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Unread 10-13-2010, 06:05 PM   #1
danheit
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1979 CJ7 
 
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Location: Little River, SC
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hardtop liftgate repair with pics!

So today I began the process of rebuilding/repairing my hardtop liftgate. I just can't come to terms with paying $3-400 for a replacement fiberglass liftgate, when you can buy a whole set of rims for that much! There are so many other affordable parts, why isn't this one? Also, of all the reproduction pieces and manufacturers out there, why is there no steel replacement made? Long story short, I decided to tear into my old liftgate, and here is the tale of that repair......

I hope that this picture filled post will inspire a few others to rebuild theirs as well. All of everyone else's posts and pics sure do help me. Now, on to the pics!

Day One:
What I started with:








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Unread 10-13-2010, 06:42 PM   #2
danheit
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Next step is to remove the glass, and all of the hardware and the weatherstripping and seals. Now we can get a good look at where the rust is. Out comes the trusty old DeWalt drill and the paint stripping wheel. I used a soft 6" wheel to strip off the last 30 years worth of paint and other associated messes from around the rusted areas so that I could see what needs to be addressed. Remember, you can't fix what you can't see! I worked stripping around the areas that had even the slightest hint of rust so that on my next Jeep workday, I can begin cutting out the sections and replace it with good solid clean metal. I have a nice piece of 12x12 steel that I planned on using for body repairs on an old '66 mustang I used to have, that I never got around to. Here's where I am now:




Upper liftgate hinge mount points all cleaned up, one had to be hammered back into shape due to a frozen hinge bending it up a little bit.

Exterior lower left corner. Cleaned up around the area, but didn't get it all since I am going to be cutting all of that out. Also cleaned up the interior lip where the glass seal goes.




Whole exterior bottom lip cleaned up and stripped. It was a little rusty on the paint, but underneath was nice and clean.




Bottom Exterior Right Corner. Really starting to come through here. This was the worst corner of the entire liftgate. Both interior and exterior will have to be rebuilt.


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I NEED A SINGLE 15X8 MICKEY THOMPSON OR SIMILAR ALUMINUM BULLET HOLE WHEEL!!!!

Build Thread: 1979 CJ7 Blue Jeep
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Unread 10-13-2010, 06:54 PM   #3
danheit
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Begin the interior cleaning:

Bottom Left Interior (Exterior Bottom Right). Not as bad as the other side, but still pretty rough. Whole thing needs cut out and replaced. Haven't quite figured out how I want to go about replacing the backing plate for the tailgate latch. It is pretty rough, and the one from the other side is completely gone (actually rusted to the back of the tailgate latch and came off)





(Upside Down) Center section around the interior of the latch handle. Not too bad here, a small patch should do it justice.




And of course, saved the worst for last. This guy has gone pretty well all the way through. Gonna be spending the most time doing R/R on this side.




Interior window seal lip all cleaned up




Window strut mounts all cleaned up:




Finally, all that is left of my 6" stripping wheel:



Took a few hours to get to this point, but at least when all is said and done, I will know the condition of everything, and will know it is fixed the right way the first time. From what I can tell, the upper hinge mounts are a big place to allow a lot of water intrusion. I am working on finding out where else all the water is getting into these frames. First is to fix the frame, then to modify and correct design flaws to make sure this doesn't happen again in the near future!

More to come soon!
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I NEED A SINGLE 15X8 MICKEY THOMPSON OR SIMILAR ALUMINUM BULLET HOLE WHEEL!!!!

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Unread 10-14-2010, 12:46 AM   #4
wrongway92407
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Looks like you are off to a good start. a little sheet material and a small wire feed and some time you got nothing to lose. When i see rust like that I'm glad i live in CA. but that's the only reason.
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Unread 10-14-2010, 07:50 AM   #5
danheit
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Yep, I am hoping to get the ball rolling this week. One thing I forgot to mention is that I am in the process of moving across the state! I have to be out of my current house by the 30th of this month, and then staying with family for about a month or so while all of my tools/toys go into storage, while we are waiting on the federal government to finish my house closing. We are buying a HUD foreclosed home....fun fun. Thankfully, the government isn't having any type of issues with previous foreclosures right now, or that would make my whole situation a HUGE mess!
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I NEED A SINGLE 15X8 MICKEY THOMPSON OR SIMILAR ALUMINUM BULLET HOLE WHEEL!!!!

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Unread 04-05-2011, 07:47 PM   #6
rrtex1
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Did you ever finish fixing the liftgate?
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Unread 04-12-2011, 05:28 PM   #7
danheit
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I have the exterior metal burned in and ground down nice and smooth, but when I moved last October, the gate got put on hold and I just haven't gotten around to it. I need to finish the interior portion of the metal repair, and paint. The exterior portion came out well though. I will see if I can grab some pics. Unfortunately, I have too many other projects with the Jeep that need done before that, such as a trany rebuild among the bigger things. The hardtop gate that I won't need till next winter probably won't realistically get touched until next Sept.
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I NEED A SINGLE 15X8 MICKEY THOMPSON OR SIMILAR ALUMINUM BULLET HOLE WHEEL!!!!

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Unread 09-12-2011, 01:58 PM   #8
danheit
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well, I am back at it. Got all moved into the new house a while ago, got settled in with the new job, picked up another project, and sold my soft top, so now it's time to fix the hard top before winter! been cutting and grinding alot lately, and slowly getting things patched. Sorry, no pics to post right now, but I will have some tonight. Things are coming along slowly (it's hot outside!), but still moving forward.
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Unread 09-13-2011, 12:51 AM   #9
sanddrag
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I have a liftgate where the whole top section is basically rusted through, but the bottom is rather nice. I probably will put it up on the classifieds sometime soon. I just finished fixing another liftage in which the backer plates behind where the hinges mount had all the bolts break off and were rusted and bending. I had to cut it open, fab and install new backer plates, and fold it back shut and re-weld and grind.

For anyone thinking of welding on one of these, you need a MIG or TIG. Stick of flux cored will burn right through no matter how far down you turn the power. I was barely able to do it with flux cored wire by keeping a hefty angle on it and pulsing it.
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Unread 09-13-2011, 08:08 AM   #10
danheit
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yeah, definately not fun with a flux, but that is what I am using, cause I am out of gas. Gotta make due with whatcha got! Here is where I am at so far. Got all of the bad spots cut out, and new ones going in....







Yes, these are horrible looking booger welds, but that is what had to happen to keep from burning through the sheet metal. Don't worry though, they are all ground off now and cleaned up. As it has been said many times in the past, you don't have to be a good welder, just a good grinder.....
More pics to come later today. If my luck holds out, hopefully I will have it in paint by the end of the day.
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Unread 09-13-2011, 11:16 AM   #11
danheit
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Fixed about as good as I'm gonna do it. I ground this weld down all nice and smooth, but it ended up taking the two pieces apart (ground too far and not enough penetration), so I am leaving a TINY bead on there. It's interior, so I don't really care either way, but you get the idea. Still need to make the side panel for it.....





Here's the other side tacked in and the beginning of the 'fix'



And the complex side panel that will require some bending and shaping, but all in all should go together pretty good. And yes, I had to sacrifice a Krispy Kreme box to make my template, but well worth it in the end.

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Unread 12-29-2011, 08:08 PM   #12
clownpaws
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danheit....Did you ever get this project completed? Would love to see how you wrapped it up! The photos in the last post done show up.
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Unread 02-28-2013, 12:37 PM   #13
Ivehad4
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Curious to know if these repairs were ever completed, or if anyone else has done a similar liftgate restore.
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