Building an E-Ticket ride - 06 LJ

Yesterday was a bust looking for the correct trans cooler hose all over town. All the shops carry a thinner walled hose than came with the Derale kit. The difference can be eyeballed even if the dimension is not much larger. As a last hope to match it I’ve got some Gates hose coming in from Amazon. In the meantime I’ve got four of the six fittings needed and the other two coming in from Amazon. I will reuse the two fittings from the radiator so I can have a 90 degree line and the other I’ve bent just a bit to use on the upper port of the trans where it is close to the tub.

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The hose in the Derale kit is on the left.

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While waiting for parts I used the time to move the Jeep out of the lift bay to wheee I’ve got more room to work on the armor and cage. I also got the hard top off and stored but before that I put on new struts and some mounts in the back for a hoist.

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I also tested out my lightweight spare tire mount. I have a Yakima mount as many would put on their roof rack. It uses a loop and a hook to secure the tire. Instead of using the loops they provide (attached to a steel plate), I made an eyelet that screws into the back seat center seatbelt hole. If that can secure two people then it can handle a 35” tire, at least in my view. The whole thing weighs maybe 3-4 pounds. I can lock it if I want to, another nice feature.

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It took a few days to get all the parts for the trans cooler lines. I thought I could use some pex clamps but they did not fit. I got a kit of assorted clamps from Amazon and the 21mm size is perfect for this application.

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Here is a test clamp on the left compared to what Derale used:

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Good squeeze on the AN push fittings and the new quick connect fittings for the transmission:

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I routed the lines aft of the transmission along the fuel lines and used the clamps/separators from the Derale kit:

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The transmission connections:

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Forward of the transmission the lines go along the top of the frame and through the bracke holding the steering shaft bearing, then over the engine mount weldments which are smooth on top. This routing should not induce any relative movement between the lines and the frame to prevent chafing. I still need to add a few more securing straps and also cut down the length and round off the ends of the bolts that secure the steering bearing bracket as they currently contact the lines going thorough there.

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This routing keeps the lines well away from the cats and exhaust and and moving steering or suspension bits.

I sure as hell hope I don’t have leaks with the quick connect fittings when I fire her up. Those connections don't seem to have positive pressure between the fitting and the port and the fitting can move in and out just a bit despite the spring clip and plastic cap being in place. When I took off the lines all of the fittings were very snug and hard to pull out. Perhaps some pressure in the system helps hold them secure.
 
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After a week away for some much needed vacation, I had a chance to face my fears and get the Genright armor installed. I’ve been dreaming/dreading this for months, trying to soak up every tip and trick I can find online.

As a last step of preparation I watched some videos on tailgate hinge removal and that all by itself looked to be an adventure. I was set to go to the hardware store to load up on T40 Torx bits but first I thought I’d hit the backside of the reachable bolts with some PB Blaster. I go out to the shop and to my surprise I’ve got 9/16 hex head bolts instead of Torx! Happy day. I hit the few I can reach with some PB Blaster and shortly afterwards go for it with my impact wrench. All 8 of the hinge bolts come out with no drama!

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Next up is to notch the front fenders in advance of bending up the pinch seam.

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Next up is the bash the crap out of the pinch seam with a dead blow hammer. That works well in proximity to the torque boxes but there are a few areas where there is nothing to bash against and for those areas in the front, middle and rear I used some sheet metal clamps and they allowed me to bend those areas that had no nothing behind them to bend around. The result wasn’t pretty but I got the job done and the sliders were able to fit up without a second round of bashing.

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I fit up the sliders and corner armor at the same time and I had slightly different results on each side. First up was the passenger side. Using the hinge bolts to set the rear position and holding the upper edge in line time the tub, the mating edge to the slider was out of parallel by about .060”. The slider was contacting the torque boxes and jacked up as far as possible. I took this as being as good as possible and I will trim the aluminum to give me a parallel edge to the slider.

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I used a roto broach to cut the holes, all going well except the lower holes just at the tailgate edges. Those would not cut through with the armor in place, something for tomorrow.

The driver side went more smoothly being the second try. I ended up with about an 1/8th gap between the slider and armor but perfectly parallel. I will trim the passenger side to match tomorrow.

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I also took the time today to hit all of the edges of the sliders with a flap disk to knock down the sharp edges and get a coat of primer on them.

Tomorrow I will install the nutserts and clean up/paint all holes to prepare for final installation. Hopefully I can get some decent paint on the sliders in a day but if not that will push me out a day or two.
 
Another day of half the progress I’d hope to make but still some progress. Despite most of the hole size references in the Genright directions stating the drill size for the inserts being 1/2”, they are actually 17/32”. That’s an oddball size bit and I had to go to 4 stores before I found one.

There are also four holes located in spots that interfere with structure behind the hole. The two aft most holes for the sliders requires some clearancing of support brackets that hold the quarter panel rigid forward if the rear wheels.

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The slider holes at the aft side of the passenger door require an insert but there is not enough depth to install one without penetrating the next skin which is very curved and wants to move the drill bit. I had slightly oblong holes there and this did not want to squeeze the insert for fear it would be mislocated. I ended up installing those inserts sandwiched between the slider and the tub which worked well.

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The rest of the inserts went in as planned and thankfully I have a set of inserts that allowed me to add a few more on the torque boxes. In order to get the sliders snug as possible to the tub I used a couple of ratchet straps to pull them together before locating the torque box holes. This was after all of the upper fasteners were located and installed.

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Then I had to correct the passenger side corner armor for along the bottom forward edge. I clamped a piece of steel to it on my cut line and used a flap disk to get a straight line and it worked great. Now the gap is parallel and sized as the driver side.

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I’ve got a bit of work left to button these up but the hard stuff is done and now I can fit up the cage A pillars and the floor tie-ins that will but up inside the door sill and sandwich the tub to the sliders.

A nice result but as usual about twice the time I planned and I haven’t even painted the sliders yet. I am thinking bed liner to match the bumpers and give a bit more grip to the step.

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3 coats of Rustoleum bed liner on the sliders and a coating of Rustoleum rubberized undercoating on and under the newly bashed in pinch seams will allow me to get the sliders final installed tomorrow.

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After the sliders go on I can get my MCE fenders on too.
 
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Finally a day that went to plan. I got the MCE flares installed and the newly painted sliders are in too. Mostly smooth sailing but for a broken self tapping screw and I changed out a lot of the hardware on the flares which required a trip to the hardware store.

As the sliders sit 3/16” proud of the fender the front flares needed to be cut to match. I clamped the flares between a 2x4 and a price of steel to use as a guide for the grinder to make quick work of. Unfortunately, fenders are not flat and the flare edges are not a great fit along the edges but it looks decent.

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The fasteners MCE gives you are less than desirable so I made a few changes to eliminate the self tapping screws and increased the diameter of the washers that sandwich the rubber grommet spacers. The spacers are too long and I will cut them down next time I remove the flares.

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I am pleased with the outcome but can foresee them getting smashed on the trail so I reserve judgement on the design until I get some experience with them.

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The sliders are done except for the tie ins to the cage but those sit inside the sill so I don’t expect to have to remove them again.

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