The windows in our family room are from, we think, the fifties. We have been under the impression that our family room was added on sometime in the forties/fifties and the windows came in at that point. They're sliding windows and there are a lot of them, and a while ago we had a branch come through one of them.
So we called up Andersen (as the one identifying feature on the windows is a small mark on the ledge which says "Andersen" in a very 1950's cursive, "Bayport Minn.")
When you call Andersen these days they have a very repetitive recording which tells you how before you speak with a representative you should have your glass code handy. The Glass code can be found, etched in the corner of your window, directly above the "Andersen" triangle. Needless to say our windows predate both the etched glass number and the Andersen triangle.
Miraculously, after speaking with the Andersen representative (between giving them a description of our windows and the size) they were able to determine that in the fifties they made two kinds of windows similar to what we were describing, ones with wood trim and ones with vinyl trim. Ours are wood. We confirmed this and then we were told it would be nine business days the window to be manufactured. Granted the window was under $300 (and its a big window) but still, 9 business days, meanwhile we have a big piece of plywood up over our broken window (with lovely black plastic contractor bag lining on the inside). Up until this point I had totally figured the windows were some totally random custom size. Turns out they weren't, they were off the rack-- completely odd, strange sized (all based on the measurements we took when we ordered our roman shades) but for Andersen, stock sizes nonetheless. Of course, these were stock in the 1950s, now they have to be custom made.
Approximately 14 days later (business days, after all, and shipping) we get a window dropped off by our garage by FedEx. The husband moves the box, it clinks. We think, "Oh, maybe its spare parts." No, its not spare parts, surprisingly, the window is exactly the same as the one we're replacing (right down to the shattered glass). I was impressed that Andersen was able to locate in its system the model window we had and recreate it exactly. I was less impressed that they had packed it in the box upside down and it had managed to break before it even got to our house.
We called, it will be another 9 business days. On the upside, we remembered to order a new screen this time (as obviously, the branch went through that too).
This can be contrasted with Pella. We bought new windows for half of the house about a year or so ago from Pella. The windows are great-- no complaints, so great in fact, we want to order the rest of the windows. We call up the Pella guy and it was like trying to decipher the rosetta stone in order for him to get us a quote for the same model/make of window we purchased a year ago. He tells us they've made improvements, changes, etc. I'm thinking--- if Andersen can reproduce a fifty year old window, why is it that Pella can't even get us the same windows we bought last year!?! Then again, the Pella windows at least arrived in one piece.