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Unread 08-07-2009, 11:23 PM   #1
EricsXJ
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Eric's cage build

So I've been working on my cage now for a couple months (off and on) and still am not completely done. In fact I've been on 3 wheeling trips since I started it and then trying to find time to work on the cage before the next trip comes up. But that's my fault, since this was supposed to be my winter/spring project that I procrastinated on.... shoulda done it then, I tell myself...

Anyway I've had so many people ask for pictures, I'm going to go ahead and start this thread, and later on when I'm all done I'll condense it down into a write-up for my website. And as a heads up I am posting this on both NAXJA and JeepForum.

Some basic info:
- Its a "hybrid interior / exo cage" as that seems to be what people are calling these now.
- I'm using 1.5" x .120 wall DOM but I'm using some .095 wall for some of the crossbraces to save on weight. That also helps keep the cost down a little since the price of steel is high. I got most of this (.120 wall) for $3.81/ft.

The first bends:


I built most of the roof section off the Jeep. This made the welding much easier but it was a lot of test fitting after each section.



One would think doing it off the Jeep would be easy, but of course the roof isn't flat, and the perimeter of the roof isn't a perfect rectangle. The rear of the Jeep is slightly narrower than the front, so of course I had to take that into account and make adjustments as I went along.

Here's a feat that I wasn't sure we could pull off. We had to add a few bends to match the curvature of the roof.


Then it was time to drill some holes in the roof.


I decided to leave the headliner in, so after making 100% sure where I wanted the hole to be, I cut the headliner and got lucky. The holes for the B-pillar legs are right where the roof supports are. It would be nice show this without the headliner, but here it is. I then drilled the 1.5" hole from the inside out.


Here's the legs in place for a test fit. What was quite annoying is even with the garage door down I did not have enough room to fit the legs in from the top and they wouldn't go in from the bottom either. So each time I did a test fit I had to back the Jeep out of the garage to get them in or out.


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Unread 08-07-2009, 11:27 PM   #2
EricsXJ
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The roof section finished and ready to go on:


I made some plates for the roof that will be bolted down later in the build. For my cage these are mainly just to help seal the roof. When it was time to bolt them in, I used silicone under each plate and around each leg.


The way I planned this was to raise the legs up, hense the blocks of wood, so I could fully weld the legs to the roof section. This would also be easier to paint the exterior part of the cage since I was going to use a different color than the body. The B-pillar legs actually have a bend in them but you can't see it from this angle.


Ready for welding and paint.


Here's the B-pillar legs (seats are moved forward for welding). I welded the legs to 3/16" plates bolted through the floor.


They are bolted to a piece of C-channel that is welded to the frame stiffeners. (Thanks Cruzin Illusion for the idea.)
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Unread 08-07-2009, 11:31 PM   #3
EricsXJ
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Then it was time to add the A-pillar bars.


The bottom is welded to my rockers.


As with each of my projects that end up taking way longer than I originally planned, this one was no exception. I didn't have time to run some tube under the front fenders to the bumper so that will have to wait. I added one crossbar to the B-pillar legs for triangulation and then put the body panels back on just in time for a Rubicon Trip with guys from the SoCal Chapter of NAXJA.

These first two pics are courtesy of XJohnnyC:




And two of my own:




Like I mentioned earlier, the cage was not done at this point, but it was at a point that I could take it on a trail ride hoping NOT to put it to the test in a roll or flop.

Tomorrow I will continue with more of the interior.
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Unread 08-07-2009, 11:35 PM   #4
jeepnphreak
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Damn man nice work. I like the idea of using the channle iron and the frame stiffners for a mounting point.
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Unread 08-07-2009, 11:48 PM   #5
EricsXJ
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IMO it beats just welding the plate to the floor, or just bolting directly to the floor. The sheet metal used there is incredibly thin.
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Unread 08-07-2009, 11:54 PM   #6
natetuff
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Super tuff

Just saw one like that

http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/showt...36#post7716536
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Unread 08-08-2009, 11:19 AM   #7
TMXONR
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That looks good, I like this style of exo's. Its the same way that I did mine, except I have the outer part of mine bolted to the inner part. I did it this way so I could remove it if I ever needed to.




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Unread 08-08-2009, 11:32 AM   #8
samuraisavr
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This is EXACTLY what I plan on doing over the winter. I have had a hell of a time finding pics of exactly what I wanted, until now... VERY nicely done both of you.
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Unread 08-08-2009, 02:46 PM   #9
srmitchell
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Very nice Eric. Clean but functional.

It was cool that you could stand on your roof for the slickrock picture.

I guess you have very little flex in the body now? That is the one thing I hate about mine, the creaks and flexibility of the body. With time, I'll fix it.
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Unread 08-08-2009, 05:17 PM   #10
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Definitive props to the both of ya. I never fully liked the look of a full exo-cage, combining the cage into and endo-exo-cage.. AWESOME! I also liked how you had the front tubes going through the front fenders. Again
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Unread 08-08-2009, 06:44 PM   #11
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looks very good, any progress since?
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Unread 08-08-2009, 10:41 PM   #12
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Crawled! Love this design, and plan on doing something simialr in the near future hopfullly, just need more threads like this to steal ideas off of!
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Unread 08-08-2009, 11:14 PM   #13
EricsXJ
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Thanks guys.

TMXONR - I didn't know yours was removable. Thats crazy!

srmitchell - I notice an improvement in the stiffness of the rear of the XJ, since I hadn't plated the rear frame rails yet. See my next post for more info on that.
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Unread 08-08-2009, 11:15 PM   #14
EricsXJ
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Part 2: The interior.

So it was back in the garage to finish off the interior. First order of business was to finish the crossbraces for the B-pillar.


Then I wanted to add support to the XJ's B-pillar, since it seems this is one vulnerable spot even during a simple flop. Since I wheel doorless, it would be nice to be able to put the doors back on after a rollover or flop. Wishful thinking? I don't know, but I'm sure this will help reduce the damage.


Here's the B-pillar bars finished and the seats are all in place. I lost one or two clicks on how far back the seats go, but the seat is set for how I sit. There is still room for the rear passengers to sit. What I can no longer do is raise the bench up all the way to put the back down, but that is a minor annoyance.


Now for the C-pillar bars. They a little further back than where the actual C-pillar is, but I liked this mounting idea, modeled roughly after Cruzin Illusion's rig.


This plate is just bolted down to the fenderwell on two planes. Here's how I secured the back side.


Then I needed some more support for the legs so I started that by running a bar between them.
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Unread 08-08-2009, 11:16 PM   #15
EricsXJ
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I wasn't planning on doing a D-pillar bar but to add support for the C-pillar legs, I decided to run a bar to the rear corners. This area shown below is right above where the rear shackle box is. The easiest way to tie into here is what most people do - just weld a plate to the floor and weld the tube to the plate. So that's what I did. I had to strip away the Herculiner to prep it for welding:


Here it is.


Here's a shot of the back finished for now. After adding these bars to the rear corners I was on another trail run and noticed that this reduced quite a bit of body flex in the rear. I have a pretty stiff rig as it is with the frame rail stiffeners and my rocker replacements, but I hadn't yet plated the rear portion of the frame rails. I'm glad this made a difference. The bar across the center is right up against the seat so I didn't really give up any cargo space unless I need to haul something big with the seat down.


Since I did this with the headliner in place I feel obligated to show what I did to anyone that might also attempt this, with a warning. I cut a piece of sheet metal to act as a shield when welding. I had plenty of room with at the top of the B-pillar bars, but back here was a little more tricky.


On the passenger side I used the same sheet but was a little less careful in how I placed it and the headliner caught fire. Right after putting the flames out I also touched the inside of my wrist against the tube and got a nasty burn. (Sorry no pictures of that).


These joints were also the only ones that I could not fully weld all the way around because there was just not enough room. I'm going to try and cover it up with gray primer spray paint. I think it will match the color of the headliner pretty good. We'll see.

Here's one more shot of the rear mounts with the trim back on and carpet in place.


So that is where I currently am in this project. The next thing to do is finish the front by running bars under the fenders to a stinger on the front bumper. I'll update this thread again when I get that done.
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