Our appropriately named BlownZ Project 2002 Camaro has been through quite a metamorphosis since it’s arrival in our Power Automedia shop. We’ve already brought you the the tech stories regarding our engine build, oiling system, and braking setup. We’ve recently discussed the rear spoiler installation, upgraded fuel system, and now it’s time we cover our Five Star Bodies windshield installation.
Being as how BlownZ is no longer a street car, the factory installed safety glass is just added weight. We decided to replace the heavy front windshield and rear hatch glass with Five Star Bodies composite windows. This decision is an obvious one, as safety and performance need to go hand in hand when building the perfect race car.
A Heavy Issue…
Although we didn’t weigh the glass or the composite windows to compare, the weight difference was obvious as soon as we lifted them. While the difference in weight alone gives most racers a reason to switch over to plastic there are many more reasons to do so. For example, in the event of a crash we won’t have to worry about broken glass flying into our faces. Plus, the Five Star windows are designed to pop out if we find ourselves in such a situation.
To learn more about our new windows, we’ve contacted Corey Shultz, Manager over at Five Star Bodies. Shultz provided us with installation tips, recommendations on which windows are appropriate for our application, and how-to’s on prolonging the life of our window package.
Five Star Sizes and Construction
Five Star composite windows are manufactured using an unique “top-secret” method that’s designed to make them as durable as possible. They’re available in two configurations for the 1993-2002 Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird: pre-cut to fit, or oversized so the car builder can cut the window(s) to the specific application.
They are also available in two thicknesses levels for the windshield: 1/8, 1/4, and 3/16 of an inch, while the rear can only be had in 1/8 or 3/16-inch making for multiple options for the potential buyer. We chose the pre-cut to fit 3/16-inch front windshield replacement unit (PN 150-6335-2) while opting for the oversized 3/16-inch rear (PN 150-6135-STK). The rear windows are only available in the oversized variety for the fourth-generation F-bodies, allowing us to cut the rear window to mold perfectly into our hatch.
Installation on BlownZ
There are a few different ways on installing the Five Star windows, including using an adhesive or riveting them in. Since we’re shooting for 7-second quarter mile timeslips, Shultz suggested that we should screw the windows in, rather than relying on glue or rivets. “Screws are much more dependable than the adhesive, and isn’t prone to stress cracking like when riveted.” he said.
“Screws are much more dependable than the adhesive, and isn’t prone to stress cracking like when riveted.” -Corey Schultz
Our Power Automedia shop dawgs will be handling the task at hand, so we’ll be following along with the installation as they progress. Besides, we love working on our own projects anyway. It gives us the pride of completion, while also not having to worry if they were installed correctly.
The Front Windshield
Beginning with our front windshield, it’s best to make sure that all of the old window sealer and any other gunk is completely removed. This way we can install our new Five Star body window sealer easier and ensure proper fitment.
After our windshield frame had been cleaned, Tim and Dean began carefully test-fitting the composite piece to our Camaro. Even though ours is a direct-fit unit, it’s best to always make sure that all four corners line up properly. It’s also strongly advised to leave the applied shipping plastic attached to both windows to prevent any unnecessary scratches to the throughout the installation process.
Once it became clear that everything was in order, it was then time to mount our windshield in it’s final position. Tim and Dean lined up our windshield perfectly, taping it in place and made sure that everything, including our VIN tag, was squared up.
We then applied our allen-head screws in place. Starting in each of the four corners, we worked our way around the entire windshield. The important thing here is not to over tighten so you won’t crack the window. Leaving the plastic on during installation proved to be a very good idea, and it saved us from creating unsightly scratches at every small slip.
Once we were happy with our new windshield placement and knew it was secure, it was time to turn our attention to the rear hatch window. Since our rear window wasn’t pre-cut to fit like our windshield, we would have to break out the powertools. Thankfully, we have a fully-equipped shop filled with just about everything we need.
The Rear Hatch Window
Equipped with a plexiglass bladed jigsaw, we set our rear window down on our workbench carefully as not to scratch or damage it in anyway. After taking all of the appropriate measurements, we slowly cut the window down to the correct diameter. When you’re working with thin, composite materials it’s always best to take your time. You don’t want to accidentally take out too much material or crack the window because you were in a hurry. Then you’re only options would be to make another phone call to Five Star Bodies with credit card in hand.
Seeing the process through without any issues, we checked for any gaps between the window and BlownZ’s hatch before we We checked for any gaps between the window and BlownZ’s hatch before we With Tim and Dean starting from the top and working their way down, we secured our new rear window into place without any problems.
Fogging Up the Windows?
“Our competitors use a solution that’s loaded with many different chemicals that can potentially damage the plastic if used incorrectly.” -Corey Schultz
Now before you remove the plastic and walk away, there’s one thing we need to mention. One of the common drawbacks with all composite windows in your race car is the increased potential fogging that can occur. To help prevent fogging, Schultz suggests using Five-Star’s Anti-Fog Foaming Solution (PN 843). It helps maintain the clear visibility and durability you would expect from your Five-Star windows, and we used it on our BlownZ Camaro.
The anti-fog solution also helps protect our composite windows from warping and cracking under the sun’s heat, or the twist of the chassis when BlownZ leaves the line hard.
“The foaming solution helps ensure clear visibility for years of use.” says Schultz. “But be careful of using other products on these windows. There are some solutions that are loaded with many different chemicals, and can potentially damage the plastic if used incorrectly.”
After we applied our foaming solution, we stood back and admired our work. At a glance, the Five Star windows look as naturally clear as the factory glass, and even has the black “frit” around the edges that all modern auto glass comes with from the factory. Since we’re on the subject, the frit is there to protect the urethane moldings that help hold the glass to the body’s window frame.
We’re almost completely done with Project BlownZ, and this has been a journey of trials and tribulations. But that’s to be expected when building a car of this caliber. It might not be for the impatient or for the faint of heart, but when it’s all said and done it will definitely be worth it. Stay tuned for more on this car in the coming installments.