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The Lost Arts Two

In past posts we have discussed that gasket installations are a “lost art” in our industry. Gasket set auto glass parts are going the way of buggy whips and typewriters and only a relative few experienced techs still do them. Now I would like to discuss the second lost art in auto glass, laminated glass cutting for automotive use.

Prior to 1949, all auto glass was flat laminated glass that was cut to order for the customer. The auto glass professional got the make and model of the vehicle, pulled the NAGS cardboard pattern and cut the glass prior to arrival. Once the vehicle arrived, he would then install the glass in the frame and mount it to the vehicle or insert it into the gasket, job well done. After curved glass was introduced, the auto glass industry changed forever. NAGS stopped producing cardboard patterns and began a new business in publishing. We did not fabricate our own glass but bought it precut and formed. We didn’t price by square foot but by NAGS list price. Yes, change was inevitable.

It took years for most flat glass to disappear but disappear it did. Most auto glass now is already pre-cut and ready to install. Very few parts are flat anymore and the art of cutting laminated glass has gone by the wayside.

The next few posts I plan to submit are more for posterity than for practically, but there is still a call for the occasional cutting of flat laminated parts.

Back in the seventies when I began auto glass installation as a career, I not only learned replacement but I also was taught the three major parts of auto glass fabrication; pattern making, glass cutting and edge finishing. These are the titles of my next few posts. But, before we can get these subjects we need to first explain a little bit about the glass itself.

In my early days we had two types of laminated flat glass, sheet and plate. Sheet was considered glass used anywhere but the windshield (AS-2). Plate was used for the windshield (AS-1). Sheet was a little thinner than plate because the lamination was .015 inch or 1.5 millimeters in thickness rather than the .030 inch or 3 millimeters. Laminated glass is a more difficult glass to cut than normal annealed glass because of the lamination. The two glass sides must be cut perfectly and the lamination must be separated or premature fracture is possible. To make matters worse, the auto glass usage demands that the corners have radiuses which pose another cutting difficulty.

Doesn’t this sound like fun? It should, because it is. Once this skill is mastered, you will be a sought after professional with talents few possess. Think of all the money you’ll earn fixing and fabricating the glass on all the classic and antique vehicles in your market.

Next will be pattern making. Talk to you next week.