After a few camping trips and some non-4 wheeling related trips in the Jeep I
knew I ha to address one of the biggest flaws which is a lack of storage space.
TJ owners have it the worst as there is a tine shelf behind the rear seat not
big enough for a standard cooler. While my LJ has room for a good sized
cooler behind the rear seat you are still faced with piling stuff in the back
and then trying to secure the lump of gear.
I started searching for some sort of rear storage shelf and unfortunately most
of them assume you no longer want to use your rear seat. I ended up
Bestop Universal Rack Tray with the intention of modifying it to work
with my rear seat. The rack itself is made from plastic so it is very light and
has 4 tie downs.
Upon receiving the rack I did a quick test fit and determined I would have to
narrow it by about 4" in order to keep the rear seat and close the rear hatch.
Using a skill saw I cut a section out of the center of the tray that essentially
removed the center strip of holes. Next I fabricated an aluminum bar that
fit inside of the tray. The screws you see in the above picture are
threaded into the aluminum bar which nicely restored the rigidity of the tray.
Once the tray was back together I had to come up with a way to mount it.
I ended up making two sets of brackets. The front brackets tied into one
of the top mounting bolts while the rear brackets tied in to the rear sheet
metal besides the tailgate via 4 new holes I drilled.
This ended up being one of those mods you whished you had done sooner. The
tray makes the rear storage area much more versatile and easier to use whether
you are camping or making a trip to the grocery store.
The next mod I am considering is a set of adjustable rear shocks. I am
currently running some Bilstein shocks but feel the back end of this thing is
too heavy for their valving. Bilstein does not differentiate between a TJ
and the heavier LJ which I think is part of the problem. More to come.
Update 2-28-10 - My ARB air line deiced to break a few weeks back. The fix
was easy, cut the broken end and re-install it into the front differential
fitting. The next week at the KOH race it broke again and upon closer
examination the plastic air line was really brittle. An upgrade was in
order but at nearly $90 the standard braided SS air line upgrade was a little
hard to swallow. These kits used to be closer to $40. I ended up picking up
essentially the same stuff by ordering a #12708-102 Russell Air Locker Adapter
Kit from Quadratec for $19.99 (plus 4.99 shipping) and a 910-31895-3 48" Braided
SS brake line w/90 deg end from Speedway Motors for $18.99 (plus $7.05
The fitting with the o-ring goes into the solenoid on the compressor end to
which I connected the 90 degree -3 AN fitting end on the SS line. The
other fitting threads into the differential once you pull the old plastic line
and ferrule. Hook the straight -3 AN to the new fitting and just snug it.
If you need to do the rear ARB as well you'll need two of the fitting Russell
adapter kits and you may have to source a longer braided SS line from a local
hose shop. The line upgrade kits come with 10 foot lines and I could not
find a 10 foot braided stainless brake line in my searching. If you have
one made just get -3 AN fittings at both ends (one of then a 90 Deg if it makes
sense with your compressor mounting).