I bought this thing mid-summer 2011 with 124k on it, some piss-poor body work to the front fender/bumper end cap, front speakers that didn't work, but otherwise it ran strong (so I thought); bald and poorly cupped tires from the stealership.
The day after I picked it up, it got some real shoes.
Then I got pretty sick of looking at the matched paint bumper with a huge chunk of paint missing. Got rid of the air dam, and gave the bumper, end caps and grille plastic bits a coat of Rustoleum rattlecan bedliner.
Having already trimmed the rear fenders, I did the fronts.
I had read a lot about how terrible the stock tie rod is, so I picked up an HD tie rod from Rusty's, painted it yellow (I thought this would be the color I used for underbody add-ons).
Amazon has a product for just about everything. Including a $50 kit to add a 3.5mm or powered iPod connection to your radio - with two RCA splitters, you can have both - which paid off when my big iPod's dock stopped allowing me to play music.
Up until this point, whenever that was... a while ago; I had my spare mounted to the stock location - the 30" tall tire barely crammed in there, and a bunch of crap strewn about the cargo area.
So I OCD'd it. 1/2" plywood, joints biscuited and glued, everything bedlined with crappy Herculiner.
Stickers. I like stickers. This is a design my brother put together hoping to make large stencils of and use them as street art (or, just graffiti).
Then... I got tired of not being able to really see at night.
Wiring harness, some misc. stuff for an accessory fuse panel, and some Hella E-code headlamps.
All the while, I came up with the idea to design a front bumper, I had never done anything like this. I hadn't ever designed anything, never built anything out of metal (with exception of framing a wall with steel studs, but that doesn't count.), and I didn't know how to weld. But it was winter, and I was working construction at the time, so I'd get off at 5, go home, and not do anything. So I opened up SketchUp, and learned how to do stuff.
Several variations later, lots of measurements, and a foam board/hot glue mock-up later, I dialed in the design to this (I didn't do integrated lights).
Club Workshop - basically a gym membership to use a full wood shop, metal/machine shop, auto shop, laser engraver... all kinds of other stuff - had recently (about that time) picked up a plasma table, and were still dialing in the system for it, and hadn't really run a full test... so I transferred all of the parts from the SketchUp model to individual Solidworks components, placed all of those onto one page the size of my 3/16" and 1/4" plates, sent them to the plasma table computer and hit "go".
It was awesome.
And the leftover piece is pretty interesting looking.
By the end of the first day, I had the whole thing welded, brought it home to clean up the welds (my dad did the welding, they were cold... and ugly, I know).
Getting ready to weld the tubing onto the bumper.
Dead Kenny approves. Fresh from the powder coater.
After the bumper was finished, I hadn't really done anything to the jeep - I trimmed the LQP, added a pair of Hella fog lights with 100w bulbs, and a pair of Daylighters with 130w bulbs, set up my aux. fuse panel, installed an ARB compressor into the engine bay that I picked up for free, and moved the air filter into the cowl - but didn't do much for several months.
Then, I did a lot all at once.
RE 3.5" lift, Bilstein shocks, JKS discos, steering stabilizer, adjustable track bar, and a much happier jeep.
Shortly after the lift was installed, I put on some 1.5" wheel spacers, it doesn't look as silly now. I don't actually have a picture to show that, though.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the idea to make a swingout for my bike rack. Once I built the bumper, I raised my hitch up by about 8", and with my Thule hitch rack, the rack itself now barely clears the hatch - and it's hopeless if I have a bike on the rack.
So I went to the steel yard, hardware store, and Amazon, bought materials, bolts, and bronze bushings, latch, and clevis pin. I figured out how I wanted my brackets to work, cut up some 1/4" plate and went at them on my drill press.
Each bracket is held on with three 1/2" bolts, I started with 1 hole each to align the brackets horizontally to each other, and punched a 1.5" hole through one end of my 2" crossbar, welded in my DOM hinge sleeve and pressed the bushings in.
Made up some anti-crush sleeves and welded the bolts to the hinge-side bracket as studs.
I'm all about redundancies with this thing, my latch system uses a 1" clevis pin and a 2000 pound toggle clamp. Don't wanna take any risks when I'm driving the shops $8k demo bikes around
I then notched and burned in the (harbor freight) receiver to the center. I decided to wrap it around the tube and run a bolt through the tabs to help increase strength. Not that I'm really all that concerned with the strength of the 16" of linear weld on that interface between the 1/4" receiver tube and 1/4" crossbar tube... But again, redundancies.
Now, I could have reasonably cleaned up my welds, prepped for paint and finished at about this point. But I looked at it, stuck a 2' chunk of 2" in the receiver and bounced around on it a bit to see how strong it is... And decided to make it double as a tire carrier. I hadn't intended to do this, my ultimate plan (still) involves building a hybrid cage wherein the A- and D-pillar are exterior, and running a pair of heims on either side of the hatch connected to the D-pillar cage bar as the hinge arrangement with two horizontal bars for the tire carrier. But I need to pick up a tube bender for that whole project, and I've got higher priorities at the time than dropping that kind of money on a tool. In time....
Anyway, I decided last minute to add a tire carrier to this thing. I had plenty of 2" 3/16" wall and enough leftover receiver material, so...
Ran to the store and picked up some paint, and some nice gussets
I got it fully mounted up yesterday morning, I have yet to get my hands on a mounting plate for the wheel, but there's a guy locally that says he has one for me. Once I get that I'll get the insert welded up and painted pretty quickly. I still need to go through and add some crossmember tie-ins to the rear bumper - I never got around to that when I built it initially, and now that's the weak point in the system, I believe. I also need to add some brackets to tie the LQP sliders into the unibody. And recovery points...
That's where I'm sitting right now.
Random wheeling pic from last time I was out. This is up there among my favorite sections by Central City