Rebuilding Westy louvered windows

Capt. Mike

Transferred & consolidated from archives.

Alan 1/4/99 (10:31 PM)

Living near the ocean in sunny So. Cal. takes it's toll on the aluminum louvered windows. To restore mine on my '71 Westie, I removed them, took all the pieces apart, and polished and clear-coated the aluminum pieces. I replaced a broken pane from the junk yard. Put in new screening. I also bought new window crank gear assemblies/handles from a catalog at an RV store there. For the rubber, I needed 4 different types: (1) the seal around the entire assembly, which I got from West Coast Metric, (2) the weather-strip at the bottom of each frame and (3) the top pane weather seal, both of which I ordered from the RV store catalog. The weather-strip is held in by squeezing the aluminum, so you have to pry/grind it open first. Finally, (4) the seal around the perimeter of each glass pane. I was not able to find this U-shaped rubber seal, although I found about 20 styles at a custom glass shop that were all very frustratingly similar, but not quite right. I finally used silicone. I cut up the old rubber seal into 1/2" long pieces and spaced these out about 8" apart to hold the pane correctly in the frame. I then squeezed in the silicone on both sides through a small hole at the tip of the tube. When cured, I trimmed it with a razor blade. It works and looks pretty good too. I replaced the hinges using new stainless steel rivets. I pregreased the rivet and put a piece of paper in between the pieces when popping the rivets to allow enough room for movement. I used new screws, 3/8” #6 with the tips ground down to prevent contacting the glass. Also used clear epoxy at the non-moving part seams to lock in the rigidity, prevent the screws from coming loose, and to make it watertight. The original quality was so good that I was able to use the best pieces from four different assemblies interchangeably. Warning: don’t take apart your useable old windows until you have all the replacement parts first, AND, you are pretty handy with tools. Good Luck!

Capt. Mike Soehnlein 1/14/99 (12:23 AM)

The original glass in louvered windows is safety glass, the kind that breaks into little rounded pebbles rather than slivers. Replacements are hard to find, and most glass shops won't even order you one, claiming they can't get glass tempered. You should not use ordinary, cut glass for the obvious reasons of safety.

A good substitute is Lexan. Available from most plexigals and fiberglass panel dealers, it can be cut to fit, is almost breakproof, and very inexpensive. I found a piece big enough in the scrap bin at my dealer of $2.

It's only drawback might be that it is more susceptible to scratches, but I went another 5 years without noticeable loss of clarity.

Alan 1/14/99 (12:36 AM)

That's a good idea Captain. One point I should have made about tempered glass. Over the years, it gets very brittle. You must be very careful in handling it. One little bump the wrong way (especially on the edge) and it's gone. That goes for all your old windows. Considering the way the louvered windows stick out and could be bumped, that's another reason to consider plexiglass.


New member
Where would you suggest an avid ground up resto person find the proper glass?

Lexan is a great material, but with all due respect, isn't it plastic when all is said and done?

The behavior of the Lexan (i.e. fog, mist, light reflection) is quite different than glass perhaps.

These are used often (with great results) on farm equipment.

Any responses:

A- to support Lexan
B- to use breakable glass
C- to use safety glass

Just curious...

Thanks to all.

Ron Wolff
'76 Westy
'78 SB Conv
'74 SB Auto-stick
'78 Westy Auto

Capt. Mike

Lexan is a plastic, but is the one used in most of the 'unbreakable' applications such as burglar resistant doors. It's disadvantage is that it will scratch easier than glass. It's advantages are cost, it can be bought in sheets and cut to fit without special equipment, and is shatter resistance. It can handle the flex and impacts of automotive side glass use.

The proper glass is "safety glass", the type that breaks into hundreds of relatively harmless pebbles. Thus a break means the whole pane breaks out all at once. It must be manufactured to fit and will be the most expensive of replacement options. I don't know of any source of individual panes, so you are stuck with custom.

The 2nd type of automotive glass is the laminated glass as used in windshields. When it breaks, it can go into sharp shards, but the plastic layer in the middle keeps usually keeps it intact. Thus it can crack or spiderweb without coming out. A little easier to get custom made, it will still be expensive. The 'cut' of flat laminated will leave the edges subject to later air penetration and yellowing along the edge. Better manufacturers will reseal the edge.

Ordinary household window glass from the cheap shops is dangerous because it will definately break into sharp shards and thus is an unacceptable risk in case of accident. It has little or no resistance to the flex and impacts of vehicle use.

I've used a Lexan replacement in a '79 Type II with excellent results. I had gotten nailed by a flying stone from another vehicle while stopped on a gravel road. The OE safety glass started chunking out as I touched it. Fortunately, I got it duct-taped before it was all gone, but had I been driving, I'm sure it would have all fallen out before I could get stopped. At least I didn't have to find a replacment material on the road.

In the several years it was installed, I had no signs of yellowing and no problems with clarity, reflection or distortion. It was indistinguishable from the remaining two OE panes. I did pick up a couple of minor scratches eventually but under conditions that were extreme. Buying a piece out of the scrap bin at the local dealer, I only had a couple of bucks invested. Figure I can change-out the Lexan every few years for that!


New member
These are old posts. Has there been any new supplier of louvered window seals since then or has anyone found a source?