1959 Buick Window Frames & Glass – Installation and Alignment

When it came to side glass installation nothing was quite as straightforward as it may seem…especially when using remanufactured and reconditioned parts. In my case all the rubber was shot, the original glass was delaminating and scratched, and the bottom of the front window frames were rusted through. I therefore needed all new glass, rubber, and window frames and also had to rechrome other parts where necessary. This all presents it own challenges as evidenced by the below e-mail I received from Greg.

“I took a good look at the glass and window frames and ordered the correct glass tape today. Due to the fact that the repop glass and rubber is a different thickness, the repop frames are a bit different, and the rechrome frames “grow” with the new plating I have to measure each individual piece of glass and frame to get correct thickness of tape. This stuff comes in 1/64″ increments and it’s best to have the “just right” thickness.”

Of course, after installing the glass into the frames, lots of prep work was necessary before Greg could even think about installing the finished pieces into the car. All six of the power window motors (fronts, rears and vents) had to be tested, greased and oiled, and all the window regulators, tracks, hardware, felt, etc, had to be installed and aligned.

One of the known problems with all 59-60 big body GM convertibles is that the pot metal rear quarter window frames bow and eventually break.  The problem is that the rear quarter windows do not raise and lower in a straight line as do the front door windows.  The rear quarters rotate up and down, meaning that when the windows are lowered from the raised position the top front edge pivots toward the rear of the car and completely rotates backward into the body.  From the open position, the top edge emerges from body and rotates forward.  When raising the windows with the convertible top up, the front edge of the window rubs against the convertible top weather-stripping throughout its upward travel.  This contact places tremendous stress on the window frame (especially if the top has new or tight sealing weather-stripping).  After years of use the pot metal frame starts to bow from the pressure and then one day it just breaks in half.  I guess the best way to preserve these frames is to never raise the rear windows when the top is up…but then raising the convertible top over the raised rear windows presents its own challenges.  It’s also not practical if you just want to open and close the rear windows without lowering the top.

One of the frames broke on my last E-225 Conv’t as did one on Joe’s car.  The only known source for replacement 1959-1960 Buick Electra 225, Oldsmobile 98 and all Cadillac convertible rear window frames (they are all the identical part) is Mike Aldana (760-357-0713) who machines perfect steel (not pot metal) reproductions that will never again break.

Having restored 59 Caddy’s with the identical frame, Greg was aware of the problem and noticed that the frames on my car were beginning to bow…so he fabricated a simple reinforcing brace to prevent further bowing and ensure they will never break. Below is a picture of Joe’s broken frame that had to be chucked as well as my frame with the brace Greg installed.

Based on the detailed e-mails I received, I guess installing and aligning the side glass and top frame when using remanufactured parts from different manufactures can be a little tricky…good thing Greg is up for the challenge. Here are a few excerpts from the progress reports I received during the process.

“The top frame looks okay, but not just right yet. Nice clearance on the right quarter window but not enough clearance on the left. So, what does this mean??? WELL! When I put the header bow back onto the side frames I went by the original bolt marks. Always a good place to start. Before I installed the windows I raised the top to the “up” position. The alignment pins fell in perfectly! Score one point! But NOW it’s a different game. I have to pull the left side of the top frame back to get clearance at the left quarter window. I need a good 1/2″ to get the rubber in there. That will whack out the header bow alignment. No big, I can change the header bow adjustment on the left side, thus lengthening the top frame, but only on the left side. That should do it.

BUT, there might be a better way. There is a bit more gap at the front of the left vent window frame than on the right. I can shim the cowl on the left thus bringing the top of the windshield frame back. This might just be enough. Hard to say, but I will have a REAL good look at it tomorrow.”

And the next morning…

“The gap at the front of the left vent window frame isn’t perfect yet. It’s “okay” but I would like it to be a bit tighter. Problem is if I shim the cowl and bring the top of the windshield frame back it also moves the bottom edge of the windshield frame down at the back corner. There is a real nice uniform gap between the bottom edge of the windshield frame and the door right now.”

And later the same day…

“I got to looking at it some more. For some reason the right side just fell in place. Well, not exactly “fell” but it was fine. The left side is a bit of a problem but after the third or fourth or whatever look I can see that the quarter window is too high in the back. I can drop it down just a shade and adjust the upstop. This will put the front edge in a very slight “leaning back” mode. This will increase the gap from the door window to the quarter by a small amount at the bottom but quite a bit at the top. I will drop the back edge of the door window to match the quarter window. This will make a gap from the door window glass to the vent window division bar. I will then roll the vent window assembly back still using the factory pilot hole thus filling the gap. This will make the gap between the vent window frame and windshield frame moulding uniform.

In short, it will fit better and look better and it’s quite possible that I won’t even have to change the top frame length! It’s no biggie at all to adjust top frame length but if I can make it come together on the original factory marks I always feel it’s a better job. That is IF the car was right to begin with!”

Although not finalized yet, here are a few shots of the window installation progress…


~ T om Sidoti
1959 Buick Electra 225 Convertible

2 Responses to “1959 Buick Window Frames & Glass – Installation and Alignment”

  1. 1fine59 says:

    You can contact me directly at tjsidoti@aol.com
    ~ tom

  2. Hi, I’ve something to add to the issue about rear quarter window frames breaking. The reason they break is because the folding top leans on the window when its going up or down. You can prevent future breakage by simply putting these windows in down position before raising or lowing your top. Regards.

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