History Of The Windscreen Wiper

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The History Of The Windscreen Wiper By UK Autoglaze

When we take a casual drive in the rain, we forget how much we depend on the windscreen wiper to save us, as without it we’d literally be blind. The natural slant of the glass does help with the flow of rain so eventually, the water will run into the drip pan, but whilst driving the rain will end up pooling on the surface. It’s with the invention of the windscreen wiper that we can drive safely in the rain, and its invention helped the progress of the automobile as it was at a crawl before. As automobiles before the windscreen could never travel at high speeds, there was no need for the windscreen. But since it’s integration in every vehicle to date, the necessity for a windscreen wiper has become ever more important.

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The wipers inventor, J.H. Apiohn created the first windscreen wipers in 1903, made up of two rudimentary brushes the ran up and down the windscreen in a vertical motion, offering a better solution but definitely not as efficient as Mary Andersons invention, who came up with the swinging arm design which actually swept the rain off of the windscreen, rather than just wiping it to temporarily clear the windscreen whilst still leaving some on the actual glass. A lever in the car, making it very easy for the driver to control, much like the modern day iterations, as it’s really the most logical location for the controls, controlled the swinging arm. By 1913, the swinging arm version of the windscreen wiper became the standard for all automobiles, and was integrated in all new vehicles, however these wipers were still manually controlled by the lever installed on the inside of the vehicle, meaning the driver still had to operate the lever whilst driving with one hand, which isn’t the safest arrangement you can have whilst you’re driving a car.

The big change to windscreen wipers came in 1917, when the electric motor was introduced. A Hawaiian dentist by the name of Dr. Ormand Wall had integrated one long rubber blade and placed an electric motor at the end, placing it on the top centre side of the windscreen, giving him the ability to wipe the whole windscreen with the touch of a button. This arrangement is somewhat opposite to most modern cars and vans now but you can see this arrangement on transport like trains as they have much larger windscreens.
The actual placement of the windscreen wipers has very much shifted over time, as the location of the motor and the actual wipers were always shifting, as things tend to do when they’re being integrated into a new platform. The motor had been positioned at the top of the windscreen, and then was placed at the base, as this was an easier arrangement for the motor to be. These changes were made possible by the advancement of electrical systems, as wiring began to size down, they could afford to place them in harder to reach places as they had the dexterity within their electrical systems to do so.

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The modern iteration of the wiper would seem strange if we didn’t have an interval between wipes. There is a mode that is constantly wiping but that is only used in heavy rainfall, but many don’t know that was the standard mode that the wipers were set to during those times. It wasn’t until Bob Kearns invented the intermittent wiper, introducing a system that could be used at different speeds and intervals that would give the driver a great amount of control so he/she could adjust the wiper when they were driving, depending on the amount of rainfall that was occurring at the time. It wasn’t until the end of the century (1990’s) that sensors were integrated into the windscreen to detect rain, so that the wipers would automatically engage once rain had touched the windscreen.

Much like most technology in our modern vehicles, they have changed a lot over time. From their conception to the gradual refinement and improvement, to what they have become today, features like the windscreen wiper are looked over, when we would be lost without them. The need for wipers has always been important and they have evolved a great deal since the need rose.

For everything windscreen, either replacement or repair in Gloucestershire please contact UK Autoglaze on 01452 423725