Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Arkansas: 2, Odyssey: 0

If you have found this post from the IRV2 forum, welcome! Scroll down several paragraphs to find out how we repaired our own windshield. It was easy and inexpensive.

This blog is primarily about our travels in our bus conversion named "Odyssey." Take a look around, visit the latest post, take a video tour of our bus, or share your thoughts in the comments.

We are at the Cloverdale Animal Hospital, in Little Rock (map), where Opal will have her surgery tomorrow. We arrived here this afternoon for some pre-op blood work.

The blood work indicated the anemia is still worsening, but all else appears normal. Normal enough that the doctor gave her a steroid injection to help settle the spleen. The doctor had originally intended to keep her over night, but, since we are staying in the parking lot, we agreed it best for her to stay with us until the doctor arrives in the morning and is ready for her. The office here even has a 15-amp outlet outside, and we are taking advantage of it to run an air conditioner.

I have to admit that we are still apprehensive and preoccupied with Opal's condition. One distinct possibility tomorrow is that they will find her spleen and liver riddled with cancer, in which case we will need to decide even whether to take the spleen out. We are hoping for the best, though, which in this case would be a few benign splenic lesions and some indeterminate but also benign mass in the liver, in which case he will simply remove the spleen altogether. We'll be right here at the clinic the whole time, so it will be easy to consult. We are holding pleasant thoughts for the best outcome, and, by the way, thanks to everyone who has called, written in, or posted with well-wishes for Opal and for us.

We did end up coming across 412 and down 67 as I had planned, and it was pleasant, relatively quick, and mostly uneventful. I say "mostly" because we did take yet another huge rock strike to our windshield. I find it quite ironic that this happened the day after Louise's "Road Debris" post.

We were southbound on US67 just north of the incredibly tiny burg of Russell, AR, which is a four-lane, divided section of road. The posted limit is 70 (65 for trucks), and, as is customary for us in this type of situation, we were doing 62mph. Several trucks had passed us, and I am now in the habit of braking to back off quite a bit if a truck should pull back in ahead of us without a sufficient gap (which I define to be at least a full truck length -- preferably two, or 150'). Some type of flatbed semi with a load of steel parts pulled ahead of us, and, even while I was braking, "CRACK!" -- a large rock hit us, on the curb side about a foot up from the bottom of the glass. This one was really bad -- an extensive star about 2-2.5" in diameter. Ironically, the last time this happened, we were also passing through Arkansas.

From that last experience, we were carrying a "Fix-a-Windshield" brand repair kit, which we had picked up at Wal-Mart. Being, as we were, many miles from any other repair resources, we did not waver for an instant: we pulled off on the next exit, where we ended up parking at the local Baptist church to make repairs.

Here's what the damage looked like, from outside:

And from the inside:

The repair is actually quite simple. First, place the frame directly over the bull's-eye of the strike:

Insert the barrel of the tool into the frame, and screw it down until it is well sealed against the glass (I'm sighting through the barrel to ensure the opening is dead-center on the pit):

Place a few drops of resin into the barrel, and screw the plunger into the barrel to inject the resin into the strike:

The resin immediately begins to flow into the cracks under pressure:

It takes 4-6 minutes for the resin to flow into the cracks, after which you are supposed to remove the plunger and simply reinsert. We've also learned a couple of tricks from the pros, though: while the resin was flowing into the cracks, I repeatedly wet my finger and rubbed it on the inside of the glass. Think "Ajax Squeak" or the vibration that makes a wine glass ring when you rub your wetted finger around the rim. The slight vibration helps the resin to flow and any entrained air to come out. Also, after the first three or four minutes, I took my heat gun to the inside of the glass, on low setting, while Louise shot the area with the IR temperature gun. The heat trick happened to also be mentioned on the instructions. At around 125°F we saw a marked improvement in the cracks "disappearing." Also, when I removed the plunger after the first pass, I put more resin in the barrel before reinserting and tightening it back down. After a few minutes, this is what it looked like -- barely visible:

After the second six-minute pass, we removed the tool, placed another drop of resin over the pit, and covered it with a sheet of clear plastic provided with the kit. All of the steps up to this point had to be done in the shade, and we had the coach facing north. After the repair was done, we then backed around to be facing southwest, with the repair in direct sunlight. The resin is ultraviolet cure, and ten minutes of direct sun makes the repair road-ready. We opted to remove the plastic after ten minutes, but leave the glop of resin on the windshield while we finished our drive south to Little Rock, both to give the repair more cure time, and because the half hour we just spent had already put us behind schedule.

After Opal was done with the vet for the day, and we were able to settle back in to Odyssey and collect ourselves, I went out to finish the job, which involves scraping the excess resin off with a razor blade. Here I am mid-process, and you can see the matte-finish resulting from the scraping on the resin. This large oval is the result of the plastic sheet spreading the drop of resin out over an area much larger than the pit itself:

We had to park facing south at the vet, so we'd put up our silver mylar insulated window cover. When I was done scraping, I tried to capture a shot of the finished repair, but it came out so well that it's hard to see from the outside:

This was our second D-I-Y repair, and it came out much better than our first attempt, when we were still learning how to properly use the kit. If you have a vehicle with expensive and hard-to-find windshields, I can now recommend you get yourself a couple of these kits. Then take an afternoon and go down to the local junkyard, and practice on a windshield with a star. Just that little bit of practice makes a big difference when you'll have to do it for real.

Now that we've used up our emergency back-up glass repair kit, it's a priority to stop back into Wal-Mart and get another one or two. If they release Opal to us tomorrow, we'll likely spend the night at the Wal-Mart just a little further down the road from here, and we'll pick one up then.


  1. Our prayers from meeker, oklahoma for your little opal, we hope everything comes out ok. Steve & Carol

    ps: great job on the windshield (you're hired)

  2. Sean good job on that window repair, I like the way you describe the problem and the repair. I think I'm going to try that window repair on G/F car first. Also being a live aboard for 2 yrs on the C&D Canal at Summit Mariana nothing like running 400 feet of hose to fill fresh water tank at 15' and wind chill of -20. would to see more pix of your trawler. Good Travels....


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!