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50/50, 50% XJ and 50% Tube

FiFo

New member
After a season of brutally beating on my XJ I have decided to install a cage. Or more accurately after scaring my wife half to death she has decided to let me spend the money. Since I have no idea how to bend tube, just how to draw pretty pictures of a cage design, Tom Baker and KarlVP said they would give me a hand. The actual build is taking place in Toms shop in Sultan Wa. Here is the basic design I drew up using my mad MS Paint skills.

Cage Design Small


Basically I’m not really a fan of external cages, and an internal cage wouldn’t protect my body, which if you have seen my rig you know it is fairly beat up after only one year. So I decided to chop most of the body off and replace it with tube. However new door are going to be fabricated using tube and sheet metal, and a new flat windshield is going on. My wife wants to keep the back seat, so that is staying and I’m currently looking for a Jeep Comanche tailgate to use on the rear. Anyways there are a number of other design elements that are going into this thing, but you can see them as the build goes.

So we start out with one perfectly good 1996 Jeep Cherokee (XJ)
January 2007 015


Which some people say is a little beat up.
January 2007 012


Tom gets to work “removing the doors” while I start striping the interior
January 2007 016


We got the doors off and interior was mostly out when Toms roommate Chad stopped by to lend a hand.
January 2007 020


Interior gutted
January 2007 026


As you can see the “Unirail” has taken some damage just behind the cross member. To fix this KarlVP came up with an idea for plating the “Unirail” so the undercoating had to be scraped off.
January 2007 028


I had a “wardrobe malfunction” with my front grill the other day and used 10 bolts to put it back on. Tom got so frustrated trying to find them all he resorted to the handyman’s favorite tool, a grinder with a cutting wheel.
January 2007 030
 
Now the real fun begins
January 2007 034



My turn
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What ever this seam is called, it’s coming off and will be replaced with 2” DOM tube on the bottom and 1.5” DOM on the top.
January 2007 042


And so ends Saturday night
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Sunday we started by finished the cutting on the passenger side and finalizing where the first major piece of tube was going to go. Then after Tom patiently taught a quick class of tube bending 101 we got started on bending the tube.
January 28 2007 006


Finished bending the first tube, as you can see it spans the entire length of the vehicle and will tie in with the front and rear bumpers.
January 28 2007 009


We finished the matching passenger side tube and roughed out a plan for the rear bumper. Since I had a Midterm the next day we cut out early so I could get some studying done.
January 28 2007 012
 
man that is looking good! might want to add a little more triangulation around the doors and gusset all the joints.
 
rehab said:
man that is looking good! might want to add a little more triangulation around the doors and gusset all the joints.

There will definitely be gusseting at all the joints, it's just my MS paint skills only go so far. :)

As for the doors, I'm still trying to figure out how I want to do them, any ideas on how to add more triangulation and yet leave the ability to run tube doors?
 
When I tried to do that to my XJ, the wife said she would remove my manhood. So this build will be fun.

Can't wait to get it done so we can take it to the alderwood mall and do some urban wheeling. Or mall crawlin. Or whatever it's called now.
 
LOOKIN GOOD! Im waiting till I roll it and make it virutally useless.... will the cage strengthen the unibody enough
 
sweet... whats up with all this cutting these days? i feel like i am missing out... or maybe i have just begun? i am cutting but not that much... cool cant wait to see the progress
 
FiFo said:
Basically I’m not really a fan of external cages, and an internal cage wouldn’t protect my body, which if you have seen my rig you know it is fairly beat up after only one year. So I decided to chop most of the body off and replace it with tube. However new door are going to be fabricated using tube and sheet metal, and a new flat windshield is going on. My wife wants to keep the back seat, so that is staying and I’m currently looking for a Jeep Comanche tailgate to use on the rear. Anyways there are a number of other design elements that are going into this thing, but you can see them as the build goes.

Have you lined up the commanche tailgate yet?

I'm going to do the same on mine, and it is almost the perfect height to mate up with what you've got left of the rear.

I just cut the rear quarter stuff, like the tailgate, rear windows, wheelwells, etc...but I dig what you've got going on there.

Here is an OLD picture of mine before the work really got started, here you can see where the tailgate sits compared to the rest of the body lines.

after1.JPG


and a more current one just for reference

DSC01162.JPG


Are you planning on changing up the suspension/axles/tires at all?
 
vetteboy said:
Are you planning on changing up the suspension/axles/tires at all?

Thanks for the pic! That is exactly what I am planning on doing; I'm picking up the tailgate this week so I will take some pics this weekend of what it will look like in place.

No the suspension/axles/tires are all staying as it. I would like to upgrade the axles and tires someday, but one thing at a time. We’re designing this however so I can easily clear larger tires down the road. We measured and I can easily clear the 36" IROKs I would like to run someday.
 
vetteboy said:

is that an old vette in the back?
possibly a 58-62 model?
 
iluv83vettes said:
is that an old vette in the back?
possibly a 58-62 model?

Good eye! 1960 to be precise.

And those '83 vettes are every bit as cool as the '96 Wranglers. ;)
 
vetteboy said:
Good eye! 1960 to be precise.

And those '83 vettes are every bit as cool as the '96 Wranglers. ;)
ya but there are more than one 96 wranglers...as long as you drive on the wrong side of the rode
 
Weekend Two

Went to Tom’s shop on Sunday to get some more work done on the XJ, I was pleasantly surprised to see Tom had a little extra time this week and started the rear bumper in between his other projects. This is the top piece of the rear bumper, it wraps around the sides before coming up to meet the section of cage we built last week. 1.5” tube is going to be used to form a second piece that will protect the stock body and allow us to tie into the stock bumper mounts. Where designing it so that if the 2 shackles that are going to be mounted to it get pulled on most of the force will be distributed to the new cage structure.

Feb 4 2007 002


After some basic planning we got to work cutting more stuff off the XJ. A small notch had to be made so that the tube bent last weekend could run closer to the body and with in the original front fenders. We then got to work building the driver side hoop that will run from the windshield all the way back to the rear quarter. Instead of bending it strait down like most cage designs, I had the brilliant, and I use that term loosely, idea of continuing it strait so that it would meet with the front flare, then run a separate piece of 2” down to form a triangle. The idea is that with out the extra bend the cage will be stronger.

For the record, the engineers who designed the XJ apparently had the mentality of “When in dought, add another layer of metal, if all you need are welds, add bolt too, and every now and then, add glue, just for good measure”. We found no less then 3 layers of metal between the outer fender and the inner wall of the Cherokee. Most of this metal was welded on, but we encountered 2 bolts that appeared to hold nothing up, but where designed with laser like accuracy to get in our way. We even found two sheets that where further glued together for good measure!

Anyways here is the partially finished cutting job.

Feb 4 2007 010


Once metal was cut away the real planning got under way. Tom and I threw around possible heights for a good while all with in 3 inches of each other. 3 inches doesn’t seem like that big a deal, But Tom is something of a perfectionist when it comes to his work so wanted to get it just right, and as it is we hit the stock XJ height to with in ½ an inch, which after cooping and bending struck me as fairly impressive.

So after all the measuring was finished we finally got around to making the first bend. This was better then any excitement any “bowl” game being played at the time could have provided since I finally was starting to see how my design was taking shape.

I drew in the vertical support that is going to be added later.

Feb 4 2007 013


Next up was the rear, the tube goes to the end of what is going to be the new roof, and then angles down in the back to end at the rear quarter, where that new rear bumper I mentioned earlier now resides. Part of the way down the lower tube that was fabbed last week had to be cut off and cooped so that it ended into this new tube. Over all I think it came out fairly well.

The rear here is going to be boxed in more and a Comanche (MJ) tailgate will be installed. Where still not sure if we will be able to make the tailgate open and close, or if we will just weld it in, but as long as it has the “J E E P” logo my wife will be happy, which will keep me alive when she sees how much money I’m spending.

Feb 4 2007 021


Finally some of the sharper eyes might have noticed in the above picture there is a 10% bend inward at the height of the stock firewall. This was one of Tom’s improvements to my original design, which I think is going to greatly improve it. You can see here how it compares to the stock window pillar on the Passenger side.

Feb 4 2007 019


We got started on the other side but I had to go since I had yet another Mid-term to study for. However I couldn't help but play with some pics in MS Paint to get an idea what it would look like once more tube is up in place.

Feb 4 2007 020


Kind of Cool if you ask me!
 
Last edited:
I would have boat sided it more, Raised the rocker tube higher.
I would have moved the gas thank higher trough the floor to get more heigth in the back. I also would have dove trialed it to make it narrow in the back.
 
Cool - I like a lot of the ideas you've got going on there.

The one thing I would change is to add some sort of triangulation on the B-pillar hoop - this is the one that you want the most reinforcement on in case of a sideways roll. Adding an A up the center does a decent job of this...

cage1.JPG


although an X is better if you've got the space (I didn't).

I think my only dislike is the angle of the rearmost bar on yours - looks a little too steep for my taste, I would have started the angle down sooner IMO - but for interior clearance I think what you've got will work real nice. edit: I second Ashman's notion to move the gas tank up if possible, cut a hole in the floor and build a box around it. You'll love the extra clearance. Higher rockers wouldn't have been a bad mod as well but I think you're a little bit invested in what you've got at this point.

In other news, this guy is on a few boards that I frequent, he makes replacement letter decals for the MJ tailgate in a few different colors:
http://www.jeepsticker.com/

Also, all the hardware for the MJ tailgate is directly interchangeable with Chevy S10 pickup stuff of the same years, might make sourcing it a little easier. I plan on having mine be fully functional...might be mocking it up later this week depending on if I run out of stuff to do before the shocks get here. I got the rest of the rear cage work done over the weekend so the opening's all set to be fabricated for the gate to fit into...
DSC01453.JPG


Keep up the good work, I wanna see how this thing turns out!
 
Vetteboy I definitely like your B-Pillar idea; I might have to blatantly steal it.

The rear end design was mostly dictated by the fact that I lay my spare tire down in the back and I would like to keep it there. That pretty much meant I couldn’t move the gas tank up. I also moved my rear axle back 1 ½” so I don’t hit my gas tank as much as you would expect. I brought the rear most bar all the way down under the theory that by eliminating that bend it would make the cage that much stronger in the event I end up on my top. Where actually going to box in the “bed” though it will be lower then the original window seals for visibility and ease of construction purposes. All that being said, I’m going to have to decide if I like my “X” vertical like I have it designed now, or on the angle like yours, both have there advantages and disadvantages, I’m just going to have to make up my mind and go for it.

We did the rockers in this manner to get them as narrow as possible and still keep the stock interior. In this area most of our wheeling involves twisting our way through tight forest trails so boat sides weren’t as crucial as getting it as narrow as we could. The metal you see is actually the inside skin, for reference my tires are only 10.5” wide, yet stock out a good 5” when before they didn’t stick out at all with the stock flares.
 
I cleared enough sheetmetal to get my MJ tailgate mocked up today, so I took these with my camera phone just to give you an idea of how it sits:

tg1.jpg


tg2.jpg


Question - with the axle pushed 1.5" back, how close is it to the gas tank on full compression, and does this leave you enough room to upgrade to something larger in the future?
 
vetteboy said:
Question - with the axle pushed 1.5" back, how close is it to the gas tank on full compression, and does this leave you enough room to upgrade to something larger in the future?

hey, lookin at the pic a few posts up where the gas tank is removed and chillin in the cargo area, i can recommend a mod that i have seen personally on HackedXJs rig. he located the gastank into the cargo area. all you need is highpressure fuel hose and splice a couple wires and you are good to go. build some type of box to house the gastank and you are set.

just an idea

-Tim
 
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