Original 1966 XJ13 Windscreen
Whilst sourcing parts for the rebuild of the 1966 car, I came across a reference to the use of an "original XJ13 windscreen" which prompted me to contact Pilkingtons on the off-chance the original windscreen patterns may still be available. The reference to the use of the original windscreen formers was found in a XJ13 brochure produced by Jim Marland (former owner of Proteus Cars) in the 1990s. I now have the information I need to ensure my recreation will follow the lines of the original windscreen exactly
STOP PRESS: A screen was produced for me at Pilkingtons Automotive Queenborough factory on the Isle of Sheppy, UK in 2010 (sadly no more as production has since been transferred to Finland).
ADDITIONAL NOTE (9th July 2010)
Pilkingtons have now confirmed that the windscreens commissioned by Proteus Cars for their replicas in 1990/91 differed slightly from the original. This was because windscreens made using the original metal former did not fit the replica produced by Proteus Cars.
Pilkingtons may have not made any windscreens using the original 1966 metal former within the last 38 years. It is likely the last windscreen was made in 1972/73 for Jaguar's rebuilt car. Subsequent claims by various replica builders that they used "the original windscreen moulds" are likely to be untrue.
When the "original" XJ13 was rebuilt in 1972/73 a new Triplex screen was commissioned by Jaguar. The XJ13 Log Book states about the rebuild in 1972/73, "... new formers made for windscreen & doors. Perspex used although laminated Triplex ultimately to be fitted ...".
The newly-manufactured accurate windscreen can now be laser-scanned and digitised. This information can then be added to my 3D digital CAD/CAM millimetre-perfect 1966 XJ13 representation (more information about this approach to follow).
Long-suffering ex-wife holding the wooden "fitment gauge".
It was interesting to note that the last transaction Pilkingtons have for the use of the original windscreen formers was in 1991 - with Jim Marland of Proteus. I have come across a number of other references to the use of the "original windscreen formers" by various replica builders since then - it does question the accuracy of their statements.
Pilkingtons (who absorbed Triplex in the 1960s) are a major multinational supplier of glass - in all its forms. Of interest to builders and restorers of classic cars and one-off specials, is their small manufacturing facility on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, UK.
XJ13 - Pilkingtons Triplex
Classic Windscreen Manufacture in the UK
Pilkington Automotive has a windscreen factory in the UK designated for short run production of classic and special parts. It is located in Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent.
General view of production area
The range consists of over 2000 parts including AC, Mercedes, Aston Martin, Jaguar and Lotus - to name a few.
The manufacturing facility employs 14 people who have the specialist skills required to enable small batch production runs of laminated glass to take place.
Checking gauge/jig for Mosler.
The Queenborough factory has made classic windscreens for the aftermarket since the late 1950s, and still retains the vast majority of the tooling produced "in-house".
Many owners of classic cars have turned to the Queenborough facility as a "last resort" when searching for that rare windscreen. They can work from CAD data but if the tooling is not available then it is sometimes possible to adapt, rebuild, or produce new tooling if required.
XJ13 - Pilkingtons TriplexIt seems that no volume is too small for Pilkingtons Automotive - knowing that the original XJ13 formers are safely maintained at their factory, I only requested a single windscreen - safe in the knowledge that I can order a replacement and have it delivered within days if needed.
They produce single windscreens against samples or provided fixtures, also drawings if the part is flat (see following paper templates previously provided by custoners):
Customer-supplied paper templates for flat screens.
Each part is individually costed so as to accurately match the customer's requirements in shape, colour, thickness etc.
Pilkingtons Automotive may be contacted via their website www.pilkington.com
Pilkingtons Automotive brochure.
The process starts with the customer requirement. This may be satisfied from Pilkington's existing comprehensive stock of original jigs and formers or by customer-supplied drawings/templates. While there, I saw customer-supplied templates made from paper, wood, plastic, computer-cut resin etc.
GRP/Perspex racecar prototype customer-supplied template.
Rolls-Royce customer-supplied wooden templates.
Flat glass sheets are then cut by hand using flat wooden templates. Each laminated screen consists of two flat sheets which sandwich a vinyl laminate. The vinyl laminate can contain heated elements if required. Care is taken to ensure the correct quality/thickness of glass is used and also that the edges of the glass are precise right-angles. The "glass sandwich" is assembled by hand and then subjected to great pressure/heat in a purpose-designed autoclave. This process ensures that, not only are the layers permanently bonded together, but all air is excluded. If required, black/shaded edgings are added. Each windscreen is then given its appropriate "BS" safety mark. In the case of my windscreen care was taken to ensure that the location and contents of this mark was exactly as original. If the finished car is ever raced, FIA scrutineers will refer to these markings.
Production area stock of flat wooden glass templates.
"BS" safety markings being applied to the flat glass "sandwich" for the XJ13 windscreen - the production operator was rather camera-shy!
Each windscreen has a steel former made for it. These are all manufactured on site by hand by Pilkingtons. These are precise pieces of engineering and most are "hinged" and counter-balanced to allow them to guide the glass gently into its final shape as the heated glass softens and gently "falls" into the former. Pilkington has extensive stocks of these metal formers - not only at Queenborough but also at their other production sites. The original steel former for the XJ13 windscreen was stored at Pilkington's Kings Norton plant before being transported to Queenborough.
XJ13 glass "sandwich" being placed on top of original metal former. The whole assembly sits in a "trolley" ready for its journey through a series of heaters.
Factory store of metal formers - chances are, the one of these will be for your rare classic.
Various formers for E-Type Jaguars.
Early 1950s stock of formers - it was interesting to see how the width and curvature has changed over the years. Early windscreens were relatively flat - modern screens tend to be much larger with complex curves.
At the same time these metal formers are made, a complementary wooden "fitment jig" is made. This wooden jig is used to check the accuracy of the finished windscreen. Again, these are all made by hand at Pilkingtons by skilled craftsmen.
Jaguar XJ13 wooden fitment gauge.
Ferrari Dino wooden fitment gauge (Ford Capri behind it).
Batch of completed MGB windscreens showing how the fitment gauge is used.
Peter Swann (Factory Manager, Pilkingtons Automotive Queenborough) searching for a fitment gauge - note the (very) important fire extinguisher!.
Meanwhile, my XJ13 windscreen is continuing its journey through the furnace. After a pre-heating stage, the windscreen is subjected to gradually increasing temperatures provided by an array of individually-controlled burners. The operator monitors temperatures in the furnace and controls the burners to ensure an accurate windscreen emerges. Just before the glass reaches 700 degrees C, inspection windows in the furnace allow the operator to see the glass begin to "fall" into the metal former until it takes up the precise shape required. This is a very skilled manual operation and relies on the operator's experience and judgement. Too much heat/time and the windscreen will "sag" and become concave, too little and it won't take up the desired shape. Once it begins to bend, it is all over within minutes. Except for four small contact areas, nothing must come into contact with the glass surface while it takes up its final shape. These four small contact areas between to former and the glass are dressed with small pieces of a heatproof paper.
Jaguar XJ13 windscreen passing through furnace.
Tiny windscreens can be made using suitably-sized metal formers ......
The finished windscreen emerged from the furnace and, once it had cooled, we were able to check it using the wooden fitment jig. A small difference was eventually traced to a difference between the fitment gauge and the original steel former. After suitable adjustments, I am now the proud owner of an accurate Jaguar XJ13 windscreen - completely faithful to the original.
The windscreen will be laser-scanned and its data added to the digital data currently being assembled for a an accurate recreation of the 1966 car.
I wish to record my sincere thanks to Pilkingtons Automotive, Peter Swann and his staff, for their assistance and for providing an insight into this aspect of car manufacture. If you are looking for a windscreen for your classic, special or prototype I recommend making contact with Pilkingtons Automotive - it may be that they already have the necessary formers/templates for your particular car. In these days of mass-production it is so refreshing to find craftsmen, employing these tried and tested techniques.