Lockable CJ tailgate for hardtop and duster owners
So I just finished this up and thought id post a little write up showing another way to do the cj tailgate thing. I did a lot of searching and couldnít find a LOCKABLE solution, which is asked about a lot by hard top owners. I run a duster so I needed a similar soln. So I set out in search of some latches that might fit the bill. I found the perfect set on McMaster. They are some work-load rated draw latches that were all metal and lockable. The part number is 6694A62.
First off, this install was done with corner armor so some parts will be diff but ill point those out as I go.
I started off by picking up a used gate off CL with hinges and cables.
IMO the sheet metal needs to be beefed up if you plan on putting any heavy loads on the gate so the first thing is to make a plate for the tailgate to mount to. Since I was doing corner armor at the same time I chose to put it on the outside to fill the gap between but if you wanted to drop the gas tank you could install it on the back. I welded two 5/16-18 nuts to the backside for the lower hinge bolts. There are 5, 1/4-20 SS flat head bolts that are bolted to the sheet metal using rivnuts.
Got the rivnuts from oreileys, made by poprivet, make them look it up in their book
Next I made the brackets to attach the cables. As it turns out, two of the bolt holes from the old tailgate striker were in the perfect place. And that left two extra bolts to use on the other side. I simply supported the tailgate at 90 deg and measured where the upper hole needed to be.
I made two matching brackets and mirrored it to the other side. For the pass side you need to go pick up two washers and two nuts. These are metric, 8 mm x 1.25 IIRC but id take your bolts w/ you to verify.
The upper bolt is a 2" 5/16-18 with a 1" metal sleeve and two nuts. Tighten the nuts together to keep some clearance between the cable end and the spacer so it can rotate.
Here is the clearance when closed, like a glove!
For the latch, this is where things are going to differ most if you donít do corners at the same time.
First, mount the hook on the corner. These are 4-40 machine screws. With the corners you can tap them directly into the 3/16. W/o them you would need to drill through the tub and nut and washer it.
Next, the latch needs to be mounted. It helps to have a helper for this to hold the latch open bc the spring is pretty strong. Again if you donít have corners, drill through and nut and washer it. If not, some sort of spacer is needed. I cut a small piece of 3/16th and welded it to the gate so I could again DnT into the 3/16th.
It's really not too difficult and the finished product looks awesome. I hadnít even finished the install and I was already using it for a work bench.
Here is the paint process and the outcome.
Tailgate w/ lower tub support
Close up of latch
Starting to open latch
Closed w/ duster weather strip on
And some load testing, this is my 100#, 2 y/o Lab named Sid... sheís my baby...
I sat on it with her for a combined 270#s. The cable brackets twist about a deg, but I knew that was going to happen when I made them. Not enough to worry about in my opinion but a stiffening rib could be added if one felt like being overkill.
For those who are thinking, "draw latches"? Those arenít designed for holding like that... I thought the same thing and I was a little concerned when I decided to try them. But I can stand on the bumper, with the latches UNLOCKED and lean all the way out while pulling on the gate and neither let go. These things really hold tight!
Hopefully this helps someone while searching, I know I had trouble finding a soln I liked. If anything needs to be clarified or someone wants more pics just ask!
Wow, very nice. Just what I was looking for. thanks
Make sure you update us on how the latches hold up
Thank you, just what I was looking for!!
:cheers2: thats why i did it, post some pics if you get it done, ide like to have more pics in here if possible:cheers2:
That's pretty cool.
thanks btw, i had over 300 pounds sitting on this last weekend... just an update on weight capacity...
I dig it. Nice, clean job. I've always wanted to get a tailgate I can use to hold a stove and food stuffs. Looks great. :)
I like the dog.
...and the tailgate lol
Nicely done! Definitely gotta pick up a bag of those rivnuts just to have around...
I did my tailgate conversion this weekend. I'm still waiting on those latches to be delivered, but here are the pictures of what I did this weekend:
Getting the old tailgate off was a *****. You will need an impact wrench and a really strong torx bit for it. I end up having to drill one of the bolts out because I stripped it so bad. Once off to my surprise was bare metal under the hinges. Fortunately I had some primer to put on the metal. I will have to get some more paint, and clearcoat to cover:
Next step was drilling the holes in the body for the CJ hinges. I used rustoleum to coat the holes to slow down any rust:
I used a kit from Swag Offroad to help with the install. The kit is very complete with all the hardware you would need to complete the conversion. It sure did make it easy to install the tailgate. Here is the support piece used to hold the hinge bolts:
To get this support piece behind the body of the Jeep you have to undo the back 3 body mounts on each side of the Jeep, and then jack up each side a couple of inches. You will then have access to a small hole you can feed the bracket through:
You can see the small wire that is attached to the bracket, that helps you guide the bracket into the drilled holes:
Here is the hinge attached:
Both hinges attached:
The kit had these brackets to attach the tailgate straps:
Here is the bracket attached:
I could not leave those ugly tailights on the back of my Jeep after this conversion, so I went ahead with the 4" round tailight conversion. Drilling the 4 1/2 hole into the back of the Jeep:
Stock license plate bracket did not fit with the new tailights, so I just got rid of it and attached the plate directly to the body, bending it a little so that it stays in line with the body:
Added a couple of small driving lights to the rear bumper, and hooked them up as my reverse lights:
I still need to add some sort of rear marker lights on the side, and some lite-n-boltz for the license plate to stay legal.
I will add a few more pictures when I get the locking brackets delivered and installed.
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