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May 06, 2007

The Skinny on Windshield Protectants

 Glass Ho!

On a day when the sun is reported missing across the Northern Hemisphere and spring is later than an eBay parcel mailed from Mongolia, I distract myself with online quizzes to kill time, or at least wound time. For example:

The statement, “A chemical reaction never creates products that weigh more or less than the reactants” is based on three centuries of experimental observation. This statement is an example of:

· a law

· a theory

· a hypothesis

· a datum


If you guessed “a law”, congratulations. You’ve remembered something from Grade 10, besides going to the prom with Bill Gurney.


But if you care about practical applications of your knowledge, I’ve made up a quiz of my own. Give yourself 20 seconds to correctly answer this question.


Which of these substances are said to clean the exterior windshield of your car and cause it to repel rain water?

  1. Beechnut tobacco
  2. A wet, cooked corn cob (no butter)
  3. A raw potato cut in half, jabbed with a      fork to release secret juices, then rubbed all over the windshield


If you circled ALL THREE answers, congratulations. You are a fine judge of human ingenuity.




Pane Relief
I lived in northern California for a while and had a friend who was an automobile detailer. She used some kind of goo on my windshield that made the glass so water-repellant, I never had to use the wipers, even in violent week-long rainstorms. 

I’d watch with amazement as rain beaded up and streamed off my windshield leaving the glass diamond-clear. I had fantastic visibility, even on rainy nights. The windshield never developed haze, I could flush bug carcasses off the glass with ease, the protection lasted a whole year before I noticed even a slight reduction in its performance. I’ve been trying to find something similar ever since.

 I tried Rain-X (a silicone-based glass repellant that’s been around since the Nineties) but it got hazy and streaky and needed to be re-applied every month or two. I was getting ready to try the potato thing, which according to stalwarts only lasts through 3 car washes but it’s cheaper than stink.

Then fate intervened. I had my truck rust-proofed last week and the shop owner sold me a tube of Aquapel Rain Repellant, which is a fluoropolymer-based application that bonds with the glass rather than just coating it. Guy said it would last a year. Said he never even uses his wipers in the rain if he’s going faster than 50 kph.  Said this stuff would rock my world.  My heart soared like a budgie.

If you want to test this stuff yourself, try the definitive comparison. Coat one half of your windshield with your choice of potato starch or Rain-X, and coat the other half with Aquapel. My night vision sucks (too much dew worm hunting in the Sixties) so I’m darn glad to be passing trucks in the rain again.

Aquapel I couldn’t find a Canadian supplier for Aquapel (except my guy at Jackson’s Krown Rustproofing, where a single application of Aquapel costs $19.95) An American source for Aquapel is online from Ray Sands Glass (www.raysandsglass.com) in New York state (about US$8 plus shipping), or www.speedymetalpolish.com in Pennsylvania (US$9.50 plus shipping). And don’t forget eBay, where you can score a case of 12 applications for less than the cost of a new pair of eyeglasses.

 Here’s how to apply state-of-the-smart rain repellant:

 1. Clean the exterior surface of the glass thoroughly. Try newspaper with isopropyl alcohol.

2. Crack the ‘wings’ on the Aquapel tube. The solution will dampen the felt pad.

3. Slide the felt pad across the windshield in both directions (side-to-side and up-and-down) to completely wet the glass.

4. Wipe off excess solution with a clean, dry towel immediately after applying Aquapel. Then buff. This stuff bonds chemically with glass, so don’t let it dry on the windshield or you’ll be buffing till the next Ice Age.

5. For a fun video comparison, check out http://www.jwardell.com/mini/media/06/aquapel.mp4


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