Thank you for joining the community.
I agree with Chris that the specialty tool would be pricey but since you have multiple windows to repair it would be a good idea to purchase a jamb spreader. It will make all of your repairs much easier and also not damage the frame of your windows.
Since the manufacture has said to use heat to complete your repair that suggest to me that if you cut the channel it most likely will void the warranty on the windows. Normally any alterations to a window will void the warranty.
So hopefully you have not already cut the channels to your windows if the warranty is important.
Home Depot doesn’t offer a jamb spreader but there are a couple other companies that do so just Google jamb spreader and see if there is a company around you that offers them or just order it online. I found a good video of how they work. Click here to see the video.
I hope this has helped you with your window repairs.
Let me know if you have any other question. I would love to help.
The vinyl window jamb spreaders sold by either swissco or strybuc are the very same jamb spreaders and are worth every penny especially if you have more than just one vinyl window in need of pivot shoe replacement. You can indeed notch a "one-off" window however depending on how steady your hands are will determine how unsightly the notches will end up. At the end of the day it boils down to aesthetics, number of vinyl windows in need of repair, factoring in time, etc it made sense to purchase this set of $148 jamb spreaders. I have over 20 vinyl windows installed in 1986 which have been carefully maintained for almost 30 years however yearly cleanings and normal wear and tear have taken their toll. Pivot shoes wear out, pivot bars either break or in my case rust out leaving the inevitability each and every window will require repairs. Jamb spreaders are worth every dollar, make a difficult inconvenient repair a little bit less stressful.
I have learned as a homeowner it is just plain smart to have a spiral balance tensioner, this set of window jamb spreaders, a half dozen pivot bars (longer is better since you can cut them down to size), and a half dozen pivot shoes stocked at home. It's not a question "f your windows will require maintenance but ... "when" which is almost a certainty