It was one of those days when everything progressed smoothly with not a hint of trouble as I drove the bus over to our local garage for her annual safety inspection; a task past buses trained me to abhor. Yet, once again, Moby passed with flying colors and happy VW chatter at the mechanic’s shop. I could not have been more pleased because any issues brought to light during inspection would invariable complicate plans for our annual October camping trip. I left the shop excited for our impending campfires and, at present, a leisurely afternoon drive home – the long way home.
My carefree outlook on life, however, began to fade as I waited at the stoplight just outside the shop. As I wound the front, driver-side window up, the window suddenly dropped down, disappearing into the door, with a fairly loud ka-thunk. I remember staring at the empty space between the window scrapers, slowly trying to convince myself that, yes, glass occupied that space not one second ago.
As visions of yet another failed window regulator danced in the back of my mind, I tried the window crank once more. Sure enough, it spun freely and the window failed to appear. Past experience with failed regulators taught me that the stripped gear no longer engages the winding mechanism, thereby leaving the window stranded – no longer able to move up or down. Yet the movement of the window crank, here at the stoplight, had some resistance, as if the gear still engaged the winding mechanism. In addition, the window did not “freeze” in place but rather slid down with a swiftness that resulted in a somewhat startling ka-thunk as it hit the bottom of the door cavity. The more I thought about the situation during the drive home, the more I became convinced that I faced one of two issues: the bolts holding the window to the regulator loosened, allowing the window to fall out of place, or the window lift channel broke where the window tab is welded to the channel.
Once home, I pulled the door panel off in order to verify what I hoped was just a need for some bolt tightening, although in my gut, I knew loose bolts were not the issue. Predictably, I found a window regulator in perfect working order and still tightly bolted to the tab of the window lift channel. However, the rest of the lift channel decided to retire… permanently. After breaking from the tab, the channel remained loyally attached to the window, and both rested on the bottom of the door.
One of the joys of bus ownership, I discovered long ago, is that I rarely encounter the same problem twice. As I sat there staring at the guts of the door, I decided to postpone the repair until the following day, when more time was available and I could better handle unforeseen issues. Although it ended up being more complicated than I hoped, the project was relatively straightforward and can be easily handled in a few hours.
A couple of surgical notes: I am not illustrating the procedures for disassembling/reassembling the door/door card in this post. For those interested, photos and instructions can be found in this post covering window regulator removal. Also, know that all window rubber, the vent window, and channel felt must be removed to pull/install the window. If any of these parts are brittle or worn, they will most likely break. This is as good as any other time to replace these window components and even if they are in good shape, be prepared (both in time and money) to order new ones should the old not survive removal. Lastly, I found the following Samba threads helpful and, since I sometimes forget to take pictures as I work, they will fill any gaps in my descriptions in this post. Install Wind. Regulator,Window&Wing Window Assembly Pt 1; Install Wind. Regulator,Window&Wing Window Assembly. Pt 2