My WJ Fender Trim LOTS OF PICS - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 36 Old 03-10-2017, 04:16 PM Thread Starter
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My WJ Fender Trim LOTS OF PICS

Ok, I've been asked by a few folks to do a write up on this. To be clear, I am no master at this; I just looked at what others have done and put my own spin on it when I didn't have guidance and the situation called for it. Let this be a confidence builder that you can do this project and it will turn out great. That’s not to say there won’t be some hiccups along the way, there certainly was for me. Hopefully with my lessons learned yours will be smoother than mine. I'll attempt to not just add the "How", but the "Why" as well in this tutorial. Many of you probably already know this stuff, but for me a lot of it was new and required me to think through the process, so hopefully I can save someone a little bit of time here and make it safer too.

Why are we doing this? ...to prevent this










I have a decently built TJ for crawling and wanted the WJ's focus to be on a smooth Daily Driver with stout Overland capabilities as I like doing long road trips to trails and camping, etc. The stock height WJ was no good for me as I wanted to run JK Rubicon takeoffs (got a set of 5 tires and rims 1 year old for $400!). So I went with Bilstein 5100's, 2" BDS springs, a 3/4" spacer up front to level due to the 4.7 engine and winch, new top and bottom isolators all around, JKS disconnects up front, and an Addco sway bar in the rear (currently in the process of fabbing a disconnect for this when offroad).

Road Test Results; I absolutely love the way my WJ drives on the highway and around town, it feels like it's on rails, it corners with much less body roll and allows for more driver control. This is due to the stiffer springs and the beefy rear sway bar holding things down. For those considering the front Addco I've been talked out of it by some friends as they said the difference would be barely noticeable; I'm happy where I'm at and chose to put my money elsewhere. If someone has experience with it chime in!

Off Road Results; As great as the on road experience was, offroad the 2" lift and 32" tires were not meshing well, as can be seen in the above pics at Uwharrie. I didn't want to lift it higher so trimming the fenders was the obvious choice.

I looked online and found these threads I'd like to credit with helping me the most.

http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f310/...iteup-1412915/

http://www.fourwheeler.com/how-to/bo...ng-done-right/

http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f310/...-help-1405214/

http://mallcrawlin.com/forum/showthr...ender-trimming

http://mallcrawlin.com/forum/showthr...g-Pics-Methods



The 3 big things you will need to do this:

1. A welder (for the rear wells)

I've seen this done without a welder but after doing it, I could not advocate someone doing this if you want to have a solid, weatherproof, and durable rig.

2. Patience

Measure twice cut once kind of patience. Dialing the welder in to just the exact wire feed speed and voltage kind of patience (or else you will evaporate your sheet metal). I basically learned how to weld by doing this project, and from what I'm told, thin auto sheet metal is tough enough for guys with experience, so if I can do it you can do it.

3. Time (not the same as Patience)

Simply put for me I could not of done this if I had to drive the WJ every day. I wouldn't of even been able to do it in a weekend with my families demands, etc. If I had no distractions maybe I could of done this in a long weekend, but that's me, I try to be meticulous with my jeep projects, work to the best of my ability, and improve my skills along the way. I mention this so you can plan accordingly and maybe get a friend to help. Be prepared for time killers such as paint drying, letting the sheet metal cool, taping and draping to prevent your paint from getting destroyed, and store runs for more welding wire (I used a ton of it so buy a lot in advance).

The rest of the equipment needed is basic tools everyone usually has or can acquire easily enough:

Cutting tool: I used a Dewalt 13 amp angle grinder and my Dremel 4000 for cutting (don't get the 4200 or whatever one has the quick attach bits, they have problems of the attachments flying off and cutting you...not cool). Have lots of extra grinding, cutting, and sanding, and wire wheels standing by for both tools.

A friend gave me a tip to use the sanding wheel attachment on the Dewalt when cleaning up your welds, and it works like a dream! It levels everything out quickly and beautifully without taking away too much metal to where you can accidentally make a big mistake (these mistakes are easier to make if using the hard grinding wheel)






Full Face Shield: I strongly recommend you pick up a full face shield (like $12 at Home Depot) instead of just using safety glasses. There were times to get the right view of what I was cutting things were a bit close for comfort. Besides you don't want this to happen when a disc snags in the metal and breaks.

...good thing he had eye protection on





get this






Heavy duty gloves and jacket, and junky pants/ shoes: I won't lie to you, some times when I was trying to just get a few minutes of work in here and there; I welded in expensive running shoes and my favorite surf trunks. I now have tiny burn holes in both to remind me of my mistake, not to mention that hot metal up against your skin. Not fun.

Understand that tiny HOT metal shavings will go EVERYWHERE when grinding and sanding. Let me repeat EVERYWHERE. Pay attention to that sports gear on the opposite wall, the Macbook on your work bench, etc.

Sharpie marker, Tape measure: to mark your cut and bend lines.

Razor blade: To cut a break line in the exterior paint so that it doesn't chip and peel when you bend it.

Pliers (normal and "duck-billed"): for bending the sheet metal into place.

Hammer: for BENDING the sheet metal into place!

Flat head Screwdriver: For scraping foam out of the panels in the rear.

Painters tape, newspapers: to protect your exterior paint job.

Fire extinguisher: just in case, I had some moments where insulation started smoking pretty good and I thought the car was going to go up in flames, when it was in my garage, with no wheels on.....not a good feeling, I had visions of my whole house burning down! Just to be clear I never had to use a fire extinguisher! *I'll be sure to list where all the removable insulation is but you can't reach ALL of it (this is where going slow and letting things cool comes in)

Welder's paint or hi-temp engine or BBQ paint: This is for the backside areas of bare metal you have cut, de-rusted, or added to your new wheel well shape. You will have to bend this metal up against the unibody so you never see it again but still have to weld on it. If you just used normal paint the heat from the welder would destroy normal paint then you'll have the rust problem you just fixed or are trying to prevent starting all over again.

Loctite 8x adhesive, caulk gun, putty knife: This is to fill small gaps, give everything a smooth non jagged edge (you will not be able to perfectly sand every little edge and contour), and definitively seal everything up so it's weather/water proof.
I came up with using this myself and am convinced it's a perfect product for these types of projects. I've seen and heard of too many things going wrong with bondo or other types of vehicle specific body fillers and compounds.






JB weld: I used this to fill some larger gaps that weren't specifically part of the wheel well project (although you could use it for that if needed). When you remove your rear bumper most likely on the rear corners you will have rusted metal or already holes rusted out from all that foam that sits just inside. I cut all that crap out with my dremel took and built it back up with the JB Weld. You can re-weld in some sheet metal too which I did in a few sections with 16 gauge steel. Then of course prime and paint. I don't want to ever have to mess with this issue again.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


THE FRONT WHEEL WELLS

Decide how much you want to trim, with all the work this was going to take I wanted to remove as much metal as I could without it looking ghetto. For me that meant retaining a little bit of the vertical wheel well edge instead of cutting on the angle where the slanted part of the wheel well starts. Cutting on top of all of that was too extreme for what I was looking for.

The way I marked this was to take a tape measure with a few inches extended in one hand, a sharpie in another, and I made little hash marks along my desired edge for 1.) removing metal completely 2.) where I would bend the sheet metal inward. I wanted to do this instead of just having a thin sharp edge that might slice my tire somehow or my crazy kids dragging their hand on the Jeep as they run by. I've seen too much of those dumb accidents so I tried to mitigate any future damage the best I could. I've seen where guys just cut the single edge and put weather stripping or the like on it but that's not the way I wanted to go.


Remove the plastic sliders on the bottom of each side. There are Phillips screws holding each end of these in, and even if you have a stubby screwdriver it's best to remove the wheels to get to this out. The fronts can be removed by turning the front wheels if I remember correctly.

Remove the short plastic cladding pieces on either side; these are the ones forward of both front doors. They are held in place with two Phillips screws and a snap fastener that is made of plastic. Be gentle and don't rip it out.

Remove the plastic wheel well linings up front (I only had them up front). I actually kept mine in place for my first side cut but it ended up being too much of a pain in the butt trying not to cut it so I removed it for the next side. It's held in place with plastic snaps, that can be re-used if you can remove them gently but most likely won't due to the twisting and prying to get them out. I used a dash tool designed for this; they're cheap and available at the big box auto stores. I kept the liners thinking I was going to re-use them, I like the idea of protection from road salt and grime, but in reality after a bunch of finagling, zip tying, folding and bending, then cutting, I ended up throwing them away and have never been happier. The contours of the plastic liner just doesn't lend itself to fitting properly in this new open space. To compensate when I coated the entire bottom of my WJ with the POR-15 system I was sure to lay it down thick in the wheel wells too.










So the everything below the bottom line you are just removing, so the cut doesn't need to be too perfect. This edge will be bent up inside the wheel well.


....tape and cover your rig up, unlike I have in these particular pics. It will prevent micro cuts in your paint. I learned this lesson after this first wheel well.















Then just cut a bendable "fin" every so often, cut them closer together on the sharper turns, and further apart on the straight areas (as wide as your duck-billed pliers are). All this was honestly pretty easy; cut, bend up with the pliers as much as you can (inner wheel well will only let you go up so high), then bend it up the rest of the way with a hammer. The part I messed up is right after that. I used the pliers to then grab the outside and inside of the new wheel well and press it together tightly (grip strength) to make a nice uniform bend, that part worked, but what I didn't know is that it also created this kind of ripple in the outward appearance of the fender so don't go too crazy pressing these two ends together.





















You can see a little of that ripple effect I was talking about here, it's not too bad but could be avoided.





This cleared up a lot of room












Then after everything was in place I used primer spray paint on any bare metal on the inside of the wheel well to protect everything. Then I used the Loctite adhesive in a caulk gun and ran a very thick bead inside the wheel well along the open space (the top of the “u” created by folding the metal in and up). Next, I used a putty knife and pushed the adhesive in a top to down motion, filling in any open spaces that would trap water, and leaving a nice smooth exterior appearance to the inner well. After this dried completely I coated it with the POR-15. I have lots of pics of this for the rears, below.


So the fronts are pretty easy all things considered.



THE REAR WHEEL WELLS

The fronts are checkers, the rears are chess.

The rears; keep the motivation up here, it's a bit more complex for this part, but just keep thinking how awesome this is going to look and all the articulation you're going to get out of it!

The concept of what is going on here is that there are two panels that join to make your rear fender. When you raise the fender (by removing and/ or bending metal) you separate these panels; causing a break in the integrity of the vehicle, which decreases the strength of the uni-body and leaves it open to rusting on the inside and getting crap caught up in there. The best fix is to weld these areas back together, in order to weld you need to remove foam so you don't catch your WJ on fire. The foam has been put in there for soundproofing and if you ask conspiracy theorists, so that your fenders will rot out, causing you to buy a new Jeep (or Toyota!).

Each section of the rears has its' own technique:

1. The very bottom towards the front of the vehicle; depending on your rust, you may even want to add a small piece of 16 gauge steel here to "re-build the inner fender wall" after you're done cleaning everything out. Your cut here will remove a portion of the hull like uni-body sliders. Pay attention to how you fold the remaining metal for the best coverage. There is also a lot of foam in the sliders, remove what you can reach so it doesn't catch on fire. I had lots of times where the metal would get hot and hit foam I couldn't reach, then the WJ would smoulder for a minute or two out of the rectangle holes from where I removed the plastic sliders.

2. The vertical on the forward side of the wheel well; this is the easiest section for sure. You basically are just folding the tabbed metal inside then welding the tabs all together and onto the body.

3. The horizontal section; challenging but very doable, fold the inside panel out and the outside panel in to create a nice overlap. Tack weld many times.

4. The hardest section IMO. This is because the WJ's unibody gets wider at this back section, meaning it is harder to have the metal you overlap to cover everything, it all comes down to strategy and how you cut and fold. I did an OK job but had some significant (1/4" or more) gaps here and there.

Mark the line you want your new wheel well to be and tape it up







I was so happy to be getting rid of this rust bubble




I missing some pics here but now you want to remove a minimal amount of metal all along the bottom edge; just enough to separate the panels from one another. Once you do this it will be pretty apparent how to proceed. Twist a screwdriver in between the two panels and get them apart enough that you can scrape ALL the foam out you can. On the first link I attached above (done by TJSWJ) he did a great job at documenting this portion.

When I read the other threads, I understood they were talking about scraping out all the insulation in order to weld properly but didn't quite catch the bit about the separate piece that was INSIDE the cabin. I figured it our real quick when I was welding and a little flame flickered and didn't go away, at first I thought it was just the tape, but it got bigger.
You'll need to partially remove the plastic coverings over the rear quarter panels; You need just enough room to pull out a piece of thick insulation laying in each wheel well. I ended up removing the whole sections because I'm insulating and soundproofing my interior.

The piece I'm talking about is the long and thin yellow foam on each side of the interior




Here WJ Jeeps instruction on how to remove the cargo area left trim panel

http://www.wjjeeps.com/trailer.htm

and the right trim panel

http://wjjeeps.com/power_outlet.htm

This top section is pretty straightforward




Just cut and fold it up and in



After it's all cut and folded in you want to tack weld the folds in place. How crazy you want to get doing this is up to you. I got pretty crazy.

I figured out a technique to essentially use the welder to fill in gaps. I would dial down the power and dial up the spool speed (just slightly), then angle the welder on a big slant so it's aimed in the notch of what I wanted to start filling in.

This bottom section used to look like the gap just above it.





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post #2 of 36 Old 03-10-2017, 09:04 PM Thread Starter
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I will freely advertise my mistake here; this is when the inside the cabin foam lit up. It looks bad but the burnt look sanded right off. This is when I starting entertaining Linex to cover up the paint damage. I ended up sanding it and using spray paint and it came out pretty good believe it or not.




on the ground is a bunch of that foam you will scrape out


This shows the flap I was talking about in technique part #1, the way I cut the fender (to include part of the OEM body slider) I was able to fold it in for a nice neat appearance. Don't forget to paint the inside with hi-temp paint.


This may be a bit hard to explain because I don't have a "before" picture, but that bottom section that makes up the back vertical side of the slider was originally a top portion of metal (the originally vertical section got cut away). I cut it to fit, knowing I would fold it down and into place as the new vertical section.


Then folded into place


another angle. You can also see how you want to grind everything that will be getting joined together by welding. What you can't reach with the grinder or Dremel, use rough grit sandpaper. Be careful about the angles and where you have your head, it gets tight in there, also have alot of lighting; floor lighting and a headlamp, etc.


....this became my arena for combat


...some more grinding


....some more welding. For me it was actually kind of fun because I just got my welder.


this is the inside of the rear wheel wells, where that secret piece of thick foam padding hides. I welded some of this from the top down as it was a bit easier than being upside down. I also coated this section with Loctite adhesive as a sealant (shown below on the fenders).


....and a lot more welding. I started liking the idea of how beefy I was making it. These things are solid!




nice and smooth


Then I coated everything with Locktite




I love how thin this section is compared to how it used to be


Then let it dry completely and finish sand it. I then did some finish paint work; I originally told myself I was going to color match linex about a 2" strip or so around the fenders but I thought it might look cheesy and also I couldn't justify the cost after purchasing the welder, so that's when I used POR-15 (silver) on the outside of the wells too to provide rust protection. Everything looked pretty good, it was a darn close match to the paint but when the sun hit it, it turned yellow-ish. That's when I matched some aluminum colored spray paint, artfully blended the spray, and I think it came out pretty ok. Wish I had more cash for a factory type job but that's just where I'm at right now.





I made most of my inside wheel wells black but kept a silver strip in the rears, mainly because I didn't want to make the color seam on the door line where the world would see my rookie ability to auto paint. I think this method worked out pretty well. I made my rear uni-body section black because I was putting on a custom black bumper afterwards.





There was enough room in the wells I couldn't pass up an amazing deal on these almost new Mickey Thompson Baja
TCC 305/65/R17 (32.6”x 12”) on JK Moabs. I added 1.5" Spidertrax spacers as these are wider than the Rubicon take-offs. They fit great; for off-roading I did "open up" the backside of my inner fender against the lower firewall be taking a mini sledge and folding the inner lip over and pounding the whole thing back an inch or more. I then sanded it smooth and spray painted it with black paint, then drove around articulating it. Looked and saw a little silver spot, adjusted, checked again and it's all good! This was my version of Jeep dentistry where the dentist adjusts your filling by making you bite on the wax paper.





The finished product




I'm going to fill in the rectangular hole used for the snap, I cut the cladding piece down but don't want to add it back. I'm going to paint that section and the cladding black to match my bumpers.




I'll throw a quick shout out to HK Offroad; when I ordered my bumper I gave them the measurements (by texting pics with a tape measure) of where I want my bumper cut and they did a PERFECT job, and were a pleasure to work with. I am not connected with them in any way, just a happy customer.



Plenty of room now



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post #3 of 36 Old 03-10-2017, 11:28 PM
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Nice job! I have to admit when I first started reading I never thought that the end result would look that good. I need to do this too.
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post #4 of 36 Old 03-11-2017, 06:03 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks and no offense taken! To the crowd; a couple of these pics are a little out of order, I have come to loathe Photobucket for its pop up adds and Jeep Forum for timing out when I've been typing and adding pics, then you log in and it won't let you proceed with all the material you added. I did some re-adjusting but that editing window is so small it was driving me nuts.
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post #5 of 36 Old 03-11-2017, 07:27 AM
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Super nice job! Looks first rate! Glad you didn't lose and eye or two! Was this the first time you welded?

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post #6 of 36 Old 03-11-2017, 10:39 AM
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Great writeup. I did the tuck & fold to my XJ a few years ago & the whole time was sweatin bullets. I don't like taking a cutting wheel to body panels. I'm gonna trim my WJ front & back in the spring & will definitely read, re-read, then read this again. I agree 100% on using tape, sharpies, & measure twice before cutting.

How is the Loctite material holding up & I assume it's paintable? I used 3M body filler calk when I did work on my XJ.

Thanks for all your hard work & photo's to go along with your writeup. That, sometimes is the hardest part of doing a project. Stop & take a picture, then continue..... then repeat 20 more times.... what a PITA.....
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post #7 of 36 Old 03-11-2017, 12:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdjp View Post
... that editing window is so small it was driving me nuts.
Next time you go into the editing window, take a closer look... See that little triangular "pile of gravel" in the lower right corner of the editing window? Click on it and you can drag the window out to huge sizes.

Nice job on the fender trim!
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post #8 of 36 Old 03-11-2017, 02:06 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryH3 View Post
Next time you go into the editing window, take a closer look... See that little triangular "pile of gravel" in the lower right corner of the editing window? Click on it and you can drag the window out to huge sizes.

Nice job on the fender trim!
You've just improved my quality of life! seriously thanks
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post #9 of 36 Old 03-11-2017, 02:13 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Super nice job! Looks first rate! Glad you didn't lose and eye or two! Was this the first time you welded?
Yup, this was the first welding job I did. My buddy came by and showed me how to set up the machine I bought (Lincoln 210MP), which is really nice and user friendly btw. He gave me a 10 minute class on the concept of laying down a bead...little cursive e's and dragging the puddle, then the rest was on me. We practiced on 1/4" steel, so this paper thin sheet metal was a steep curve for me. Thanks very much, I am proud of how it turned out, and I learned so much along the way on this project. That's why I jumped right into the gas tank raise directly afterwards, I had the confidence to do the welding required of that job.
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post #10 of 36 Old 03-11-2017, 02:40 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caronaxtr2 View Post
Great writeup. I did the tuck & fold to my XJ a few years ago & the whole time was sweatin bullets. I don't like taking a cutting wheel to body panels. I'm gonna trim my WJ front & back in the spring & will definitely read, re-read, then read this again. I agree 100% on using tape, sharpies, & measure twice before cutting.

How is the Loctite material holding up & I assume it's paintable? I used 3M body filler calk when I did work on my XJ.

Thanks for all your hard work & photo's to go along with your writeup. That, sometimes is the hardest part of doing a project. Stop & take a picture, then continue..... then repeat 20 more times.... what a PITA.....
Yeah I was torn between using my violently strong and wild Dewalt 13amp grinder or my precision accurate Dremel that goes through $20 of blades every 2 feet. One day I will get a big air set-up with all the fancy attachments.

The Loctite is holding up great, it's been at least 6-7 months since I've done this so the heat of Virginia summers, the nasty winters, going off-road, power washing it, it's bombproof. The stuff is easy to work with, nice and thick and malleable, can use the putty knife or wear plastic gloves and stuff it in cracks and contour it the way you want.
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post #11 of 36 Old 04-12-2017, 09:23 PM
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Thanks for this write-up! I'm planning to cut my fenders pretty severely to try and fit some 265/75r16's on a 2-inch lift, and this thread has been incredibly useful!

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post #12 of 36 Old 04-12-2017, 10:19 PM
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I subscribed back when you first did this. Awesome write-up!! And, for as many of us that have to trim and tuck, this should be "stickied" for everyone else to reference easily in the future! Again, you did an awesome job bud!!
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post #13 of 36 Old 04-13-2017, 07:00 AM
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Added to the FAQ!

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post #14 of 36 Old 04-13-2017, 11:48 AM
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@sdjp what did you do for bump stops?

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post #15 of 36 Old 04-13-2017, 04:23 PM
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Simply awesome job and sooo well written. Thanks for a good read and a pile of information. I may never do this but just knowing it can be done is great. I have the same welder and still haven't mastered it but you to have done quite well.
Congratulations!

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