Introduction: How to Polish a Lexan Windshield for Under $4
I ride a large cruiser motorcycle, and it has a Lexan brand windshield on it. I have researched online, and it turns out I can only find people who will polish and repair Acrylic windshields. They say Lexan windshields need to be replaced. Phooey to that.
A new windshield alone can run upwards of $200.
These days times are hard for all sort of people. Your 50 MPG motorcycle that costs $5 a month in insurance may just be your best bet to get around. There's no reason why you should have to drop more than $4 to get a clear, safe windshield.
A bottle of polish is under $4.
The windshield on my motorcycle is slightly yellowed from age, scratched up from the harsh desert environment where I live, *and* someone apprently had taped a sign to it at one point.
(NEVER tape a Lexan windshield, it removes the protective covering!)
I would have to look over the windshield, or around it, when I am offroad, to avoid rocks, ruts, etc. I couldn't see through it, and that is dangerous on a motorcycle.
Read on and see what I found out worked to make it clear again.
Step 1: Removing the Windshield
First, you have to remove the windshield. It's a little hard to polish while it is still on the motorcycle.
My windshield is held onto a bracket by 4 bolts, two on each side.
Each bolt took a 12MM metric wrench. You cannot reach them with a socket, so grab an open end or box-end wrench.
Step 2: Removing the Mounting Hardware
Next, put the windshield in a safe place.
Using a phillips head screwdriver and a 10MM wrench or socket, remove the screws and acorn nuts, and the mounting hardware.
You will notice immediately how the cushion on the mounting hardware has rubbed the plastic and made permanent marks on it.
You will have to remember two things:
1. How the brackets that bolt to the mount on the motorcycle go (It is easy to reverse them).
And 2. That TWO of the screws are longer than the other. These screws go into the upper corners of the windshield where the strap brackets overlap.
If you forget, it is easy to fix. It's just easier to do it right the first time.
Step 3: Giving It a Bath
Next, you will need to give it a bath.
This will remove any bugs, dust, dirt, and the general film layer that forms over a windshield.
I used ordinary dish soap and a soft rag (Don't use anything harsh, remember, this windshield is plastic) in the bathtub with cold water. There's no reason why you can't use warm water, either.
Be sure you have a perfectly clean windshield before you begin polishing.
There's no danger of scratching the windshield with the convex portion on the bathtub if there is a cushion of water there, and treat it with care. I recommend using the shower wand instead, but I just washed each side like in the pictures.
Step 4: Let It Dry, and Get the Stuff You Need
Set the windshield on something soft and dry it gently with a soft cloth.
Go and grab your orbital sander w/ buffing wheel. It needs to vibrate and spin, I believe. What I have here is a very inexpensive battery operated orbital sander with the buffing wheel on it.
You need a vehicle clearcoat polishing compound. I am using "No. 7 Clearcoat polishing compound". There's no reason I am using this other than it was on the shelf and it was cheap, under $4.
Step 5: Apply the Compound
Next, you will want to get yourself a small, soft rag.
Place a portion of the rag over the opening of the container of the clearcoat polish, and tilt the clearcoat polish to get a SMALL amount on the rag.
Friends, it applies just like liquid car wax.
Use "Wax on Wax off, grasshopper" swirls, overlapping 50% each pass. Take a look and make sure there are no places where you may have missed a spot.
Alternatively, you do not want any big white blotches where it has been applied too thick, these are difficult to remove with the buffer (Just use your fingernail in a rag).
I purposely did not apply any compound or use the buffer on the lower bib of the windshield. I did this to demonstrate to you the difference buffing makes.
Applying the compound to both sides is recommended, however I personally used a 3-1 ration, where I polished the front 3 times for every 1 time in the rear. The front is what gets the dust, the bugs, and the film. But it doesn't hurt to do the back.
Step 6: Time to Polish!
This is the fun part.
(Set the windshield on a clean, soft, dry towel)
Make sure your buffer pad is clean and dry, and that the compound you applied is completely dry before you begin. Wet compound doesn't polish well at all. Don't ask me how I know.
You can go one of three routes, and I have tried all 3, and they all work.
1. Pressing hard. It works to get rid of compound that has pooled or is applied too thick. Not too hard mind you.
2. Pressing moderately. It works, too.
3. Pressing lightly/using just the weight of the sander. This method works well, too, but it takes longer. However, the battery lasted longer with this method. I personally prefer this method, but it won't work for moderate scratches.
Don't use a wide swath and try to get as much done as quickly as possible. Take your time. Go slow, and make sure you are really polishing the windshield properly.
For the edges, you will have to lift the windshield up and place it on your knee, perhaps, or find another method.
Something I learned: Even though the carpet is soft, there is a lot of dust in it.
Set the windshield on a clean soft towel regardless. The vibrations of the windshield edges on the carpet will actually bring dust up and on the windshield. You don't want to polish with dust, trust me!
An important thing to remember is if you are using a battery operated unit: When you hear the battery starting to lose power, STOP. Get the other battery, or let the original one charge. It will not polish well at all with even a slightly low battery. It will take longer and you will only drain the battery further.
When you are through buffing, there will be a lot of white dust static clinging to the windshield,. Wipe it off with a soft clean rag.
Step 7: The Clear Difference Between Polished and Unpolished Sections
I purposely did not polish the lower bib of the windshield. (I don't look through there, anyway.)
I washed the portion, but that is all.
Take a look at the pictures, you can clearly see how much polishing helps.
Please remember, too, that I have added no wax. What you see is what you get, the polished portions are clearer than the unpolished sections. Plus, there is still a bit of dust on the windshield, wax will clean it up.
You may have to polish it 10 times or more to get it clear again, but the result is well worth it and better than dropping $200 on a new piece of plastic.
You have to remember that my windshield was so bad I literally could not see through it a few feet ahead of me.
Step 8: Adding Some Wax for Protection
Next, we want to add a good quality wax. i am using a nanowax. It works great!
Why do this? It adds a layer of protection on the windshield and fills in any micro scratches for an even clearer windshield. I used two coats of wax. The wax coating lasts me about a week of riding.
I ride a lot off road, because I live on a dirt road (And for fun sometimes) and I repeatedly will go through dust clouds and dust storms, so my windshield is really exposed to elements that are never seen in a city.
Your wax coating may last quite a bit longer than mine.
Just wax on, let it dry, wax off, grasshopper.
Now is a good time to put a coat of wax or two on the mounting hardware!
Step 9: The Final Difference
The wax really helps. My poor windshield has been used and abused, and worst of all, taped. I can actually see through it now, which is a small miracle for me.
I think it is important to say at this point, that the lower bib portion was washed, and waxed ONLY. I did not polish it. You can see what the polishing does, and the waxing does for the main upper portion of the windshield.
The wax helps the lower bib, but when ti wears off you are hosed. Plus, it still doesn't look anywhere near as good as the main portion with the wax and the polish.
Thanks for reading.