by Leslie Shaver
It is doubtful that many pickup truck owners realized the important anniversary that was upon them when the calender turned to 1998. However, for those truck owners who enjoy cruising down the highway on a warm summer day with the air flowing freely through the cab, 1998 marks an anniversarythe fiftieth anniversary for one of the best friends a pickup truck owner has ever had the sliding rear window.
C.R. Laurence Company (CRL) of Los Angeles, CA, is the only company that offers sliders for vehicle models from 1948 through 1998. It was among the first companies to recognize the importance of the sliding rear window for trucks, fulfilling the need to pass items from the cab to the bed of the truck and to improve air flow in truck interiors. The early sliding rear windows had little in common with the ones we commonly see on the Dodge Rams, Ford Rangers and Ford F-150s of today. The early sliders featured clamp-on frames with interior rings, or frames that were riveted to the outside of the truck. Appearance was not a prime concern as installers would bend the frames and use fillers to close the gaps.
In the early 70s, CRL introduced what it says was the first rear slider designed to utilize the original equipment (OE) gasketthe Duo-Vent with two sliding glass panels. The CRL slider provided a single-flanged frame that was the same thickness as the OE glassmaking installation much easier.
The company also countered the perpendicular design offered by offering sliders contoured to the shape of the truck body and window opening. These "high-visibility" sliders replaced plastic latches with metal ones, offered a half-inch-width aluminum frame and eliminated gaps and the horizontal strip above the glass.
In the early 80s, when Detroit began switching to environmentally-sensitive materials, CRL says it was the first slider manufacturer to produce black powder-coated frames, designed to enhance new "chromeless" designs. With the rise in popularity of sliders, the company introduced the Tri-Vent window featuring one center sliding panel, reducing the vertical stiles in the window and increasing visibility. CRL also introduced the first sliders with OE tinting to match the glass used in windshield and side door windows, and "Series-E," the industrys first encapsulated slider, which bonded the window to the metal of the cab.
The company was also on the forefront of producing tools to make the job of the installer easier. To address the difficulty of using cold cut-out knives in urethane, it introduced the Wild-Cat air-powered cut-out tool. Later it offered a complete system for glue-in windows called the Perfect Slider System.
The company took a major step in sliders in the early 90s when it launched the Powr-Slider, which it says is the worlds only electrically-powered rear window for pickups. The Powr-Slider is useful for those people who have extended cab pickups and thus do not have easy access to the rear window.
In the mid 90s, CRL purchased OWG and Prestige Aluminum Products. These acquisitions fortified its product development department, paving the way for the introduction of curved glass that conforms with new aerodynamic designs of pickups, silkscreen fritted glass matching OE window designs all around, solar glass that enhances the efficiency of non-carbon floral chlorides air-conditioning systems, self-closing latches and a palm-sized "micro drive" motor for Powr-Slider.
CRL says the addition of OWG and Prestige Aluminum Products prepared it to stay at the forefront of the sliding rear window industry. This development should come as welcome news to the pickup truck owners who have enjoyed the sliding rear window through its first 50 years.
Leslie Shaver is assistant editor of USGlass.
© Copyright 1998 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.