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trace

1 pc rear hatch gas spring conversion

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trace

i have a 96 VLX with the 1-piece rear hatch with that awful electric ball-screw actuator. i've seen a couple posts from people mentioning they'd converted the rear hatch to gas spring lift. i'm pretty sure my ram is about to die, and i plan to do this when it does. any info would be great - what spring rates to use, latch(es), mounting points, etc.

TIA ~ Trace

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jmack

I converted mine to open manually with gas springs. I used two 60 lb springs and also installed a latch like on the newer models. I'll get some pictures to show all the details.

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trace

awesome, thanks!

does the latch hold it down, or does it stay closed by itself? it needs a latch anyway so it won't fly off on the highway, and i'm thinking it would be better to have to use the latch to hold it down so it doesn't get forgotten.

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jmack

All of my pics are too big to post - I'll try a different setting on my camera. Any way, here's what I did; I put a Perko latch (just like on new boats) in the rear deck lid directly behind the ski pylon. I mounted it about 3" from the front edge of the deck lid. This is by far the hardest part of the conversion. I removed the deck lid from the boat and put it on a table to install the latch. I marked the spot for it from the top and drilled a small hole through to the bottom. From the bottom, I drilled a 3.5" hole with a hole saw just through the first layer of aluminum (the deck lid is made from aluminum honey comb sandwiched between a thin sheet of aluminum on top and bottom). After sawing through the bottom piece, I used a router to clear the center of the hole and the aluminum honey comb down to the top sheet of aluminum. I then sawed a 2.5" hole in the top piece, being careful not to tear the padding. I cut the padding with a razor knife, down to the vinyl. I flipped the deck lid over and cut a 1.25" hole in the vinyl, so that it would be a stretch fit when I installed the latch. I made sure this hole was round, so there should be no pressure points for it to rip. Because the sheet of aluminum is so thin, I used the hole saws to cut a washer out of 1/8" aluminum to reinforce the underside of the top sheet. I also made a washer out of 1/2" rubber mat to install between the padding and the top of the deck lid so that the latch didn't pull so far down into the pad. After installing the latch, I cut about 1" off of the bell end of a 3" piece of PVC conduit and painted it black to trim the inside of the hole in the bottom of the deck lid to give it a nice finish. I had to split it and cut out about 3/8" so that it would fit in the hole. I used a piece of 2" x 4" aluminum channel about 5 - 6" long bolted to the bottom of the ski pylon for the latch to catch on. I mounted the gas springs (60 lb each) to the rear of the engine compartment directly above where the carpet snaps to the plastic dividers. I built some small mounting plates(2" x 3") out of 1/8" aluminum to attach the springs to the bottom of the deck lid to spread the load and so that I could use 4 screws to attach them since the aluminum is so thin. The lid will stay shut by itself, but when lifted about 4 - 6", the springs take over and open it the rest of the way.

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Sunsetter95

If you are using XP you should be able to go to the file and select it, right click, and choose to resize picture, select medium or small if necessary. A new file will be created.

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trace

thanks for the info. if you don't mind, you can email the pics to me at ttrimble(at)vvm.com.

great idea using the spacer so the latch stays up near the top of the vinyl, and using rubber to pinch the vinyl too. i was trying to figure out how to do that.

i don't think i understand this part:

"After installing the latch, I cut about 1" off of the bell end of a 3" piece of PVC conduit and painted it black to trim the inside of the hole in the bottom of the deck lid to give it a nice finish. I had to split it and cut out about 3/8" so that it would fit in the hole."

is that for the ID of the hole thru the honeycomb layer?

so you have them between the motor & side storage? i was picturing mounting mine on the outside edges, along the lower vertical surface of the deck. any advantages or disadvantages you can see with that? i'll be able to mount them anywhere lengthwise along that surface to select opening angle & lifting effort.

am i correct in assuming the spring force is pretty much linear across the stroke?

if the 50 or 80 lb models will work, these look like a great deal & come with the exact hardware i need: http://www.rexmar.com/page55.html

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NorCaliBu

jmack,

Don't bother spending a lot of time resizing your photos. Your problem isn't file size. Posting pic's uses more bandwidth and is therefore one of the benfits of paid membership. To see the other benefits click on the "Support The Crew" link above.

Your written description was good though and I can actually picture in my mind what you did. :) Nice work. Biggrin.gif

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jmack
thanks for the info.  if you don't mind, you can email the pics to me at ttrimble(at)vvm.com. 

great idea using the spacer so the latch stays up near the top of the vinyl, and using rubber to pinch the vinyl too.  i was trying to figure out how to do that.

i don't think i understand this part:

"After installing the latch, I cut about 1" off of the bell end of a 3" piece of PVC conduit and painted it black to trim the inside of the hole in the bottom of the deck lid to give it a nice finish. I had to split it and cut out about 3/8" so that it would fit in the hole."

is that for the ID of the hole thru the honeycomb layer? 

so you have them between the motor & side storage?  i was picturing mounting mine on the outside edges, along the lower vertical surface of the deck.  any advantages or disadvantages you can see with that?  i'll be able to mount them anywhere lengthwise along that surface to select opening angle & lifting effort.

am i correct in assuming the spring force is pretty much linear across the stroke? 

if the 50 or 80 lb models will work, these look like a great deal & come with the exact hardware i need:  http://www.rexmar.com/page55.html

The 3" conduit piece is to trim the ID of the hole through the honeycomb.

I was also originally planning to put the springs along the sides of the storage area, but I was afraid they would get in the way of loading / unloading items (my hatch now opens wide enough to put a board in each side compartment).

I ordered my springs from Overton's: 32023 Spring Lift Gas Springs, Extended Length 20", Pressure 60 lbs.-Black Qty

$20.99

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