Removing Rear Wipers
The Inspiration: As a technician, estimator, painter and engineer with more than 23 years of experience in the collision repair business, Chris Smith has worked on his fair share of vehicles—and been privy to the most common frustrations when it came to those repairs. One of those frustrations was removing the rear wiper blades from vehicles, specifically Volkswagens and Audis.
“I was watching the technicians in the shop struggle with the removal of the rear wipers on the vehicle,” he says. “The center part of the wiper arm is aluminum and the part it bolts to is steel. This was causing galvanic corrosion and welding the two metals together.”
More often than not, he says it required a lot of force that resulted in a broken wiper.
“They usually had to cut off the arm and use an air saw to cut or drill away the aluminum section,” he says.
What It Does: Smith decided to take matters into his own hands and create a tool for removing the wipers in one piece. He started by using a pulling method, but says he only had a 50/50 success rate of the arm coming off in one piece.
“I decided to take a closer look at the measurements of the arm and make a pulling tool that would put the most force on the right part of the arm,” he says. “I devised that 12 millimeters was the ideal width for this.”
He then heated and shaped a 12mm wrench to the desired shape and used the shop’s slide hammer to connect into the loop end of the wrench, which he also heated and shaped.
“This meant that the force was directly above the area and the grip below the arm was a perfect fit,” he says.
The tool allows Smith to easily grip the rear wiper and remove the part with little force and a more consistent success rate.
How It’s Made: After some trial and error creating the initial prototype, Smith decided he wanted to create a tool that incorporated a slide mechanism that would exert the force needed. He worked with a local engineering shop and supplied drawings, dimensions and sizes for the tool.
“This kept everything neat and tidy,” he says. “The key part was the fact it was one piece and solid so no movement was caused that could damage the arm when pulling.”
The Cost: $495 for the initial prototype. He estimates that another version of the tool would be much cheaper to create.
The ROI: Smith says that the tool has been hugely successful for the shop, which uses it weekly and is now able to reuse the removed wipers.
“We have had great success,” he says. “It gets every wiper arm off without breaking them. So much so that the local glass company keeps coming to borrow the tool.”