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Installing Power Windows And Keyless Entry - Roll 'EM Up & Lock 'EM Down!
Installing Power Windows And Keyless Entry On A Tri-Five Is Easier Than Ever
May 1, 2009
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Installing Power Windows And Keyless Entry - Roll 'EM Up & Lock 'EM Down!
These are the front and rear regulators from the Electric Life kit. They both use the factory mounting holes of the manual regulators, and come with all the necessary hardware to mount in the door.
Here's the wiring. Hooking up the kit is pretty straightforward and easy, with all the wires color-coded to correspond with the included installation chart. While this '57 had a Painless Wiring Harness installed (watch for this installation in another story soon), you can still install the Electric Life kit if your Tri-Five or other Chevy that has the original wiring harness and fuse block.
While we had the door panels off, we also opted to install Electric Life's power door lock/keyless entry kit. Using simple power actuators and a control harness, this kit makes getting into your Tri-Five quick and easy.
After door panel removal, remove the access plate on the bottom corner of the door. We already had the door panels off before we started the install, but no sweat-they're easy to remove. All you need are two special tools, a door handle/window handle removal tool and a door panel removal tool. You can get them at most parts stores for less than $20 together.
Next up, remove the access plate on the front of the door. With the window secured from falling, remove the screw that secures the front of the window to the regulator. You'll see it through a factory access hole in the door. After you've removed the screw, then lower the window back down.
With the window out of the way, start removing the screws/bolts/nuts that hold the regulator to the door itself. Because of their age, most Tri-Fives usually have some combo of fasteners holding the regulators in.
With the access panel removed, you can get at these two screws, which secure the window to the regulator. Before removing them, make sure you have the window jammed in place so it doesn't drop and break. We had a special window tool, but in a pinch you can use a pair of Vise Grips and a shop rag. Clamp the Vise Grips around the rag on the side of the window (the rag keeps the Vise Grips from scratching the glass or chrome trim), then you just adjust the Vise Grips as you need to lower and raise the window.
Remove the two screws at the back of the window, then press the window's clip off the regulator's track. Then, turn the regulator so the track drops away from the window so the regulator can be removed.
With all the mounting hardware removed, it's a simple matter to pull the old regulator out through the access hole. Make sure you've got plenty of room around you when pulling the regulator out, this makes things much easier.
This bolt is for adjusting how far the regulator's range of motion will go. The kit comes with instructions for where to put the bolt stop depending on which model car you have. For our hardtop, the bolt goes in the bottom position shown here.
While the regulator is still out of the car, go ahead and hook the power plug up to the unit. You'll wire this into the control harness later. Doing it this way is a lot easier than wiring it into the harness first then hooking it into the regulator.
Just slip the new regulator in the same way you removed the old one. You'll have to twist and turn it a little bit, but it'll go in without trouble.
Once the regulator is secured, lower the window down so you can attach it to the long channel. The track for the power regulator hooks to the window just like the manual one. Slip the window's bracket onto the regulator's track and use the two screws you removed earlier to secure the window to the new track.
Using a car battery, test the window's full up and down range of motion to make sure the new regulator isn't hitting anything inside the door and is operating smoothly. Once you're sure the window's working properly, just lay the wiring aside for later when it's time to hook all the windows up. Installation of the passenger door regulator is identical to the driver's side.
Once the regulator is in place, secure it using the four nuts you removed from the regulator before inserting it in the door. Then secure the short slide to the door at the back. In total, you'll have six places where the regulator is mounted to the door, four up front, and two at the back.
Using a car battery and the wires coming out of the door from the regulator, raise the window up all the way. With the glass all the way up, tighten the two mounting screws holding the window to the track.
Still on the driver's side, we went ahead and started mounting the power door lock actuator. Here you can see how the simple bracket (included with the kit) holds the actuator in the door. From this photo you can see the general distance you want the actuator mounted from the lock assembly above. Go ahead and attach the vertical bracket to the keyless actuator.
This small bracket secures the actuator rod to the door lock mechanicals. Go ahead and back out the Allen screw on the bracket.
With the actuator in the door, insert actuator rod into the bracket on the factory lock mechanism.
Now slip it onto the factory lock mechanism, making sure to keep the Allen screw facing out so you can tighten it later.
While holding everything in place, use a Sharpie to mark on the door where to drill bolt holes for the bracket that holds the actuator.
Here you can see Mark Houlahan (editor of one of our sister magazines) adjusting the position of the actuator. Once the position is set, it's very important to make sure the actuator is synched with the lock mechanism. Just like with the windows to check operation, use a couple of wires and a car battery to check the motion and operation of the lock actuator. If the locks work in reverse, all you have to do is reverse the red and the blue wires and the actuator will work normally. With our '57, the actuator was bumping against the door panel and causing the locks to trigger when the door was closed. The solution was just bending the bracket so it pushed the actuator away from the door panel. Just a simple bend using a vise was all it took.
After modifying the bracket, we still had a little trouble with the actuator hitting the inside of the door. We used some pieces of an old seat cover that were lying around the shop and wrapped them around the actuators on both sides to add some extra insulation. Once we did that, we could slam the doors as hard as possible and they never self-activated.
With the lock actuators mounted, it was time to wire up the window switches and other controls. First up was the driver's side. The Electric Life kit has several options for the switch types you can use, but we just opted for a standard GM-style switch. The driver's switch has a four button control so you can work all four windows just like a modern car, and it acts as the power hub for all the windows. On the other windows, the single button switch is mounted in the same spot as the old hand cranks. But for the driver's side, we had to get out the cutting wheel to make a space for the four-button switch. The best way to do this is hold the switch up where you want to mount it, then outline with a marker as a cutting guide.
To cut the hole in the door panel for the switch, I used the piece of sheet metal that we cut out of the door as a template.
Here you can see how we got the wiring into the car using the factory holes. To make sure opening the door didn't chafe the wires bare, we secured them to the hinge with a zip tie. Electric Life has some nice billet wire routing accessories you can get for this, but they do require drilling/cutting on the door, and on the door frame.
With the wiring set up, it was time to cut the door panel. You can see the line we marked on the door to cut enough space for the control switch.
With the switch now in place, we could hook the wiring in for the other windows. The driver's switch acts as the hub for the other three windows, but all the wiring is colored coded, and the kit comes with a wiring guide that's simple and easy to use so you can make sure everything's hooked up correctly. After you've crimped all the wires together, wrap the crimped connections in electrical tape to protect from any moisture that might get inside the door panel.
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