For the 1955 Chevrolet Truck Project, we knew we wanted to do something cool with the bed. Sealing-off and tidying up the rail-ends, filling the post at the step and fully welding the header panel were all in order, but we wanted to do something different with the tailgate, and a barn door tailgate was our decision.
The tailgate skin was removed from the original Chevrolet tailgate frame. A simple 1″ x 2″ box tube frame was created to cover the entire tailgate opening.
The tailgate panel was welded to the 1″ x 2″ box, then center measured out, and the doors cut. Cutting the doors from a single rectangle with hinges mounted ensures the doors line-up perfectly.
Many hinges were considered for this project. In the end, we went with some sturdy steel heavy door hinges.
The doors were reinforced with additional stretches of 1″ x 2″ box tube. The panels were of course fully welded, tacked in place below…
We knew that maintaining the gap between the doors was going to be an issue when we decided on barn doors, due simply to bed flex. We eliminated the flex by using what we had on hand, in this case pallet shelving supports, seen below in light grey primer.
The door handles needed to be a simple reach over, single swipe, no-lookin’ kinda easy open. We took a quick scan of the yard and found door handles off a mid-90s Chevrolet Caprice Classic which was being turned into a 1950 Chevrolet 3100 underpinnings. Easy to operate, nothing sticks out, perfect.
We needed to reverse the action of the door handle, and a simple solution was all it took. This was the initial version used to make sure it would work smoothly (we’re digging for a finished mechanism photo).
In further effort to prevent any flex in the bed, all ends were filled, and transitions were smoothed out with 16 gauge sheet metal. The header panel was also fully welded into the bed.
We’ve always disliked the gap between bed and step on the Chevrolet Task Force trucks. So we welded in a piece to fill it, with bar stock behind to reinforce the step itself.
A last minute addition to this custom tailgate project was a panel to dip down and fill the space behind the rear bumper.
The panel just inside the tailgate seen in earlier photos serves a purpose: it houses a pair of valve covers that create recesses to mount the fuel filler, air shock fill fittings, trailer light adapter, etc…
This will also serve as a pass-thru panel for a trailer hitch to be hidden by a license plate that slides horizontally on toolbox drawer slides.
All the bed corners were boxed for stiffness and for style. All factory spot welds were drilled and reinforced posts were fully welded back into place.
The Barn Door Tailgate In Action