Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Merry Christmas to All!

Merry Christmas everyone. My last blog post before taking a rest from the computer. Click on the picture to take you to "Its a wonderful Internet," a festive flash site more relevant today than ever before.
If you haven't already, please take the time to sign up for the newsletter (in the right hand bar) which will be making it's appearance in january 2009. All those that have already subscribed - thanks for doing so. You will be getting offers & deals that won't be put out on this blog or anywhere else on the web - only through the newsletter!

Here are a couple of videos for your enjoyment. The first one from Warner Pathe News & the second one an amateur window cleaner having a little trouble in the snow....

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Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Remembered: Cleaning the Empire State Building Windows



Christmas is nearly here & it usually is a time a time to reminisce over times gone by. I've decided to add this article "How a skyscraper window washer faces death" stolen from the 'Modern Mechanix' edition, September 1934. You can click on the pictures to enlarge the page.



How a Skyscraper Window Washer Faces Death: by FRED A. BELL
HAILED as supermen, stunt artists are paid fabulous sums to risk their necks for a thrill-hungry public; yet their most hair-raising feats are duplicated every day by the daring men who clean the windows of the nation’s towering skyscrapers.
Perched at dizzy heights on window ledges barely wide enough to afford a toehold, the aces of the window brigade put circus acrobats and parachute jumpers to shame. For there is no margin of error - no nets or parachutes to break a possible fall. An error in judgment, a slip of the life belt and the window cleaner has signed his own death warrant. Below him there is nothing but a yawning city canyon - a square of concrete pavement to land and die on.
One of the men best qualified to paint the thrills and dangers of this hazardous profession is Richart Hart, chief of the window polishing squad of the Empire State Building, the tallest structure ever reared by man.
Hart spent ten years mining coal in the Pennsylvania coal fields before he decided he wanted an open air job such as window cleaning. Down at Wilkes-Barre he tunneled for coal as far as 2,000 feet into the bowels of the earth. Now he thinks nothing of cleaning glass at 1,250 feet, which is the tip of the Empire State Building.
“Working with a hand-pick and shovel in the depths of the coal mines,” Hart says, “was a snap compared to brushing up a window pane on the 85th floor of the Empire State Building.

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“Every morning when you went down the shaft for another day in the mine, you just resigned yourself to Fate, and if the heaviside layer of coal and rock was going to crumble over you that day, well, you figured there was nothing you could do about it anyway. It was just bound to happen.
“Now with the sparrows - that’s what they nickname us because “we can perch anywhere - it’s different, You can be the master of your own fate by being careful and alert. There’s no reason for feeling it’s the end every day.”
“We have our own window cleaning department in the Empire State Building. Three years ago I had close to fifty men under me; but it’s been a case of the survival of the fittest, until today I have just eight. But they don’t come any better. They’re hand-picked men and crackerjacks at their trade. I don’t mean that their former comrades have kicked the bucket. They’ve just wandered off to other jobs where the knees don’t get jittery from prancing around at dizzy heights.
“Last year one of my best window-cleaners decided to quit. He was 65 years old, had been in the business 41 years and wanted a rest. The other day 1 ran into him and he told me that he missed the work and had gone back to polishing panes. I guess the heights get in your blood after a while and you can’t stand what some folks call terra firma.



“The men folks who squawk when they have to clean a dozen windows in their homes will get some idea what a job we have when I say we have to keep 6,500 windows looking spick and span. We have to work fast, too, because there’s a lot of prejudice among office folks when the window cleaner barges in. Yet there’s a lot of fuss made if the windows don’t get prompt attention. So we’re always in the middle no matter how you look at it.
Window Cleaners’ Reward
“The eight men are divided in teams of two. Each team is responsible for 25 floors. Those who finish first have the reward of doing the upper stories which run up to the 102d floor. Then if they have done a good job I always let them have a little time on the Observation Tower, taking in some of the sights they don’t dare peek at while they’re minding their business.
“The mainstay of the window cleaner is his life belt. This is made of leather and goes around his midsection. It is very thick and each end hitches to a steel hook which protrudes from the side of the window where he is working. If one end of the belt should lose its grip, he would still be held by the other end. The steel brace in the back of the belt is so constructed that the leather cannot slip through it.
“We never work on rainy days. As a matter of fact, we take it easy in all kinds of stormy weather. The risk would be too great when a blizzard is raging. It’s bad enough on the streets in the skyscraper zone to say nothing of bucking the arctic gales 100 stories high and trying to put a shine on a window.
“Our jobs are most dangerous in the winter time, of course. The sills of the Empire State Building windows have a one and one-half inch margin. Look at your shoe and try to mark off one and one-half inches and then you realize what a window cleaner’s foothold must be 60 or 80 stories high.
Braving Wintry Hazards
“To give you some idea of the hazards of this business, let me picture the window cleaner’s problem on a cold winter morning. He goes to the 80th floor for work. The window is probably jammed because of the ice and cold. The sill on which he is to place his feet is sheathed in ice. He’s got to get out on that perch. No wasting of time to chip off or melt the ice. He’s got to make speed.
“His mind must be off danger. The mental hazard would lick him from the start if he gave in to it. He must remember that the first thing to do on opening the window - after he has securely adjusted the life belt to his body - is, to hook up one end of the belt to the window. Then he can step out and quickly attach his belt to the other hook.
“He must not unhook the second snap on his belt until he has placed his foot safely within the interior after finishing the job.
“The closest shave I ever had was while cleaning windows in a university which had classrooms in a skyscraper here. The idea was to have the windows cleaned during the fifteen minutes between class periods.
“I had finished one set of windows and was in a hurry to get to the next classroom. Instead of unhooking my belt and going all the way around, I decided on a short cut. I unhooked the belt and proceeded along a wall ledge, about eight feet long and six inches wide, carrying a pail and a ladder.



Death Hangs in the Balance
“Just as I got to the middle, I began to wobble. My toe-hold was failing. I had allowed one foot to get out a little too far, just enough to upset my balance. I stood still, or tried to. I teetered a little but I kept calm. I was facing the building wall, trying to hug it with my body. I glanced down over my shoulder and saw a cop standing below. There was nothing he could do. I was ten stories up, and on the verge of falling.
“In the end I managed to regain my balance and my hold. I wormed my way over to the next window and went right on with my job as if nothing had happened. That’s the worst jam I was ever in. That might have been the one fall allotted me—and fatal!
“There is a standing army of 3,000 window cleaners in New York.City, and it’s my guess that we have the biggest mortality rate of any working class in the world. Most insurance companies won’t have anything to do with us. We’re marked ‘V. P. R.’ - very poor risk.
“The average window cleaner gets $30 weekly for 48 hours under the NRA. Aside from the perils, it’s nice, clean, healthy outdoor work, and we have very little labor trouble. You see, this is one trade in which there are no strikebreakers.
“When a man applies to me for a job, I don’t listen to any hot air about how good he is. I hand him the equipment, take him to the 100th floor, show him what a swell sight it is, to see all the other big skyscrapers sprawled out below, and then I say, ‘Okay, my man, go to it. Tackle that window right there.’
“I’ve never seen it fail. If they’re not full-fledged window cleaners they quit right on the spot. It takes a lot of nerve to step out into space, 100 stories up, if you’re not made for it.
“I’m forty years old and like my job very much. We’re all a happy-go-lucky bunch and sleep a good ten hours every night. We eat lightly. You’ve got to. On Sundays we have a feast, however. I’ve got a son, 15, and he’s going to be an engineer. He says he doesn’t care much for the wide open spaces where his old man works. Well, maybe I can’t blame him after all for not wanting to lead a sparrow’s life.”



Here is another article (above) from 4 years later - Modern Mechanix 1938. Click on the pictures to enlarge.
Window Cleaners Pose For Photo “On The Job”
The unusual photograph above shows a group of men working at what is considered by many as one of the most hazardous occupations - cleaning the windows of a “skyscraper” building. The photograph was taken from the 86th floor of the 102-story Empire State Building in New York, N. Y. As can be seen from the photo, the window cleaners trust their lives to stout leather belts which pass through rings in a leather girdle strapped around their bodies, the hooked ends of the belts being attached to metal lugs protruding from the window frames.

Back in 1799, the site was a farm, belonging to John Thompson. A hundred years later, the original Waldorf Astoria sat here until 1929, when it was demolished so construction could begin on the Art Deco Empire State Building. In a record-breaking 18 months, the skyscraper rose at an average rate of 4 1/2 stories per week. Workers erected 60,000 tons of steel frames, laid 10 million bricks and installed 97 kilometers of water pipe. More impressive, however, was the fact that the building cost less than half the predicted $50 million. Updrafts are also responsible for near-magical phenomena. Visitors can see snow and rain fall up. A conical paper cup filled with just the right amount of water will swirl mysteriously outside the window without going either up or down! And since water drips up, window-washers have to clean the building's 6,500 windows from the bottom up!
But disaster as well as success has painted its history. Thirty people have jumped to their deaths on the concrete below. And 14 people were killed in July, 1945, when a B-25 bomber, traveling at 322 kilometers per hour, crashed into the 79th floor. The building miraculously withstood the impact.
And some more relevant recent photos. The second picture shows how it is done today!

The Empire State Building is a 102-story Art Deco skyscraper in New York City at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street. Its name is derived from the nickname for the state of New York. It stood as the world's tallest building for more than forty years, from its completion in 1931 until construction of the World Trade Center's North Tower was completed in 1972. Following the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001, the Empire State Building again became the tallest building in New York City and New York State. It is 102 stories high has 1,860 steps, the full height of the building is 1453 feet or 443m high. It also has seventy three elevators. The spire on the top of the building was meant to have been a mooring place for air ships but as it was too dangerous they had to drop the concept. It took 3400 men who were mainly immigrants to build. Fourteen of them died in accidents during the work. The men had no safety equipment & there were no health and safety regulations. One woman who did manage to survive an accident is lift operator Betty Lou Olivier whose lift plunged seventy five floors while she was still in it. The 1930's were also the time of the great depression in America and the building had problems renting out the office space, as a consequence it became known as Empty State Building. The top tier of the building is floodlit according to a particular occasion, green for Saint Patrick's Day, red, white and blue for the fourth of July Independence Day. When it opened on 1st May 1931 the lights were white, they repeated this for the seventy - fifth birthday. On a clear day, you can see for 129 kilometers.

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Monday, 22 December 2008

Latest Window Cleaning Videos

Tony Evans of "New View" window cleaning in Wellman, Iowa has some more winter tips for us window cleaners in the following video. Entitled "Weather or not," its another great video from Mr. Squeegee, aka Tony.

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Don Marsh, the window cleaner from Gainesville, Florida talks about the most fundamental reasons why you should or should not start a business.

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Remember, if you are looking for a certain video, just put in your search term in the top left search box at the top of the blog to find what you are looking for i.e. Wagtail.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

GlasWeld & Scratched Glass Solutions




At a time when some companies are slashing costs and laying off workers, Bend’s GlasWeld Systems Inc. is having the best year in its 25-year history. That’s according to company President Mike Boyle, who prefers the title chief visionary officer. Earlier this month, GlasWeld acquired a Las Vegas-based competitor and is moving it to Bend. GlasWeld, which is privately-held, now has 16 employees, but Boyle expects the company will double in size in the next two years as it absorbs its competitor and continues to expand. Boyle has helped the company grow from a “garage-type” business that built and sold windshield repair kits to an industry authority that is shaking up the way glass manufacturers do business.
Its original line of business is windshield repair kits and training. According to Boyle, the company is the world’s largest manufacturer of windshield repair kits. GlasWeld’s system uses a vacuum tool that removes moisture and contaminants from a windshield crack or ding and then injects a resin into the affected area. The resin is then cured with an ultraviolet lamp. Boyle said repairing a windshield is safer than replacing a windshield, as the factory bond between the windshield and the vehicle frame isn’t easily duplicated by third-party contractors. Several years ago, GlasWeld patented a system to repair scratches without altering the optics of the affected glass. In other words, it could repair a scratch, using a proprietary compound and special buffer without distorting the glass around the scratch as buffing alone can do.




It works on windshields, but GlasWeld found it also worked on flat glass, the industry term for windows and other architectural glass. This presented the company with more than a few growth opportunities. Boyle said glass manufacturers typically send 6 percent of their production to the dump. Boyle said his company’s systems can salvage 80 percent of that glass.
In an era where waste is unacceptable due to negative environmental perceptions and impact to the bottom line. Boyle said glass manufacturers are turning to GlasWeld to help them keep costs down both in the plant and the field. “The reason we’ve gone (with GlasWeld is) we do expect to save on our service costs and the amount of glass we throw away,” said Kim Flannery, engineering director for Milgard Windows and Doors in Tacoma, Wash. Milgard’s windows have a lifetime warranty, Flannery said. To replace a scratched piece of glass in the field is expensive and time-consuming, but with GlasWeld’s system, it can take one Milgard technician as little as five minutes. And it doesn’t alter the optics, which is something Flannery had never seen before.
“The reason we never got excited about this in the past was because other scratch-repair technology changed the characteristics of the glass,” Flannery said. “If you looked at it just right, you knew something had been done, but so far that has not been an issue here, and that seems to be the thing I’m most impressed with.” That’s one prong of GlasWeld’s growth, Boyle said. Another is the company’s burgeoning forensic glass services. Boyle half-jokingly calls it Glass Scene Investigations, a play on the popular television show “CSI,” or Crime Scene Investigation.
As Boyle explained, when developers discover that the windows installed in their projects, be it skyscrapers or luxury condos, are scratched, they want to know whom to bill for the repairs: the manufacturer, the shipper, the installer, the window cleaner or the mason who may have accidentally nicked a window with his trowel.




Boyle said his company can determine from the damage who is to blame. “We know more about glass than most of the people who produce it,” Boyle said. In the past few years, GlasWeld has been called to assess the glass in several high-profile projects, including the 57-floor Comcast Center in Philadelphia and the Wynn Las Vegas casino in Nevada. At the Wynn, Boyle said, a carpenter accidently scratched the front windows of a jewelry store three days before the casino opened. The scratched windows cost roughly $60,000 and had taken six months to produce, meaning no immediate replacements were available. Boyle sent over a GlasWeld contractor who spent the next three days repairing the glass.
A similar incident happened at the Four Seasons Resort in Jackson, Wyo., he said. A developer had discovered the windows in his luxury condos were scratched. Rather than replace the windows, the developer hired GlasWeld to remove the scratches. It took a few months, but GlasWeld was able to complete the task, at considerable savings to the developer, Boyle said.
Throwing glass away is expensive, he said. But several years ago, Boyle came to the realization it’s also environmentally unsound. Only bottled glass is recycled, he said, while windshields and flat panel glass usually end up in landfills. Windshields can’t be recycled cost-effectively because they have petroleum-based laminate layered between the two panes of glass that make up a windshield. Windows and other architectural glass can’t be recycled cost-effectively because they are usually coated with anti-glare or energy-conservation coating and are affixed to metal or wood frames.
The glass can be ground up, but it’s an expensive process. Most of the time, it goes into the landfill, where it sits, practically forever, he said. Glass, after all, is melted sand. With that environmental message in mind, and adopting a polar bear as the marketing tool, GlasWeld several years ago began growing its glass repair business. The company also changed some of its business practices to keep in line with its message, such as switching from incandescent to fluorescent bulbs, buying a commercial-grade printer to print marketing materials on demand rather than in bulk and reducing packaging. And it’s paid off, Boyle said. “We started building a message of sustainability … so now we’re saving money and getting more market share,” Boyle said. Boyle wants to expand the company’s sustainability message and in the spring plans to host a conference in Sisters for glass industry executives worldwide to share its message. “Our ultimate goal is to become a Baldrige winner,” said Boyle, referring to the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award handed out annually by the U.S. president to businesses that show leadership and other exemplary business practices. “To be worthy of that award, that’s when we hit our stride,” Boyle said.

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Saturday, 20 December 2008

Squeegee Video Tricks & Tips

Here are a few tricks from Sörbo Samuelsson of Sörbo or SPC tools. Discover new and better ways of cleaning windows with innovative techniques and tools. Get fresh ideas on how to do windows better, more easily, more ergonomically and more profitably. Also see "The Sörbo Way."


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All work and no fun is not good for anyone. Here's a technique developed to take care of that prerequisite. But don't let that fool you. It's a perfectly viable technique of doing windows, and you can express your artistic side at the same time. Great for killing time on a Friday afternoon.


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You've heard of the jitterbug and the macarena. You've seen The Circler. Continuing our fun series, watch The Swirl. For some real serious speeds, use longer squeegee 3X4 adjustable channels. For French windows, use the MultiSqueegee®.

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Here's Sörbo with both barrels blazing. Lots of movement, plenty of action, but this is just part of our fun series. If you really want to get done fast, try out longer squeegee channels or 'The Eliminator'.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Windows Of The Future


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Rainbow Solar Inc. (RSi) recently announced the world’s first, transparent, photovoltaic-glass window that generates 80 to 250 watts of electrical power, while saving up to 50% on heating and cooling requirements too.
This is the first production BIPV (building integrated photovoltaic) product of its kind, an enclosed super tempered glass window system, with a patent pending, fully integrated, multi-tier photovoltaic and heat insulation technology. Current production lines are capable of producing window sizes up to 9’ x 9’ (2.74m x 2.74m) with comprehensive options, such as fire and bullet proofing, to meet design, weather, climate, and building code requirements.
The RSi PV-Glass Window uses sunlight to generate electricity, reduce heat, and provide a semi-transparent window that allows for privacy, while maintaining a comfortable level of visibility to the outside world. At the same time, RSi PV-Glass Windows provide a 100% reduction in Ultraviolet and Infrared radiation, adding an extra level of protection not offered by standard glass windows.
RSi embedded many smart home technologies into the complete window system, including an optional built-in electrical privacy curtain, to completely block out an already shaded glass window, and a new technology that converts the entire window into a light panel.
RSi’s vision is of buildings that harvest their own energy from unlimited renewable sources. What the company ultimately proposes to do is to eliminate the need for electrical power plants, as well as the grid infrastructure so that the building itself becomes truly autonomous and fully sustainable in terms of electrical power.
Since one of the biggest heat losses from a home is through a glass window, it looks like RSi has a winning combination, stopping heat loss on cold days and keeping heat out on hot days, while generating electricity at the same time. Let’s hope the opaque windows also stop birds flying into windows and then the only remaining technical challenge is implementing self-cleaning windows.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Window Cleaning with Laurel & Hardy

A little light hearted comedy leading up to Christmas. Here are some clowns showing you how window cleaning could be done. The first video are the replicants & the second, Mr. Sanchez shows us how to utilise those window cleaning tools with a little scrim talk from Phil as well.

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Here are the originals for you..

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More from Matt & Phil...

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Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Window Cleaning Videos & Other UK News

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Another installment from Mark Strange of "Beautiful View" from Toronto, Canada gives us a few more unbiased reviews of products in the window cleaners workplace. This time his opinion on the Unger ErgoTec® XL handle in this weeks edition of "Tool Talk."


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Sean the salesman, from window cleaning resource gives us an insight into his day to day life before he shoots out to snowboard.

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Kevin, the window cleaning business coach recently gave everyone the chance to win $200 of goods over on WCR to find the best flyer or template. Above is the synopsis of the winner from the entries given. More information on the new monthly dossier here. Below is Kevins latest advise on car dealerships & profitability..


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UK NEWS IN BRIEF:

Hotel manager who cleaned windows: The winners of the South Cheshire Chamber Business Awards 2008, held in association with the Chronicle, were announced at a ceremony at Crewe Hall Hotel. In this weekly series we are highlighting each of the winners and the secrets of their business success. Hotel manager Steven Hesketh seized upon a window of opportunity to climb the hospitality ladder. The 30-year-old former window cleaner sparkled at the annual South Cheshire Chamber of Commerce Business Awards 2008, taking the title of Young Business person of the Year, which he won jointly with Jonathan Mullarkey of Willaston House Business Centre. Father-of-three Steven, who lives with his wife in Chester, headed the opening of the Ramada Encore hotel on Crewe Business Park in Electra Way only two months ago in October.
Business has been steadily growing since, and Steven says the outlook for 2009 is bright despite the credit crunch. His rags-to-riches career story struck a chord with the awards judges. Steven said: “I started as a window cleaner at a resort in Australia while I was still at school 16 years ago, and it was then I fell in love with the industry. “I moved to Australia with my parents when I was one and returned in 1998. My first job here was at the Chester Crowne Plaza 10 years ago as a receptionist. So all my learning has been on the job. He is responsible for a team of 32 staff at the Ramada Encore hotel, overseeing their development while chipping in with whichever job that needs doing at the time.

Soccer fan Michael Sheilds is waiting to hear the word that he is to be freed from jail with a royal pardon. Two High Court Judges ruled that Justice Secretary Jack Straw was wrong to decide that he was powerless to grant a pardon because the conviction happened overseas. In their deceions the judges said Michael qualifies for a pardon since in British law he is "morally and technically innocent". It is widely accepted that Liverpool supporter Michael, 22, was a victim of mistaken identity and wrongly convicted of the attempted murder of a barman in Bulgaria. But he was kept locked-up because of tangle of international red tape and politics. Michael's father, window cleaner Mike Sheilds (pictured) said: "We are thrilled at this decision. "Jack Straw knows Michael is innocent and he should not spend a single day longer behind bars.

The gift of money: With cash being tighter than ever, many Britons are hoping their stockings will be filled with the gift of money instead of traditional Christmas presents this year. New research from Halifax has shown that more than a third (35%) of Britons intends to send money as a gift this Christmas, with children also set to receive money in the form of savings, as friends and relatives choose to open a savings account rather than purchase the latest toys from the high street. Furthermore, the UK's milkmen and window cleaners will receive similar tips to last year as the credit crunch doesn't seem to have impacted people's generosity this Christmas. Most of the UK's milkmen, window cleaners, bin men and paper boys can breathe a sigh of relief as 80% of 'tippers' say they will be paying the same as last year, with 17% saying they will pay more. However, it will be the luck of the draw for service providers in the East Midlands this year as the region has the highest percentage of people planning to tip more (24%), but on the flip side, has the highest number of people who intend to tip less (7%) compared to the rest of the UK.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Window Cleaning in Commercials

I can never understand why companies don't use professional window cleaners in commercials or at least teach them some basics to begin with? Here are a few adverts to keep you amused on these winter nights.

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