Tailgate Latch and Handle - Just Jump In? - Ford Bronco Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2019, 09:35 AM Thread Starter
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Tailgate Latch and Handle - Just Jump In?

So my last bit of restoration is fixing the tailgate latch/handle mechanism. It has not worked since day one. In order to open the tailgate I have to lower the window and reach in an pull on the rods to the end latches. When I pull on the latch handle the rod moves but does nothing to release the tailgate. So do I just jump in and remove the end latches and center mechanism? Iím hoping to fix it without buying a new replacement... Thanks!

Inside pic of center mechanism with the rod clips. Canít tell if anything is wrong or missing. Really donít know what Iím looking for....








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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2019, 12:11 PM
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Yo G,
See attached diagrams.

The tailgate Vertical interlock "rod assembly" guide clip snaps into the "Lower Torsion Bar Bracket" and upper part connects to Control Mechanism, aka Center Mechanism, . It "jams" the inside handle until the glass is all the way down. This bracket is bolted on.

As you know in your 78, both latches must be closed because the interlock switch is mounted to the Control Mechanism.


My issue is that the Lower Torsion Bar Bracket Rusted and snapped, but has no effect on the glass.
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File Type: jpg tailgate_parts_6.jpg (43.2 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg Screenshot_20190714-085313.jpg (233.5 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg Screenshot_20190714-085427.jpg (237.6 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg Screenshot_20190714-085444.jpg (152.4 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg Screenshot_20190805-120313.jpg (278.5 KB, 10 views)

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2019, 01:09 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, I guess I should take it apart and see what's broken first. Will most likely need those small clips and maybe springs.
Thanks Miesk. You are truly a Library of Congress for Broncos......
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2019, 01:22 PM
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One of the levers is pretty bent and that's most likely where your biggest issue lies. The rod going from the handle to the mechanism is also, most likely out of shape as well. Both will need to be bent back into proper shape, which should be fairly obvious once you get the whole thing out of the tailgate and get a good look at it on the bench. Also a good time to consider removing the "window down" safety feature, as opening the gate by the lever with the window down safety not fully engaged (either not working, grabbing or having the window ALL the way down) causes the damage you're dealing with.

Lever circled in your pic is the one I'm referencing.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2019, 01:27 PM
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I had the same lever bent in mine and fixed it by securing the mechanism in a vice and using a punch to hammer the lever back into straight shape, carefully.


I think JBG or LMC sell a replacement but I haven't looked in a long time, as I was able to fix mine easily enough.

This is the lever to remove if you want to delete the "window down" safety feature...


And I'd also recommend pulling the motor and checking the bearings and grease while you're there. Preventative maintenance saves you future hassles.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2019, 02:08 PM Thread Starter
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Tailgate Latch and Handle - Just Jump In?

Many Thanks Biker! Thatís great info....
Oh, so you remove the lever and is there a rod associated with it?


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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-05-2019, 03:41 PM Thread Starter
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Well, got out there in the Tennessee heat and pulled the center latch mechanism out. The plastic clips were all brittle.

Iím thinking that itís better to just buy a new one with plastic clips too?

Not sure if that handle rod is bent since I donít know what it originally looks like?

If I do buy a new latch assembly, I should remove that ďwindow downĒlever along with its rod ? Makes sense to me......

Is there any need to remove the tailgate latches on right and left sides? Does it make it easier to put everything back?

Thanks again!








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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-06-2019, 03:27 PM Thread Starter
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I cleaned up the latch assembly and it came out real nice. So no need to buy a new one other then the plastic clips. I broke the spring which can be easily replaced.

Iíll remove that ďLĒ shaped bracket that controls the safety feature mentioned above. I do though need to re-install that electrical switch or the window wonít function.... right?





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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-07-2019, 12:13 AM
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Why does your lever, the same one I specified before... still look bent? Using you last pic, that uppermost lever "ring" that the main spring sits on should be flat, right up to where it bends up to hold the clip and rod. Even the arm should not be sitting "angled", it should be parallel with the rest of the mechanism. Take a good look at my second pic with the L bracket removed but compare the lever I circled before. Yours is still bent. Secure it in a vice and gently hit it with a punch, right in the folding corner of that uppermost lever... until it sits flat again.

edit add for further illustration...

* center, uppermost lever is bent, just like yours. It's literally sticking up crooked in the top center of this pic.


* center, uppermost lever is restored to oem position... (note: the L lever has yet to be removed in either of these pics)


The rod that goes from the mechanism to the handle usually gets "stretched" lengthwise, so when you put it all back in place, you'll have to bend it again, to pull it in tighter, until the handle sits flush in the tailgate. Any Bronco with a handle that doesn't sit flush with the gate has had that rod stretched, at least and probably the same bend in that mechanism. I've never bought one and rarely seen one owned by an "average" whoever, that did not have this problem.

All of the damage you're dealing with happened because the rod that catches the window at the bottom, when it's completely rolled down... pulls on the L bracket and moves it out of the way from blocking the natural opening of the mechanism, when pulling on the handle. You can see where it sits, blocking the mechanism from moving freely... if you look at the L bracket on the other side from the rod seat. Unfortunately, if you pull on it hard enough, the weak metal will eventually give, allowing you to open the gate with the window not fully seated in the down position, over-riding the safety feature and damaging the mechanism. That's what has happened over years/decades.

Removing the L bracket and the rod, as I showed before... eliminates the safety feature but resolves this ongoing problem. If you choose to go that route... you need to be mindful that dropping the tailgate with the window still raised enough to contact the edge of the gate, can easily shatter the glass and potentially cause inury, or at least a considerable mess and major hassle, replacing said glass/defroster/etc. Handle according to your ability, confidence and that of others you may let use your rig.

That said... removing the L bracket is easy. I simply took a grinder to the rear of the rivet at the center of the L bracket, on the back side.


Once you've done that... no need to install the safety catch rod (or a place to put it, for that matter) and you might be able to re-use that same rod keeper, plastic clip... if it's in better shape than one you're keeping in service. If not... I've seen them available somewhere but have no idea to link you.




Switch goes back, if you want things to work... yea.

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-07-2019, 06:35 AM Thread Starter
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Hey Biker, Thank you for your patience in dealing with my stupidity. I just wasn't getting what was bent. I got it now. Your instructions made it clear to me. I'm going to get that back into proper position and search around for a new spring. Again, thanks man!
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-07-2019, 10:06 AM Thread Starter
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Tailgate Latch and Handle - Just Jump In?

Ok, got the lever flat now and removed the ďLĒ bracket. Does this end stop edge come into play any longer? IGNORE ANOTHER DUMB QUESTION



Leveled out.....



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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-07-2019, 12:25 PM Thread Starter
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Tailgate Latch and Handle - Just Jump In?

Thanks everyone, got it done. Just waiting on new plastic rod clips......




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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-08-2019, 04:46 AM
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hope I didn't come off harsh. I hear I have a bad habit of that.
great to see you've got it all worked out and back in solid shape.
I think you'll be much happier with it now. I know I have been.
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-08-2019, 06:27 AM Thread Starter
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Absolutely not Biker. I like when someone cuts to the point. I just appreciate your help. I think it will work much better now. Hey, do you think itís necessary to remove the the latches on each end of the tailgate- see if anything is wrong there?


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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-08-2019, 01:38 PM
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those are rarely an issue. just check them out manually, pulling them in to see/feel how they're working at releasing the gate and they should be fine.
happy to help.
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post #16 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-12-2019, 11:23 AM Thread Starter
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Tailgate Latch and Handle - Just Jump In?

Thanks all, got it in and works great! Even seems like the rear window operates smoother.....




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