Pallet Wood for Car Repair - Tail Gate Gas Strut Fail




Introduction: Pallet Wood for Car Repair - Tail Gate Gas Strut Fail

About: After over 20 years industrial experience, I quit my managerial position to study for a degree in Engineering. That done I continued studying and obtained my PhD in 1996.Two years of post-doctoral research c...

This is our Peugeot 405 break aka station wagon and apart from being a great little workhorse, we've just returned from a visit to our folks in Scotland and seen much younger cars defeated by the the June heatwave going up the motorway through England.

Mechanically a very sound car, it was the 'little' annoying things that started to fail just a few years after we purchased it second-hand.

What I wish to share is a simple solution to a less serious component malfunction but one which occurs often in ageing motor vehicles, the failing of a tailgate gas strut. Often tailgates are supported by two of these struts but I have found the need to just make the change to one side only. I must just add that this is not just a fault that happens with old cars, I recently saw a brand new car with the same problem!

You might think why bother to do the repair - go to a breaker's yard or buy new. Well, one, I liked the challenge and we have loads of pallet wood to hand, two, breaker's yards here in France are quite expensive and not the 'take a spanner and remove it yourself' places I was used to. Breakers here remove the car parts themselves, clean and polish the items and thus charge a premium. And lastly this car is over twenty years old and I have not found anyone who still sells the correct gas strut. In fact a big car parts manufacturer, having seen my film, recently wanted to send me a gas strut and review it on film but even they haven't been able to find one that will fit.

Step 1: Pallet Wood Gas Strut Repair Mark 1 - Apart From the Obvious-and-not-so-safe of Course!

With the failure of the gas struts I had originally held the tailgate open with a pallet wood plank which was not perfect in that it was very easy to dislodge whilst loading, resulting in hurried grasps to prevent concussion.

I finally realised that by jamming a block between the top of the gas strut cylinder and the piston mounting, the weight of the tailgate would hold the block in place and could not fall.

To ensure a snug, secure fit, I made the block with a groove to fit around the piston.

Type 1

This (pictured above) is the simplest one to make as all you need is: a saw, drill and drill bit, screwdriver and screws, wood.

Firstly check for length.

The block is made of three pieces of wood cut to the same length. I used pallet wood (of course).

I selected one piece that was slightly thicker than the gas strut piston, this would act as the 'spacer' between the other two pieces.

The narrower spacer piece was placed on top of one of the broader pieces and two screw clearance holes were drilled through them both. The third piece was placed on top so as to form the 'U' channel and fixed with screws. You could use a waterproof wood glue prior to screwing the block together.

After checking the block for fit on the strut, I drilled another hole through the block and attached a cord so that I wouldn't lose it.

Step 2: Pallet Wood Gas Strut Repair Mark 2

Type 2

In one way this block is less complicated in that it only uses one piece of wood, but it requires the use of a router.

I selected a piece of timber about 28mm by 30mm (11/8" x 1¼” approx) and used the router to cut a lengthways slot along the central axis of the narrower side to a depth of about 15mm (5/8”). The block was then cut to the desired length.

I've used this system for five years now and it works really well. I've also furnished a farmer friend of ours with an extra long block to supplement his failed gas strut on the rear window of his tractor cab.

It is also possible to make the slot in the block using a circular saw, I merely set the cutting depth and made several lengthways passes moving the cutting guide by a blade's width at every pass. The result has been satisfactory but overall I have found that the one cut with the router to be the easiest to make.

Here's a film showing both Type 1 and the following Type 2 design:

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Unusual Uses Challenge 2017



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    13 Discussions

    I just dont understand how this could win a contest. Its been done for years. I dunno not being rude or anything but theres nothing to it.

    Slightly incorrect even if this was the right strut for my model of break, the shipping is $19 which more than doubles the price of the strut. Price of pallet wood free with free shipping!!! $40 is well over the price for a month of organic grain for all our poultry. Cheers, Andy

    Or like I just did for my 1998 Ford expedition you can buy a brand new pair of these gas struts off eBay made for any make and model vehicle for $15 per pair of struts including shipping, then they easily install with either a screw driver or small wrench so the hatch will function like new again the way it was designed for another 15-20 years. I don't know what your time is worth but based on how long these wood block instructions looked to build this fix that you also have to lug around and keep track of compared to just being able to open and close the door with 1 hand as it was designed to function stock by the manufacturer. I could make the $15 in cash to buy a new aftermarket pair of gas struts off eBay faster than I could make this wood block thing that has to be kept track of, when most likely it will either end up lost and stuck under some seat and have to be searched for every time the back hatch needs to be held open or it will just get tossed out by someone who didn't know any better and thought it was trash. If $15 and 2mins to install the part made for the vehicle to function properly is a fix I don't see why to try and mess with anything else and reinvent this wheel.

    1 reply

    Your argument doesn't hold water, the block took me a few minutes to
    make and is attached in place with a cord. Why on earth would anyone
    come into my car and unfasten it and throw it under a seat? This is an
    old car and as I already stated a car parts manufacturer offered me a
    free set of gas struts if I would film the review and they couldn't even
    find one to fit this model. This is not reinventing the wheel it is
    finding a solution to a problem that exists. Furthermore if we take your
    thesis to the extreme and just buy a product - surely this would render
    99% of the projects on Instructables useless?

    Good quick fix but they are on ebay for very little money these days. 15 pounds a pair?

    1 reply

    Hi there, 15 pounds is 2 weeks organic grain for all our poultry! Plus this is an old car, they don't make them for it - a big car parts firm actually wanted to give me a gas strut and then get me to film a review of it but even they couldn't find the right one for it. As for breakers yards, I really miss those take-your-own-spanner ones in the UK, here in France everything is removed, polished up and put on a shelf with a silly price tag. All the very best, Andy

    Great! My tailgate gas struts have just quit working and I have been using a small locking wrench to prop the tail gate up. You solution looks much sturdier! Thanks!

    3 replies

    P.S. I voted for you, also. :)

    Hi Lydia, You are very welcome! Love your avatar, is it Clara Bow? All the very best, Andy

    HaHa! Your broomstick is a step up from my original pallet plank (you don't get splinters from a broomstick). Thanks and you are very welcome. All the best, Andy