Introduction: On-the-road RV Glass Panel Repair
On our 3000 mile summer road trip, we think it was a particularly large pothole in Spokane, WA, that caused enough torsion on the camper that one of the front windows shattered!
Luckily, these are single-pane standard glass panels that are easily replaceable.
Step 1: Protect Your RV From the Rain!
I had some duct tape (as every camper should), and I bought a $6 sun shade at our next gas station stop.
After a good strapping with duct tape, we set off again, only to have the shade blow in through the window hole within the first 10 minutes of driving.
In order to better secure the cover, as it was starting to rain, I used the existing screws in the frame to better secure the cover. This worked great until we got to our next campsite in Bend, OR, and to a Home Depot.
Step 2: Remove Broken Glass, Retaining Strips, and Measure Your Window and Glass
Carefully remove any broken glass. These old RVs generally do not have tempered glass, so there will be shards everywhere.
There should be retaining strips keeping the panel in place - ours were metal strips compressed into each side. These should be carefully removed to avoid significantly bending or creasing the thin metal.
Our window was 24" x 17 3/8", and 1/8" thick. When measuring, take notice of the slotting on one side, there should be some extra space to slide the new glass or polycarbonate into place.
Step 3: Select Your Materials and Get Your Tools
I decided on Lexan polycarbonate, as it's readily available at most Home Depots, stronger than glass, and somewhat more forgiving to cut on the road.
1. Glass or Polycarbonate sheet slightly larger than your window. (I bought 2 in case I screwed up)
2. Straight edge for measuring and cutting
3. Masking or Duct Tape
4. Box cutter
6. Sharpie Marker
7. Clear silicone sealant
Step 4: Measure and Prepare Your Material
Carefully measure the size of your material to match your window opening.
Use Duct tape or Masking tape along both sides of the Lexan where you draw your cut line. This will hopefully decrease the chance of an errant crack that will ruin your piece.
Step 5: Make Your Scribe Line
This is the most important step!
Make a single, straight, hard scribe line with the box cutter the entire length of your piece. If you start wandering off the line, do not stop and start again! Instead, correct the line as best you can without lifting the blade. Any stop point is a likely place for cracks to form when snapping off the extra. Remember, the metal strips cover up the edges, so you have a bit of leeway for mistakes.
Use the straight edge as a guide - I even taped down the ruler to help keep it from slipping as I made the scribe line.
Step 6: Snap Off Excess Material
Using long-nose pliers or similar, gently snap off the excess material, using firm downward pressure. It helps to put the Lexan along the edge of a table and put your palm (and knee sometimes) on the main part.
Step 7: Remove Protective Plastic and Fit Into Place
Lexan scratches easily, so keep the protective coating on as long as you can. I removed one side and made sure that it fit into the opening, then removed the inside coating.
Step 8: Re-insert Retaining Strips and Seal
The retaining strips can be a bit onerous to put back in, and can scratch the Lexan. I needed to ease them in from one side and work my way down with a bit of patience and firm pressure.
Once all of the strips are in place, seal at least the 4 corners with silicone, which tacks the strips in. I opted to seal all of the edges to give it a little more strength against the wind as we were driving.
We left our roof vent fan on for the day to vent the fumes as the silicone dried.
Step 9: Hitch Up and Keep Camping!
The Lexan window worked great for the re