Bearing Tailgate Hinges
This is one of those modifications that is fairly easy to do and inexpensive. It's a afternoon project and costs about $15 - 25 to do. What' amazed me is how nice the results are for such little work.
Looking at the original tailgate hinges on our trucks we find a rolled piece of steel forming the hinge inserted inside of a rolled piece of steel, the tailgate. It's steel on steel and after many years that becomes rust on rust, with some dirt, rock and whatever else was carried in the bed mixed in. The results are a wonderful creaky, stiff tailgate. With little effort you can make that tailgate hinge run real smooth.
Ingredients are a pair of bronze bearing sleeves, 1" O.D and 3/4" I.D. These are available at most hardware stores, including my local Ace. The sleeves are pre lubricated. Also, you will need a pair of 3/4 " rods. A pair of 5 - 6 inch long bolts with the heads cut off will do just fine. Run the bolts or rods through the sleeves before you leave the hardware store to make sure they fit well as I found some fit better than others. The picture below shows the materials in the middle and my old hinge on the right.
Cut the original hinge just where the metal begins to roll into a shaft and tap your 3/4" rod in it's place:
The bronze sleeve should tap easily into the tailgate until it's flush:
I welded the shaft inside the hinge housing, though I'm not sure if it's necessary.
Polish the shaft a bit with some fine sandpaper and that's it!. Bolt the tailgate back together and enjoy the nice smooth feel as you lower and raise the gate.
As always, let me know if there is information that can be added or that needs correcting. You can send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.