Home-made hail shields

This is from a previous thread on car insurance and chase vehicles-
Originally posted by David Drummond+--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(David Drummond)</div>
<!--QuoteBegin-beaudodson
I am glad someone started this thead. I have been wondering about this very topic.

Where does one get info on hail shields for windshields?

Thanks

You basically imagineer them out of something to fit your vehicle unless you got a lot of money to give to a welder. :wink:[/b]
but I felt that this topic deserved its own thread.

I'd be interested in more info about this. What sort of material do you use for the "screen". They make some pretty sturdy hog fencing that (layered and offset) could provide a good (if heavy?) "screen". Wondering what people use.

Also, I have a removable aluminum roof rack (affixes with suction cups and belts that go through the inside of the car). I would imagine that a screen could be attached to that (or does anyone have alternative ways of attaching the hail screen?)

Are you only be interested in protecting the front/rear glass, or do you overhang the sides at all? How far out front do you go before you sacrifice your sky visibility? I imagine the answer depends on the slope of your vehicle's windshield.

Thanks for any info...

Darren Addy
Kearney, NE
 
Instead of saying "hog fence" I should have said "panels".
Like the bottom one on this page: http://www.metalmart.biz/19.htm and here is a wire/gauge conversion chart for those who need them (like ME).

4 layers of that stuff (correctly offset) would give you a grid of 1/2" x 1" "holes". You should be able to make several of them with a 16" panel section. I'd trim the whole thing with a split rubber hose (held on with hose clamps) to keep from banging my head against the edges (I'm good at banging my head on things). :roll:

Perhaps not the most stylish solution, but functional????

Darren Addy
Kearney, NE
 
If I were to make one... As I have alot of fab experience ie. ladder racks etc... then I would use angle iron or square tubing and affix expanded metal to it. my 2c
 
Hail shields

After the awsome hailstorm I encountered in Dallas County Iowa on 05/10/05 I keep cut up pieces of cardboard and duct tape in my car for some quick and easy hail protection. The cardboard would only be on until the hail was done. I will only put the cardboard on my back window (big target) and back side windows. This may sound crazy but could easily mean the difference between paying 300 or 400$ on new windows, I dont mind looking funny for a few minutes if it will save me lots of $$ while I get excellent hail footage. :D
 
My thought was to make the frames out of 1/2" electrical conduit tubing (easy to shape and cut, but yet strong) for the frame on each window and then overlay that with some gauge of stretched steel (mesh). Not sure of what gauge yet. I was going to get some samples and mount it to my proposed frame, and then take it up to the batting cages and shoot a few baseballs at it to test it out. Figure out what gauge would hold up to the barrage.

There are some logistics to figure out, like how to mount the windshield part so you can move and/or remove it. Same goes for the driver and passenger door.

That's probably going to be a project for next year though, or for the winter.
 
I like the electrical conduit frame idea. Your idea of testing by firing baseballs at it made me wonder if a weave of 1-1/2" wide elastic might work better than a hard wire/metal screen. (Think those pitching trainers with the strike zone on a net that tosses the ball back at you). Sure would be a heck of a lot lighter, too. (Consider the ridiculous to trigger outside-the-box solutions).

150 feet of 1-1/2" wide is under $6.00 here. (Haven't figured out yet how much one would need to cover a frame the size of a windshield hail shield.)

Darren Addy
Kearney, NE
 
Another ghetto idea:

Styrofoam. Those 1" thick styrofoam boards in the craft section at Wal*Mart. Bungee them across the front of your windows. Granted, you won't be able to see through them, but it'd be a good emergency option.
 
I think the elastic might be TOO flexible, and would still allow the hail to come in contact with the glass, unless you were able to mount it a good distance away from the glass, which probably isn't practical. I have thought of some of that mess type plastic, similar to the orange stuff you see around construction sites. I might get some samples of that and test it as well some time.
 
Originally posted by Ben Cotton
Another ghetto idea:

Styrofoam. Those 1\" thick styrofoam boards in the craft section at Wal*Mart. Bungee them across the front of your windows. Granted, you won't be able to see through them, but it'd be a good emergency option.

I don't know about the emergency options though Ben. Realistically, by the time you need an emergency option, it's probably too bad already to get outside and implement it.

Hail shields probably aren't for everyone, but in some cases I can see their usefullness.
 
I'd want something that doesn't get soft when wet and that can be applied without leaving the vehicle. I would want some sort of metal that can withstand repeated blows from objects falling at 80-100 mph. Keep in mind that hailstones on occasion tear holes through roofs, and just a couple weeks ago there was an instance of hail tearing a hole through the plastic side panel of a chase vehicle.

With that in mind, cardboard and styrofoam will not hold up to the speeds at which hailstones fall and will be easily ripped to shreds. A styrofoam cup I use to protect the thermometer probe outside my window was totally ripped to shreds following a barrage of 5/8 inch diameter hail and 40 mph winds a couple years ago.
 
Huh?

I still think cardboard is good for an emergency hail shield, esp. for hail from golfball to hens egg, anything after that I'm not sure about. I've rode out plenty of hailstorms where the hail got up to around golfball without losing a single window and think that putting the card board TEMPORARILY on the back and side windows with DUCT TAPE couldn't hurt. I'll be installing a more "professional" hail shield in July. The only way hail is gonna go through someones roof is if they have a sunroof or convertable, hail cannot penetrate a metal automobile roof, but it can put some BIG dents in it though.
 
You're right about hail leaving big dents in the roof of your car -- I once had a softball hit the roof of my Honda Civic so hard that it knocked out the interior dome light! I literally had to collect the pieces of the dome light cover from the backseat of my car. :)
 
I figure I'd add my 2 cents, as I think we're one of the few vehicles that have had hail guards actually tested by a baseball hail barrage in S. Plains TX a couple weeks ago. But first a disclaimer...PLEASE don't think we did this on purpose! The storm caught us just like so many other chasers that day. Trust me, my chase partner is not happy with the enormous craters in his XTerra's hood and body panels!

Anyway, our windshield guard is a retractable design that folds back against the roof when not in use (held in place with twist-lock clamps). It can be deployed by flipping it down and locking it with spring pins...a process which takes about 10 seconds. We basically folded it down when we neared any storm, and left it down throughout the storm. Since it folds out horizontally above the windshield, you can drive with it down perfectly fine...it doesn't obscure your view any more than the typical sun tinting on the top of the windshield.

The guard frame is 1"x 1/8" wall square aluminum tubing, welded together. I chose this for lightness and so the guard would not bounce as much, which would risk damage to the hinges. The main arms that mount to the roof rack are tougher...same size tubing, but steel. Everything gets U-bolted to the round roof rails on the XTerra.

The mesh itself went through several designs. I first wanted to use expanded aluminum sheet (3/4" holes), but it was cost prohibitive at $60 for a 4x8-ft sheet, and difficult to get. I settled on 1/2" chicken wire mesh, found at any Home Depot for $6.99 for 3x5ft. It's held in place by 30 screws and fender washers, with a piece of weatherstripping sandwiched between the mesh and frame, to reduce vibration (which was very loud without the weatherstripping...trust me). The windshield guard worked great...not a single crack in the glass. But the guard took some direct hits, which deformed the mesh severely and partially ripped it off the frame. It probably would have failed if the baseballs had continued another 5-10 minutes. I'm replacing it with double-ply mesh this time.

The side and back glass are protected by 1" square steel wire mesh, spaced about 1.5" from the window glass. These worked pretty well, but one softball cratered it in enough to get to the glass and we lost one window.

Here's a page showing the construction:
http://www.facethewind.com/hail_guard

And here's a page showing what happened to them in the hail:
http://www.facethewind.com/chase2005/may12.shtml

The flexconduit suggested in a previous post is a neat idea. I may have to integrate that into my next design...
 
Dave (chaser #1 of 3 from Wappingers Falls NY)

Originally posted by Dave Lewison+--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Dave Lewison)</div>
But first a disclaimer...PLEASE don't think we did this on purpose! The storm caught us just like so many other chasers that day.[/b]
I'm not intending to ruffle feathers, especially with my video/music colleague on the Storms Of 2004 DVD project (Dave, when will we meet?), but....

<!--QuoteBegin-The [i

Face The Wind[/i] Hail Guard Web Page]Let's hope we have some great storms to test it!!!
Just the fact that you built a hail guard says you had intended to be in a situation like this. Afterall, that is exactly why R.J. Evans built his hail guard - to sample some really nasty hail storms. In fact, considering the
other thread
on this topic, it seems that you guys were probably one of the only vehicles that did the right thing on May 12, whether you intended to or not. My point - I'm not sure that your disclaimer is needed! :)

Some comments on the design - I would consider a more sturdy mesh, and possibly extending it another 6" over the windshield, to account for diagonal trajectories. Might even consider a three-position shield - allow it to also lock down to cover the front glass like R.J.'s.

Greg (chaser #2 of 3 from Wappingers Falls NY)
 
Originally posted by Greg Stumpf
Just the fact that you built a hail guard says you had intended to be in a situation like this.

That is quite a leap of logic. I find that imputing motives to others can be tricky business, even with the power of seeming certain. I can't speak to anyone else's intentions, but I'm a newbie and I'm quite sure that it is possible for me to drive myself into hail without knowing what the heck I'm even doing. :p Intending to do it would be a step up for me, since it would imply that I knew enough to accomplish the feat. :oops:

Since most chasers shoot video through their windshield, (not to mention how handy it is to see through for other purposes), I think it is prudent to give (at least) the windshield extra protection, though I can see why one might want to extend it to all windows, if possible.

To say that somebody builds a hail shield because they intend to be in a situation like that, is the same as saying that a Law Enforcement officer wears a Kevlar vest because they intend to be shot at. That's just plain silly. We chase storms that often shoot hail. How is it not prudent to be prepared for the unexpected?

Darren Addy
Kearney, NE
 
Despite my apparently inaccurate wording on my web page, we truly did not build this thing to sample hail cores. It was an insurance policy, pure and simple. It was built with the purpose of deflecting that one rogue baseball in otherwise smaller hail. Or just in case the core overtakes you before you're able to escape... Or if the road options just don't leave you a choice. We've all been in situations like these before. As Shane puts it, "SH*T HAPPENS". And THAT is what the guard was designed for.

Besides, I thought RJ built his vehicle as part of a hail research project he's doing, so he WANTS to sample hail cores. Although, I don't remember if he has his side glass protected. His windshield guard is a decent design, but I don't like that you can't really drive with it deployed. And since most of the time you won't have the opportunity to jump out and deploy a shield, I opted for a design that could be used while driving. My design was inspired by Eric Nguyen who had a similar rigid design on his van. I basically just added the fold-back option to mine.

The guard actually sticks out further than in the drawing...about 10" from the bottom center of the windshield. Any more than that, and you start losing visibility of storms, not to mention stop lights, etc. It was designed with roughly a 30-degree (from vertical) hail impact angle in mind. If hail's hitting at 45 degrees, then it's being blown sideways at over 100mph lateral speed, in which case you're probably screwed for other reasons! :lol:
 
Originally posted by Darren Addy+--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Darren Addy)</div>
Originally posted by Greg Stumpf+--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Greg Stumpf)
Just the fact that you built a hail guard says you had intended to be in a situation like this. [/b]

That is quite a leap of logic.[/b]

I don't think it was that much of a leap, considering the statement that was on Dave's Web page. However, as you can see, he's already clarified that for us.

<!--QuoteBegin-Dave Lewison
@
Besides, I thought RJ built his vehicle as part of a hail research project he's doing, so he WANTS to sample hail cores. Although, I don't remember if he has his side glass protected. His windshield guard is a decent design, but I don't like that you can't really drive with it deployed.

R. J. Evans was, AFAIK, the first mainstream chaser to have built a hail guard, and his intent was clear - to sample gorilla hail (you can ask him), along with other meteorological info via his live streaming mesonet data. And yes, he deploys his cage while stationary, and lets the hail cores move over him. His side and back glass is not protected (although this may change in the future).

<!--QuoteBegin-Dave L. also

The guard actually sticks out further than in the drawing...about 10\" from the bottom center of the windshield. Any more than that, and you start losing visibility of storms, not to mention stop lights, etc. It was designed with roughly a 30-degree (from vertical) hail impact angle in mind. If hail's hitting at 45 degrees, then it's being blown sideways at over 100mph lateral speed, in which case you're probably screwed for other reasons![/quote]
But if you intend to drive with it deployed as you say, you have to add the speed of the vehicle, and you might get impacts from a greater than 30 degree angle.

Also, wind speed isn't the only factor for hail trajectory. The shape of the stone, and sometimes its spin as it descends, can cause the stones to "glide" at angles off the vertical. Look up through your windsheild at falling smaller stones sometime and you you'll see the stones gliding in seemingly random directions (it's actually quite beautiful - like a "dance of the stones").
 
I understand how Greg could read into the comment on my webpage that we wanted to test the guard in some huge hail. Trust me, I didn't mean it to sound that way. In fact, if you watch the video on my May 12 page, you'll be able to tell that I REALLY did not want to be in that situation. ...rather, it was a byproduct of some decisions that left no escape.

Now more about the guard...the smaller stones will tend to come in at shallower angles because they fall slower and are more influenced by cross winds. Assuming turbulent flow around a sphere, a 4" hailstone will fall about 100mph. Assuming you're driving at 20mph into a 50mph RFD with softballs in it (WHY would anyone do this???), simple vector addition says that the stones would come in at 35-degrees from vertical. I figured this would be the absolute worst the guard would ever see.... By the same equation, a smaller golfball hailstone would fall about 55mph, and so could theoretically hit the glass if the truck was angled just wrong....but I was far less concerned about the smaller stones doing damage.

My biggest concern was hail sneaking around the sides of the guard if hit from that angle. I flared it out on the sides as much as I could, but there are limits...I didn't want a huge wing on the truck!

I wonder if there has been any research done on how hail impacts various materials. Sounds like a fascinating subject to me.
 
I made a hail shiled back in 1996. I first used it in 97. It was made with 1/2"EMT frame and metal shelving as the cage. It folded up on the roof. When down, it snapped into the hood and allowed room for the windshield wipers to operate normally. I only used it the one year, because it seemd to repell hail more than I thought. I couldn't get in any big hail at all. It also was very anoying driving down the road. It created a lot of wind noise. I find it easier to just pay for a new windshield every now and then. This way I always have a nice clear view without lots of pitting that builds up after many thousands of miles.
 
Originally posted by Greg Stumpf
it seems that you guys were probably one of the only vehicles that did the right thing on May 12

Not intending to start a debate on this, but just curious...what was, IYO, the right thing to do that day, in that situation? I've thought about this (just a while ago at work as a matter of fact, as the new guy was checking out the still-damaged windows on my car), and given everything that happened leading up to the development of the tornado, the only thing anyone could've done right (barring driving into gorilla hail, a tornado, or power pole-snapping RFD winds), would've ben not even being there to begin with.

The guy at work asked me about this encounter, and as Dave mentioned I say above, sometimes "sh*t happens." I don't place blame on anything, but if I were to, it would be the lack of roads. I can't say we shouldn't have been so close to the storm because I don;t spend $100 and drive 500 miles to run away from what I'm out there to chase. I can't say we made a mistake, because we did the bst we could with what we had to work with; my choices were (a) drive south and get smacked with RFD and consequently, power poles, (B) stay put and then drive south after the tornado crossed the road (uh oh, debris blocked the road, not an option after all), ©, turn east and drive right under a developing tornado (which did in fact begin north of the road and move south before anchoring), or (d) drive to the east road intersection, face east, and let the first tornado rope. Then, watch the new tornado develop very carefully, and mosey east behind it, staying well west of any "satellite" danger, and just hope like hell the hail doesn't take the windows.

I chose D, because if the worst happened, we knew it would be coming and were ready for it. Windows cost a few bills to replace, entire cars are a bit harder to replace (as in tornado debris). And people, well, those are irreplacable.

If you ever see the video, it's clear that we both know what's coming, but also know there isn't jack squat we can do about it, so we just hunkered down, kept the video rolling, and hoped for the best. Once the window exploded, I made the only defensive move I could at that point, and backed up a full quarter mile (keeping the already-smashed window face towards the hail onslaught) to get further away from the tornado/updraft center, as the further away you get from this area, the less-likley you'll have the largest stones.

I've replayed the event in my mind a thousand times, and I honestly don't think I'd do anything differently if given the chance. I like being close, but I looked up at that circulation and I didn't want any part of being underneath it. Driving east was probably another option that could;ve provided safe haven from the hail, but IMO, the tornado was a definite threat; the gorilla hail was a possibility...and I'll take a possible threat over a definite one every time.

But man, what a great piece of video it yielded :wink:
 
We chose Shane's option "B", and well...that didn't exactly work out well either. I tell ya, nothing's more sickening than the sound of powerlines scraping past your ham antennas. :D I desperately wanted to get east. I remember flying by that roadsign for the east road that most people took, and thinking to myself "oops". But having seen Charles' video, I'm not sure I would have wanted to be on that road after all. That second tornado was VERY close! Although it looks like the hail there was slightly smaller....not that it matters much. A 3" stone might as well be 6" where glass is concerned!

BTW, does anyone know if that "second tornado" was in fact from a seperate meso/circulation, or was it the remains of the first circulation that just re-intensified? I can't say since we didn't take that road, but it sure looks like it.
 
I chose to go east. I did not drive under the circulation. I went north of the main circulation. It was to my SE when it really got going. Then the missiles started coming down. We wanted to go east on the road and go north of the tornado, but the tornado had other plans. It had a slight northward component to its motion. I figured the bigger hail would be behind us, so we opted to stay close up to the tornado. As it turned out, that did minimize our damage. In two vehicles, we lost two windshields and one side window. It we would have been farther back where Dave was, we may have lost a lot more. I didn't have a hail shield, but I did find a cheep place to get the glass repaired. The biggest downfall was we were down the next day making the repairs. Only one windshield was fixed at the time since the other was not too bad. We finished the second one off with a stray baseball on May 31.
 
Originally posted by Dave Lewison

BTW, does anyone know if that \"second tornado\" was in fact from a seperate meso/circulation, or was it the remains of the first circulation that just re-intensified? I can't say since we didn't take that road, but it sure looks like it.

IMO it was a new circulation, that formed very near the first one. This evolution/cycle reminded me a lot of the 5-5-02 Happy, TX "hand-off" between the two tornadoes that day. Seemed the original circulation slowly fizzled as the new one rapidly intensified very near (just east) of it.
 
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