Tech

Fixing a Busted-Up Tailgate

❱With the shortbed conversion looming on the horizon, but without the time to do said conversion for the next few weeks, I thought I’d spend an afternoon massaging a few wrinkles out of the tailgate, since I’m opting to stick with the original. I figure if I can get the ’gate back into decent shape, it’ll save me a few bucks on aftermarket sheetmetal and allow me to resurrect at least one piece of the vintage tin.

Saving the tailgate however will take a fairly decent skill set when it comes to sheetmetal repair as it has its fair share of dings and dents, not to mention the patch panel that will need to be installed. This will require the ability to weld as well as an understanding of general sheetmetal bumping; that’s a fancy term for hammer and dolly work. With a little bit of practice however, all of these techniques can be picked up and improved upon over time.

And speaking of improvements, when I initially tore into the tailgate, I thought that I could fabricate a cap to replace a damaged section, and hammer and dolly the surrounding area back into shape. Once it was finished, however, I decided that I wasn’t happy with the outcome as it would call for a bit of body filler to get the area nice and straight.

With it being the very top of the tailgate, I knew it would only be a matter of time until something was set on the tailgate when it was down, causing the filler to crack and chip off. I couldn’t be having that. So, I decided to switch gears and paid my buddy Tom at Chevy Truck Salvage in Santa Ana, California, a visit to see if I couldn’t scrounge up a donor tailgate. I figured if I could find a decent ’gate with the section I needed, I could simply cut it out and swap it in to mine.

So, with a $40 tailgate in the back of my truck, I headed back over to the SIM Tech Center and revisited what I had repaired the week prior. Gotta love doing things twice, but hey, like I said earlier, “with a little bit of practice, however, all of these techniques can be picked up and improved upon over time.” And as they say on those TV infomercials, “your results may vary.”

Sources

Chevy Truck Salvage

(714) 554-1850

Harbor Freight

(800) 423-2567

www.harborfreight.com

Summit Racing

(800) 230-3030

www.summitracing.com

Brothers Trucks

(800) 977-2767

www.brotherstrucks.com