Friday, July 24, 2015

The British call it a "Windscreen."

So, riding along, as they say, minding my own business.

A large cement truck roars up the on ramp onto I-526 and cuts across my lane, speeding up.

As it passes, a hunk of its concrete - or a rock it kicked up - smashes into my windshield with a large BANG!

I flinch and slow down, hoping shards of glass will not be flying into my face.

An instant spider web of cracks sprout in front of my eyes as I pull over on the shoulder to check the damage.

 A definite hole about the size of a quarter now has blossomed in front of my eyes.

No glass dust though so my eyes were not been damaged. Thank goodness for that!

The truck, churning concrete as it rolls merrily along, is long gone.

I was hoping it had one of those "How's My Driving?" messages painted on the back with an 800 number.

I certainly would have made that call. Damn!

Several years ago, I had dropped Comp & Collision coverage from the insurance policy on my 9-year old Saturn.

Lowered my premium quite a bit.

Now I would get to pay back those saved dollars.

Found the nearest GlassPro Glass Replacement and Repair shop (in Goose Creek) and called to make an appointment.

I'm retired so I chuckled when the lady said they had an opening at 8 am the next day.

We settled on 2 pm and I was right on time.

There was no wait. My car was quickly taken into the work area.

Mark Browning, an award-winning Senior Glass Technician, was working alone and covered the inside of my car with protective coverings. "The windshield being removed usually does not break into pieces, but we take no chances," Mark explained.

Instead of my sitting in the air-conditioned waiting area, I requested permission to take my camera into the shop (98 degrees) and follow along as Mark made my car "whole again."

It took about an hour of removing first the wipers,  the antenna, and then quite a few pieces on the outside and inside that surrounded the large windshield that was to be replaced.

Using an array of specialized tools and solvents, Mark stripped away the existing caulk, rubber moulding and glues that held the window in place and kept it watertight.

Then he reversed the process,

He cleaned all the areas and then carefully applied new beads of rubber sealant.

I had watched all the places where the replacement glass would be adhered.

In the back of my mind, I wondered how this one guy - talented as he is - would be able to lift, move and exactly position the new glass.

You can't just get it "close, plop it down" and move it around until it fits right.

Here's where Mark uses his "helper," called Lil Buddy.

A clever device that helps make a 2-man job simple to do by a single glass specialist.

First he checks all the measurements to set his mechanical arm in place with a strong suction cup on the driver side window.

Then, when all the removal, cleaning and application of new moulding and adhesives has been done, he lifts the new glass and angles the extension arm into its fitting on the "Buddy."

As the link explains, this means accurate positioning and placement before the glass makes any contact with the applied glue. Ta-Dah!

Mark moves to the passenger side and eases the top (and bottom) edges securely into place.

Some blue masking tape to hold the position, removal of the device and then Mark presses down hard and the new glass is right where its supposed to be.

I'l be honest, at this point I retreated to the cool waiting area as Mark retraced his steps and put the puzzle pieces back together.

Chatting with Ashley Ferguson, the Customer Service Representative, I learned the first GlassPro shop opened 20 years ago in North Charleston on Dorchester at Montague.

Since then Paul Heinauer, the President, has opened a total of 12 shops in South Carolina.

The newest are in Columbia and Greenville.

Paul is sponsor of the "3 Degree Guarantee" weather forecasts by Rob Fowler at WCBD News 2.

Each day of a correct forecast, GlassPro adds $100 to a growing fund that goes to a local charity.

The total as of Thursday was $1500. Apparently Paul does this with tv stations in his other markets as well.

Oh, and Senior Glass Specialist Mark Browning, good luck in this year's "Olympics."

Go for the gold!

(Click on the photos and links for additional details and information.)

Be careful out there in traffic but, if you ever need a windshield replaced for any reason, this is the place to go.

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