April 18, 2018
There’s a song that’s been remade a few times that opens with the lines: “I can see clearly now, the rain has gone.”
But why open with this? Windscreen or windshield wipers are the part of a car that help you see clearly when the rain is on and when the rain is gone. An oft overlooked part of a car’s defence system, these strips of rubber, silicone, or a mix of the two are more important than one might think.
1903 saw the first patents for the device, with at least three independent lodgings. American real estate developer and rancher Mary Anderson was one. Robert Douglass and John Apjohn also had patents filed. Mary’s patent name for her device was called, logically enough “window cleaning devices”, while Douglas called his a “locomotive-cab window cleaner”.
Almost all systems work on a parallel pivot system. With two and sometimes three arms working in unison, they move in an arc across the windscreen as an attachment to an arm that is powered in a suitable means. Some companies have the arms move in opposition to each other. Two perceived benefits of this are a greater wiper coverage and the location of the arms makes installation into a left or right hand drive car easier.
But it’s not just the windscreen that gets the wiper treatment. Brands such as Jaguar have had mini wipers fitted to their XJ6 for the headlights, and more popularly wipers are now fitted for the rear window on sloping roof coupes and hatchbacks. These came about in the 1940s and became more widespread in the 1960s thanks to Porsche employing the design.
Most arms rely on a separate reservoir and pumping mechanism to spray fluid onto the front screen. Slowly increasing in popularity is a far more efficient integrated design with an almost foam-like application, minimizing greatly wastage and increasing the cleaning ability.
John R. Oishei from Buffalo, in New York, formed a company in 1917 thanks to a thankfully small yet ultimately important run in with a cyclist in 1916. Oishei was driving in a rainstorm and due to this was unable to see a cyclist that crossed his path. The rider he hit was uninjured but it was enough for Oishei to declare a need for a device to remove water from a car’s screen.
That company was the Tri-Contenental Company and was known for searching out the best rubber to use for making blades for wipers. One of the main products was called Rain Rubber, and today, Trico, as they’re now known, are one of the biggest companies of their type world wide, making blades, wiper systems and have manufacturing plants on five continents.
Trico would love to hear from users of their products and are always ready to hear from you via their social media presence.