1/ 4-inch ratchet
Metric and standard sockets
Metric and standard wrenches
Drill and bits
White lithium grease
Pencil or pen
Most heavy trucks nowadays are spec’ed with power windows, made by ArvinMeritor or Sprague. However, there are still enough miserly fleets around to keep at least one manufacturer building these products for the aftermarket. Electric-Life, based in Chicago, offers kits for Freightliner, Peterbilt and Kenworth.
Mitch Sremac, Electric-Life’s president, says Class 8 business, while steady, is just a small part of his production.
“We’re an OEM vendor for Mercedes truck, Volvo autos, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati,” he says. The 20-year-old company, started in Europe, also caters to hobbyists restoring classic vehicles. “We make window kits for almost any light truck from 1940 to today” – about 500 models in all. He says Electric-Life would add more heavy truck kits if it had a demand for them.
Sremac says there are a few universal kits on the market, but those units tend to be more difficult to install, involving multiple bushings and brackets.
“With universal kits,” he says, “you retain the old mechanical regulator and put the drive assembly over the crank stub. So what you’re doing is motorizing the manual system. They work OK, but they’re not very pretty.”
He says Electric-Life builds its kits to the intended doors’ exact dimensions, using die cast tooling to ensure a precise fit. “All of our aftermarket kits are made on the same lines that produce our OEM products,” he says.
An Electric-Life kit includes all the parts and supplies needed to power two windows. It sells for $399. The directions below apply to a Freightliner door kit. Shop time is about six hours.
Slide the unattached cover to the left or right to disengage the regulator arm from the window channel. Repeat the process on the other door. Unbolt the regulator from each door panel.
Connect the appropriate (black and blue) wires to each regulator motor.
Prop up the window with a screwdriver or thin strip of wood. Duct tape also works, draped over the top of the door and stuck to both sides of the glass. Slide the new regulator arm into the window channel and position the frame in its mounting location inside the door shell. Run the bolts through their intended holes to make sure they’re long enough. Because of slight variations in doors, you might need to replace some of the hardware. Note that these pieces are metric in size and thread.
Repeat the process on the other door and tighten all the bolts.
Disassemble enough of the dash to route the wiring harness from the chosen circuit breaker to both doors. Remove the kick panels under the far ends of the dash. Find (or drill) a small hole that will accommodate four wires.
Drill a small hole in the door channel that will lead to the space behind the kick panel. Drill another hole in the door channel that will lead to the door’s interior. The second hole should be 10 or 12 inches above the first. Trucks that have heated mirrors will already have these holes – and wiring running through them. Wires inside the door channel should have little slack. Insert rubber grommets in any hole you drill.
String the wires from the circuit breaker through the dash and door channels, using plenty of plastic ties to secure them. Find an acceptable path for the regulator wires – they’ll need to connect to the window switch – and bond them to the inside of the door shell with duct tape. This will keep them from flopping around or getting snagged in internal mechanisms.
Place a backing plate on the front side of the upholstery panel in the location you want to mount the switch. Secure it with a few screws. Turn the panel over and put the other backing plate over the screw ends. Mark the holes and cutting area. Remove both backing plates and cut out the unwanted material with a sharp utility knife. Repeat the process on the panel. Do not drill any screw holes.
Match the upholstery panels with their mating metal door covers. Hold them together with C-clamps and use a pointed tool to mark the cutting area. Remove the unwanted material with a jigsaw.
Attach the switch bezels, anchoring them with the backing plates behind the upholstery panels.
Connect spade terminals to wire ends and plug them into the switch’s connection blocks according to the kit’s wiring diagram. Snap the switches into the bezels.