by Bob Beranek
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01282016BobBusIn my training courses, I typically explain that my instruction is not vehicle specific. With all the old and new vehicles in the marketplace, it would take months instead of days to teach automotive glass installation one vehicle at a time. Instead, I teach technicians how to trail blaze. Considering this is what he does every day, it makes all the sense in the world.

Today’s automotive glass technicians will see hundreds of different vehicles over the course of their careers. At the beginning, every vehicle is new. As they progress and become more experienced, some vehicles will become familiar, but every year new models are introduced, new challenges are posed and trailblazing is employed again and again. So, technicians are constantly figuring out a new method of installing almost daily and most certainly weekly.

I recently did some training at a bus facility in Washington state that illustrates this concept very well. The city buses used in this facility are the Gillig brand. They have a two-piece windshield made up of rather large bubble-type glass parts. They are gasket set with two inserts that lock the gasket to the glass surface and the pinchweld. I must admit that I have not done a great many of these types of buses so I was as new to this as my students. I needed to trail blaze.

At first sight, the installation seemed obvious. Remove the insert from the glass-locking portion of the gasket and push out the glass, lip the glass into the gasket, seal it up and move on to the next. The problem was the glass is deeply sunk into the gasket due to its size, so just pulling out the glass-locking insert wasn’t enough. We pulled out the pinchweld-locking insert and tried to push out the glass. It came out badly shattered, but it was out.

Now we had to install the new glass. Experience told me that we should lubricate the gasket and use a plastic stick to lip the windshield into the gasket. Wrong. We tried and tried to lip the glass in, but it wouldn’t go. The tension on the glass was too great and it would surely fracture if we forced it.

How was I going to get this glass into the opening? I turned to my experience from the late 1970s and used a technique I call three-siding. I lipped the glass into one side of the gasket and “roped in” the other three sides. However, I needed to adapt the method slightly to work on this bus. Instead of lipping in the bottom and roping in the top and sides, I had to lip in the squared off side and rope in the top, bottom and rounded side.

Here how it works:

  • I started by pushing the glass into the well-lubricated center dividing-gasket channel making sure that the top and bottom corners were around the glass edge.
  • Then I separated the gasket from the pinchweld on the other remaining sides and attached it to the glass edge.
  • Using a hook tool from the inside, I lipped the gasket down and around the pinchweld on the top, bottom and rounded side.
  • I spanked it into place to seat it firmly into the gasket.
  • I dried out the gasket and sealed it between the glass and the gasket and between the gasket and the pinchweld.

Once we adapted our windshield installation, we learned how to remove the glass differently.

Here’s what we learned:

  • For the second bus, we removed the top and bottom inserts, and pushed out the glass and gasket assembly from the inside separating it from the top, rounded side and bottom, leaving the center attached to the body.
  • We removed the gasket from the glass edge on the three sides and pulled the glass from the center dividing gasket.

The glass came out whole and undamaged and went in without a problem using the previous installation technique we developed on the first bus.

Morale of the story? Use your head instead of your muscle and learn to trail blaze. Your job will be a lot easier.

On January 1, 2016, the Rhode Island Motor Vehicle Glass Consumer Protection Act (5-38.5) went into effect. Rhode Island becomes the second state in the union (after Connecticut) to regulate auto glass installation. This law requires that businesses offering auto glass replacement and repair be licensed by the state of Rhode Island.

Unlike the Connecticut law, which licenses technicians, Rhode Island licenses the business. In looking at the two laws I believe that the Connecticut law is a more effective law in consumer safety than the Rhode Island one. However, I feel both are a step in the right direction.

The interesting points of the law in Rhode Island is that the business itself must be “legitimate,” defined as having a physical location that can facilitate a safe installation, or if mobile, having a location where installations can be done in controlled conditions. It also makes reference to following ANSI standards relating to the replacement and repair of auto glass, although they don’t specifically mention the ANSI/AGSC/AGRSS™ Standard and Repair of Laminated Auto Glass Standard™ that the industry follows.

From reading the Rhode Island law, it seems that they are looking for the auto glass repair/replacement business to be a brick and mortar facility with a typical business plan. They require that subcontracted technicians must be affiliated with a licensed entity as well, thus discouraging non-employees from doing installations. Rhode Island is encouraging the more typical rather than creative business plans which they seem to feel could take advantage of the consumer.

The Connecticut law is very different. It requires the technician to acquire years of apprenticeship, training, study and eventually journeyman status. It holds the technician to a higher standard and level of performance. The beauty to this licensure is that the business only needs to check the license of the technician to be assured that the knowledge is there and management may be all that is needed. However, it may come at a price. A licensed technician will demand a higher wage but should be relatively productive day one. The technician without a license will be less expensive initially but would require training, development and a high degree of management oversight.

I believe that the driving public has a right to a safe vehicle, when it is originally purchased, and after their glass has been replaced. The problem in most states is that that once the vehicle is purchased, there are few guarantees of safety in regards to auto glass replacement. Yes, our industry provides guidelines, standards and training, but, other than the two states mentioned above, there is no requirement in this country for practicing safety auto glass glazing.

There is a very low cost to entry into our industry. Anyone can start an auto glass replacement business with little or no knowledge of procedures, materials or skills in the art. All they need is a vehicle to transport the replacement materials, a tool box with some tools, a company name and a phone. At least in the states of Rhode Island and Connecticut, someone is looking out for the driving consumer. In the 48 other states it is “buyer beware.”

As a business owner, I am not a huge fan of government regulations. However, if a repair facility cannot provide assurances to the vehicle owner that the glass in their vehicle was installed according to vehicle manufacturers’ specifications and industry standards, then that facility should not be allowed to stay in business. That requires some weight of regulation and rule of law.

Ford Gorilla Smaller for OnlineThere is a new use for Corning’s Gorilla glass by Ford Motor Company in the new GT model for the 2016-17 model years.

When I say Gorilla Glass windshields, what is the first thing you think of? Unbreakable glass? Loss of business? Reduced revenue? Well, rest assured that these windshields will not put you out of business. On the contrary, it may make you more money the more it is used on everyday vehicles due to its initial increased cost.

If you read the article carefully or look at the video, it says, “The hybrid windshield consists of three layers. The Gorilla Glass serves as the inner layer, a plastic adhesive is the interlayer and annealed soda lime glass serves as the outside layer, according to Corning.” This means that the outer layer exposed to road debris is not changed from the current type of annealed glass windshield. It will not make the breakage any less. The main purpose of the use of Gorilla glass is weight reduction with increased strength for roof support, not break resistance.

It is no surprise that Ford was the innovator for this new type of hybrid windshield. Ford is one of the early pioneers of utilizing glass for roof support in their early model Taurus and they continued the technology with other new models.

It is also no surprise that carmakers are seriously looking for ways to reduce weight to meet the new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) laws put upon them from the federal government. The Gorilla Glass product fits that bill very nicely. The use of Gorilla glass can reduce the glass weight in a vehicle up to 30 percent, which is substantial.

The introduction of this type of automotive glass, to me, was inevitable. Our entire industry should be grateful to Ford, Corning and Pittsburgh Glass Works (PGW) for designing a hybrid that will not hurt the aftermarket glass shop.