YJ/TJ/LJ Drop Tailgate Conversion

Page 2, Installation

 

Step 1: To begin installation, if you haven’t already removed it you need to remove the lower rubber bumper below the door that is used to keep the spare tire steady. Use a T25 Torx bit driver to remove the screw, hopefully yours won’t be rusted like ours was. If it is you might be able to just turn the rubber block and back the bolt out, otherwise you may have to drill the head off like we did.

Step 2: If you own a TJ or LJ and haven’t removed the 3rd brake light contact block you need to open the door and remove the plastic cover over the wiring contact block using a Philips screwdriver. Remove the 3 Philips screws that hold the contact bracket to the door, cut the wires and remove the bracket.

Step 3: Now you can close the door and using a T40 Torx bit driver remove the hinge screws on the lower hinge that secure it to the door. Loosen but do not remove the two body mount bolts on the lower hinge. You only want about 1/8” gap between the hinge and the body.  Do not remove the upper hinge, we want to leave it in place until the end so it can keep the tailgate in it's proper location while we do the install.

To solve the problem with putting too much weight on the lower hinge mounts we want to distribute the weight put on the door across a larger area below the door than just the width of the hinge. Here is what we did:

Step 4: Cut a length of the 3” x 1/8” flatbar at 36”. We placed this piece below the door and marked out and drilled an 11/32” hole to line up with the hole used for the previously removed rubber block. We then install this piece of metal using a bolt in the existing hole in the body of the Jeep to hold it in place while we lay out the rest of the project.

 

Step 5: Cut two pieces of the 4” x 1/8” flatbar to 6” length. These plates will be used to reinforce the lower corners of the door and provide a positive mounting location for the upper part of our hinges.

Step 6: Place one of the 6” x 4” plates in the lower right corner of the door, line it up with the lower and right edge of the door, and close the hinge over it. With the factory hinge in place you can use a sharpie marker to mark the location of the holes to be drilled in the plate to mount it to the door. We chose to use the factory bolts and drilled appropriate sized holes and beveled the holes so that the factory Torx bolts would fit flush with the plate. The nut plate inside the tailgate for the factory hinge can move around a bit so you can move the outer plate around while installing it and be able to get it perfectly in the corner of the tailgate. Check the fit of your plate and the holes drilled, once satisfied with the fit you can remove the plate and place it on the other one to use it as a template to mark the holes to be drilled in the 2nd plate. DO NOT use the same size drill bit for the driver side plate as we will be using the ¼”x 20 button head bolts on this side.

 

Step 7:   For the driver side door plate, start by drilling your holes using a #7 bit, if you don’t have one you will need one along with a ¼” x 20 tap and tap handle.

With the two #7 holes drilled in the plate locate the plate on the lower left corner of the tailgate aligned with the bottom and left side of the tailgate and mark the holes to be drilled into the tailgate, they should be a mirror image of the other side. Once marked, remove the plate and using the #7 bit drill the two holes on the driver side. The inner hole (closer to the center of the tailgate) will be through an internal “beam” in the door. Once drilled, tap this hole with the ¼”x 20 tap. For the outer hole you can either use a Nutsert here or you can do as we did and drill all the way through the door with the #7 bit. Then from the inside of the door use a 1” metal hole saw and cut an access hole so that you can use a nut on the back side of the outer bolt.

Once you have your holes in the tailgate, enlarge the holes in the metal plate so that your ¼” x 20 bolts have some room and you can adjust the positioning of the driver side plate perfectly in the lower left corner of the tailgate.

 

Now with all our metal plate loosely in place we can start laying out the mounting location for our hinges.

Step 8:  Since we want our tailgate to be more or less level with the floor of the Jeep when open, we need to locate the barrel of the hinges at a point below the sill of the door opening by the thickness of the door which is roughly 1.2".  With the door closed we place the hinge in place and mark the location for the holes to be drilled in the tailgate plates.  Once marked we center punch and then drill the holes with the #7 drill bit through the plate and the outer skin of the door.  With these holes drilled in the first plate we remove it and place it with the other one and mark the positioning of the holes to drill, again we end up with a mirror image with the 2nd plate.  We then reinstall the 2nd plate (passenger side at this point) and using the holes just drilled as guides we drill through the outer skin of the door on that side.  Remove the plate again and on both sides we need to enlarge these holes in the tailgate just slightly to allow the 1/4" x 20 bolts to pass through easily, DONT ENLARGE THE HOLES IN THE PLATES!  With both plates off the door we can then tap the 3 holes in each with the 1/4" x 20 tap in order to attach the hinges to the plates.

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