Hail Shield Build Help

Oct 14, 2008
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Tulsa, OK
Hey James, what's Diamon-Fusion coating?

I thought about having my camry's windows replaced with lexan sheets. There's a guy I found in IL that will cut and shape lexan windows for $1000. He usually just works on race cars... custom windshields, etc. That's a bit pricey, so I'm going with fold down lexan windows.
 
Mar 14, 2010
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Siloam Springs, Arkansas
Oct 14, 2008
287
112
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37
Tulsa, OK
Hey everyone,

I finally finished my hail shield build. I did a video series on YouTube describing the design and the building process. If your interested, I'm posting the YouTube Video below. The playlist has a bunch of additional videos for your viewing pleasure.

 
Oct 14, 2008
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Tulsa, OK
*you're

Sorry, but I can't stand blatant grammatical and syntactical errors; especially when they are mine. Thanks for understanding.
 
Last edited:

Dan Robinson

Staff member
Jan 14, 2011
2,507
2,174
21
St. Louis
stormhighway.com
After 3 seasons of using my first-generation guard design, I'm thinking of modifying the rig to do two things:

- Combine the stage 1 and stage 2 side guards into a shorter single unit. This would stay horizontal normally (or even folded onto the roof), then pivot down to cover the windows when needed. This would reduce the mass and weight of the rig considerably.

- Either remove the front guard entirely or convert it to a hinged or slide-back part that is deployed only when needed. The front guards get in the way of photography and video too much, particularly the dashcam, and I've already had one hailstone sneak under the guards while driving and crack the bottom of the windshield. The front guards produce the most drag and take up a lot of room when stowed inside on ferry trips.
 

B. Dean Berry

Moderator
May 25, 2014
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77
11
At the risk of sounding like a broken record or a fanboy, check out Daniel Shaw's hail guard. There used to be a page online that detailed it's building and mounting. I'll see if I can find it.
 

B. Dean Berry

Moderator
May 25, 2014
259
77
11
Hmm. Completely gone now.

Basically, it works on a 4-point ladder-style rack mounted to the roof with no intrusions at all into the lengthwise-running bars. This is because the front hail shield that overhangs the windshield has two long mounting bars that slide into the front of the rack, and run inside the tubes for about half the length of the rack. There's welded nuts on each side with a thumbscrew to tighten it down. When it's not in use, it's fully in the rearward position, when in use it's out over the glass.
 

Dan Robinson

Staff member
Jan 14, 2011
2,507
2,174
21
St. Louis
stormhighway.com
This the one? https://www.flickr.com/photos/123911259@N03/24909695801/

Looks like a stone may have slipped around and cracked the bottom of his windshield https://www.flickr.com/photos/123911259@N03/35348022330/
Could have been a hailstone - if you are driving faster than 30-40mph, a golfball can easily come in under the guard and impact the bottom of the window. It happened to me on the McLean day last year. To its credit, the hail guard did keep my windshield from getting obliterated that day as it surely would have with no protection.
 

Dan Robinson

Staff member
Jan 14, 2011
2,507
2,174
21
St. Louis
stormhighway.com
I've drafted up a quick concept of what I may do for this upcoming season. For comparison, here is the original design:

hailguarddiagram2.jpg

And the final product as-built:

hailshield2.jpg

Now, the proposed mods for version 2.0:

hailguarddiagram3.jpg
This is just a rough draft - there are some details missing here that will be needed, like guide rails. You get the basic idea though. I'm thinking with a strong enough actuator, a linkage could be made that deploys both driver and passenger side guards with the same unit. As for 12v actuators, there are quite a few options out there. Just a quick search pulls up some industrial-grade models new for $200-$300 each - pretty expensive for this application. However, there are quite a few devices using linear actuators that could be purchased used for much less and repurposed. I see things like marine hatches, awning retractors, even convertible car soft-top mechanisms that might be able to be modified for use here.
 
Sep 7, 2013
555
365
21
Strasburg, CO
I've drafted up a quick concept of what I may do for this upcoming season. For comparison, here is the original design:

View attachment 16626

And the final product as-built:

View attachment 16627

Now, the proposed mods for version 2.0:

View attachment 16628
This is just a rough draft - there are some details missing here that will be needed, like guide rails. You get the basic idea though. I'm thinking with a strong enough actuator, a linkage could be made that deploys both driver and passenger side guards with the same unit. As for 12v actuators, there are quite a few options out there. Just a quick search pulls up some industrial-grade models new for $200-$300 each - pretty expensive for this application. However, there are quite a few devices using linear actuators that could be purchased used for much less and repurposed. I see things like marine hatches, awning retractors, even convertible car soft-top mechanisms that might be able to be modified for use here.

Dan - You should look locally for a hot-rod shop or custom fabricator. These guys usually have some pretty damn clever ideas for unique applications.

FWIW, I design consumer product for a living, but I get so many great ideas from my fabricators in the shop that they've made me a better designer. Sometimes the solution is a lot simpler than one thinks.
 
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Reactions: B. Dean Berry
Sep 24, 2016
25
5
1
23
Ringgold, Georgia
My Idea of building one was to have like a full rack system as in something that covers the whole roof and then extends over my windshield at a slight downward angle, but have it made out of expanded metal mesh (something that won't bend under weight). That way I can still utilize it as a functional roof rack, stand on it or heck even car tent on it for off season. The expanded metal mesh will allow air to flow freely reducing drag and lift. As for the side and rear windows look into 3m car window security film. not only does it strengthening the glass but little pieces won't go shattering everywhere and no holes should be made. Daniel shaw has it on his Toyota RAV4 and it survived the winds from the El Reno tornado, Its on youtube. heres what he uses exactly (3M Safety Film / 26 Layer / 0.8mm)Fitted in Tulsa, OK
Also check out yorktonstormhunter on Instagram. His hail shield gives you a good example of what I'm thinking just he's using more of a net rather than strong expanded metal.

Daniel shaw's equipment- http://www.severestorms.com.au/index.php/faq-s/equipment
 
Sep 7, 2013
555
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Strasburg, CO
To those looking to use expanded metal...make sure you have a strong budget before spending too much time designing.

Best source is McNichols (link below).

Standard hot-roll 3/4" expanded metal @ 48x96 is about $100...but this stuff will rust instantly and DIY painting expanded metal is a waste of time. It needs to be professionally coated, either with powder or a rubberized coating, and I'm not even sure the rubberizing guys would bother.

So to get rust free steel, you need galvanized, well the price probably just went up 3-4x.

Next stop is aluminum, weaker in an expanded state, but corrosion resistant and lighter and likely suitable for this application. Add about 50% to the price of the hot-roll steel. You'll also need a pro to weld this if you go that route, mechanical fastening would probably be best option.

There are a lot of other materials available from McNichols however. Worth a look. Make sure you check the pricing, because some materials go up exponentially once you reduce that hole size.

http://www.mcnichols.com/products
 

B. Dean Berry

Moderator
May 25, 2014
259
77
11
IIRC, Shaw's is welded Aluminum.

One could do the hot-rolled steel, coat it in Plasti-Dip themselves, and secure it to the welded frame with nuts and bolts, or self-tappers, and still not be too expensive.

If I had designs on building one of those monstrosities, I'd probably go with welded Aluminum.
 
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Reactions: Marc R. O'Leary
Sep 7, 2013
555
365
21
Strasburg, CO
I would likely go with an aluminum structure as well and mechanical fasteners to do the holding. This would allow for quick and easy replacement after a softball encounter.
 
May 26, 2014
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I've used stainless steel for exterior mounts with good success. Steel tends to bounce back from impacts better so you could get away with a wider mesh gap for less wind resistance.
I second the steel expanded metal idea. Wider gap also greatly decreases weight. If you get large enough hail, your aluminum will dent or warp and need replacing. Steel eliminates that problem. It also gives you much more protection if you were to have a tree limb or small debris come down on you
 
Oct 14, 2008
287
112
11
37
Tulsa, OK
I have updated my build for my new vehicle. I'm partly using my previous design and I've added the expanded metal over the rear windows as many of you have mentioned wanting to try. So far the design has been flawless. I haven't been in any grapefruit-sized hail yet. But it withstood the tennis balls just fine in 2017. The rear guards are semi-permanent. I can remove the expanded metal and simply insert a bolt into the Jack nuts that are around the window frame. But they look pretty cool so I just keep them on all the time. The roof guard can be deployed within 30 seconds. If I have someone else in the car, which I usually do, I don't need to get out of the vehicle I can crack the door, push the front shield down over the windshield and pull my side protector down to cover the driver side windows. The passenger just needs to pull the passenger side guard over the other windows. I'm extremely happy with it.20180218_171656.jpg20170205_170421.jpg20170205_170433.jpgScreenshot_20180225-092920.jpgScreenshot_20180225-092951.jpg

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
 

Jokko W.

Enthusiast
May 1, 2019
4
0
0
26
Jackson mo
I've made hailguards for my 2 toyota trucks (Tundra and FJ Cruiser) of expanded metal, and wire mesh more recently. Up until this year I used 4 70lb magnets to hold the guards over the side and back windows and used a bolt-on system for the driver and passenger windows as well as the front windshield; these bolted onto the roof rack on my FJ:
View attachment 6254

View attachment 6255

View attachment 6256

This year I had a guy weld nuts to the vehicle body so all guards will be bolted on with 4 bolts each. I am also having the entire FJ line-Xed. I little more extreme but I can remove the hailguards when I'm not chasing and all you see are these small nuts.

The advantage I found with the wire mesh is that wind travels through it as opposed to plexiglass which is a solid surface and would have a better chance of being pulled off. I was in over 100 mph winds in El Reno and the hailguards didn't flinch a bit.
 

Jokko W.

Enthusiast
May 1, 2019
4
0
0
26
Jackson mo
I have updated my build for my new vehicle. I'm partly using my previous design and I've added the expanded metal over the rear windows as many of you have mentioned wanting to try. So far the design has been flawless. I haven't been in any grapefruit-sized hail yet. But it withstood the tennis balls just fine in 2017. The rear guards are semi-permanent. I can remove the expanded metal and simply insert a bolt into the Jack nuts that are around the window frame. But they look pretty cool so I just keep them on all the time. The roof guard can be deployed within 30 seconds. If I have someone else in the car, which I usually do, I don't need to get out of the vehicle I can crack the door, push the front shield down over the windshield and pull my side protector down to cover the driver side windows. The passenger just needs to pull the passenger side guard over the other windows. I'm extremely happy with it.View attachment 16641View attachment 16642View attachment 16643View attachment 16644View attachment 16645

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
Can you please give me a list of materials that you used I'll be making one for my 2014 Chevy z71 pickup I need one like you got but have no idea where to start any help is much appreciated