by Bob Beranek
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BobClimaticInstallationAs I look out the window watching it rain (with predictions of snow this week), I wonder why I do I live here in Wisconsin? Could it be because my family lives here and I want to be near them? Yes. Could it be that I was born and raised here and it feels like home? Yes. Is it that I was raised a Packer and Brewer fan? Yes again.

But one of the reasons I stay is because I enjoy the change of the seasons four times every year. I love the new growth of spring and the warmth of summer. I love the colors of fall and the first blanket of snow in the winter. However, for many of us, the change of season means a change in installation procedures. This week I thought I would remind everyone of the possible changes that may become necessary as temperatures go up and the moisture increases.

First of all, remember that urethane uses moisture to cure. When the temperature rises, the air can hold more actual water droplets, which influences the behavior of your urethane. The “tack-free time” (working time) will be reduced due to the increase of moisture. Because of this, make sure all your preparations are complete before you open the tube of urethane.

Are the primers applied and dry?

Are the moulding clips installed and positioned?

Is the application tip adjusted and ready to go?

How are you handling the gravity stop issue?

Are you enlisting help in setting the glass?

Do you have to setup a setting tool?

Only when these questions are all answered satisfactorily can you apply the bead. Set the glass as soon as possible.

How are you going to store and rotate the stock of urethane? Remember when the temperatures rise, the urethane and supporting products may have to be stored differently to facilitate application and usability of the adhesive. Check your tech sheets to remind yourself of the storage limitations.

You cannot install in a rain storm. Make sure that the CSRs are asking for the availability of shelter on rainy days or have the customer bring it into the shop. Remember that urethane must be applied to a perfectly dry surface. Any dampness on the bonding surface could cause the urethane to not bond properly or “gas out” and cause holes in the cured urethane bead. Yes, moisture is a friend to urethane but excessive moisture can cause bonding problems.

Spring is here and soon will come the flowers and the warm pleasant weather. I hope you all enjoy it. I will enjoy it, too, eventually.

The next series of articles are going to be what I call the “versus” articles.  I wish to share my opinions in regards to different ways of doing things, different tools over another and different products over others. This, I suspect, will be a controversial discussion because everyone has their own likes and dislikes. Today I wish to discuss a subject that has been a debated over several years and several beers—the difference between applying urethane to the glass versus the pinchweld.

What is better?  The answer is neither and both. There are pros and cons to both methods of application and it is the reason I teach both in my classes. Both methods can be accomplished safely and properly, but each has problems to overcome.

Applying urethane to the glass
It is very important that the newly applied adhesive bead be matched up with the newly exposed existing bead for optimum bonding and adhesion.

Pros

  • It’s the way the OE does it.  It is true that all vehicle manufacturers apply the adhesive to the glass.  Why?  Because they use robots to apply the urethane and to set the glass.  It is easier to program and apply a liquid to a smooth solid surface.  Plus, the urethane does not need to meet an existing bead for adhesion.  If there is no existing bead it creates its own.
  • There are fewer seams. Being able to walk around the perimeter of the glass does allow for one seam—where you started is the place you will finish. There will be fewer areas of possible leaks because there are fewer seams to paddle.
  • The application is more pleasing to the eye.  The use of guide posts built into some of the urethane tips and/or the skilled guidance by a competent technician will most definitely improve the appearance and placement of the finished bead.  Plus, the smoothness of the glass allows for a clean continuous bead with no bumps or interruptions.
  • It forces the technician to use vacuum cups.  If the technician applies the adhesive to the glass edge, it is very difficult to set the glass with one’s hands because of the mess factor.  The tech is almost driven to set the glass with cups and with an exposure to the bottom pinchweld, which would require pulling the cowl panel.

Cons

  • Recessed beads must be measured out. Any recessed beads found on a particular vehicle, whether top or bottom, must be measured out on the glass and marked for application. The new bead must match up with the newly exposed existing bead to assure the best adhesion.
  • The setting of the glass must be precise. Due to the fact that the new bead of fresh urethane is hanging from the underside of the glass as it is set, it must be set exactly right or the urethane will touch the interior moldings or opposite “A” pillar and not only make a mess, but disfigure the bead and cause bond and leak problems. It would be highly recommended that a second person or a setting tool be used to assure placement in the opening. It would be further recommended that a dry set procedure be utilized to assure placement.
  • If the pinchweld is uneven, the chance of leaks is increased. Where the new bead is applied, if applied correctly, is the most likely area to be leak-free because it is able to be observed. Once the glass is set, it is out of the technician’s direct line of sight. If the pinchweld is uneven and the bead fails to touch the existing bead, gravity will channel the water into the vehicle. This is because the unseen uneven surface is lower than the surface you applied the urethane to—the glass.
  • There may be more primer usage.  It may be necessary to apply an extra amount of primer around the existing bead to guard against the new bead missing the existing bead. If the new bead misses the existing bead and touches unprimed painted metal, the bond may not be strong enough to meet the safety standards mandated by government. This extra primer will be an extra cost that must be incurred.
  • It may mean longer installation times. The addition of time to make measurements of recessed beads, dry setting the glass, setting up a setting tool, and priming around the existing bead may mean that a few extra minutes are consumed to do the job right. To some it is well worth the cost in time and materials to others it is not.

Applying urethane to the pinchweld

Pros

  • It is easy to follow the “roadmap”. Once the glass is out and the urethane is trimmed down to the proper height, it provides a perfect roadmap by which to apply the fresh urethane bead. Just apply the urethane directly on top of the existing bead and it is the right place to put it. Applying the new bead to the existing bead allows for an application that fills the uneven surfaces better.
  • Handling the glass is easier and less messy. There is no urethane hanging down from the underside so it will be easier to handle a small chance of a mess.
  • No chance of missing the existing bead. Applying the urethane directly to the existing bead eliminates the chance of missing that bead. There will be no need to measure and mark the new glass for installation. 
  • The only priming you will need is that which covers scratches. There is little chance of missing the bead so extra priming in unnecessary.
  • The chance of leaks at the bonding surfaces is reduced. The urethane is applied to the existing bead so the meeting of the two beads is assured. The only question left is in regards to the meeting of the adhesive and the glass surface. The beauty of a “V” bead is that as long as the tip of the “V” touches the smooth surface of the glass, it is sealed and bonded. Plus, gravity channels the water away before it reaches the glass to urethane bond.

 Cons

  • More seams means more chances of leaks. The only way to apply urethane to the body and have only one seam is to have a very small car or a very tall technician. It will be necessary to take care in paddling the seams caused by application. There are techniques that reduce the severity of seam gaps, but there is no way that there will not be more seams to deal with.
  • The sightline to the customer may be a problem. It is very possible, unless you are dead steady, that your bead will not be smooth and straight. This will cause the customer, unless you apply a dam every time, to see the shiny black goop that may be oozing into their vehicle.
  • Care must be made in positioning the bead on the existing bead. The new exposed edge glass demands the bead positioning be perfect to eliminate the urethane from being visible to the customer. It also must be placed properly to eliminate the clean up after the install.
  • It does not keep the technician from setting and dragging the glass. How many of you set the glass and then move it forward or back to position it in the opening? I’m sure you have. You must stop that. The glass must be set within a ½ inch either way or you run the risk of displacing the bead and causing bonding leak problems. The glass being on the body instead of the glass spoils the technician and is likely to drag or pull the glass.

As you can see there are a number of pros and cons to application procedures and how you choose to apply your adhesive is entirely up your level of comfort and confidence. There is no right or wrong way. There is only your way. Just make sure you keep in mind the “cons” to your method.