There are certain things that are a foregone certainty when working on a project car. One: whatever task you happen to be working on when the weekend begins will usually give you a sense of accomplishment when you complete it. Two: the task you take on will not get done within the amount of time you allotted. For instance, a 20-minute job usually takes more like a couple of hours. And finally, three: Even if you are a soft-spoken man – like I am – you will either A) find that a certain explicative is appropriate for a given situation, or B) create a new and more creative combined-explicative when required.
The task on my recent weekend calendar consisted of replacing the one-piece rear window in the Cheyenne with a sliding unit. I always liked having a sliding window, and I had already found and purchased a vintage unit someone else did not want, and the new gasket and lock strip was also in-hand. I thought this “30-minute job” would be simple. I even got an early start, as it was 7:30 on Saturday morning when I began. I have replaced several windshields and rear windows in different cars over the years, but as I would soon learn, simple is a relative term.
The flat, one-piece window came out easily with the help of a utility knife, and the fact that I didn’t inflict any blood-letting during removal was – I thought – a good sign of things to come. The new gasket was test-fit on the window and the window opening, and all looked good. But this is where the first problem would originate — only I wouldn’t realize it until it actually became the last problem. More on that later.
After the old window was removed, I was standing in the bed of the truck, starting to install the new window assembly into the new seal that I had already placed in the window opening. This is when I noticed I had forgotten an important tool I would need. This usually happens, but in this case, I couldn’t just walk to the tool box and leave the window precariously hanging, partially installed into the seal. With my luck, it would fall and break. So I removed the partially installed window in order to go to the tool box and get what I needed. Insert first, lightly mumbled cuss word now.
Before I go any farther, I should let you know that there are two ways to install a windshield or rear window. The process relies heavily on the type of gasket you are using. For instance, the gasket I am installing, uses a locking strip that expands the outside of the gasket and holds the glass in place. This type of gasket is installed in the vehicle first, then the glass is set into the gasket. Finally, the locking strip is installed. If using a one-piece seal, the gasket is installed on the glass, and then the assembled unit is placed into the vehicle.
Back in the bed of the truck, I re-initiated the window install. Typically, I would not use a metal tool to install glass, because I will inevitably break the glass – not maybe – I will. Since my sliding window has a full-perimeter aluminum frame, I felt the bent pick tool I had just gotten would be a good idea. FYI: some people also use a length of rope to work the gasket around the window. As I started working the gasket around the bottom corner of the window, for some unexplainable reason, the pick tool decided to come out from between the window and gasket. Can you guess what happened next?
This would not have been problem if it had simply ejected from the gasket and slowly came to a stop in the air as I safely stopped its momentum. But, during this particular ejection, there was no “safely” about it. What happened was, the somewhat-pointed tool escaped from the gasket, and the forward momentum halted when the point of it firmly inserted itself into the soft, fleshy part of my hand between the thumb and pointer finger. As I began to scream like a fat kid that just dropped his ice-cream cone, my wife came out of the house and heard me introducing the world to the second, third, and fourth cuss words.
Remember I mentioned I previously had to leave the truck bed to retrieve a tool that I had forgotten? Yep, it happened again. As I ceremoniously removed the pick tool from my hand and wrapped the puncture wound with a rag and electrical tape, I decided that particular tool might not have been the correct choice of apparatus to use. I thought about it a while, and then I realized my replacement tool would require me to be a little sneaky about the acquisition.
As understanding as my wife is about me working on cars, she does tend to get nervous when any task requires the use of a household item. In this case, a butter knife would be the victim. I figured it wasn’t sharp enough to inflict pain, yet it was thin enough and sturdy enough to do what I needed. I devised my distraction, employed said distraction, and with the stealth and pin-point accuracy usually reserved for a Navy SEAL undertaking a mission, this large, lumbering, barely flexible old man executed Operation Knife Grab.
…the forward momentum halted when the point of it firmly inserted itself into the soft, fleshy part of my hand between the thumb and pointer finger.
With the appropriate tool now in hand, I began working the gasket around the window. There were times when – for some reason – the gasket just seemed to have a mind of its own. Although it is an inanimate object and I had applied enough lube to impress the makers of Vaseline, occasionally, it seemed to develop the inclination to resist sliding over the window frame as it should. It was during these multiple, brief instances that cuss words number five, six, and seven made their presence known. By this time, the “30-minute job” is now getting precariously close to minute 22, and the gasket still wasn’t surrounding an installed window.
Then for some reason, just a few moments later, the gasket finally succumbed to my will – and at the insistance of the now-bent butter knife. For the record, said knife is no longer to be considered a kitchen utensil, and has found residence in the tool box. Please do not tell my wife. Anyway, it was at this point that a ceremonious cuss word – number eight – was triumphantly announced. I had beaten the gasket into submission, so I earned the sweet relief this one offered. Now it was time to install the locking strip.
Inserting the locking strip into the gasket is relatively easy if you have the correct tool. Fortunately, several years ago I thought it prudent to purchase the $20.00 tool to make things go as smoothly as possible. The tool did its job and the locking strip went in without the need of another cuss word. I couldn’t believe it, something went right. But (yes, there’s always a but) as I was contemplating the insertion of the locking strip corner-trim pieces, this is where the first unrealized problem I mentioned at the beginning of this rant became the last, shall we say, cuss word-inducing realization.
In case you didn’t know, the corner trim pieces are not a flexible piece of material like the locking strip. Rather, they are a very thin piece of stainless-steel that is formed/stamped to the required shape. In other words, they do not return to their original shape after you bend them. I was certain that applying an abundant amount of lubricant to each corner piece and the gasket would aid in the insertion of said trim. So, after I sprayed enough lubrication on the first trim piece to make it slip from between my fingers several times, I finally learned that these corner pieces should have been installed into the gasket before it was actually installed in the window opening. This new-found information was the impetus for a string of several more combined cuss words.
For a brief moment, I contemplated removing the window and gasket assembly just so I could install the trim pieces in the proper sequence. As I thought back about the experience I had, just to get to this point, I quashed that thought. I decided to hope for the best and grabbed a small, straight-blade screwdriver. Can you see where this is headed? The reason for the screwdriver was to hopefully “finesse” the corner of the gasket to allow the trim pieces to fall into place.
Remember the hole previously created in the fleshy part of my hand that was the cause of cuss word number two? As you’ve probably guessed, the screwdriver made sure there was another, elongated skin-surface violation next to it. This second orifice-creating entrance of my hand again caused me to expound a string of cuss words that would make the previously mentioned Navy SEAL blush. And you guessed it, these screams of multiple adjectives brought my wife to the driveway. But instead of her offering any condolences, all I heard was, “You did it again, didn’t you?” What would I do without her?
To make a long story short, I did finally get the window the trim pieces completely installed, but as expected, the 30-minute task actually required more time to pass than I had planned. But regardless, when I was done, I was able to stand back and get the sense of accomplishment that occurs after the completion of a weekend task. I’m just glad my mom wasn’t around with a bar of Lifebuoy soap.