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window glass polishing


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In the interest of sharing knowledge............

I'm finally getting around to installing the glass in the 56 Chrysler. I've been fretting about the windshield and the wiper marks in it for two years now. The "marks" were not quite deep enough to actually "catch" a finger nail but they definately could be felt. Imported Repro glass is available for about $650 without a date code. I'd heard both pro's and cons about polishing out the scratches. I'd heard that it can't be done or that it would cause distortion because it would leave a shallow hollow where the groove was.

Being both a frugal type and having nothing to lose I figured I'd give it a try.

First I needed a polishing "kit". I looked at ready made kits and saw they were nothing more than a hard felt pad and some cerium oxide polishing compound.

So instead of p**sing away $75 bucks on a kit, I cut down an old backing disc from my DA sander to 3 1/2" diameter and epoxied a 3/8" thick pad of hard felt on the bottom. My local glass shop sold me a baby food jar of cerium oxide for $5. So now I had my kit.

The kit sellers say to chuck their pad in a drill to polish out the scratches. I figured that was the cause of the distortion problem. Folks were using the pad like a disc sander and concentrating on the scratches. To get around that I mounted my pad on my DA sander and used it only on the orbital mode. Also, instead of concentrating on the scratches I evenly buffed the glass and only gave the scratches a bit of extra buff time.

I'd also heard that the glass could crack from heat build up. Not true. I mixed the cerium oxide with water to make a loose paste. Wet the pad, spread a bit of paste, and started buffing VERY slowly and lightly. As long as everything is wet there in no heat build up. I kept a spritz bottle of water close by and just kept spritzing, buffing, pasting, spritzing buffing and checking.

In about an hour all traces of the scratches were gone, there was no distortion, and I'd saved almost enough to pay for the new tires for the 56 that I need to order.

If you decide to try this here's few hints. The hard felt is available from McMaster-Carr by the square foot. Or, I have have enough left over to cut a disc for someone or two or three. Keep the glass wet and keep the orbital speed about mid way. Draw a line under the scratches with a magic marker on the back side of the glass. That way you can find them and you only have to wipe a small area clean to check your progress. Do not let the pad get dry. It will pack dryed oxide into the micro pits that are in every used windshield and you will spend an hour with soapy water and a tooth brush getting it out. Do not ask how I know this last bit...............Bob

Edited by Bhigdog (see edit history)
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