I’m at the Detroit Auto Show looking at hardware, something I desperately miss doing since I moved to Los Angeles, where my life largely revolves around figuring out what to order from Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop ghost kitchen. Anyway, expect some engineering geekiness soon, with the first little installment being this brief look at the new Ford F-150 Pro Access Tailgate, which is comprised of two “20 percent” pieces on the outside and a swinging “60 percent” section in the middle, with the two 20-percenters attached to one another via a steel member at their base. Here, let me show you.
The Pro Access Tailgate promises to make grabbing the gear in your bed easier, without having to lean over a tailgate or without dropping the gate onto a trailer hitch.
It’s unclear who other than me gives a damn about how the new Ford F-150 Pro Access tailgate is put together, but I need to know these things or I won’t be able to sleep at night. So let’s just get into it.
The short of it is that two “20 percent” sections of tailgates make up the outboard pieces of the Pro Access design; they have steel structural elements, but the sheetmetal is aluminum. Connecting those two pieces at their bases is an extremely stiff steel structural member. Here’s a closer look at that member pointed out in the image above — a member whose welds are clearly visible when the swing gate is open. Ford notes that this is a preproduction unit, by the way:
You’ll notice that there’s a striker on top of the stiff member:
That striker is joined by two additional strikers (of different lengths) on the driver’s side “20 percent” piece:
You’ll also notice that at the ends of the strikers are rubber stoppers to help the swing gate close quietly. The tailgate itself also has rubber stops, as you’d expect with any tailgate:
Here’s the latch on the bottom of the swinging door:
Here’s a look at the latches on side of the swinging door:
Edit: as reader PL71 Enthusiast points out, the bottom one is more of a guide and not a latch:
Per F-150 Product Manager Klaus Mello, these strikers work together to keep that center swinging door constrained to reduce NVH and to ensure durability. It’s still not clear to me why the two latches have different depths (and why the strikers are different lengths), but maybe it has to do with increasing torsional stiffness when the swinging door is latched? Or maybe it’s just about offering two latch positions? Perhaps one of you in the comments has an idea.
As for the hinges attached to the passenger’s side “20 percent,” those are cast parts connected by a vertical bar, presumably to add stiffness:
You’ll notice in the image above the linkage that creates the three detents in the Pro Access tailgate’s opening motion. Here’s a closer look; it’s fairly conventional:
You’ll also see a plastic piece; that’s a conduit for the wiring that goes from the truck, along the stiff horizontal member, and into the passenger’s side 20 percent section.
When the tailgate is open, the back side of the stiff member has a plastic piece connected to it; that hides the wire that goes from the bed to the passenger’s side “20 percent” piece and to the swing gate.
As for sealing, the way it’s set up is: There’s a big plastic trim piece on the back side of each “20 percent” section. That trim is torx-screwed to each section, and a seal is attached to the trim via some plastic clips.
One thing I haven’t quite figured out is why there’s an pyramidal plastic piece between the horizontal member and the base of the driver’s side “20 percent” section of the tailgate:
I think it covers up a bracket that’s meant to stiffen the interface between the horizontal member and the driver’s side 20 percent, but I’m not entirely sure.
Anyway, now you’ve had a close F-150 Pro Access tailgate’s hardware. Ford is always looking for ways to up its game in the Pickup Truck Arms Race, so we’ll see how customers respond to this—to say nothing of the Detroit competition.
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