As much as I hate to interrupt a good suspension debate, I did promise a continuation of the backstory for the bumpers...so with that in mind:
The Rampage Rollercoaster: A Pictorial Essay - Part 2...
So we left off with some additional Frontal Hotness, which showed Annabelle taking off the upper brake light assembly. What came before that, however, was the far-too-long-delayed removal of the factory spare tire...which Annabelle also
Pictured: Even girls hate locking lug nuts.
I can't tell you how nice it felt to take that puny little spare tire down. Actually, that's a complete lie: it felt wonderful, and as soon as it was loose we literally pulled it off and let it roll away into a dark corner of the garage, hopefully to die quietly and with as little fuss and ceremony as was possible. In contrast to this easy removal and discarding - callous, really when you consider it - pulling off the brake light was actually a tiny
bit more involved than I had planned on. For some strange reason, I hadn't thought about removing the contact switch and pulling out the soon-to-be-not-needed wiring. Luckily, I had an entire screwdriver set already at hand.
Pictured: Even this normally-jaded zebra is totally floored by the limitless utility of the TJ Toolkit.
People might pick on this little tool set and find all kinds of things that they call "grievous and appalling omissions" - I might be paraphrasing, there - but so far it's proven to be even more useful than I thought it would be, and I try to use it as much as is possible in order to convey the amount of work it can truly do. If you haven't already done so, I highly suggest assembling something similar and seeing what you can get done with it; you'll find both your repair skills and confidence going rapidly upwards.
One thing that the little kit can't do, however, is help with cleaning...and let me tell you: when you disengage the factory tire carrier from the tailgate you're going to be shocked
at what's gotten under there and sullied your flawless factory paint job.
Pictured: Actually, I take that back...most Jeep paint looks exactly like this.
This was the point where I decided to pull and paint my fender flares, incidentally...and it was also the point at which that retarded episode with the clay bar and the strange grey dots on the hood began to replay itself in my head. This time, however, I was prepared to make the experience much more enjoyable...
Two things can make any clay-barring experience immensely more enjoyable. What are they?
Beer and pizza.
Ice-cold Dr. Pepper and sammiches.
Indentured servants and a cattle prod.
White T-shirts and boobs.
Correct Answer: D.
While all are admirable additions to the clay-barring process, only D
has a 100% success rate. To prove this, I cite two reasons...first, the fact that clay-barring usually occurs immediately after car washing, and second...
Pictured: I really shouldn't have to explain myself, here.
While Anna worked on getting the tailgate cleaned up, I unpacked the rear bumper, skimmed over the instructions, got the hardware organized, and shot a quick coat of paint on Greta's rear crossmember. The slower members of the class - read: "those of you that are still staring at the pictures" - won't realize that the operative and destructive word in that previous sentence was "skimmed." Normally, I'm not a person that skims over things...I usually read for comprehension. However...
Pictured: You guys were totally right about there being a missing part of this build thread.
...my attention was focused somewhat elsewhere. I managed to pay attention to the part about drilling extra holes in the crossmember, though, so with that in mind we soft-mounted the bumper in order to take a few measurements. As it turned out, Greta's rear end doesn't look too bad, naked!
Pictured: In the Jeep world, this is like walking down the street with your skirt over your shoulder.
While I may have gotten sold on spare-less TJs at that moment, I was also starting to be concerned. In addition to the fact that the lower mounting tabs were NOT lining up at all, the bumper's mounting plates offered almost NO lateral movement on Greta's frame when it was bolted up...which meant that we were going to have to be exactingly precise in our drilling. The easiest way to make sure that we nailed it and didn't have to take a carbide bit to the holes was to do the following.
Step 1: Before soft-mounting, draw a reference line through the center of the holes and onto the top of the bumper.
Step 2: Take a moment to marvel at the fact that the spindle is f****** MASSIVE.
Step 3: Once the bumper is soft mounted, transfer the lines to the top of the crossmember...
Step 4: ...and then down onto the rear face, where the hole centers can be marked with a centering punch.
Step 5: Make a mental note to FINALLY buy some real safety glasses and then proceed to put holes in metal.
Valuable Information: When drilling metal, the centering punch is your second-best friend because it keeps the drill bit from walking when you start the hole. Your best friend, however, is any form of oil that can act as a lubricant/coolant...because it's this factor that keeps your drill bit FUNCTIONAL. Failing to use some sort of lubricant/coolant is a nearly-guaranteed way to burn up a bit, and in addition to being wasteful it can leave you high and dry at the absolute worst of times. We used some Liquid Wrench lubricating oil, but you can use most anything. I've seen tranny fluid, water, WD40 and even gear oil used for a cutting lubricant. Anything is better than nothing.
Another good tip is "use the right drill bit." We used the bit that Rampage suggested - 7/16" - but the bolts wouldn't clear.
Pictured: An ironic solution.
The secondary caption to this picture should be "And don't ever do what you see me doing, here...even when you're as tired and exasperated as I was at that moment." What am I doing that's so wrong, you ask? Well, I'm using a carbide cutter in a drill...and drills aren't designed for that kind of thing. Carbide bits like this are designed to route out the sides of a hole, and drills don't take side-loading very well at all: doing this kind of thing is a good way to ruin the bearings.
If I'd been a bit more patient I would have gotten the air grinder out and done it the right way, and although this little 12-volt Hitachi survived the impromptu torture test with flying colors - it sank all four holes and routed each out without flinching at all, on one battery charge - that wasn't nearly enough to lift my spirits. As it turned out, we hit the ten-ring with each hole and they lined up perfectly...but the bumper still wasn't going to go on. There was literally NO F****** WAY to get the central four bolts installed: the gas tank was totally in the way. A call to Rampage would confirm this, the next day.
So, at this point, we'd had the following issues:
- The front lower tabs were - in my opinion - not optimal and in need of replacement with units that would hold under any and all circumstances.
- The rear lower tabs in the wrong place entirely, and could not be used at all, which left the lower portion of the rear bumper floating even more than the front.
- The mounting plates offered no
lateral movement, and made the measurement more nerve-wracking than it should have been.
- Rampage's instructions cited the use of a drill bit that was too small for the fastener that would pass through the resulting hole.
- The instructions also totally failed to mention that the gas tank would need to be dropped in order to secure the inner four bolts.
We threw in the towel and then quickly picked it back up, because one should always know where their towel is. However, we then said "F*** it, let's go get a beer and some dinner" and departed to do exactly that. Thankfully, there was a spare LJ on hand for that task, and Life subsequently felt a bit better.
It's also worth mentioning that Life didn't get truly confusing
until the next day...and since there's photographic evidence of that fact, you'll want to see what went on then, as well.
There's more coming, I promise. Really. I wouldn't lie to you about this.