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Unread 07-26-2012, 06:36 AM   #1
jscherb
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JK "Barn Door" option for factory hardtop

Several years ago I designed and built my custom "Safari Cab" hardtop for my LJ Wrangler. It's been a fantastic addition to the Jeep, and now I'm thinking of doing some similar work for the JK. I've licensed the design to Gr8Tops and they're working on bringing it to market for the LJ and TJ. Here's a few photos of the LJ version:



The hardtop is fully modular, so the side panels can be removed and replaced with roll-up soft side panels:



It's designed with roll-bar tie-ins, so it can support heavy loads up top, like a roof-top tent, without resorting to something like an exocage:



And for easy access to the cargo area, it's got a "barn door". The barn door "upper" attaches to the factory tailgate, so the entire assembly swings open as a one-piece door.





Here's why I'm posting today:

As a first step towards building a JK version of the Safari Cab hardtop, I'm thinking about building a "barn door" option for factory JK hardtops, and I'm wondering what you guys think of the idea. The barn door would be a part of the eventual full JK Safari Cab hardtop, but it would be designed so it would work with factory JK hardtops.

Here's a few concept drawings of what it might look like.





The barn door upper would be made from fiberglass, and would attach to the JK tailgate. A rear wiper could be an optional part of the package.




What do you guys think? Would a "barn door kit" be a useful option for a JK? Or would I be wasting my time?


I know there are two different with hatch openings in the early vs. later model JK hardtops - the barn door would work natively with early JK hardtops. For later JK hardtops with the wider hatch, I'd probably do filler panels to narrow the wide opening in the hardtop to the earlier width.

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Unread 07-26-2012, 06:52 AM   #2
MWV247
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Would you be wasting you time... How many products have actually made it to the open market? Ive seen this top you have been making for ever and its still not available -Got a lot of hopes down. I think you have a creative mind and great ideas but lets not get carried away at making things you're offering to the public that never surface. I would focus more at whats at hand and try to get what you've already made established up and running. IMO I dont think decreasing the rear glass is a good idea -youre decreasing visibility and trying to make a great top greater is hard to do. Anyways good luck. JM2C
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Unread 07-26-2012, 07:03 AM   #3
jscherb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MWV247 View Post
Would you be wasting you time... How many products have actually made it to the open market? Ive seen this top you have been making for ever and its still not available -Got a lot of hopes down. I think you have a creative mind and great ideas but lets not get carried away at making things you're offering to the public that never surface. I would focus more at whats at hand and try to get what you've already made established up and running. IMO I dont think decreasing the rear glass is a good idea -youre decreasing visibility and trying to make a great top greater is hard to do. Anyways good luck. JM2C
So far four products I've designed have made it to the market. The fiberglass Jeep-tub trailer kit I designed last fall made it to market about 4 months after I delivered my master parts to the company that was going to produce it, you can buy the kits now.





The length of time Gr8Tops is taking to get the LJ Safari Cab to market has nothing to do with me and I wouldn't use the Gr8Tops example to predict how quickly this JK barn door idea could get to market.

The barn door would be a very simple product to produce - two fiberglass moldings (inner and outer skins), a piece of glass, a glass gasket, some weatherstrip, and a little hardware to mount it to the tailgate.

But if everyone thinks it's a stupid idea I'll focus my energy elsewhere.
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Unread 07-26-2012, 07:17 AM   #4
MWV247
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I apologize if I came across stern, I didn't realize your trailer made it to market Congratulations. I enjoy watching your builds just wish there was an actual way to own the products. I think people would need to know how much cost would be involved in having something like this before moving forward -but I guess you determine the need first which should be based on functionality. Carry on sir...
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Unread 07-26-2012, 07:24 AM   #5
jstrubberg
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I like the one piece rear door.

With the spare there as well, I imagine you had to beef up the hinges quite a bit? I know the stok one is marginal with the spare for offroad use...
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Unread 07-26-2012, 07:32 AM   #6
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I like the barn door idea for the JK hard top. Quite often I've wanted to open the gate and reach in for something, but couldn't because of close quarters preventing me from opening the gate enough to raise the glass.

I also like the roll-up-sides option on the LJ top. However, I don't think it would be quite as nice on the 4 door JK.
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Unread 07-26-2012, 07:39 AM   #7
jscherb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jstrubberg View Post
I like the one piece rear door.

With the spare there as well, I imagine you had to beef up the hinges quite a bit? I know the stok one is marginal with the spare for offroad use...
I'm running an Exogate Tailgate Reinforcement/Heavy Duty Hinge kit on my LJ, but I did that more for supporting extra cargo on the tailgate than for the barn door - the barn door is just fine with the stock hinges. And the JK hinges are stronger than the TJ/LJ hinges so I don't think there would be a problem.





But if heavy duty hinges were needed, a JK version of the Exogate hinges could be produced. Here's an Exogate hinge compared to a stock TJ/LJ hinge. The Exogate hinges have replaceable bronze bushings, should they ever wear, and a grease fitting to keep the hinge pins lubricated.

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Unread 07-26-2012, 08:14 AM   #8
danyou
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I think its a great Idea - I think the safari cab is amazing and have been waiting for years for them to become available. I wish Gr8tops just gave some periodic updates as to what the status is. I would also be interested in your soft top barn door frame. That is one of the worst parts of the soft top design. I appreciate all your hard work and love watching your designs. I think the JK needs the hard barn door. Thanks - DAN
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Unread 07-26-2012, 08:19 AM   #9
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i think the exogate hinges for the JK would be an upgrade a lot of people would be interested in on its own.

im really looking forward to seeing you build the safari top for the JK's. im sure you already have plans of the 2-door unlimited fashion
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Unread 07-26-2012, 08:32 AM   #10
jscherb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danyou View Post
I think its a great Idea - I think the safari cab is amazing and have been waiting for years for them to become available. I wish Gr8tops just gave some periodic updates as to what the status is. I would also be interested in your soft top barn door frame. That is one of the worst parts of the soft top design. I appreciate all your hard work and love watching your designs. I think the JK needs the hard barn door. Thanks - DAN
I haven't really done anything to try to find a company interested in the soft barn door idea. It does mount to the tailgate using the same hardware as the hard barn door, so it's could be a good option for people who run a hard top in the winter and a soft top in the summer. Hard barn door for winter, soft barn door to go along with the soft top. It's soooo much nicer to open a soft barn door than it is to have to unzip the rear window of the factory soft top .



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Unread 07-26-2012, 08:35 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spyder6 View Post
i think the exogate hinges for the JK would be an upgrade a lot of people would be interested in on its own.
I'm not that familiar with JK hinges, but I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to do a version of the Exogate's stronger hinges to replace the JK's factory hinges.

Quote:
Originally Posted by spyder6 View Post
im really looking forward to seeing you build the safari top for the JK's. im sure you already have plans of the 2-door unlimited fashion
Yes I've done design drawings for both JKU and JK Safari Cabs. Haven't published any yet, I want to keep that under wraps until I make a decision to go ahead. I will say the lines are a little more angular to better integrate with the more angular JK design; it's got a raised roof section, and a few design variants I've done have "Alpine windows" on the sides of the roof in Land Rover fashion. It's modular like the LJ version and would support soft sides as well.
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Unread 07-26-2012, 08:53 AM   #12
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How long do you think it will be before the JK stuff comes to light?
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Unread 07-26-2012, 08:57 AM   #13
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Looks like you are trying to copy the old Land Rover styling. IMO, you are losing rear view vision with less glass. I applaud your effort though.
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Unread 07-26-2012, 08:58 AM   #14
jscherb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spyder6 View Post
How long do you think it will be before the JK stuff comes to light?
Depends on what you mean by "comes to light". Do you mean when everything we've talked about so far in this thread is commercially available? Or when the barn door might be available? Or when I'd reveal the design drawings for the JK Safari Cab?

The reason I started this thread was to determine interest in the idea of a barn door that works with the factory hard top, because I'm considering building that as an initial step towards an eventual full Safari Cab for the JK.
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Unread 07-26-2012, 09:01 AM   #15
jscherb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elfamiglia View Post
Looks like you are trying to copy the old Land Rover styling. IMO, you are losing rear view vision with less glass. I applaud your effort though.
On the LJ version, no rear-view mirror vision is lost.

I'm not copying a Land Rover design. The Safari Cab is closest to the "World Cab" hardtop produced by Jeep in the 80's (below right), but it's also got styling cues from many other designs, such as the Koenig and Meyers Jeep hardtops of the 60's, the FJ-40 Land Cruiser, and various Land Rover models. And it's got functionality and options far beyond any of those.



And anyway, the JK version of the Safari Cab is styled differently as I wrote a few posts ago.
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Visit my Jeep Projects site for info on my custom Jeep projects:
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  • Safari Cab custom modular hardtop
  • Fiberglass Jeep-tub trailer kit
  • CJ Grille Conversion Kit for the TJ/LJ
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