Among the undesirable sounds an RVer never wants to hear while rolling down the highway, a “crack” as another vehicle passes by is surely among them. You know… the sound a flying stone makes when it hits glass? Depending on how loud it is, the next thing you hear might be your heart pounding in your ears as you scan the view ahead, looking for a stone chip. Hopefully, the third sound you hear won’t be that of flying expletives.
As a former professional driving instructor, who spent many years training motorcoach operators in a large city, my internal auto-pilot maintains an extra-long following distance. But there are simply times when there’s no way to prevent a stone from striking the front of your rig. You can’t stop other vehicles from passing you on multi-lane highways, and you certainly have no control over oncoming traffic on secondary roads. When you spend so much time on the road, stone chips are a risk that goes with the territory.
Whether the stone hits the glass vs. the bodywork is the luck of the draw. Of course, a tall bus-like windshield like ours tilts the odds more in favor of “glass” since the target is larger.
Earlier this year, a truck sailed past with a “crack” that really made us jump. It sounded as though the Rock of Gibraltar had just hit our windshield. We scanned the glass feverishly, sure that it must have been broken, but we didn’t spot a thing. Could we have been that lucky?
About a half hour later, after having forgotten about our “Gibraltar” encounter, we spotted it. Creeping up from behind the highest part of the dash, right behind the steering wheel, there it was – a crack that had started right at the base of the windshield (where the stone hit) and was already over a foot long.
We didn’t replace the windshield ourselves, but documented the process as a professional did the job. If you’re on the West Coast or in the Desert Southwest, and you’re in need of a windshield, Mike Wilkinson of Wilkinson Glass did a great job for us, and we highly recommend his services. He comes right to your site, so you don’t even have to move your RV.
Check out Mike’s website for details: rvwindshieldglass.com
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Patrick Donald Lyons
Monday 2nd of November 2020
New web page, Nice! I'm in the process of having both driver's side and passenger side windshields replaced here in the midwest. I got a few tips from Mike Wilkinson, He's a prince for being so helpful. I have an '05MADP 4304 and, I am curious to ask a question. You've been on the road and off boondoggling and RV parking and Harvest hosting, etc. for 15+years, have you ever had a windshield pop out on you? If you did, what do you now do to avoid this dreadedness? If not, do you have a defensive driving bit of advice on avoiding the popout
Monday 2nd of November 2020
Thanks, Patrick! And great taste in RVs! ? And we're sorry to hear that you're having trouble with your windshield! With all the boondocking and remote camping we've done in our Mountain Aire over the past 15 years, we've never had a windshield pop out on us (knock on wood), so we don't have any recommendations based on experience. We've definitely heard of others (though not necessarily Newmar owners) who have had a problem like that (it was common in Winnebagos of a certain era as well as Monaco when they want to a one-piece windshield)... so there's some generic suggestions/thoughts we can give you.
The first, and most important, is to be careful when leveling to ensure you're not torquing the chassis. The HWH leveling system is supposed to help prevent that (since two jacks always move together... front/back or left/right). But if you tend to park in places that are VERY unlevel, you can run into trouble if you max a single jack out. For instance, if you're parked where the nose AND passenger side of the RV are very low, you need to lift the front passenger side the most. If that jack reaches the end of its extension, the other jack (front driver's side if lifting the nose or the rear passenger side if lifting the passenger side) can continue to lift... which starts to introduce a twist/torque to the chassis that can result in the windshield popping out. Glass doesn't give! ? In those circumstances, it's better to manually do the leveling rather than allowing the automatic system try... since it's more likely to continue trying to lift when one of the jacks maxes out. Getting a Levelmate Pro might be a good (and relatively inexpensive) idea so you know how off-level you are before starting... so you can decide when to manually do it -vs- using the auto-leveling.
One other option is that the windshield gasket was damaged and/or improperly installed, making it so the windshield glass doesn't sit properly and allowing it to pop out with much less "provocation" than it should take.
The last thing we've heard about is that there can actually be a manufacturing flaw in the front cap that doesn't allow the windshield to sit in the opening properly (even if the gasket is installed correctly). If we recall correctly, it had to do with either the SIZE of the opening (too big/small) OR a flaw in the flange that the gasket mounts to that pushes out on the glass a bit, again leading it to being susceptible to popping out, because it never truly sits in place properly. This would likely be the issue if you have the windshield pop out even when you're in relatively level locations without much lifting going on with the jacks.
If you think it could be a problem with the gasket or front cap, it might be worth calling Newmar to discuss your options (winter is coming, so their shop rate is usually lower since demand is down).
Hope one of the above ideas helps! Let us know how you make out.
Saturday 29th of August 2015
Gents - Thanks for the referral on Wilkinson Glass! A recent run in with a semi filled with 3/4" gravel "bullseye" whacked my '05 Fleetwood Southwind's windshield. AAA is always great to be insured with, but my experience with Wlikinson Glass was as good if not better! Mike and Ryan sweated through a 3HR job in 100 degree heat here in SoCal with ease! Fellow "Geek Fans" on the West Coast - Wilkinson Glass will competently take care of you in a timely personal manner!
Thanks to RVGeeks for a great referral and the service you provide all of us - enabling we owners to cut cost by doing our own servicing that RV Repair shops gouge us $90-105/HR to accomplish. We all appreciate it!
Friday 18th of September 2015
Thank you Brian for your kind words. I appreciate the work and thank you for noticing the craftsmanship that we put into our work. I hope to see you down the road!
Sunday 30th of August 2015
Hi Brian! Thank you so much for letting us know what a great experience you had with Wilkinson Glass. So glad we could give you a good steer. Not much worse than the awful crunch of a rock smacking the windshield, but so glad you had a happy ending to the story. Mike is the best!
Tuesday 18th of November 2014
Gives me the willies thinking about it. Our no longer manufactured coach (Euroliner) uses a custom made windshield by a company no longer in business. I can picture being in a far away place for a long time waiting for a windshield.
Thanks for the info on fixing stars. It makes sense to do them ASAP to keep the crud out. The ones on my windshield have been there a long time, and they're not spreading, but I'd like to get them filled and now I know the proper question. "Do you use pressure to fill it?"
John E. Baker III
Monday 17th of November 2014
Your amazement at Mike's expertise reminded me of one of my dad's favorite stories/jokes: It involves a rather miserly man who was always on the lookout for ways to add to his already large fortune. The opportunity presented itself when the man purchased an old, locked safe from the estate of another rather miserly old skinflint.
Knowing that the possible payoff would be more than what he would pay to have the safe opened professionally, the tightwad called a locksmith who arrived in a couple of hours. The locksmith scratched his chin and head a couple of times, retired to his truck and returned with a high‑speed drill and dimond bits. In thirty minutes, he had drilled two holes in the face of the safe, at the ten o'clock and two o'clock positions of the tumbler dial. He picked up two bent pieces of metal with notches in the ends... similar to allen wrenches. He inserted the probes into the holes, jiggled them around a bit until a loud “click” was heard. He then removed the slim-jims, operated the safe's handle and, voilà! The door opened!
Unfortunately, there was nothing in the safe. His contemporary, so it seemed, had “found a way to take it with him.” But, the old guy knew he still had to pay the locksmith for his services. “How much do I owe you?” he asked.
“Eighty-five dollars,” was the reply.
“EIGHTY-FIVE DOLLARS!” he shouted. “That's robbery! You've only been here for thirty minutes! I want an itemized bill for your services!” he demanded.
“Alright,” the locksmith agreed and went to his truck again, returning with a “bill” handwritten on the back of a blank envelope. It said:
Charge for drilling two holes in safe @ $5.00 each: $10.00 Charge for knowing WHERE to drill holes in safe: $75.00
He was paid $85.00.
Monday 17th of November 2014
You are a wise man, John! There was indeed more to this the job that it appeared, despite Mike making it look so easy. If we ever need another windshield, we still won't do it ourselves, because we don't know where to drill the hole. ;-)
Monday 17th of November 2014
On the stars/chips that I've repaired with the kits none have continued to spread, but most were still very visible after the repair. A couple were pretty invisible after the repair but not all. As said above, over time and temperature swings the crack could and probably will extend, especially with winter temps and the inside heater blowing. I would repair the chip as soon as possible. I also have had good luck with safelite glass replacing a windshield.