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Exogate / MORryde Tailgate Reinforcement + Savvy Tail Lights

jscherb

TJ Enthusiast
Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Messages
638
Location
Elmira, NY
I'm installing a MORryde tailgate reinforcement (a.k.a. Gr8Tops Exogate v2) on a Jeep-tub trailer to implement a one-piece barn door for a new fiberglass camper top on this trailer made from the same molds as the LJ Safari Cab hardtop. Since this installation is on a trailer made from two Jeep tubs, what I'll describe here applies to installation on a TJ/LJ as well.

The trailer currently has Savvy low-profile tail lights (https://savvyoffroad.com/product/sav-tl/) which are not compatible with the tailgate reinforcement for two reasons - first, the body-side reinforcement has a cutout for the base of the stock tail lights and the Savvy tail lights don't have the tail light housing that the factory lights do so they don't fit in the cutout. Second, because the Savvy housing is larger it will interfere with the upper hinge pin bolt on the new HD hinges. Some people have installed Savvy lights with the reinforcement by cutting the reinforcement but that doesn't solve the problem of interference between the top of the Savvy housing and the head of the hinge pin bolt on the upper hinge. Both of these problems are fairly simple to solve.

Before:

DropDownTailgate(1).jpg


The reinforcement installed, showing the incompatibility between the cutout and the Savvy tail light:

ReinforcementCutout.jpg


Also in the photo above, the bolt head of the top hinge pin is going to interfere with the light housing

An easy way to solve the problem of the too-small cutout in the body-side reinforcement is to make a filler for the cutout. The reinforcement is made from 1/4" thick steel plate, so a cutout filler can be made from any convenient 1/4" material. I used black plexiglass because it won't rust, is easy to cut and I had it on hand. The template in place:

SpacerPlate.jpg


The next problem is that the head of the hinge pin bolt on the top hinge won't clear the larger Savvy tail light housing.
The solution to this is to replace that bolt with a flathead and drill a countersink in the hinge. In the next photo I'm drilling the countersink. I'm using a drill press but a hand electric drill will work fine too. Be sure to touch up the countersunk area with paint to prevent rust.

CountersinkingHinge.jpg


With the tail light installed:

LightsInstalled(1).jpg


A full-size template for the filler plate:

SavvyTailLightFiller(1).jpg


There's a 6" scale in the drawing above so you can check that your printout is the correct size. I made the prototype for this filler plate on a YJ tub that had its tailgate hinge holes adjusted to fit TJ hinge spacing. It is possible that the three taillight mounting holes could be slightly misplaced due to the use of the YJ tub but if they are drilled as shown in the drawing and don't exactly line up with the actual holes in the TJ tub the holes in the filler plate can be slotted or enlarged to fit.

One caveat about replacing the hinge pin bolt with a flathead bolt - the hinge pin bolt MORryde supplies has a smooth body above the threads that serves as the bearing surface but flathead screws will generally be fully threaded, which means that the threads of the flathead screw will be the bearing surface. As long as the hinge is lubricated and since tailgates don't open thousands of times a day this shouldn't be a problem but over time if wear develops the bushings can be replaced and can be found a many hardware stores.

Completed installation:

TailgateDone2.jpg



About the camper top project: The top on the trailer in the photos above is a proof-of-concept top made with TrailTop fiberglass framing (which matches the curves at the corners of the Jeep tub) and 1/4" plywood. I'm retiring that proof-of-concept top in favor of a fiberglass one made in the same molds as the Safari Cab hardtop for the LJ and the tailgate with the reinforcement will be used with the Safari Cab barn door.

The about to be retired proof-of-concept top:

tiltup2_zps8rjkiejo-jpg.159491


When I designed the LJ/TJ Safari Cab and its modular parts, part of the design was that parts from the same molds could be assembled into a camper top for Jeep-tub trailers.

I discussed the camper top idea with Gr8Tops back then and they provided some preproduction parts from their molds and I molded a few others to build a proof-of-concept camper top. The parts assembled very easily into a camper top and Gr8Tops even displayed it at a Jeep show as a possible future product. I never fully finished it, I just assembled the basic shell at the time. Didn't put windows in or do anything about the interior for the proof-of-concept build. These photos were taken in 2011:

CamperShow1.jpg


Rear barn door:

CamperShow2.jpg


Front hatch:

CamperShow5.jpg


Showing its parentage:

CamperTwins1.jpg


After Gr8Tops showed the trailer at that show I disassembled the shell and the parts have been sitting here ever since. I'm now working on completing it - adding windows, paint, etc.

I also plan to do a side-open pop-top for it:

SafariOverlandCamper22.jpg


One nice thing about doing the pop-up - since the parts are standard Safari Cab parts, the pop-top design and parts could be installed on an LJ Safari Cab to create an LJ pop-up camper.
 

GAS

New Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2022
Messages
16
Location
Midwest
I'm installing a MORryde tailgate reinforcement (a.k.a. Gr8Tops Exogate v2) on a Jeep-tub trailer to implement a one-piece barn door for a new fiberglass camper top on this trailer made from the same molds as the LJ Safari Cab hardtop. Since this installation is on a trailer made from two Jeep tubs, what I'll describe here applies to installation on a TJ/LJ as well.

The trailer currently has Savvy low-profile tail lights (https://savvyoffroad.com/product/sav-tl/) which are not compatible with the tailgate reinforcement for two reasons - first, the body-side reinforcement has a cutout for the base of the stock tail lights and the Savvy tail lights don't have the tail light housing that the factory lights do so they don't fit in the cutout. Second, because the Savvy housing is larger it will interfere with the upper hinge pin bolt on the new HD hinges. Some people have installed Savvy lights with the reinforcement by cutting the reinforcement but that doesn't solve the problem of interference between the top of the Savvy housing and the head of the hinge pin bolt on the upper hinge. Both of these problems are fairly simple to solve.

Before:

View attachment 333787

The reinforcement installed, showing the incompatibility between the cutout and the Savvy tail light:

View attachment 333788

Also in the photo above, the bolt head of the top hinge pin is going to interfere with the light housing

An easy way to solve the problem of the too-small cutout in the body-side reinforcement is to make a filler for the cutout. The reinforcement is made from 1/4" thick steel plate, so a cutout filler can be made from any convenient 1/4" material. I used black plexiglass because it won't rust, is easy to cut and I had it on hand. The template in place:

View attachment 333789

The next problem is that the head of the hinge pin bolt on the top hinge won't clear the larger Savvy tail light housing.
The solution to this is to replace that bolt with a flathead and drill a countersink in the hinge. In the next photo I'm drilling the countersink. I'm using a drill press but a hand electric drill will work fine too. Be sure to touch up the countersunk area with paint to prevent rust.

View attachment 333790

With the tail light installed:

View attachment 333791

A full-size template for the filler plate:

View attachment 333792

There's a 6" scale in the drawing above so you can check that your printout is the correct size. I made the prototype for this filler plate on a YJ tub that had its tailgate hinge holes adjusted to fit TJ hinge spacing. It is possible that the three taillight mounting holes could be slightly misplaced due to the use of the YJ tub but if they are drilled as shown in the drawing and don't exactly line up with the actual holes in the TJ tub the holes in the filler plate can be slotted or enlarged to fit.

One caveat about replacing the hinge pin bolt with a flathead bolt - the hinge pin bolt MORryde supplies has a smooth body above the threads that serves as the bearing surface but flathead screws will generally be fully threaded, which means that the threads of the flathead screw will be the bearing surface. As long as the hinge is lubricated and since tailgates don't open thousands of times a day this shouldn't be a problem but over time if wear develops the bushings can be replaced and can be found a many hardware stores.

Completed installation:

View attachment 333793


About the camper top project: The top on the trailer in the photos above is a proof-of-concept top made with TrailTop fiberglass framing (which matches the curves at the corners of the Jeep tub) and 1/4" plywood. I'm retiring that proof-of-concept top in favor of a fiberglass one made in the same molds as the Safari Cab hardtop for the LJ and the tailgate with the reinforcement will be used with the Safari Cab barn door.

The about to be retired proof-of-concept top:

tiltup2_zps8rjkiejo-jpg.159491


When I designed the LJ/TJ Safari Cab and its modular parts, part of the design was that parts from the same molds could be assembled into a camper top for Jeep-tub trailers.

I discussed the camper top idea with Gr8Tops back then and they provided some preproduction parts from their molds and I molded a few others to build a proof-of-concept camper top. The parts assembled very easily into a camper top and Gr8Tops even displayed it at a Jeep show as a possible future product. I never fully finished it, I just assembled the basic shell at the time. Didn't put windows in or do anything about the interior for the proof-of-concept build. These photos were taken in 2011:

View attachment 333794

Rear barn door:

View attachment 333795

Front hatch:

View attachment 333796

Showing its parentage:

View attachment 333797

After Gr8Tops showed the trailer at that show I disassembled the shell and the parts have been sitting here ever since. I'm now working on completing it - adding windows, paint, etc.

I also plan to do a side-open pop-top for it:

View attachment 333798

One nice thing about doing the pop-up - since the parts are standard Safari Cab parts, the pop-top design and parts could be installed on an LJ Safari Cab to create an LJ pop-up camper.
I will be finishing up my off road camper today. I was gonna try to post a picture but I would be embarrassed after seeing yours. KEWL trailer!!!!
 
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jscherb

jscherb

TJ Enthusiast
Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Messages
638
Location
Elmira, NY
I will be finishing up my off road camper today. I was gonna try to post a picture but I would be embarrassed after seeing yours. KEWL trailer!!!!
Yes, please post photos of your off-road camper, I'm sure lots of people will want to see it.

Don't worry about comparing your work to that of someone who is "not normal". I'm not sure what "not normal" means - when my sister calls me that it's not a compliment but I'll try to to take R3ID05TJ's comment as a positive one :).

Lol it's ok. Post your camper. I wanna see it. This guy is not normal with the stuff he invents and builds.
 

sab

"Semper Discens"
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2021
Messages
610
Location
DITHOT
Hey, Jeff - when i put the Savvy tail lights and MORryde system on my LJ, I just cut the MORryde plate to match the profile of the light base, and all I had to do was put the top bolt in upside down:

MORryde and Savvy.jpg


That's an old photo, so I don't recall the details. Perhaps by mounting directly to the tub, the light base cleared the bolt? Or is the YJ tub just slightly different?
 
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Longwhitejeep

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622
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Virginia
Thanks for the information and posting a full size print out! Very nice of you do so. I have the exogate and have been considering some different taillights.
 

B00mb00m

The Church of Cutting Brakes of Atlas-Front Digs
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Why not tap 3 new holes 1/2" or so lower and move the tail light down?
 
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jscherb

jscherb

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Messages
638
Location
Elmira, NY
Hey, Jeff - when i put the Savvy tail lights and MORryde system on my LJ, I just cut the MORryde plate to match the profile of the light base, and all I had to do was put the top bolt in upside down:

View attachment 333977

That's an old photo, so I don't recall the details. Perhaps by mounting directly to the tub, the light base cleared the bolt? Or is the YJ tub just slightly different?

Yes it could be that the back half of my trailer started out as a YJ, although here's a photo of a TJ on which the top hinge is misaligned a bit perhaps to clear the bolt head - both yellow lines are parallel, the bottom line aligns with the bottom hinge and the top line doesn't. This isn't my Jeep, I found this picture online. This person also cut the reinforcement plate, although not to match the shape of the light housing as you did.

HingeMisalignment.jpg


Thanks for the information and posting a full size print out! Very nice of you do so. I have the exogate and have been considering some different taillights.

You're welcome. Some people have the ability to cut their reinforcement plate but some may find it easier to cut a spacer out of something easy like plexiglass so I posted the full size pattern for those that can't/don't want to cut the heavy steel reinforcement plate.

Why not tap 3 new holes 1/2" or so lower and move the tail light down?

If one wants to drill more holes in the tub that's a fine solution. What I was trying to illustrate was a method requiring the fewest mods to both the Jeep (none) and the Tailgate Reinforcement (only possible mod is countersinking a flathead bolt in one hinge if necessary).
 

sab

"Semper Discens"
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2021
Messages
610
Location
DITHOT
Yes it could be that the back half of my trailer started out as a YJ, although here's a photo of a TJ on which the top hinge is misaligned a bit perhaps to clear the bolt head - both yellow lines are parallel, the bottom line aligns with the bottom hinge and the top line doesn't. This isn't my Jeep, I found this picture online. This person also cut the reinforcement plate, although not to match the shape of the light housing as you did.

View attachment 333997

When I mounted mine, I bought a 3' piece of drill rod just a few thousands smaller in diameter then the bore of the bronze bushings that I put through both hinges in place of the bolts to make sure they shared a common hinge axis, so mine didn't require misalignment to work. It could also be production tolerances. I've seen plenty of evidence that Jeep's tolerances are pretty generous for some things.
 
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jscherb

jscherb

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Messages
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When I decided to install a MORryde reinforcement and HD hinges on the tailgate for this trailer it wasn't for a large spare, although if I need to carry a separate spare for the trailer I could bolt up a factory spare carrier. I don't plan to carry a large spare on the tailgate, but I do plan to carry gear there.

It's very simple to mount a MORryde jerry can tray on the reinforcement, all that's necessary is drilling a few holes in the back of the tray and that will give me a place to carry 5 gallons of water. I also mounted a small propane tank on the HD hinges - a while back I designed and built a carrier for propane tanks that bolts up to either the TJ/LJ HD hinges or the JK HD hinges.

RearDoorGear1.jpg


RearDoorGear2.jpg


There's room on the tailgate for two jerry cans and it wouldn't be hard to fabricate a carrier for two cans - if I decide I'd like to carry two jerry cans I'll probably start by bolting two MORryde jerry can trays together side by side and working out the details of bolting them to the reinforcement.

A little more about the camper... the parts for the camper top came from the same molds as a LJ Safari Cab so it's a good match for my LJ, but it'll look nice behind my JKU as well.

CamperSketches.jpg


CamperWithLJ3.jpg


In the back there's a barn door just like on the LJ:

SafariCamperBarnDoor2.jpg


On the front there's a hatch, also made from the same molds as the barn door upper, just assembled differently.

SafariCamperFrontHatch.jpg


Behind the front hatch and tailgate (is it a frontgate because it's not on the back?) is a MORryde Trail Kitchen:


SafariCamperTrailKitchen.jpg


There's a good amount of room inside and I thought it would be fun to paint the inside of the roof sky blue...

SafariCamperInterior2.jpg


I've got a design for a sleeping platform and storage within the camper but probably won't implement those features for a while because I have a couple of trips on which I'll need the trailer to haul cargo first.
 
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jscherb

jscherb

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As always, beautiful and detailed oriented work! :love:

that’s one cool trailer you’ve got.

Thank you very much.

A final detail for the camper shell - gas struts on the side hatches.

FrontHatchStruts1.jpg


FrontHatchStruts2.jpg


I have an extra window on hand for the front hatch, but I don't think I'll install it, I haven't made a final decision yet.

FrontWindow.jpg


I've been waiting for a good heavy rain to test for leaks. Got a good one the other day.

CamperInRain1.jpg


In this next photo the drip rail is full; there are drain notches in each corner and they're doing their job.

CamperInRain2.jpg


Immediately after the downpour ended I went over every inch of the interior with a flashlight. All dry :).

Ready for a maiden voyage behind the LJ today. Not camping though, it'll be moving some cargo.

FirstRun1.jpg


FirstRun2(2).jpg


FirstRun3.jpg
 

NashvilleTJ

I miss the snow...
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Great trailer, Jeff. And you painted it the correct color as well.

Nice work as usual. I like the look of the window on the front hatch, but do you think it could be damaged by an errant rock driving while down a gravel road? It may be high enough to be out of harms way.
 

Irun

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Thank you very much.

A final detail for the camper shell - gas struts on the side hatches.

View attachment 340169

View attachment 340170

I have an extra window on hand for the front hatch, but I don't think I'll install it, I haven't made a final decision yet.

View attachment 340171

I've been waiting for a good heavy rain to test for leaks. Got a good one the other day.

View attachment 340172

In this next photo the drip rail is full; there are drain notches in each corner and they're doing their job.

View attachment 340173

Immediately after the downpour ended I went over every inch of the interior with a flashlight. All dry :).

Ready for a maiden voyage behind the LJ today. Not camping though, it'll be moving some cargo.

View attachment 340174

View attachment 340175

View attachment 340176

Every time I see that CJ style grill on the LJ, I have to do a double take! :love:
 
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jscherb

jscherb

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Great trailer, Jeff. And you painted it the correct color as well.

Nice work as usual.

Thank you.

People often ask me why I didn't paint the trailer to match the Jeep. Which Jeep? I've got 3 Jeeps and they're all different colors, so I decided on safety yellow to make it more visible on the road. The tan camper top does match the Safari Cab hardtop on the JKU though.

I like the look of the window on the front hatch, but do you think it could be damaged by an errant rock driving while down a gravel road? It may be high enough to be out of harms way.

I believe the front window would be high enough to be out of the path of stones thrown up by the Jeep's tires, and the Jeep being in front of it would mostly protect it from stones from other vehicles, so it would probably be safe. But I'm not sure I really want a window there. I can always add the window later if I decide it would be useful.

Every time I see that CJ style grill on the LJ, I have to do a double take! :love:

I can't tell you how many times I've been asked what year my CJ is. When I answer 2006 I get confused looks from people :).

The LJ-8 in a comparison shot at Easter Jeep Safari in 2015 posed next to my friend Terry's lifted CJ-8...

Trust1.jpg



BTW... the first trip the trailer will make of any distance will be in August to the Smoky Mountain Jeep Invasion. Overland Outfitters will be borrowing my JKU to display their products and they'll be borrowing the trailer to bring their merchandise and booth materials to the show, so if anyone is planning to attend that show and wants to see the trailer stop by the Overland Outfitters booth and say hi.
 

Nickgsjeep

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When I decided to install a MORryde reinforcement and HD hinges on the tailgate for this trailer it wasn't for a large spare, although if I need to carry a separate spare for the trailer I could bolt up a factory spare carrier. I don't plan to carry a large spare on the tailgate, but I do plan to carry gear there.

It's very simple to mount a MORryde jerry can tray on the reinforcement, all that's necessary is drilling a few holes in the back of the tray and that will give me a place to carry 5 gallons of water. I also mounted a small propane tank on the HD hinges - a while back I designed and built a carrier for propane tanks that bolts up to either the TJ/LJ HD hinges or the JK HD hinges.

View attachment 338580

View attachment 338581

There's room on the tailgate for two jerry cans and it wouldn't be hard to fabricate a carrier for two cans - if I decide I'd like to carry two jerry cans I'll probably start by bolting two MORryde jerry can trays together side by side and working out the details of bolting them to the reinforcement.

A little more about the camper... the parts for the camper top came from the same molds as a LJ Safari Cab so it's a good match for my LJ, but it'll look nice behind my JKU as well.

View attachment 338582

View attachment 338583

In the back there's a barn door just like on the LJ:

View attachment 338584

On the front there's a hatch, also made from the same molds as the barn door upper, just assembled differently.

View attachment 338585

Behind the front hatch and tailgate (is it a frontgate because it's not on the back?) is a MORryde Trail Kitchen:


View attachment 338586

There's a good amount of room inside and I thought it would be fun to paint the inside of the roof sky blue...

View attachment 338587

I've got a design for a sleeping platform and storage within the camper but probably won't implement those features for a while because I have a couple of trips on which I'll need the trailer to haul cargo first.

Amazing
 
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jscherb

jscherb

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Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Messages
638
Location
Elmira, NY
In 2020 I designed and built a prop for the MORryde TJ HD tailgate hinges to hold the tailgate open:

ExogatePropProto3Deployed_zpsir9cg9f4.jpg


It's been in use on my LJ since then and works very well:

ExogatePropProto3Installed1_zpsmfvhixl1.jpg



Since the trailer is a camper and the rear door will be used for access to the interior, it wouldn't do to have the door slam shut with someone inside so I made another tailgate prop. In this post I'll show most of how I made it; I didn't take photos of every detail but I hope there's enough info here that someone could follow along and make one.

The parts:

ExogateProp.jpg


To make parts accurately, I typically cut the part image from the drawing and affix it to the metal stock with rubber cement. I've done that in this next photo; the stock is 1" square aluminum tubing:

PartLayout1.jpg


In the above photo I'm center punching the hole for the prop rod, I typically mark and drill the holes before cutting out the part because it's easier to drill a large piece of stock than a small part. This next photo shows the part above after drilling, cutting and a little filing and sanding to clean it up. The bushings for the prop rod are in place:

PropRodBracket.jpg


Next I'm making the Stop Bracket. Bending is accomplished in a vise, using the shank of a drill as an anvil to create a nice bend.

StopBracket.jpg


The prop rod is bent from 1/4" steel rod. For the one on the LJ, I used stainless rod but I didn't have any stainless on hand so this one is mild steel and I'll paint it to prevent rust. The bending is done in a vise with a hammer and I heated each bend with a propane torch before bending to make it easier to bend. I used various size scrap pieces of metal clamped in the vise along with the rod to create the bends accurately. Bending the rod accurately is the most difficult part of this project.

BendingPropRod.jpg


Once the rod is bent, it's test fit in the prop rod bracket and adjusted as necessary. I needed to file a little off the inside corners of the bends that go into the bushings in order for the prop rod to seat close enough to the prop rod bracket.

FabFinished.jpg


The MORryde hinges are laser cut from rectangular tubing and they've got a weld seam inside from the manufacturing process for the tubing. I used a rat tail file to make a groove in the back of the prop rod bracket so it sits nicely over the weld.

WeldSeamRelief.jpg


All of the parts test fit in a hinge:

TestFitInHinge.jpg


After painting the prop rod, one last detail - I slipped some heat shrink tubing over a couple of places on the prop rod where metal-on-metal contact could happen and possibly scratch the paint. Then I installed the assembly in the hinge on the trailer:

ExogatePropInstalled1(4).jpg


I mentioned that bending the prop rod is the most difficult part of the project - the 4 bends must be equal and parallel. There is a simpler way to make the prop rod with only two bends; it won't be quite as strong but it's easier to make:

ExogatePropV2(1).jpg


Next I need to make an inside release for the tailgate latch. After sleeping in the camper it would be good to be able to unlatch and open the rear door from the inside. I've done two designs for an inside release and I'll show both, stay tuned...