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As I mentioned earlier, I opted to skip the pop rivets that were supplied with the hood louvers and go directly to the fastener department at the local ACE hardware store. I picked up some over priced button head stainless steel #8 screws with Nyloc nuts so I didn't have to worry about them coming loose any time soon. #8 was just a little bit larger than the holes in the louvers so I enlarged them and then used it as a template for drilling the mounting holes in the TJ hood. As a hole was drill, I put a screw in (no nut) to help keep the louver in position as the remaining holes were drilled.
I had more paint chipping occur along the cut edge of the hole
than I had expected. I'm not sure if this was due to the nibbler itself or
simply a poor paint priming at the factory paint booth. As I didn't want
bare metal under the louvers, I opted to use some black RTV to seal things.
I applied a bead around the edge of the cut out area just as if I were getting
ready to seal the cover surface for a differential fluid change. I ran my
finder along the RTV to ensure it was coating the cut edge of the hood.
With the hood louver in place, I tightened the #8 mounting hardware, bringing the hood louver flush against the hood surface and making a nice seal. From the under side, you could see it squeeze out a bit here and there....it looked good to go. After getting both sides installed, I grabbed my ruler and took a couple more measurements. I was happy to see that I was less than 1/8" off on any measurement. That was good enough for me.
The only down side of this modification was the impact it had to my under-hood decal project. I had been collecting them for quite a few years, only putting up decals from products that I had installed (or clubs I had belonged to). A couple of them took it pretty hard. I'll probably get in there with the heat gun and see if I can remove the remnants of those that were sliced and diced. I was starting to run out of room anyway.....this will give me a good opportunity to make way for some new ones.
I expect the hood louvers to last quite a while. Unlike some that folks have adapted from other vehicles, these have plastic to get baked in the intense Arizona UV sun. If I keep the TJ long enough to wear out the aluminum, I guess I will have gotten my money's worth for the hood louvers and the Jeep.
That is about it. Thanks goes to BobP for lending me a third (and sometimes fourth) hand as I was holding templates in position and trying to measure and trace all at the same time. Besides that, it's always good to wrench with a friend.....makes for some interesting conversations every now and then at the very least.
Good trails and remember to TREADLightly!