David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
12/6/13 8:54 a.m.
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GM made a ton of these full-size wagons back in the day, but now some of the tailgate parts can be hard to find. Fortunately, our local home improvement store had the fix.

The Glide-Away tailgate found on these wagons is quite clever. Twist the key, and the window magically retracts into the roof while the tailgate itself falls into the floor. The result? A giant, unobstructed opening.

A threaded cable raises and lowers the window, and it’s supposed to be housed in a flexible sheath. The plastic sheath on our 1975 Pontiac Catalina Safari had split and ceased being a sheath.

As a result, the window would go up just fine. When it came time to lower the window, however, the unsheathed, unruly cable would whip all over the place. Sometimes it would simply bind up. Once, it unplugged the switch—which, as you can imagine, is kind of embarrassing, if you're trying to show off the awesomeness of the Glide-Away tailgate. We needed a new sheath, and the local Pontiac dealer wasn’t much help.

So we wondered: What would make a decent replacement sheath? We figured it needed to be rigid yet have some flexibility. It also needed to be smooth inside so the cable could easily spin.

We found something suitable in the plumbing section of our local Lowe’s: ½-inch-outside-diameter poly tubing. We picked up 3 feet at 27 cents per foot.

Installation was fairly simple. First, we wiped down the cable since it was a little dirty. Then we squirted some white lithium grease inside the tubing. Finally, we slipped the tubing over the cable, using the original tie-down to properly position it. Our new cable perfectly fit onto the cable’s motor, too.

So far, it works like a champ. Window up, window down.

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