Volume 47, Issue 7 - July 2012
How Far We've Come
Three retired industry pioneers, Stanley Joehlin, Robert
Brown and Norm Nitschke, have shared some of their recollections about
the early history of the Glass Tempering Association (GTA), the predecessor
of the present-day tempering division of the Glass Association of North
America (GANA), as well as the beginning of the Safety Glazing Certification
Council (SGCC), with USGlass magazine. What follows is a summary of their
recollections about the early, formative days of what today is the tempering
division of GANA.
By that time, too, other people learned enough about tempering to be able to pass the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) safety tests—which was quite an accomplishment in those early days. As purchasing agents began pushing for lower prices, the idea to develop a standard took shape as a way to gain more acceptance of tempered glass for use as a safety implosion plate in those early TV sets. This became more important as the size of TVs increased.
The bigger the tube got, the more glass flew into the room when the tube imploded—which they invariably did in those early days. Permaglass had hired Bob Kohl as marketing manager, and he, along with Sarah Levin of Hamilton Glass, Gerard Kellick of Chicago Dial and Tony Feldmeier of Marsco, led the effort. By the end of 1958, Hordis Brothers Inc., Dearborn Glass Co., Virginia Glass Products and Eagle Convex also were involved.
One of the first things we did was hunt up someone to help make the association go. We employed two women in Chicago; Muriel Collie was hired as an executive assistant …
BB: Minita Wescott was the other one. She served as executive director.
The implosion plate business decreased rapidly when Kimball Division of Owens Corning developed a metal retaining band which, when combined with a thick glass face, eliminated the need for a separate implosion plate to prevent glass from an imploding tube from flying into the room.
We started looking at the requirements of the Z26 Auto Glass Standard at that time. The early Z26 standard was written in 1933. Advertising literature of both PPG and LOF flatly stated that glass less than 1/4-inch thick could not be tempered for automotive use. So the idea evolved that maybe Permaglass could do something less than 1/4-inch thick as an entry into the automotive market.
I went down to our Payne, Ohio, plant to make the test samples. I then took those 1-foot squares up to the Chrysler Glass Lab to Ernie Edge, their glass lab manager. We started dropping the 1/2-pound ball. The requirement was to drop it from 10 feet and bounce it off without breakage. The first piece of glass that Ernie tested bounced off at 21 feet. They thought that was a fluke and decided to try a few more. We always came up over 15 feet with 7/32-inch sheet glass. We used 7/32-inch sheet because float was on its way but wasn’t there yet. Sheet was cheaper to buy.
Between the first trial and getting the Chrysler business, we supplied all of the Studebaker Champion cars and a quarter of the American Motors sidelites. (The backlites were already tempered.)
With General Motors’ support, Ohio had a real campaign to keep laminated safety glass in the sidelites. The replacement glass industry was a very large business, and there were proposals in 14 state legislatures trying to outlaw tempered glass in the sidelites. I was active in Ohio, but Ford Motor and/or Chrysler were active in all 14 states. Finally, in 1960, General Motors decided it would use tempered glass in their cars.
During the early 1960s, the use of architectural safety glass grew gradually and we joined the technical committee of the Architectural Aluminum Manufacturers Association (AAMA) [not to be confused with the American Architectural Manufacturers Association] to promote tempered glass for use in patio doors.
Permaglass had a plant down in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and, about this time, we helped form the national study group to analyze injuries from patio door glass. This came about when Bob Kohl invited Bill White from the then-Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) of the federal government to stay at a house Permaglass had in Ft. Lauderdale. We talked with him about how we could get figures as to how many glass accidents there were.
The study group included the National Safety Council, HEW Department, as well as representatives of the float glass manufacturers, including PPG and LOF. The late Don Vild, then with LOF, was active in this effort. I think the resulting study disclosed that the AAMA was having problems with quality.
The association only had a proposed quality requirement, but none in place at that time. Everybody wanted to make the frames for architectural doors and windows lighter and lighter. Frank Fitzgerald, then executive director of AAMA, said what the group needed was a quality control standard. AAMA could make it a requirement of the organization that, in order to belong (the association had 200 members at that time), members would agree to adhere to the control standards for the aluminum-gauge size.
Next, the type of safety glass came into question. Permaglass helped organize the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) sectional committee for architectural glass in 1962. I was the chair of the drafting committee charged with writing the standard for safety glass. For the next two years, everybody wanted approval. AFG [now AGC] wanted to have wired glass approved; LOF wanted to have laminated glass as an approved material; we wanted to see tempered glass material approved; and then the plastics people with acrylic bathtub enclosures, etc., wanted to have that as a safety glazing. So we went from place to place and showed the plans of what things we would do as a committee. I remember a visit to the LOF plant (in 1963, I think) where the company was going demonstrate the car crash dummy system it had developed together with General Motors. On the way down to that meeting at the East Toledo LOF Research Lab I made a detour to an athletic store on Superior Street in Toledo where I picked up a punching bag. The Z26 test was not only the ball test. A bag full of lead shot would drop onto the glass to show impact from a body in a car crash. While we were at LOF I asked one of the company’s people to cut a hole in the top of the punching bag and fill it full of lead shot to see how much it weighed.
The thought was, instead of carrying it up a ladder to drop vertically as in the Z26 test, if we could determine what kind of impact this ought to be, maybe a simple pendulum test against the glass supported in the design frame might reproduce the impact. That visit had to be about 1963 when I was chair of the committee. I think it had to be in 1965 when the next meeting of this ANSI standard committee for architectural glass was held in New York. I remember Fitzgerald and Bob McKinley, PPG’s technical services director for architectural products, were stuck overhead in an airplane. While circling they had used a slide rule to calculate how much energy a 14-year-old boy, weighing so much and running full speed into a patio door, would push into the glass.
So we had a starting point, but then we thought that that was a pretty high figure and it would not be likely that he would hit it all at once anyway; he would hit it with arms, elbows and head. So we came up with a lower figure, which happened to be something like this punching bag swinging on a pendulum drawn up to about four feet would produce.
This became the Standard.