I picked up the aluminum nutserts from Gainger as shown above.
I also stopped by Ace Hardware and bought:
2 x 1/4"-20; 2.5" inch FULLY threaded hex bolts at $0.45 each
1 x 1/4" x 20 coupler nut at $1.30 each.
1 x M6 metric SS washer at $0.35 each.
I cannot stress enough the importance of the M6 washer.
In the photo (Top to bottom) you see the aluminum nutsert, followed by the M6 washer, followed by the 1/4-20 coupler nut, and then the 1/4"-20 fully threaded hex bolt.
That M6 washer prevents the coupler nut from crushing/distorting the aluminum nutsert facing as you torque it down.
1. Remove the plastic tailgate bed liner (if one exists) by removing the 8 - 1/4" sheet metal screws.
FYI, Here's the mfg'r of my 11 year bed liner:
They were recently bought out by Penda Corp. Durakon made the Duraliner Bed liners which I would rebuy in a minute.
Those Durakon liners are fantastic after 11 years of use.
That brings you to the OEM painted steel panel just beneath the plastic bed liner:
That exposes the 1/4" sheet metal screw holes made by Ford:
1. I drilled out a 3/8" hole (that's not ideal, as an 11/32" hole would be tighter) but too cheap to buy one.
That over-lapping of sheet metal makes it hard to properly seat an aluminum nutsert without severely distorting the face of it.
2. Now wrap the nutsert in mylar (clear packing) tape and drop it into the 3/8" hole. You are trying to prevent the aluminum from contacting the steel in order to prevent galvanic corrosion from occurring.
3.. While using an adjustable wrench and small bow wrench, begin to tighten the coupler nut (while holding the head of the hex nut still) as tight as it will go such that the nutsert does not turn when you release the torque from the coupler nut.
Once the nutsert begins to tighten, switch to a 2nd large adjustable wrench in place of the small box wrench.
Getting the nutsert to begin seating is easier with a small box wrench as you have more control over lateral movement.
You need quite a bit of torque on the coupler nut before the nutsert is fully seated.
I had to use 3 x 1/4-20 by 2.5" hex bolts to accomplish the 8 aluminum nutserts.
Two of the bolts broke as I torqued the nutsert into position.
If I had to do it over again:
1. I would buy a very good quality nutsert tool and steel nutserts; not aluminum.
I used aluminum because I knew torqueing the steel inserts into position without the tool would be difficult to impossible. I made the right call there as the aluminum ones were tough enough.
However, aluminum shouldn't come in conctact with steel so I may have issues with that in the future.
2. You must use a coupler nut as torqueing the nut puts your wrench in close contact with the painted surface. Without the extended length of the coupler nut, I would have damaged the painted surface.
3. You must use an M6 size metric washer between the coupler nut and aluminum nutsert. I didn't use this washer and it defaced the surface of the nutsert. So then I used a 1/4" washer but the fit is too lose and that also damaged the face. Only the M6 fit tight enough on the bolt that it didn't deface the nutsert.
Here's without the M6 washer:
4. You must get the nutsert tight enough that it doesn't spin when you loosen the coupler nut after torqueing. That means a lot more torque than you would think necessary.
5. I bought standard zinc plated 1/4"-20 bolts and washers and the tailgate liner is now very snug and since it's held in place with machine threaded bolts, I'm not worried about loose bolts anymore/