weld found in the front and rear openings (arrows). It’s hard to see but there is a slight separation that shows the two pieces of sheetmetal that are spot-welded together.

Installing new rubber seals will ensure our Nova will have less wind noise and no water leaks. And the new glass not only looks better from the outside, it’s better to look out of, too.

07 1963 chevy nova cord is pulled out of the slot and away from the glass rolling the rubber over the lip of the opening
With the glass placed in the opening, the cord is pulled out of the slot and away from the glass rolling the rubber over the lip of the opening. Having a push from the outside and lubricant of some sort helps the process. Using soapy water as a lubricant helps the rubber slide in place.
08 1963 chevy nova Opinions vary on using sealant when installing new glass
With the rubber positioned over the pinch weld a few well-placed slaps with a flat hand helps the gasket seat properly. Opinions vary on using sealant when installing new glass. It is particularly useful on rust pitted pinch welds.
09 1963 chevy nova Classic Industries offers a variety of windshield tints
Classic Industries offers a variety of windshield tints, and Randi chose the clear option. All windshields come with the inside mirror mount in place.
10 1963 chevy nova Installing the rear glass is done the same way as the front
Installing the rear glass is done the same way as the front. The one difference is the trim is installed after the glass is in place.
11 1963 chevy nova quality gaskets like those from Steele Rubber
This is where quality gaskets like those from Steele Rubber are worth the investment. Properly contoured, they fit in the corners without wrinkles, something that often happens with the cheap gaskets.
12 1963 chevy nova “roping in” the glass
We’re not sure why, but the bigger brother always ended up inside the car, maybe he lost a bet. Here Al pulls the cord out of the gasket, a process often called “roping in” the glass.
13 1963 chevy nova replacements from Classic Industries were installed
The rear window trim is held in place by clips. Most of the Chevy’s originals were rusted beyond use so replacements from Classic Industries were installed.
14 1963 chevy nova First to be installed is the bottom window trim followed by the sides then the top pieces
First to be installed is the bottom window trim followed by the sides then the top pieces. The snaps over the clips process takes care and patience to avoid damaging the trim—in other words, avoid brute force.
15 Classic Industries offers the rear glass in clear and tinted
Like the windshield, Classic Industries offers the rear glass in clear and tinted—also like the windshield we chose clear.
16 1963 chevy nova wind wing glass from Classic Industries and rubber seals from Steele Rubber were installed
Before the windwings were installed, replacement glass from Classic Industries and rubber seals from Steele Rubber were installed. Bad windwing seals are notorious for causing wind noise. Of course, this Chevy will make plenty of noise on its own, but we decided to replace the seals anyway.
17 1963 chevy nova wind wing wrapped with bedding tape from Steele Rubber
With the old glass removed from the frames the new Classic Industries replacements were wrapped with bedding tape from Steele Rubber.
18 plastic mallet help to seat the glass all the way into the frame 1963 chevy nova
A few raps with a plastic mallet help to seat the glass all the way into the frame.
19 razor blade is used to cut away the excess bedding tape
A razor blade is used to cut away the excess bedding tape and the tape that was holding it in place.
20 1963 chevy nova wind wing remove the windwing from the frame, the rivet in the upper hinge (arrow) was removed
To remove the windwing from the frame, the rivet in the upper hinge (arrow) was removed. Replacements and the tool to install them are readily available.
21 1963 chevy nova the bottom of the windwing assembly is a spring that preloads the frame
At the bottom of the windwing assembly is a spring that preloads the frame. It prevents the window from being blown closed when the car is moving. A lock tab keeps the nut secure.
22 1963 chevy nova Steele Rubber’s vent window seal snaps into the original holes in the windwing frame.
Steele Rubber’s vent window seal snaps into the original holes in the windwing frame. It’s a good idea to thoroughly clean the frame and the holes to make sure the seal seats properly.
23 Steele Rubber’s front window track attaches to the wing window assembly with a flathead screw. 1963 chevy nova
Like the factory piece, Steele Rubber’s front window track attaches to the wing window assembly with a flathead screw.
24 1963 chevy nova window track screw attaches to the bracket on the bottom of the wing window frame
The window track screw attaches to the bracket on the bottom of the wing window frame.
025-1963-nova weatherstrip
Jason Scudellari, Randi’s husband and builder of the Nova, gingerly slides the wing window assembly in place. Installing the door and quarter window glass comes next, which we’ll follow up with in the next issue.

Sources
Classic Industries
(714) 847-6887
classicindustries.com

Steele Rubber Products
(800) 447-0849
steelerubber.com

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