by Bob Beranek
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This month during a training class in Austin, Texas, my friend and excellent glass technician, Jason Horne, showed me something that was so impressive I just had to share it with everyone.

The Jeep Wrangler windshield is one of those windshields that look pretty easy to do, but can prove to be a challenge. It has an almost vertical mounting, very close tolerance to the walls of the pinchweld and gaps that make it almost a wind noise certainty. It even has a service bulletin warning (TSB_23-030-07). The reason for the air noise is the gaps around the perimeter of the four-sided exposed edge part. Each exposed edge is very close to the walls of the pinchweld and not only pose whistle possibilities but also removal problems. The ideal tools for the windshield removal on this vehicle are the new wire-out tools that are growing in popularity. The wire makes this removal rather easy and damage free.

Jason showed me a device that he found at a Jeep dealer that greatly eased some of the problems in setting the glass into the opening and replicating the gaps. It is called the Jeep Glass spacer, #55028214 and is about $1.50. It comes four to a package and can be used in a number of ways:06252014BobPic

  • The first method of use is what I think they were designed for. Place one on each of the four sides and set the glass into the opening to achieve the perfect gaps on four sides.
  • Another method of use could be using two on the bottom and one on each side while setting the glass. This assures proper gaps on all four sides as well.
  • The way we used them was to put two on the bottom and one on the far side as gravity stops and far-side bumpers. The unique shape protrudes enough that they ease in setting the glass with one person.

Jason says, “But the best part is that they are reusable by simply turning it a quarter turn and pulling it out from under the glass edge.”

Once the glass is set, tape it up to assure stability or wait until the urethane sets-up and then remove and reuse the spacers.

I thought these spacers really worked well. If you get a set, please let me know what you think.

Many of you may remember the parlor game called “telephone.” Someone starts a phrase and whispers it into the ear of an adjoining person who repeats the phrase to the next person and so on until the phrase reaches the last person in the room. The last individual then repeats what he heard and most of the time the phrase doesn’t resemble the original. The results can be pretty amusing.

I made a statement many years ago that has come back to me lately as a perfect example of that game. In the mid-1990s I gave a presentation at a seminar in which I stated “Of the installations I have examined in my career where the glass was previously replaced, I would say that 70 percent were done incorrectly in one way or another.” The purpose of the statement was to show the need for proper automotive glass training, as opposed to throwing a rookie on a truck with a veteran and hoping for the best. That statement I made two decades ago has been attributed to many other sources, misquoted and has grown to the level of viral so now it is common knowledge that “70 percent of the installations completed in the United States are completed unsafely.”

My original statement was preceded by the comment that this was my opinion and not a scientific fact or a proper survey. The only way to know definitively what percentages of installations are unsafe is by crash testing, which isn’t really practical. However, during that same seminar, a person in the back of the room, a representative for PPG Industries, said to the group, “I have seen installers installing glass for years and you are all wrong, it is more like 90 percent are improperly installed.” That observation drew many laughs and nods of agreement but, like my original comment, it was an estimation based on observations and not fact. I have observed, inspected and participated in thousands of installations during my career, mostly OE installed, but many installed previously by so-called “trained” technicians. Over the years, I do think the quality of installations has improved to a certain extent, but so has the demand for more expertise in the art. So is 70 percent an accurate percentage of failure?

I guess before we can discuss “incorrectly” installed parts we have to define “proper installation.”

Proper Installation: An automotive glass installation that restores the safe condition designed in the mounting of a glass part to the vehicle frame as defined by Federal Safety Standards, replicates the fit, performance and appearance of the OE product and its installation and restores the proper operation of all safety and value added features originally included when the vehicle was purchased.

That definition now allows us to determine a correct installation. Do I think that installations in general are incorrectly done 70 percent of the time? I don’t know, you tell me. Just keep in mind:

  • The complexities of proper adhesive use, cleaning, prepping, priming and proper application;
  • The need for contaminants to be controlled during installation;
  • Many installers, as reported by a glass distributor, use primerless, longest curing, cheapest product in all conditions and on mobile trucks;
  • There is a urethane being used on the coasts that are plain white tubes that say “urethane,” that’s it;
  • Many of the mobile trucks are one-man trucks without setting devices or helpers, are they properly setting every time?
  • Adhesive brand systems are often mixed incorrectly for the sake of cost or convenience;
  • There is adhesive failure by ARG companies and paint delamination on OEs;
  • Many installs are done with wipers up and cowl panels left on; and
  • Many windshields are still installed with round beads instead of the recommended triangular beads.

You tell me. How many of these things do you see and witness every day in prior installations? You may be lucky and live in an area where good installations are the norm, but think of the many installations nationwide and worldwide where the technicians don’t have a clue.

Vintage Door Glass Dilemma

My son Jay called me yesterday to ask if there are any suppliers for ¼ inch laminated flat glass. He has a customer that wanted a door glass fabricated for 1955 Chevrolet door glass and the glass in the vehicle is ¼” thick. I’m not sure that type of glass is even made any more for automotive use but through some investigation I did happen to find a couple suppliers.

Here are the suggestions I made and the problems that went with them, but I am hoping that my readers can help in solving the dilemma.

  1. Try other suppliers and find ¼ inch lami. That didn’t work; no one around here has it. The closest they had was 3/16,” which is too thin. The run guides are worn so the glass will rattle and leak air and possibly water.
  2. Try cutting the glass with ¼” annealed and have it tempered. That didn’t work both because there are no tempering furnaces in our area and the cost is prohibitive.
  3. Replace all of the run guides to facilitate 3/16” glass. This would work but it is a little costly and restorers want to maintain as much original equipment as possible.
  4. Try to find a pre-cut part. There are some pre-cut parts out there. Some from collectors’ sites that are very expensive and then others that are affordable but I suspect that they will also be modernized. Unless there is an original part sold as used, there is always going to be problems once you get the glass.The first rule when working with restorers is to qualify the customer. Determine his wants, needs and expectations and then figure the cost and time investment. Never get involved with an old car without knowing what is expected and what the customer can afford. Time and costs get out of hand and you can either lose your shirt or lose a good customer that will spread the word about you to all of his collecting friends. Restoration can be fun, challenging and lucrative but it must be managed or you will lose.

Any of you that have dealt with vehicle restorers or collectors know that they are a particular bunch and, depending on the owner, each have their own demands. Some want the original laminated glass installed and others just want it to be clear and solid. Others want cheap and others say price is no object.

The first rule when working with restorers is to qualify the customer. Determine his wants, needs and expectations and then figure the cost and time investment. Never get involved with an old car without knowing what is expected and what the customer can afford. Time and costs get out of hand and you can either lose your shirt or lose a good customer that will spread the word about you to all of his collecting friends. Restoration can be fun, challenging and lucrative but it must be managed or you will lose.