APPLICATION: This procedure should apply to any air-cooled Volkswagen. Not only does it apply to the windshield, but also to the other windows as well.
TOOLS NEEDED: Dish soap or similar lubricant -- use something that will not harm rubber or paint; roll of nylon twine, fairly thin; helper.
To remove the windshield, you will simply push it out from the inside. Start in a corner and push out. You will see the seal move and eventually you can get the windshield out by pushing out all the way around the windshield. You will undoubtedly crack the windshield with this method, but so what? You're replacing it anyway. (I might add here that this method works fine with no ill effects on side window glass.) Again, if you're using a new seal, then by all means just run a knife under the rubber on the outside of the windshield and go all the way around, then you can just lift the windshield out. You really should have a helper.
If your old seal is dry and brittle, you should get a new one before you install the windshield or else you are likely to crack the new one during installation. From what I have heard, Kyle Wade at Volks Cafe has the best prices on new Vanagon windshield seals.
Before installation of the new windshield, observe the condition of the windshield ledge/sill. It's probably rusty. You should fix it. This could involve sandblasting the rust off, then priming the ledge with a rust-stopping chemical or if the rust is deep, then removal of the old metal and welding in of new metal is ideal. If you don't have the money to do this now, start saving, because it's not going to get any better as time goes on.
For installation, I've found nylon string to work very well. I got a little roll they sell at Lowe's, it's kinda orange-colored. The best way to do this is to first lightly lubricate the channel that the string goes into with dish soap or perhaps KY Jelly or your favorite non-paint or rubber damaging lubricant of choice. Then lay the string in the channel, but double it, that is trial fit the string by unrolling it around the whole seal twice, then remove it and double it over at the mid-point. If string could be folded in half, this is what you'd be doing. Then lay the doubled-up string in the channel all the way around, and make sure the ends overlap.
Now you should have two string ends dangling and a loop dangling from the channel in the windshield seal. Lift the windshield into place with your helper and make sure the strings are on the inside. Then while your helper holds the windshield from the outside, get in the driver's seat and put a finger through the loop of string. Then with your other hand, pull on the dangling string ends while your helper gently pushes at that spot. Eventually you will pull the lip of the seal over the ridge in the window frame and once you've got that done, the thing just zips right in all the way around.
The reason you stuck your finger through the loop was to keep the string from simply pulling out of the channel when you pulled on it.
After you've got it in, go outside and give it a good shove in a few places to get it seated.
That's really all there is to it. Be careful handling the new windshield as windshield glass likes to break much more readily than side window glass. Be careful not to torque it.
November 6, 1997