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Cargo Hatch thoughts and ideas, (and a funny/stupid story)

Mr. Alligator

Explorer Addict
Joined
November 30, 2014
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City, State
Tampa, Florida
Year, Model & Trim Level
1997 XLT Explorer
1997 Explorer with cargo hatch that stopped fitting correctly...

The gap between the top of the hatch and the roof line of the truck was getting to be about one inch +, and water was getting past the cargo hatch seal. Took the entire hatch to a welder, who attempted to strengthen the hinge area with more welding. This weld attempt soon failed, and the cargo hatch struck the truck body at the roof line while opening the hatch. This completely mangled the top of the cargo hatch….

Dang.

Went to salvage and finally found a structurally sound cargo hatch, which seem a little scarce. Here are my some thoughts on the cargo hatch and alignment issues…. Hopefully, this will help someone, as this Forum has been so helpful to me.


(1) There are 8 mm bolts that attach the hatch to the hinge. These allow for a little up and down adjustment. Best to remove the hatch struts so that they do not interfere with adjustment. However, the hatch is heavy and this gets awkward. Best to have a strong helper, or at least an extension pole, to carefully prop up the hatch during any adjustment.


(2) There are 13 mm nuts/bolts under the headliner that attach the hinge to the truck body. These provide some front and back adjustment. This is the easier adjustment, and replacement of the hatch is best accomplished by leaving the hinges secured to the “new” hatch, and mounting the hatch using the 13 mm hardware.


(3) IF your hatch is getting harder and harder, then impossible, to align, the issue is very likely to be failure of the cargo hatch failure at the hinge to hatch connection.


(4) Your hatch should not change position when you attach the cargo hatch struts. Such movement indicates an unstable hatch, especially near the hatch hinges. Your hatch should never get snagged on the roof line of the truck.


(5) It might be a good time to resolve this issue by obtaining a salvage hatch while they are still available at salvage. Avoid this hatch instability when seeking a replacement hatch.


(6) Any replacement hatch must be from the same model era as your truck, unless you want to try to replace the lights and rear bumper, etc.


(7) If you obtain a salvage hatch, you will want to use the best of the parts available between your old hatch and the salvage hatch. This includes upper and lower trim, third brake light, wiper motor, hatch glass, door ajar sensors, inner rods and latches, door locks, and wiring. Scavenging the best of each of these items is time consuming, but oddly fun. If you are lucky enough to find a hatch with the correct paint color, in sound structural condition, with the same wiring and all components working as well or better than your original cargo hatch, this project will go much faster.

(8) Even if the hatch structure fits your truck, the wiring might not match up. Carefully check the wire color coding at the wiring connections. If the wiring does not line up, it seems easiest to remove and exchange the cargo door wiring harnesses as needed. The wiper motors have two connection options, and you might also need to change the wiring harness to address this.


(9) The large wiring connection DOES fit through the small opening near the roof of your truck. You just have to be patient and try all angles. You do NOT have to cut wires for this procedure.


(10). What makes the hatches fail? Probably 25 years of metal fatigue. I thought it was rust, but did cut a hinge section out of my original door. There is a second support bracket behind the hatch frame, and failure occurred without any obvious rust issues. I have attached several photos of the primary problem area, and the cut out section.


(11) Never re-use the lift struts. The cheap half circle clips that hold them on may/will fail. (See Funny/Stupid story below.)


FUNNY/STUPID story: I went through this entire procedure, and had a “new” salvage cargo hatch installed. The cargo hatch lift strut slipped off of its connection shortly after complete installation and the hatch landed on my head. I propped the lift strut on a notch in the interior panel, leaving the hatch hung open. Ten minutes later, I heard the lift strut slip violently out, and the hatch smashed down on it. This totally ruined the first replacement hatch. So I had to get a second replacement hatch And go through this process a second time.


Dang.

Good Luck with your Projects.

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Great I am gonna check mine tomorrow

Ill take a picture so you can see and tell me what you think
 






So after reading this thread I checked my hatch gap
I am not a welder ! The welds look like snot s but it not I just hit each weld twice in other words its on purpose lol
I did my best!
The spot welds cracked on mine the gap was off a little so I bent it back so the gap was correct
I put a little paint on the welds
The white tape is there until the weather strip adhesive dryes

20220221_125416.jpg 20220221_125408.jpg 20220221_172423.jpg
 






Very nice work, as are ALL of your projects. Your welding looks better than welding job I paid for on my hatch.

My thought: IF you plan to keep your truck for many more years, get an extra (matching) cargo hatch so you will have it if and when necessary. This structure may not be mechanically sound. When I was looking through salvage, many of the hatches looked great, but lacked structural integrity because of weld or metal fatigue problems on the inside of the hatch.

Another idea would be limit use of the cargo hatch, instead use the cargo glass window.

Good luck! K
 






Very nice work, as are ALL of your projects. Your welding looks better than welding job I paid for on my hatch.

My thought: IF you plan to keep your truck for many more years, get an extra (matching) cargo hatch so you will have it if and when necessary. This structure may not be mechanically sound. When I was looking through salvage, many of the hatches looked great, but lacked structural integrity because of weld or metal fatigue problems on the inside of the hatch.

Another idea would be limit use of the cargo hatch, instead use the cargo glass window.

Good luck! K
I have to be honest
I admire how you take care of your Explorer
If I remember correctly it was a gift to you when it was new
Most people don't take care of their stuff

Thanks for the pictures they allowed me to see what's inside the hatch
An idea of how thick the metal is
 






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