Volume 13, Issue 4 - July-August 2011

Repair Round-Up
nwra reports

Tools, Training and Thanks
by Kerry Wanstrath

It has been about four years since I personally installed a windshield, and I recently developed a newfound respect for our industry and the innovative people and companies associated with it.

I had decided that I wanted to install a windshield, primarily to evaluate a few new tools with which I wanted to familiarize myself. Wow, was I in for a real treat. Everything I did took twice as long as it should and everything was a struggle. I started with just removing the wipers. (Yeah, I know that is easy—well, sure it is if you have the right tools. Since our shop doesn’t do many replacements anymore, we seem to have lost the replacement tools we had when we were in the business.)

First, I didn’t have the tool to help pop off the wipers, normally a two-minute job (again, with the right tools). It took me 15 minutes of trying various tools that really were not intended for that job to finally get the wipers off. Next, I discovered I had no tool to remove the cowling clips, and I ended up with fewer clips than when I started.

“We need to support the efforts of organizations and associations that promote training.”

A New Appreciation
We were trying an unfamiliar cutout tool in this case, so that made it a real learning experience for me. I quickly realized the real need and benefit of proper training and tools. After finally getting the windshield out and the urethane trimmed down properly, I then tried an off-brand cordless caulking gun to apply the urethane. It seemed to take forever, because I was using a very thick urethane and the generic caulking gun didn’t have enough power to push it out.

The entire experience made me appreciate all the innovative tools needed to allow highly trained installers to remove and install windshields in a timely manner. It also made me appreciate the innovation and creativity that has gone into the auto glass industry over the past few decades. The models of vehicles released every year require some creative minds to figure out how to remove and install all of the windshields on the market.

I eventually got my hand on the proper auto glass cut-out tools and completed the job. Through the experience, I didn’t learn how to install a windshield or how the tools I used worked, but rather I gained an appreciation for the entire industry and all those who have worked over the past several decades to create education, training and learning avenues for it. I also am thankful for the creative minds that played a role in the design and manufacture of the tools and equipment that enable us to remove and replace auto glass in what has become a very sophisticated business.

We need to support the efforts of organizations and associations that promote training for both repair and replacement. Even though I wanted to test some tools for myself, next time I think I’ll call a professional. n

Kerry Wanstrath is the president of the National Windshield Repair Association. In addition, he serves as president of Glass Technology in Durango, Colo.

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