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Thread: Bronco Tailgate Alignment

  1. #1
    Senior Member Sucked In Steve83's Avatar
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    Default Bronco Tailgate Alignment

    If you plan to do this, there are some preparatory steps that will make the job easier. Pull your taillights & rinse out that area, and the bottom of the t/g where the hinge bolts are (outside AND in, if possible). After it dries (like the next day) hit all the threads (including the tips of the hinge bolts inside the t/g) with some penetrating oil so it's easier to work on. Don't forget the strike bolt tips up high. If any parts need to be replaced (like the strike bolts/sleeves or cables), buy them & keep them in the truck so they're ready & available. Clean the frame around the rear bumper brackets & shoot a little spray paint (any color will work; even black) around them so it's easier to re-align it. Spray lube into the latches & the center mechanism (inside) so they work smoothly & easily. This process will involve some heavy lifting & holding while fasteners are adjusted, so if you need help, call a patient friend before you get into it.

    Also, this is a common problem, especially on tailgates with a swingaway spare tire carrier, and the repair can affect the body alignment, so do this before beginning on t/g alignment:



    1) Loosen the strikes ('83-96: T50 on a 3/8" ratchet - #3 or #4 Phillips for '78-82). If the '83-96 plastic sleeves are damaged or missing, replace them - they're available aftermarket at most parts stores in the HELP! section. '78-82 strikes must be replaced if worn, and I don't know of a supplier, other than junkyards. Lube the threads with anti-seize. Set the strikes as far BACK & UP as possible, but don't torque them down; just wrist-tight is good.
    .

    2) Remove the taillights, and at least loosen & lower the bumper. Totally removing it makes the job a LOT easier, but it's up to you.

    3) If you have a swingaway, take the spare off before step 10. The weight of the tire will bow the body.

    4) Loosen the 3 13mm nuts/studs in each taillight opening. Very old trucks might have 1/2" or 9/16" nuts. Loosen the 3 bolts under each end of the t/g. I can't remember what size they are, but they're probably the same as the nuts. Open the t/g & let it slide down on the hinges so that, when you shut it, the bottom is as far BACK as possible.

    5) Close the t/g VERY SLOWLY making sure to lift it carefully onto each strike so they aren't damaged. Push just hard enough to make each latch click twice. If it won't catch the 2nd lock, lower the t/g, slide the strike back & tighten it more, then repeat this step.

    6) From each side, examine the t/g noting exactly how far down & forward the upper break line needs to move to align with the back of the taillight opening. The upper break line is the one above the trim panel &/or below the swingaway strike bracket. Note that it's directly behind the latch (below, in this pic) which is why that's the reference.

    Lower the t/g & adjust each strike, repeating until it's aligned to your satisfaction. Don't worry about side-to-side alignment during this step. Concentrate on up-down & fore-aft.

    7) With the t/g closed & pushed against the lip of the bed at the bottom, pull each hinge as far BACK as possible (to hold the t/g forward against the body seal), then tighten one bottom bolt on each side to hold it there.

    8) Still holding the t/g against the bed at the bottom, and also prying upward HARD on the top stud, tighten the middle stud/nut in each taillight opening to hold the hinge & the weight of the t/g. A good 18-24" prybar is the best tool for this step; use a folded rag on the lip of the taillight opening to prevent damage.

    9) Open the t/g slightly (just so the latches clear the strikes) & examine the upper break line alignment. If the t/g has fallen even SLIGHTLY as the latches open, note exactly how far on each side & raise the stud/nuts in the taillight openings so the alignment is maintained just BEFORE the latches hit the strike bolts. This adjustment is CRITICAL to the life of the strikes (esp. the '83-96 plastic sleeves). If the t/g is too high or low, the latch jaws will cut into the strikes quickly, making all this work WASTED. Plan on at least 10 tries before you get it right - maybe more if necessary. If you don't have the patience for this step, you don't need to do ANY of them; just live with your leaks & rattles. Before moving on, you should be able to watch each latch center up on each strike as the t/g closes, & both latch jaws should touch their strike at the same time so that neither is pressing into it any harder than the other.


    10) Now examine the gaps between each side of the t/g & the body. With the t/g fully closed, loosen the bottom bolts & pry the bottom of the t/g on the tight side to equalize the gaps. Note that it must slide on the HINGES for anything useful to happen - otherwise, it'll just go back where it was. Push the t/g forward against the body seal before tightening the bolts. Open & close the t/g a few times to make sure it returns to the center every time. If the gaps are not even, slide the t/g sideways on the hinges. If the gaps are not the same width at their tops & bottoms, the bedwalls are leaning. It's most-common when the swingaway is straight out to the side & the camper is off, pulling the body out. Check the rear body crossmember (the one above the rearmost body mounts) for rust or damage. The bedwalls can be pulled back in with a ratchet strap from the bottom of the bent quarter panel, over its top, and diagonally to the opposite bottom.

    At this point, the t/g should be perfectly aligned when it's CLOSED. The only noise you should hear is the clicking of the latch jaws - not any creaking or thumping from the latches hitting the strike sleeves. If that's good enough for you, tighten all the nuts & bolts to spec and quit. '83-96 strike bolts are 26-37 lb-ft; '78-82 strike plate screws are 12-20. Hinge nuts & bolts are 20-30 lb-ft. Lube the latches, hinges, & strike sleeves with a good flowable grease (Wynn's Viscotene, Winzer PolyLube250, Champion ChainLube) - not a penetrating oil (PB Blaster, Liquid Wrench). WD-40 is the cheapest stuff I'd use, but it's more of a wax than a grease. White lithium spray grease is OK, but certainly not the best. Apply a dry teflon &/or silicone spray lube to the body seal, and glass runs (inside the t/g, AND in the camper).
    . . .

    If you also want it aligned when it's OPEN...

    11) Lower the t/g, remove the threshhold/gasket retainer/gasket, & set a straightedge on the bed floor at each side extending a few inches onto the t/g. Loosen the bottom bolts (which will be facing forward now) & adjust the height of the front/bottom of the t/g on each side so it aligns with the bed floor. This can make loading heavy cargo from the t/g into the bed & back out much easier, and it will reduce damage to the threshhold & floor.


    12) Since the cables aren't adjustable in any way, there's nothing you can do if the t/g tilts slightly when it's fully lowered. If it tilts down, you can try buying new cables, but there's no guarantee they'll be exactly the same lengths, or that they'll be the exact right length for how yours is aligned, so IMO it's not worth it. I'd only replace the cables if they're rusty/broken/frayed.
    .

    13) Reinstall the seal & threshhold, loosen the nuts/studs in the taillight openings on each side, slide the bottom of the t/g straight BACK slightly (about as much as you just moved the bottom hinges), carefully close the t/g, & return to step 8 above to re-align the t/g. Don't skip any steps or it won't be right.

    Once you have all the bolts tight, re-check all the alignments. If they're off, go back & fix them. When everything is right & tight, put the spare, taillights, & bumper back. This diagram has the bumper torque specs:

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Bronco Tailgate Alignment

    I think it's safe to say my tailgate is in need of a serious alignment:






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    Default Re: Bronco Tailgate Alignment

    The alignment looks OK, but I think the strike sleeves are gone.

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    Default Re: Bronco Tailgate Alignment

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve83 View Post
    :rolleyes: The alignment looks OK, but I think the strike sleeves are gone.
    Thanks Steve. I've gotta check it out. I've been avoiding the tailgate as it has some rust I also have to deal with.

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    Default Re: Bronco Tailgate Alignment

    I've just added a section about repairing the split on the right side due to a swingaway tire carrier.


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    Default Re: Bronco Tailgate Alignment

    Steve,

    Do you know how to pull down the window manually if the motor is not working?

    Chris

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    Default Re: Bronco Tailgate Alignment

    That's not what this thread is about, but read the 1st, 6th, & 7th captions in the TG Tech album.

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