In the December '05 issue of Southern Wheels, we featured an article about re-working the hydro-electric power window and seat system on our '53 Buick Roadmaster 2-door Riviera. We needed to replace only one front door window cylinder (passenger side), and had everything working fine. Knowing that it would be several months before the new interior would be ready to put back in, we decided to test the system and see if any more parts would need to be replaced. After repeated operation, each of the original window cylinders began to fail to raise the windows all the way up, and one of the fluid lines developed a leak. We contacted the pros at Hydro-E-Lectric (800-343-4261), and were advised to test the pressure in the system before ordering new cylinders. To do this, we lowered all of the windows and put a pressure gauge in the line at the driver's door cylinder, then raised the passenger side window. The pressure should not exceed 300 psi, indicating a bad pump and windows that would not go up correctly. Our pressure was normal, indicating bad cylinders. We were further advised to purge the system of the Dot 3 brake fluid and refill using modern Dexron automatic transmission fluid. The Dexron does the same job, but won't eat the paint like Dot 3 does in the event of a leak. The use of Dexron necessitates changing all the rubber fluid hoses to ones that are compatible with the new fluid. New hoses can be easily made by a local hydraulic hose shop, but care must be taken to match length, diameter and swivel connections on the right ends. We ordered our new cylinders from Hydro-E-Lectric, and with those, our new hoses and ATF fluid, we began the replacement process.
To remove the front door window unit, we lowered the window and disconnected the battery, disconnected the window lower sash channel from the window lift assembly and removed the glass from the car. Next, we disconnected the electrical wire and fluid line and removed the rubber fluid hose, keeping it to use as an example when replacing. We removed the bolts that attached the lift to the door panel, then took the lift assembly out through the access hole. After cleaning up our assembly, we made notes on it using a paint pen, as to which way the new cylinder was to be turned and which side of the car it came from. Then, to replace our cylinder, two clips must be removed, which hold the rod and opposite end of the cylinder. We used a pry bar and secured the clip so that it would not fly off. Then, simply set the new cylinder in place and replace the clips. It's a good idea to cover the new cylinder fluid line fitting with tape until it is back in the car, to prevent debris from possibly getting into the cylinder. After painting and lubricating the unit, we installed it in the door by reverse procedure. We hooked up our new rubber fluid hose and moved on to the rear quarter windows. Removing a rear window is really a two-person job.
To remove the rear window, with the window lowered to an almost-down position, we took out the rear quarter glass by removing a pivot bolt in the upper front window corner, then pulled the window up and disengaged the cam from the glass sash channel and tilted the glass toward the inside of the car, careful not to hit the headliner, then out. We then disconnected the electrical wire and fluid line, removed the bolts to the window lift assembly (marking them for later re-assembly), and removed it through the inspection hole. We changed the cylinders and added a new rubber fluid hose in the same procedure as the front door window.
With all units new and back in place, we checked all connections and filled the fluid reservoir with Dexron ATF, then re-connected our battery, turned on the ignition switch and, from the driver's door master window control, operated each window. First we heard a click, then the window began to operate. To adjust the front window upward, adjust the top screws located on the upper edge of the inner panel. For downward adjustment, loosen the sash channel screw nuts and move the window glass or regulator as needed, then re-tighten the nuts. To adjust the rear quarter windows, loosen the pivot bolt and two adjusting lock nuts. Up and down adjustments are made by shifting the window as needed, then re-tightening the pivot and stud lock bolts. If the window still won't go all the way down, or travels slowly, check for leaks at the window lift cylinder or a mechanical bind, or a problem in the glass run channels, or even a broken return spring. The pump pressure relief valve could also be stuck.
This time, we feel pretty secure with our system. We would hate to have to replace cylinders with our new interior installed. We still have some work to do before installing the seats and door panels, such as removing the dash gauges and radio, and repainting the dash and window moldings, as well as adding some door and floor insulation and sound deadening material. We will continue this series in upcoming issues, plus have an update that many readers have asked for regarding our restored and project cars. We would like to thank our friends at Lloyd's Literature for supplying us with their new '52-'53 combo manual that has a wealth of information about this system. See their press release in this issue. See you at the shows! Keep 'em driving!