by Bob Beranek

There was a television show my wife always watched called “What Not to Wear.” It was a make-over show that helped those who were woefully out of style. This article is not about those of us who don’t dress fashionably, instead it gives suggestions that can save you damage claims from a customer who notices a scratch or dent that “wasn’t there before.” Simply put, when doing an installation you should dress in a way that will eliminate the possibility of damage to the vehicle during the process. It’s not a fashion show.

An auto glass technician will literally hug the vehicle. Which means the clothes you wear and the items you use to protect the vehicle is important in making sure the installation is a profitable one instead of a net loss due to damage.

How do we do this?

Keep in mind the front of your body will contact the vehicle, you should wear items that won’t cause damage.

  • Clothing:
    1. Wear a polo or T-shirt that doesn’t have buttons on the front, because the buttons can scratch the vehicle’s surface.
    2. Refrain from wearing jeans, as they have metal rivets for decoration that can damage a vehicle’s paint.
  • Belt:
    1. A buckle-less belt is the best. However, if you don’t own one you can move the buckle to the side or back.
    2. Remove the belt all together.
    3. Place thick tape over the buckle, or you can purchase a buckle cover.
  • Jewelry:
    1. Remove watches with metal bands, they can scratch the “A” pillar as you come across it with the cold knife. Replace the metal bands with leather or fabric bands, because these are less likely to damage the paint.
    2. Rings are usually not a concern because technicians should be wearing safety gloves. However, you can develop the habit or removing rings.
    3. Heavy necklaces or medallions worn around the neck can fall out of a shirt and damage vehicle fenders and glass. You should remove them and put them on after the installations are completed.
  • Pockets:
      1. Remember things you put in your pockets can scratch the paint and create dents in the fenders through the fabric. I suggest you remove keys, fasteners and small parts from your pockets.
      2. Do not put tools in your back pockets, as they can damage the seats. That is an expensive callback.

    Always remember that smooth and soft is better than rough and scratchy. An option to consider would be to cover all items listed above is a heavy fabric apron. Remember one scratch, one tear or one dent ruins not only your profit but may lose you a returning customer.

I love power tools, they speed up the job and make glass removal easier with less effort. However, power tools are often misused. It starts with a lack of, or the wrong type of, lubrication and ends with using a tool that shouldn’t be used. Here are some tips to get the most out of your tools.

Our goal is to get the glass out of the vehicle with the least amount of damage. Unfortunately, many technicians, or their bosses, want the glass removed as quickly as possible. They do this to get through more installations per day. Don’t get me wrong, I too am a technician and past owner and pay attention to productivity and quality. I believe there is a happy medium between both goals.

Tool lubrication is mandatory for its durability and the ease of use. I compare cutting a urethane bead with a non-lubricated tool like trying to cut a tire with a utility knife. It’s not easy. Lubrication allows a blade to glide through materials, which makes it more durable and easier to use.

Some lubrication products can also contaminate the urethane bead and cause poor adhesion. I recommend water. It’s cheap and contains no harmful ingredients. The approved glass cleaner or lubricants your adhesive supplier recommends are also acceptable. In any case, all excess lubricant must be wiped off after removal and before trimming back the existing urethane.

Paddle-bladed tools are the easiest to train and learn on. Put the tool in a technicians’ hands and they can be comfortable with it in less than five minutes. By design, paddle tools are mostly used for the inside of the vehicle. It can be used on flat “A” pillar pinchwelds from the outside, but it’s designed to cut the bottom bead from the inside.

Paddle tools have reciprocating blades movement, which means the blade moves forward and backward at high speeds. If this tool is used on an “L” shaped pinchweld, the chance of the blade hitting the pinchweld wall is very high. This can cause corrosion to take place. This is even more important with the exposed edge glass mounting used in most vehicles today, because the scratches cannot be primed without it being in the customers’ line of sight. This tool is best on flat or bottom pinchwelds where the blade will not contact the body. I have seen hundreds of technicians try to control this tool on “L” shaped pinchwelds and cut the glass out without damaging the body, but it does not work. The tool should be used for its designed purposes.

The oscillating tools are more versatile, meaning there are different styles of blades for different uses. A straight blade for interior cutouts and a curved blade for outside use, much like a cold knife blade. This tool’s blade works side to side instead of in and out. The result is the same, but improper use results in pinchweld damage which also causes corrosion. The blades must be changed to handle different situations.

Many times, I see a technician using the blade that was in the tool instead of changing it to fit the immediate need.
Power tools for auto glass removal are wonderful inventions. However, if they are misused they are what makes us look bad to our customers and our fellow technicians.

Lamination separation (LS) is real and should be taken seriously. Most LS shows itself on a windshield’s edges, where the bonding occurs. Windshields are made from two layers of regular annealed glass and an inner layer of polyvinyl butyral or butyrate (PVB). Annealed glass used in windshields is the same type of glass used in picture frames and is usually about 9 mm thick per piece and offers little strength on its own. The strength and “safety” come when matching pieces of glass and the PVB fuse together. If the three parts separate when it’s being assembled the windshield is greatly weakened and the bond is compromised.

There are two ways LS shows itself, a cloudy, milky appearance and small bubbles usually appear near the glass’ edge. It’s usually caused by excessive heat which shrinks the vinyl lamination or by the intrusion of moisture between the two layers of glass that causes it to separate.

When bubbles are found, they occur primarily on the edges, due to the black frit paint that absorbs more heat generated from the sun. Depending on the amount and extent of the bubbling, the safety of the glass will be impacted. If you have LS, the adhesive only fuses the inner layer (9 mm of glass) to the frame, and not the whole glass assembly.

The cloudy, milky separation is caused when moisture in between the layers of glass. You’re seeing the laminate (PBV) reverting to its pre-autoclave condition, which has an opaque appearance. This also is a dangerous condition, because of the separation’s extent, for safe glass bonding. This type of separation’s cause can sometimes be the unsealed edge of the glass.

Those of you that have glass fabrication as an add-on to your services, probably have noticed if the edges of a freshly cut laminated glass part is not sealed after fabrication, a cloudy appearance may appear with time and exposure to the elements. This is because when cutting the lamination while processing the part, the lamination is stretched. Then the PVB is allowed to relax which causes it to recess between the two layers of glass that cause an access point for moisture, which allows it to separate the two layers of glass.

LS is mostly in the southern or hotter climates, though it does happen due to poor manufacturing as well. The cloudy conditions can be caused by glass fabrication but also by improper preparation of the windshield prior to installation. If the edges of the glass must have the excess lamination trimmed off for moulding fit or any other reason, make sure you seal the edges with your black primer. That way the edges are sealed and the cloudy separation will not occur.