I had finished up my 2000 Memorial Day weekend trip at the volcanic Cinders Recreation Area near Flagstaff, AZ when I decided it was time to think about some added safety for the TJ. Going up and down those craters was enough to get me thinking that a 300' roll down the hill would NOT be a great thing to do with the TJ, especially with the factory bar being the only protection. Having it attached to the windshield frame makes for a sturdy windshield, but I am not so certain I want to bet my life on that holding up in a heavy roll over. So....with that in mind, I decided to get some work done and beef things up a bit. As luck would have it, I was running a trail a couple of weeks later and met a fellow that had recently had a front bar put into his Jeep. I checked it out and liked what I saw. He slipped me a business card of the two guys that did the work, Off-Road Fabrications in Phoenix, AZ. They go by O-R Fab, and I gave them a phone call (602-749-0588) and got some preliminary information. I stopped by their shop later on that day to talk with Wayne and discuss my needs. After 30 minutes of cage talk, I set up an appointment to have the work done in two weeks. On the day I dropped it off, I removed my hard top and a few other things (CB antenna, etc.) so they would have easy access to the vehicle.
I picked it up earlier today. How do I like it?
Pretty darn good, I think. Obviously, this is one mod I hope I never have
to try out. But if I should I will feel a lot better now than I did when I
dropped it off. Here are a few shots of the installation I took after
getting it home.
Here is a view looking forward from the rear seat area. I
had these two extra spreaders installed, which are not part of the regular
installation. I wanted some extra tubing between the new front tube and
the factory bar.
Here is a closer shot of the two center spreaders where they
welded them into the factory bar. Aside from welding these two bars into
the factory bar, I did not have any other work done on the factory bar.
The bars that connected the corner of the windshield frame back
to the rear bar were also replaced with thicker walled tubing (about .110"
if I measured it correctly).
In the above picture, you can see where the front bar comes down
and transitions to a bracketed steel plate. This plate is bolted into the
vehicles dash area where the Jeep is built up fairly well. OR-Fab uses
this area of the vehicle to secure their front roll bar. The factory metal
in this area is pretty beefy and I guess it makes sense that it is, as it serves
as the front crash zone area for the vehicle occupants.
I opted to have additional bracing installed, which continues
down the side of the dash and terminates in a steel plate that is bolted through
I have not attached this plate through the floor and to the
frame. It would strengthen the cage but if done this way, it needs to have
a full six point attachment to the frame. For now, it will just stay
bolted to the floor.
Here is a picture of the bracket that supports the windshield frame. It is a simple T-bracket. The T portion uses the two existing threaded holes in the windshield frame. The stem of the bracket is bolted to a nut that is welded onto the tubing as it bends down towards the dash.
Anyone familiar with a roll cage construction would want this plate tied into the frame on the bottom side, which it is not right now. I'm considering doing that and might have the guys do up a plate for me. While Wayne and I were talking about the cage during my first visit, he did mention that they had had a client roll his Jeep with one of their cages installed. It was the same one I had made except that it did not have the braces that went down to the floor. Wayne said it took the roll very well and held up nicely (I hope he wasn't saying that just for me...grin).
My cost for the cage was $405. Wayne knocked a few bucks off for me since I was getting more than the regular front bar (the extra spreaders and lower brackets). What is left for me to do? I need to do a little bit of painting and the wife said she could modify the old pads and covers to accommodate the places where the new spreaders were welded to the factory bar. I'll be mounting a couple of my ham radios onto the spreader bars. Wayne was nice enough to measure the radio I had sitting on the dash and set the spacing of the center spreaders so that I had an extra inch to play with.
So, if you are thinking of doing a roll cage, you might consider Wayne and Mark. I don't know much about metal fabrication, but these guys sure do have a shop full of fine looking tools....tubing benders and metal punches (all of these are hydraulic), welders, ....you know, metal fab stuff! Anyway, if you decide to pay them a visit, tell them you saw their handy work on my off-road page. They will no doubt give you a really big discount (grin)!
I put the hard top back on today. I didn't get the painting done yet. Too bloody hot outside! I'll wait till this fall when things cool down and I have a few days to work on it. The top went on with no problems at all. The front latches cleared the bar so that was good news. I had asked Wayne about that before I ordered it, and he assured me that they moved the bar back enough so it would not be a problem. I also moved one of my ham radios to the front bar as well. I had it mounted to the inside front edge of the hard top. Now it is attached to the roll bar which makes it easier to pop the top when I do the painting.
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