OK all you grasshoppers, my rebuild of the manual window regulator on the right door of my two door 1989 Geo Tracker seems to be working. Here are the high points and some photos for anyone else who may want to try this. There are larger photos in my gallery. The symptom was that the window would not move up or down. The previous owner stripped the splines in the plastic window crank handle trying to force the window to move.
I won’t repeat the steps for removing and reinstalling the window regulator assembly as the service manual covers that. The assembly consists of four major parts – the track assembly, the spool assembly and two cables that run from the spool assembly to the track assembly. I’ve labeled them in this “before” picture. Note that this photo shows the assembly as it would look if you were outside the car and looking through the skin of the door. Before you remove the regulator assembly, note that the track has a small tab at the top that allows it to conveniently hang in a slot in the door while it is being mounted. When working on the regulator, that tab is useful for determining which end is up and which side faces the inside of the car door.
After I removed my regulator assembly, I noted the cables were bound and kinked on the spool. I also noted that he cable had jumped out of the pulley on one end of the track. In order to unwind the cables from the spool assembly, it was necessary to remove the cup shaped cover from the spool bracket. The cover is riveted in place, so I drilled out the rivets with my drill press. I started with a 7/32” bit and gradually increased the bit size until a 9/32” bit finished the job. With the cover removed I unwound the cables from the spool, and removed the spool and the crank shaft from the bracket. I noted a clockwork spring made of flat metal inside the spool and a coiled wire spring beneath the crank shaft in the bracket. I cleaned and lubed everything including the track assembly. I paid particular attention to removing the kinks and flat spots in the cables.
I discovered it is possible to reassemble the regulator in several wrong ways. I also learned that when assembled properly, the cables will be so tight that it is difficult to get all the pieces in place at the same time. So here are some pointers to make the task go smoother.
1. Get four sets of flat head screws, nuts and lock washers to replace the rivets. I used 6 mm x 16 mm screws. If the screw heads are too thick, the regulator shaft will not protrude far enough past the door panel to mount the crank handle.
2. Place the assembly on a table with spool assembly facing up. It will be as if you are looking at the regulator from outside the car. I found it helpful to place a roll of tape beneath the spool bracket so the crank shaft would stay in place.
3. Place the window shelf in the middle of the track and make sure the cables are in the pulleys.
4. Wind one of the cables around the spool and anchor its end in the slot provided. Look at the following photo and note that the cable departs the spool on the side nearest the track and in line with the guide that attaches the cable cover to the spool bracket.
5. While holding the first cable to keep it from unwinding, wind the second cable around the spool as you did the first. When you finish this step, it will look like this photo.
6. The next step is to pull all the slack out of the cable so you can slide the spool down over the crank shaft. Note that there is a tab on the bottom of the spool that must align with a slot in the crank shaft. If they are not aligned, simply turn the crank shaft until they are. Turning the crank shaft also turns one of the springs mentioned earlier and may require some effort. Slide the spool over the crank shaft.
7. Before you put the cover over the spool, note that there is a small shaft in the center of the cover and that the shaft has a small slit down the center. That slit must engage the flat spring in the center of the spool. If the spring is aligned so it is in the center of the spool, engaging it is not too difficult. Otherwise, it’s very difficult. Put the cover on the spool with the flat spring engaged by the shaft.
8. While holding the cover firmly in place, put screws in the rivet holes so the nuts are on the same side of the bracket as the spool. Secure the screws, nuts and lock washers.
9. Reinstall the regulator assembly in the door and test it before reinstalling the glass. When I first tried to turn the crank, I felt some resistance as if the springs inside the assembly were moving into position. It very quickly smoothed out and now feels normal.