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October 6, 2022

How to Replace the Windshield Seals on Your Boat and Why They Matter

 

Why does my windshield need weatherstripping?

As you can imagine, when you're on the water there is a lot of vibration rippling through the body of your boat. When it hits your windshield, you want the glass as well as the mounting frame to be secure. That's where your weatherstripping comes in!

We'll start with each seal's purpose, and then we'll move on to our step by step of replacing them.

Windshield Mounting Pad - The windshield pad rubber provides a cushion between the frame and the body of your boat. This seal is a brace for the window frame which prevents it from moving and causing scratches or damage to the hull. It will also help absorb small vibrations to prevent rattling in your windshield. 

Screw Track Cover - This piece of weatherstripping has a dual purpose of being aesthetically pleasing as well as sealing. Without this seal in place you'd have a large, unsightly void in the frame and your screw would be exposed. Water and debris would love to camp out in this gap, causing your screws and inside of the frame to rust, which would weaken the stability of your mounting equipment. With a seal installed snuggly in place, no water or debris will be getting in and it will provide a clean, finished look to your windshield.

Center Window Door Seal - Not all boats are created equal, some do not have a split windshield or also known as a walk-through window. If that's the case you can skip this part. If you do have this on your boat, it's important to have a functional seal in place. A hatch or compartment door seal will work perfectly for this application. A flexible sponge rubber extrusion will help to absorb minor shock that may occur from the door slapping or slamming while hitting wake or waves. Without a soft rubber seal here, you will have metal slamming onto metal which could bend or break parts of your frame and potentially damage your glass.

 

Step 1

Identify which seals need to be replaced, then find your replacement parts. You can easily find your new weatherstripping in our Free Marine Catalog which includes cross sectional photos and product dimensions. You can also request a free sample pack of any marine seals we offer to ensure it will work for you before ordering your footage! 

 

Step 2

Gather your materials needed for the job. What we recommend for this: a cleaning solution, paper towels, a rag, a screwdriver or power drill, a knife or scissors, a wrench, 3M adhesive cleaner and the new weatherstripping.

 

Step 3

Start by taking out all the old screw track rubber, this should come out easily since there is no adhesive. Then you can begin taking out out all the screws that hold the frame in place with your drill or screwdriver. Once all the screws are out, remove the windshield completely and set aside. Don’t forget to also remove your support beams!

 

Step 4

You'll now start removing all of the old rubber around the windshield, this includes the old mounting pad and the center window door seals. Once that's done, it’s time to clean and prep all the surfaces you'll be applying new seals to. This step is crucial for a proper bond between the adhesive and the surface! So, please take your time and use quality products such as 3M Adhesive Cleaner to make sure you're getting off all the old rubber, adhesive and debris. 

 

Step 5

Now it is time to install your new rubber! When applying a seal with the Peel-N-Stick backing, we recommend taking off 2-3ft of protective tape backing at a time and applying that footage before moving on. This will help prevent having to peel your seal back up once it's on, which will affect its efficacy if done too many times. Carefully follow the screw placement track, and apply your 2-3 feet at a time.

Note: there will not be pre-drilled holes in these extrusions, if you need to mark where your screws will be prior there are a few options. You can stick small pieces of tape on the seal where the screws will go, marking the screw spots with a white marker, or you can use a screwdriver or drill to pre puncture screw holes in the seal. We don't recommend drilling all the way through at this stage, so only puncture a small amount that's enough to mark the spot.

 

Step 6

Once your mounting pad is placed, cut the excess off but leave a small tail end as you place your windshield back on. Reattach your windshield to the boat, be sure it is aligned correctly as it previously was. Now you can fasten the screws back in place. Take your time with this process because the screws may have trouble going through the rubber, you don't want to strip your track. Don’t forget to reattach your support beams as well. Once your frame is screwed back in place, you can cut off any excess rubber that is sticking out. 

 

Step 7

Now you'll install the new screw track cover into place. This will be installed by using pressure, no adhesive is necessary for this seal. You can press into place yourself, it should be a tight fit, so if you need to use a tool we don't recommend anything sharp like a screwdriver that could puncture or tear the rubber. Once you reach the end of the track, cut it to the full length of the track so there is no gap. 

 

Step 8

Lastly, you'll apply the center window door weatherstrip. Reminder to clean and prep this surface if you forgot about it in step 4! For this part, you can use the same seal in both areas or use two different extrusions. Typically we recommend using part #70-3849-377 for the area next to the hinge and part #70-3848-377 on the lip of the door. As we previously stated, take the protectant tape backing off a little at a time and apply the new seal. We recommend leaving the door completely open for 24 hours to allow the adhesive to fully cure. Closing it too early could allow the seals to move around.

 

You have officially replaced the seals on your boat's windshield! Give yourself a pat on the back! If this article was helpful for you, or if you don't see a how-to for a project you're doing, let us know! You can email us at contact@steelerubber.com or give us a call at 800-650-4482.


 

Prefer to watch a demonstration? Check out this video where Danny walks you through replacing these seals!


When you purchase any rubber parts from Steele Rubber Products, you are covered under our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Additionally, you have access to our Product Specialists and other knowledgeable weatherstripping pros that are here to help answer any questions you may have about our products.

If you need help finding the right rubber part for your project, or need help installing your rubber parts, assistance is available with one of our Product Specialists over the phone (800-230-6752) and on Live Chat.

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