I am now under the gun to finish this project in three weeks. I am selling my daily driver and will need the Jeep to drive around until the new daily driver arrives. Needless to say, the pressure is on to avoid being stuck with a rental in the interim.
Continuing with the interior of the side panels... I fabricated the tops of the storage compartments. In order to attach the lid hinges, I needed to weld some nuts on the insides.
I knew that creating the belt rail supports at the top of the tub gaps would be a challange. Ideally, I would have liked to have found some donor sections from a wrecked TJ tub. However, this proved to be a difficult errand. It was tough finding two unblemished 15" sections and the few that I did find, the sellers wanted me to buy the whole tub. Trying to fabricate some of my own would only result in some ugly bends (I am not that skilled).
In my search, I came across this weld-on TJ repair panel from NOR/AM that just happened to have the sloped bends that I was looking for. The sheet metal was thin (21 gauge) and felt flimsy, but in short sections, it was stiff enough to work. Best of all, it was only $60.
Look how perfectly the bends match the factory tub!
Passenger side welded:
After grinding everything flat, it was important to hit the top of the tub edges with some weld through primer. Once the belt rails are in place, any exposed metal in the interior gaps would be exposed to rust.
I bought a new LJ rail on the driver's side which I had no problem welding on.
For the passenger side, I fabricated one extended belt rail from the removed pieces.