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  • Power window conversion - old tech or new?

    I'm in the process of doing a full resto on my 1960 hardtop and I want to switch over to power windows. From a purely functional standpoint, what would work better - moving the factory hardware from an existing Tbird or using a modern power window kit (Electric Life or something similar)?

    I'm doing a lot of mods on this one, so originality is not an issue. I also have a parts car with power windows - they're not currently functional but I've done zero troubleshooting so far. My goal is to give this car a lot of modern functionality, so my first instinct was to go with the new stuff. My assumption is that the windows would work smoother/faster/more reliably, etc.

    But I can think of a couple of arguments against this:
    1) whatever kit I get is probably not designed specifically for a 1960 Thunderbird and
    2) they don't make 'em like they used to - a lot of aftermarket stuff is even more cheaply made than Ford stuff from the 60's...

    Thoughts? Has anyone here had experience with an aftermarket conversion?

  • #2
    I am in the process of installing power windows in my 60 Vert. with the parts from a donor 58 1958 hardtop. It was pretty easy to bench check the window motors, all of which needed to be dissembled, cleaned and lubed. The tricky part is holding the brushes back during reassembly. I did find a way doing an on line search on how to hold them back. Or you could send them in to be rebuilt.
    Bill Gildersleeve
    58 hard top & 60 convertible

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    • #3
      Which will work longer? Original parts from 1960, or new Chinese stuff.
      Could go either way.........
      59-430-HT

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      • #4
        My 2 cents: go with the original stuff. I think you'll find yourself in the weeds adapting anything else. Cable drive, different leverage points. Brackets, mounts, even wiring and switches (if you want to use the originals). Those double pole/double throw switches aren't used by many- if any, modern systems. You can beat that with relays, but that's just one adaptation you'll need. Of all the stuff I've adapted, from engines to A/C, original built-in is way easier.
        Furthermore, there's nothing fundementally wrong with those original motors, brackets or drive. Any power window problems I've seen were really in the adjustment of the windows, channel or door.
        You've got the parts, go for it.
        Good luck.
        If this turns out to be bad advice, I'll deny it.

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        • #5
          When I built my 1962 F100 it didn't have power windows. However someone on the Ford Truck site had figured out that Saturn motors were direct bolt in to the ford window regulators. Those motors are $30 - $40. They wired directly to the standard GM switch. With the help of Partsetal I am working on converting a bird regulator in the same fashion. I reasoned that the regulator may have the same basic mounting measurements as the F100 or be close enough. The sticking point is I cannot tell which year or model of Saturn motor was used. The numbers in the picture yield nothing. Since this was over 10 years ago and I sold the truck fitment is the problem. I got a Saturn motor but it did not bolt in. I'm looking at modifying the regulator in hopes it works. We'll see if I get lucky with it.
          wire harness 3.JPG IMG_3493.JPG

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          • #6
            I rebuilt all of the window regulators and motors for each one of my power windows. If you can get the parts for a bolt in installation, it seems there is a lot of advantage to doing this and just restoring the parts. One of the items that makes me say this, is the rear quarter windows. If you read any posts for adjusting and aligning the 1/4 windows, it is a nightmare to say the least. I can't tell you how may hours I spent to get them working properly with proper alignment. I guess you could mix and match a new system with the factory, but I would definitely stick with the factory on the rear 1/4 windows. The door glasses are pretty straight forward. Just putting in my 2 cents. BTW, I was able to recondition all of my window motors by taking them apart, cleaning, lubing and putting back together.
            Nyles

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            • #7
              Thanks for all the great advice. It sounds like plan A should be to make the stock parts work. I'll see if I can get them going on the donor car and then switch them over. I've seen a lot of useful info in the TRL. Thank you to everyone who put that together.

              P38fighter, please keep us updated on your progress. Your route looks like a solid plan B.

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              • #8
                Power window and seat motors never wear out their brushes. Think of it, the motor only rotates about a dozen or so revolutions each time they are used. Heater and electric wiper motors may be on for hours, by contrast.

                So, how do they go bad? Oily dirt gums up window brushes and twelve volts is very easy to hold back with very thin insulation. Simple cleaning will restore the motor. NEVER sand the copper commutator segments on the armature. Running the motor under power 'forms' lubrication with carbon from the carbon brushes, giving the copper a darker color. If you do sand the armature, that process will start over again, 'eating' more brush in the process. Starter motors and generators also follow this rule. Obviously, if the commutator is tapered, oblong or burned, 'truing' will be necessary but I've never seen a window motor with those issues.

                Dis-assembling window motors is tricky and must be done with a very light hand. The parts are 'finessed' apart or they will break. See the TRL.

                Having said all that, I've never met a window motor that wouldn't work after taking it apart and cleaning all the parts. Do not use too much lubrication or oil will find its way to the brushes again. - Dave
                My latest project:
                CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                --Lee Iacocca

                From: Royal Oak, Michigan

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                • #9
                  Dave, I agree 100% on your motor fix, exactly what I did.
                  Bill
                  Bill Gildersleeve
                  58 hard top & 60 convertible

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                  • #10
                    Dave, thanks for the info. This makes a lot of sense. I'm hoping I won't need to get into the motors, but I'll do it carefully if needed.

                    Currently, none of the windows work and I'm still trying to track down the issue. This car was stored outside for a long time and saw a lot of moisture. At a minimum, I'd be surprised if the switches don't need cleaning. The circuit breakers don't look too great, either.

                    I did a small amount of detective work this morning. I am getting 12V to the yellow wire at the driver's side quarter window when the switch is activated, but 0V to the green wire. I'm not really sure what this means.

                    I tried to check out the 30A breaker, but I couldn't find it. It's not attached to the relay on the firewall (pic attached). The manual makes it sound like it's under the dash. I found a circuit breaker there, but I'm pretty sure it's one of the 15A breakers, because it looks just like the ones under the back seat. I started tracing the wire from the breaker that I did find, but I need to remove the metal panel under the dash and didn't have time for that today.

                    I'm thinking that my next step might be to bypass the switch and see what happens. Does that make sense or is something else more likely?

                    -Tom
                    Last edited by tdiddy; May 8th, 2021, 06:15 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by tdiddy View Post
                      ...I am getting 12V to the yellow wire at the driver's side quarter window when the switch is activated, but 0V to the green wire. I'm not really sure what this means...
                      Tom, each motor has four wires; Black ground, that the breaker is connected to, Green, which is +12, then the directional field wires, Red and Yellow.

                      All window motor power comes from the associated switch. In either position, Green should show +12 AND either Yellow or Red should be energized for up/down. If by chance the red and yellow are energized at the same time, no motion will result because both field magnetisms cancel each other.

                      So, to correctly 'bench troubleshoot' you need to supply -12 to the black wire and connect +12 to green and yellow or green and red. The motor should take off. If you find +12 anywhere at the motor, know that the switch is supplied with power. That doesn't mean the switch is outputting +12 to the green but it is there at the switch.

                      My latest project:
                      CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                      "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                      --Lee Iacocca

                      From: Royal Oak, Michigan

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                      • #12
                        You may know, those switches can be completely disassembled and cleaned, no sweat. Dirty, they can be intermittent.
                        Also, the rubber molding that plugs into the switches can be a problem. Yours may be fine, but I had to cut off mine that was making weak intermittent contact and had dissolving rubber. Replacing with individual insulated spade crimp-ons solved many problems. Good luck.

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                        • #13
                          That's a good idea. I finally took the switch out today and the plugs definitely look sketchy. They also look pretty tough to clean. Replacing them might be easier.

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                          • #14
                            I don't know why I was worried that the switches might be dirty. Clean as a whistle ​.
                            SWMedium.jpg
                            Last edited by tdiddy; May 8th, 2021, 06:18 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Tom, you have broken pix indicated by the X's... Call me at 210-875-1411 and I should be able to help you fix that... Ray

                              Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
                              The Terminator..... VTCI #11178
                              Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or Call (Cell) 210-875-1411

                              https://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

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