The HailShield

So, after some rather close encounters with baseball hailstones during the May 12, 2004 Attica KS chase, Scott McPartland decides that having a full windshield hail guard would be a fine addition to his side window guards that worked so well.

Hail protection is a must, the ability to fold back would be a nice thing to have. I offer to take on the challenge of designing & building such a contraption.

Ah, but how to design a guard that will fit on a Nissan XTerra that's 60 miles away in Queens NY? I'd need measurements...

My friend Marc Bergendahl and I visited a local Nissan dealership with a tape measure to get some measurements.

Scott helps out by taking some measurements on his XTerra...

...and by taking several digital photos.

Building a Digital Mock-Up


Measurements in hand, I could now build a CAD model of the XTerra.

The concept: a folding mesh guard with spring-loaded locking pins.

This offered quick deployment (under 15 seconds) and mechanical strength when locked in both the extended and retracted positions.

Most of the windshield is covered.

Once the model was tweaked, prints were generated...

...and it was time to cut some metal!


4/9/05: Scott brought the XTerra up to Hopewell NY, where we fit up the critical pieces.

Marc welds the aluminum guard frame together.

Scott & Brian help with drilling/tapping the 30+ screw holes that will hold the chicken wire mesh to the frame.

Test fit. Looking good!


A couple coats of black paint to match the truck, and it's done.

Final Assembly

4/21/05: Scott, Pete & I met in Carmel, NY for a Skywarn training class. I brought the guard down and we mounted it to the XTerra.



One of the spring-loaded locking pins. Pull on the rings on either side to unlock the guard and fold it back.

Weatherstripping is used between the mesh and frame to eliminate noise/vibration..

Pull rings out while folding down guard. Rings snap back into place when the guard is fully extended.

One of the twist-lock clamps holding the guard in place when folded back.

View from inside. Not too much view obstruction....

...and plenty of protection for the windshield!


2006 Updated Design
After the HUGE hail event on May 12 2005, the side guards were pretty much destroyed. I took the opportunity to redesign these side and rear guards to be even stronger, but this time with plenty of visibility (the "cage" effect last year was very annoying for anyone sitting back there).

Front quarter view of the XTerra with windshield guard extended.

Rear quarter view, showing right side rear window guards. Rear guard is attached with steel clips at top and ruber strap-downs clipped to the bottom of the lift gate.

A foam spacer lifts the guard off the glass, allowing the rear wiper to operate.

The side door guard is anchored with a 1/4-20 turnbuckle. The side rear guard is anchored to the roof rack with U-bolts and secured using 7 suction cups.

Close-up of the double-bolting strategy. All bolts are not only threaded into the PVC, but are secured on the backside with locking nuts.

The laptop stand has internal shelves for the CB radio, XM Threatnet, inverter and other gear.

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