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TJ Full Cage Buildup

#1 User is offline   YJWhenUCanTJ 

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 02:10 PM

What's up SFJC members and everyone else on jeep talk. I like the new forum look. :2thumup:

I've been working on a new cage for the Jeep the past few weeks. It's almost done and thought some of you might be interested in seeing some pics on it. Sorry, again no detailed write-ups anymore, but feel free to ask Q's. I'll try to answer as best I can.

I ordered the Poison Spyder full cage a few months back after seeking local shops to build a custom cage for me. The local prices were just too far out of my budget. I reviewed several shops' cage kits and it came down to PSC vs Poly Performance. I liked both kits because they come pre-bent and notched, great for someone without the tools/exact science to bending tube right the first time, but able to weld. It only took 2 months to receive the cage after the order :2thumup: but that seems to be SOP nowadays with PSC, BTF, and other shops getting too big for their britches. Anyway...

Here's the kit minus the vertical dash supports which are not in the picture. The bag contains the mounting plates, and large pass through bolts for the floor of the front vertical dash supports...
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You do have to take out the factory cage completely. I took out the seats after the picture. One minor pain was cutting away the seam sealer off the torx bolts used to hold the cage in place behind the seats...
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Here you can see the first tube in place and the vertical dash support (the poly perf cage kit sends the tube behind the dash requiring a little modification of the A/C vent and trimming of the dash). The PSC solution sends the vertical dash support all the way to the floor. The PSC cage comes with the plates to attach the new cage to factory locations (and the plates were very accurate in bolt hole location, and laser cut)...
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Skipping ahead quite a bit is the cage all tacked in place ready for final welding. I had already started welding some spots by this point. It's best to do as much welding as you can with the cage securely bolted in the Jeep because the heat from welding will cause the tubes to expand and shrink, changing slightly the joints where tubes fit together. You may even hear a tack weld pop on the opposite side of the cage while welding as the tubes pull and push...
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An overhead shot...
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Here I have finished welding all the tube and just finished testing the soft top fit with the soft top brackets, door surrounds and my doors (not pictured). I took measurements of the soft top bracket heights and locations before I removed the factory cage. The masking tape has those measurements and seat belt locations too. Although this cage came with a rear seat bar for using a harness, I don't have the harnesses or seats yet so I ordered a seat belt kit from PSC to go along with the cage. You drill out your holes in the B pillar and weld in the seat belt bungs. I hadn't got to that stage yet. The grab handles as well as gussets around the vents are also welded in place in this pic. I used a transfer punch to find the center of the holes to be drilled for the door surrounds which worked out perfectly top and bottom. The door surround screws (that go in from above) drop right through without any fighting just like factory and the holes are only 1/32" larger than the screw diameter.
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This weekend with the help of a friend, we lifted the cage out of the Jeep. I needed to finish installing the seat belt kit and weld up the gussets I made for the rear of the cage. I've got my scotch brite pads to sand it down, solvent to clean up the tubes of oils/residue, primer, and paint. The paint is a rustoleum speckled, texture finish in a tan color. I considered powder coating but that prevented me from easily adding to the cage later on without having to destroy the powder coating in that area.
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Here's a close up of the rear gusset I made and welded on. I did this mainly because the tube is welded to the rear of the plate by its design and left a lot of the plate not in contact with the tube surface. This gave it more surface area to contact the mounting plate...
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Tools:
I did have to pick up a harbor freight tube notcher and 1.75" hole saw to do this job. Some of the coping needed to be adjusted during assembly and two of the vertical tubes above the dash were too long and I needed to cut them down a little. I also made the grab handles and notched them to my liking.
Chop saw for making straight cuts
Drill with 1/2" chuck size for the tube notcher and drill bit to cut the 3/4" holes for the seat belt bungs
MIG/TIG welder of your choice. I use a Lincoln 140c with 0.035" wire for just about everything.
Angle grinder (with cutting wheels and grinding wheels)
Sand paper or electric sander to clean up the ends of the tubes prior to welding (shiny clean metal welds much better)
Wratchet straps and clamps to help hold things in place

Friends. Don't forget friends. The cage is a PITA to assemble by yourself. It's almost impossible to get the first two tubes started without someone holding them in place while you tack the ends to the mounting brackets. The cage weighs a little over 200 lbs when assembled and you won't be able to lift it out of the Jeep by yourself without some sort of overhead hoist. You can paint it in your Jeep if you want but you won't be able to get paint on all bare surfaces so it's best to pull it out and paint it. When I get the new seats and harnesses, I will be adding more bars to the bottom of the cage to tie the seats to and also extending the cage to the frame.

This was a really fun project. Hope you enjoyed the pics.
David M.
2003 Sport
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#2 User is offline   Joe Dillard 

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 06:13 PM

Nice - I like it! :biggrin1:

#3 User is offline   JeepinJimmy 

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 07:40 PM

Very Nice, Was the kit pretty much complete from PSC?
Jeepinjimmy
2004 Wrangler

#4 User is offline   fishalways 

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 07:46 PM

Nice work

Does the kit allow you to put the wind shield down? it looks like it does.

Do you know if they make a kit for the unlimited TJ's?
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#5 User is offline   jeepincj78 

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 08:52 PM

View Postfishalways, on Aug 6 2007, 08:46 PM, said:

Nice work

Does the kit allow you to put the wind shield down? it looks like it does.

Do you know if they make a kit for the unlimited TJ's?



Dave, it is refreshing to see you have not lost interest in Jeeping.. I hope all is well with you, the family, and DIXIE!!! The cage turned out great.. Hopefully, we can catch up in the not to distant future..

Frank
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#6 User is offline   YJWhenUCanTJ 

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Posted 07 August 2007 - 08:05 AM

The kit was complete JeepinJimmy. Everything was delivered the same day via UPS. If you do not have 4 or 5 point seat harnesses, then you should order their OEM seat belt kit to reuse your factory seat belts. The kit includes the rear seat bar no matter what so you can always go to harnesses later and have a good anchor point behind you for the shoulder belts.

Fishalways, the kit does allow you to put the windshield down but this reduces your lateral stability. The windshield frame gives you a surprising amount of rigidity at the A pillar when used in combination with a cage. If you were to wheel with the windshield down, you'd really want to add a vertical bar (or a \ / shape) at the center of the windshield's upper and lower bars, and possibly some 45 degree tube gussets at the inside corners of the windshield bars. For a Jeep I still drive on the street, that's a lot of interference with looking through the windshield and I prefer my windshield up (it shows too now) so I didn't see the point in adding all that extra tubing. YMMV. PSC does make a full cage kit for the unlimited. Check out their site.

Jeepincj78, all is well with the family and dixie. good to hear from you too. Thanks for the compliment on the cage and I hope to see you guys again also.
David M.
2003 Sport
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#7 User is offline   YJWhenUCanTJ 

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Posted 09 August 2007 - 12:02 PM

The prime/paint step is done. :lol: Cage should be going back in this weekend.

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David M.
2003 Sport
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#8 User is offline   TufrThNails 

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 02:38 AM

Looks great man. Can't wait to see the final pics. :drive:
Miller, Jonathan
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#9 User is offline   YJWhenUCanTJ 

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 04:34 PM

Here's the final pics. Got it done today. Need to order some roll bar padding from Summit and get 2 new speaker pods because the overheads no longer fit. Other than that, everything else went back together easily.

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David M.
2003 Sport
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#10 User is offline   JeepinJimmy 

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Posted 11 August 2007 - 06:42 PM

Very Nice, Me Likes :yahoo:
Jeepinjimmy
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#11 User is offline   Livefree 

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Posted 12 August 2007 - 06:12 AM

Dave Great work and if all the welds look like that one you did some great welding. I spent over 25 years in the Nuclear Power Plant industry inspecting welds and that looks good.
2002 JT X, 35" MTR Kavlar Goodyear tires, Trail Ready 15"x 10" aluminum Beadlock Rims. Ox Lockers both axles, Currie Anti-Rock, Dana 44s with Chromoly axles , Custom bully up, Warn 9500ti, 4 long arm lift, 1-1/2 body lift, 1 motor mount lift and more. Atlas 2 speed Transfer case, Custom High Steering and Tom Woods Front and rear Drive shafts. Sniper Fab front Bumper, and Jeeperman Rear. T&T Zero HI line front fenders and corner wrap skins with 4" LED tail lights.

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