Just posted this in the tech forum but I figured I would put it here as well.
Just finished installing the SWAG dropdown kit today. There were a couple of reasons I wanted to convert to a drop down tailgate. First is the reason that most people give that it is a nice work platform for anything from trail repairs to gear packing and unpacking. Second it will be really nice to be able to have a place to sit on breaks and lunch stops while offroading.
But the primary reason has to do with our 80 lb Chocolate Lab who rides in the back of the Jeep a lot both on and off road. When he gets in or out of the Jeep he puts his front paws on one of the two bars of the rear bumper and then jumps the rest of the way. I can just see him going to get out and his foot slipping between the two tubes and the rest of his 80 lbs snapping his leg in half. I have been really careful with it so far but I’m sure it is just a matter of time.
As far as the problem of the added reach to get gear in or out, I don’t think that I am going to have much of a problem. If the back seat is in I can reach all of the way to the seat with no strain. If I need to reach something sitting on the back seat I can easily reach over the closed tailgate to reach it. I run with no top or a Safari top 8 months out of the year, which is when we do most of our offroading so reaching items further forward in the cargo area is just a matter of reaching in over the sides.
I think it will work perfectly for our needs. Obviously it’s not going to be for everyone.
As far as the SWAG kit. I think it is a very good value. By the time you figure out all of the measurements, cut the metal, bend the brackets, make the nutsert bars, and figure out all of the hardware, the 160 bucks seems very worth it. Now it goes without saying if you have a fab shop at your disposal you could do it for cheaper, but for the majority of us that’s not the case. The reason I went with the kit instead of the CJ tailgate was that I did still want to be able to lock it and did not want to have the handle and cables sticking up if I set it up with dual latches.
The install was pretty straight forward. The directions that were included were good. My TJ (I’m assuming it has to do with it being a 2005) did not have the reinforced bar in the tailgate so I had to drill the whole way through the tailgate and use the included nuts and bolts instead of taping the holes right into the tailgate for the drivers lower hinge. I don’t like having the bolts stick through the back of the tailgate but it’s only two of them and once I trim down the excess it isn’t going to be a big deal. My biggest PITA was painting the pieces. I primered them first and then sprayed the plates with Rustoleum followed by clear coat. I have found on past projects that the Rustoleum red is a very close match to the body color. I painted the hinges and cable brackets Rustoleum textured black to match the powder coating on everything else on my Jeep. Well, the paper I had everything sitting on got stuck to the back of the plates and I couldn’t get it off, so one entire day was lost as I had to remove all of the paint and start over, lesson learned. I also had to tape off and touch up some of the pieces once every thing was installed to fix scratches and paint the bolt heads to match.
Troy, thanks again and feel free to use any of the pictures I have attached.
I don’t know why I assumed that they would have painted under the hinges at the factory. LOL. The plates in the kit didn’t quite cover all of the missing paint so I did have to touch up some of the area around the hinges. Also in this picture you can see what I was concerned about with the separation between the two tubes on the rear bumper.
The flash made the plates look a little pink but to the naked eye the color really does match the body pretty well. The latch works great and there are no rattles from the tailgate.
Thanks for your time.