Barn Door for JK factory hardtops

jscherb

Expedition Leader
#1
Having the Safari Cab hardtop on my LJ for almost 4 years now, I've really gotten used to the "barn door" on the rear - access to the cargo area is so much easier with a one-operation barn door than it is with the factory two-step hatch/tailgate.



The barn door is a fiberglass "upper" that attaches to the factory tailgate, and eliminates the swing up liftgate glass - the entire barn door opens as one piece.

I'm in the process now of building a JK barn door, designed to work with the the factory hardtop. Here's a few concept drawings of what it would look like.





The barn door will be made from fiberglass, and will include a provision for a wiper, just like the TJ/LJ version:



I've begun work on the mold masters, and plan to make molds in the next two weeks and if things go well I hope to have a first prototype barn door molded by the end of the month.

There are a few design questions I've got that I'd like your input on... for example, there are two different width hatches on the JK - the '07-'10 JKs have hatches the same width as the tailgate, while the '22-present hatches are 6" wider than the tailgate. I've got several different design approaches for dealing with this difference and I'll post some drawings of each approach soon for your comment and input.
 
#2
Two things that I can think of that might be nice with this- adding in a factory-looking 3rd brake light and a interior tailgate latch.

Seeing out through the rear glass is already a pain with an oversized spare and the giant wiper motor enclosure. Moving the wiper to the bottom, like you're proposing, opens up some real estate. Adding a small LED 3rd brake light at the top of the window frame would allow many of us to remove the factory one and really open up the rear view.

And on the subject of opening- those of us who camp in the back of our jeeps could benefit from an interior latch on the tailgate. I know that there are how-to's out there on adding a pull-cord, as well as the potential safety of such a device, but perhaps something could be incorporated into the top section where it meets the latch housing to create a more factory-looking and safer option.

Oh- and if you really want to get dreamy- extend the mounting bracket to cover most of the interior tailgate and incorporate a fold-out table! :ylsmoke:
 

Metcalf

Expedition Leader
#3
Neat project.

There is a lot of little stuff going on in this bad picture that might give you some ideas....



-The prop rod is really interesting. It looks adjustable. It keeps it open. It keeps it from closing. You could use it to dry some gear out. It is up above your head I think so it doesn't get in the way.

-There is a fold down table I think.

-The small secondary ledge near the window is interesting.

I would love to see a full replacement door also. Inside/outside handle as mentioned. Maybe some storage in the door behind the table. Make the table the door for the storage. Maybe make a fold up mini-kitchen instead of a table....small sink/bowl thing, mini-stove, etc.
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
#4
Two things that I can think of that might be nice with this- adding in a factory-looking 3rd brake light and a interior tailgate latch.

Seeing out through the rear glass is already a pain with an oversized spare and the giant wiper motor enclosure. Moving the wiper to the bottom, like you're proposing, opens up some real estate. Adding a small LED 3rd brake light at the top of the window frame would allow many of us to remove the factory one and really open up the rear view.

And on the subject of opening- those of us who camp in the back of our jeeps could benefit from an interior latch on the tailgate. I know that there are how-to's out there on adding a pull-cord, as well as the potential safety of such a device, but perhaps something could be incorporated into the top section where it meets the latch housing to create a more factory-looking and safer option.
I'm looking at the idea of a small LED third brake light mounted either on the top of the barn door, or on the hardtop above the door. Haven't decided what might work best yet, but it's definitely a good idea to remove the factory third brake light to increase visibility. I did that with my LJ Safari Cab, see the photos in the first post.

Interesting idea about the inside latch, I'll look into it.

Oh- and if you really want to get dreamy- extend the mounting bracket to cover most of the interior tailgate and incorporate a fold-out table! :ylsmoke:
...Maybe some storage in the door behind the table. Make the table the door for the storage. Maybe make a fold up mini-kitchen instead of a table....small sink/bowl thing, mini-stove, etc.
About the fold-down table, and a little storage, how about this?





It's a previous project of mine, I call it the StoreGate. In the above photo I'm test fitting it on a JK tailgate. I've got two different versions, on my Jeep-tub trailer I mounted a locking storage/fold-down table version, and on my LJ I've got one with a bungee net to hold the cargo in place:

 
#6
The prop-rod is an interesting concept, although I believe 2012+ JKs have a door stop built in. I could definitely see it being useful for earlier models, though.

As far as the table, I personally would not be interested in one with a cabinet behind it. I would find it more useful to have a larger table and have it flat with MOLLE slots so that I can outfit it to my needs. The way I see it, if you are adding a frame around the window that is wider at the base, that additional space could allow you to increase the size of the table. My lame paint pic shows what I mean- the grey is the original tailgate and the green is your barn door attachment...

 

Metcalf

Expedition Leader
#8
Looking at a JK during lunch I think the door is too 'thin' to benefit much from in door storage. The JK pretty much needs about every extra inch on the inside so I wouldn't make the door any thicker, or add storage to the face after looking at it again.
 

Dan Grec

Expedition Leader
#9
I am extremely interested in what you come up with, and I think this would make a very, very good addition to the Ursa Minor J30 (& Habitat).
They both use the earlier, narrow rear glass, as their mold for the hard top was made before the wider window came out.

-Dan
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
#10
I am extremely interested in what you come up with, and I think this would make a very, very good addition to the Ursa Minor J30 (& Habitat).
They both use the earlier, narrow rear glass, as their mold for the hard top was made before the wider window came out.

-Dan
Looks like the Ursa Minor uses the factory liftgate glass? If so, then what I'm building will work fine with it.
 
#12
I haven't seen a comment I've disagreed with yet! This is a very cool idea. Offering this, along with a beefier hinge system (thinking along the Teraflex lines), would be a very cool option. I love the storage table, too.
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
#13
I haven't seen a comment I've disagreed with yet! This is a very cool idea. Offering this, along with a beefier hinge system (thinking along the Teraflex lines), would be a very cool option. I love the storage table, too.
Thanks. Before Teraflex introduced their JK tailgate hinge upgrade, I had already done my TJ/LJ "Exogate" tailgate reinforcement/hinge upgrade and licensed it to Gr8Tops, so it's been on the market longer than the Teraflex design, and it's less expensive too :).

I've been thinking I'd do a JK version of the design; the picture below is a shot of the production Exogate and heavy duty hinges on a TJ carrying a 35" spare:



My Exogate design includes greasable/rebuildable hinges, and attachment points for things like cargo carriers (although those options didn't make it into the Gr8Tops version of the product).



So maybe as part of this project I'll build heavy duty JK hinges and a tailgate reinforcement/cargo system as well...
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
#15
The barn door for the '07-'10 JK is straightforward because the hatch is the same with as the tailgate, here are a few views of what it will look like:



Doing a barn door for a later model JK requires a few additional design decisions because the hatch on the later models is 6" wider than the tailgate. I'm considering three different design options:

Option 1: Wider barn door but with window the same size as the early version. The barn door would be 3" wider on each side than the tailgate. The window would be the same width as the early version above, and the reason for that is that both the narrow early version and the wide later version would be molded in the same molds - the molds would be made wider, and after molding the parts would be trimmed to fit either the early or late version. This would be the least expensive version to manufacture, because only one set of molds is required to make barn doors for all years.

Option 2: Wider barn door and wider window to match. The barn door would still be wider than the tailgate just as in option 1 above, but in this case a new inner skin mold would be made which would accommodate a wider rear window.

Option 3: Same barn door as early models would be installed on the later JKs; filler panels make the opening in the later hardtop the same width as the early hardtop opening. The barn door would be the same width as the tailgate in this case.

Here's a view of what those options might look like:



When I make the initial molds, I'll make them so they could be used to mold either option 1 or option 3 barn doors. The outer skin mold I'm already in the process of making is also designed to make an outer skin for an option 2 barn door with a wider window, but in order to make a complete option 2 barn door I'd have to make an inner skin mold that supports the wider window.

So the question for you guys is this - which of the options would you prefer for a later model wide-hatch JK?
 
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