Preparing your snowmobile before using it is a must. Among other things, one is often faced with the bewilderment of dealing with snowmobile windshields.
The ordeal of choosing the right material, repairing and installing the windshield in your snowmobile can be a jading task.
To ease it a bit for you, I have tried to jot down a few pointers on how you can work with your snowmobile windshield on your own.
Different Types of Snowmobile Windshields
There are primarily two kinds of windshields made of two different materials, polycarbonate and acrylic. These are the two types of materials that are used to make different types of windshields.
The higher-end aftersales companies that make OEM snowmobile windscreens are constructed of polycarbonate, the same material that is usually used on race cars. Acrylic is the cheaper material that is used to construct aftermarket windshields. Polycarbonate is sometimes also called Lexan.
The major difference between both the materials is that one is brittle, more brittle. It is very fragile and will easily shatter. It is only eight times stronger than untempered glass.
Compared to acrylic, polycarbonate is about 200 times stronger than the former. Even bulletproof windows are made of laminated layers of polycarbonate. That is how much it can be relied on and yes, your life can rely on the strength of polycarbonate.
There is an even better material than polycarbonate beating ordinary polycarbonate and it is hand-coated polycarbonate. Even though it is polycarbonate, it is ten times stronger than ordinary polycarbonate. Polycarbonate itself is stronger than acrylic; hand-coated polycarbonate is ten times stronger than the material which already has an upper hand on acrylic, also known as Lucite.
A shinier appearance is acrylic than Lexan or polycarbonate. This can cause glare in sunny regions. If you are prepping up to face flying gravel or go serious off-roading, then you are most likely to need the brute power that the only polycarbonate can provide. Acrylic is cheaper than Polycarbonate but it is more prone to cracking and yellowing which increases its likelihood of breaking. It will still protect you from flying debris but it is more likely to crack in the process.
The most common uses for acrylic areas are aquariums, storm windows, and hockey rinks. Polycarbonate, on the other hand, is used in bulletproof glass, race car windshields, machine guard glass, and even to make laptops.
Acrylic or Lucite is a thermoplastic with a working temp of 180F continuous. It is super durable against scratches and also in most cases dents. The windshields made of acrylic can be shined by polishing out smooth or buffed out and made to look nice and new over and over again. It is easy to cut and it is bent in heat. This is also a recyclable material.
Polycarbonate is a thermoplastic with a working temp of 240F continuous. It has a low level of flammability and is also durable against chips and cracks. Polycarbonate windshields are majorly resistant to acids and other chemicals like gasoline. It is cold-formed or can be bent without heating. Polycarbonate windshields are much more malleable and controllable in colder temperatures.
Polycarbonate does get yellow over time due to ultraviolet rays especially because you are out there spending time under the sun and if so, make sure you also spend sufficient time to take extra caution and keep your polycarbonate shield clean and up-to-date for life. However, on the brighter side polycarbonate is much easier to work with, can be cut if you need to. Polycarbonate does not have many color options, while acrylic comes available in different color options to appease the riders. Brands that are available in polycarbonate and acrylic are Arctic Cat, Ski-Doo, Polaris, etc.
New snowmobiles usually come with small windshields. Those are by default and you can always upgrade to something a bit bigger than the small ones. Small windshields are believed to be more aerodynamic which is not true, and it is only a myth. In reality, a windshield helps deflect turbulent air and keeps your snowmobile going at speed.
A mid-height windshield is great for most riding experiences as they are known to deflect turbulent air up and over you directly. These also keep you warm and usually come with side deflectors.
Then, there are tall windshields that help you deflect air the most. It keeps you way warmer than any other windshield of any height.
How to Repair Cracked Snowmobile Windshield
“A stitch at times saves nine”. This is what we have learned from the cracked windshield. Do not put the repairing off for later as every time you head out with a smaller crack, it only gets bigger with the vibration that occurs while riding.
To repair a cracked windshield, you will see a seam with bonding, and if you don’t want the seam to be there, you will want to fuse the windshield back together with the help of methylene chloride. Fusing helps give the look of an almost invisible repair. Methylene chloride should be able to be bought off fairly easily off the internet. Following are the steps that need to be followed:
At first, clean your windshield squeaky with the help of warm soapy water and rinse it off well. No scrubbing at all! You must not scrub your windscreen and must only use a soft cloth or any soft cleaning material in the direction of the polycarbonate grain.
Let the windshield dry on its own.
Get a syringe, fill it with the methylene chloride in a highly ventilated area, preferably outdoors if not, use extraction fans if you are doing it in a closed room.
Inject some methylene chloride into the crack.
Put a little pressure on the two sides to initiate a bond. Do not use a load of force.
Then leave the methylene chloride to set for 48 hours. While doing this, you must not put any strain on any part of the windshield; this can cause the bond to break off.
And now, you are ready to hit the snow again once the repair is done.
How to Install a Windshield on your Snowmobile
To install the new windshield, first, gently remove the current windshield by pulling at the base. Now keep it safe, place by storing it in an area where it won’t get scratched.
Usually, for additional support, larger windshields attach to the side of the hood. For suck kinds, you need to remove the trim cover from each side of the hood and be sure to keep these safe.
Now all you need to do is position it with the posts at each rubber mount and press with your hand until you hear that click sound and feel that each has been attached securely. You could even use a light coating of grease or petroleum jelly to make this even easier. Now if you wish, you could attach the side deflectors or flares to the sides of the hood in the same manner. And you are done with the installation!
Now that you have customized, repaired, modified, and made your snowmobile all-new by installing and choosing the right windshield, you are ready to take your beast out. With a good snowmobile comes the big responsibility of maintaining it.
Remember, all precious things last longer, if you take proper care. Hope you have a great snowmobiling season. Ride safe!