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WHY DOES THE JEEP NEED BETTER LIGHTS OFF ROAD?
After plenty of off-road fun in our Jeep, we find the inability to see what's to the left and right to be a bit of a problem. Despite running the best headlights ever made available to the JK we need more coverage to the sides! To clarify, headlights must follow all the rules that the DOT imposes, and while these rules work well on the road, they don't allow light where we need it on the trail. We find the area out to the left and right to be most problematic, so pointing light that way was necessary. In short, The Jeep needs off road lights!
The available pillar mounted lights aren't car-wash friendly, cast light onto the hood, and generally violate our self imposed rules about random things sticking out of the Jeep. Luckily, after much exploration, I discovered there is a pocket in the inner layer of sheetmetal that'd likely clear the back of a carefully positioned, small, flush-mounted light. What's more, we found the incredible Baja Designs S1 Flush mount lights are just small enough to fit! To demonstrate, here's a shot looking back into the fender gap and another up-close to see the pocket:
As a result of some careful measuring with a piece of scrap ground wire bent to shape, the location of this recess was determined with enough accuracy to drill the fenders:
Here's how we accomplished this off-road lighting upgrade on our Jeep JK:
For any of you looking to do this yourself, It can likely be done with the inner fenders still installed by simply measuring out the location of this hole. As shown above, it is 9-7/8" ahead of the driver door gap and 4-1/4" below the seam between fender and cowl. With the location determined, we center-punched the spot and used our best hole-cutters to do the job because regular hole-saws make a mess of thin sheet metal.
As a result, we now have a super clean hole that needs no further work. We then used a digital angle finder to set the Baja Designs S1 light in the hole parallel with the fender seam above, and marked for the 4 screws.
Then we drilled the 4 holes with a 11/64" drill bit:
And finally paint the fresh cut edges so they won't rust:
The next step was to set this up in a way that'd allow us to remove the lights without pulling the inner fenders, so we came up with a solution that worked well for this particular case. We stuck some 3M VHB double sided tape to the face of some M4-0.7 T-nuts as that would hold them in place behind the fastener holes in the fenders.
We then cut the centers out of the holes using an X-Acto knife so the screws can pass through to the threads.
What's more, the screws helped to align the tape-faced nuts and pull them into place.
It was finally time to drop our new Baja Designs S1 flush mount work/scene lights into the fenders:
Wiring the new lights:
Wiring these is quite straightforward as Baja Designs gives you all the parts you need for a good weathertight connection. Therefore, all you'll need is proper wire to head back to your sPod or Relay, dielectric grease, and a good crimping tool to assemble the connector. To begin with, apply some dielectric grease to the wire, and slide the weather seals on:
Then strip the wires back and insert them in the terminals, before making the crimp like this:
After that, take the freshly crimped ends, apply some dielectric grease to the boots and slip them into the connectors like this:
At this point, you may wonder about wire routing. We found this spot works well for mounting the connector with the addition of one small hole for a Zip Tie. After that, the wires can easily be routed across the rain tray.
Finally, just wire them to your favorite method of switching. For example, we've got ours wired to the aux outputs on our Warn 12S Platinum winch. Eventually, we'll wire to a 4x4sPod BantamX with the 8-switch panel, though we haven't ordered that yet.
In summary, light output is superb as you'd expect from Baja Designs, and placement does a good job illuminating those dark sides we didn't like. At any rate, we should probably head out and get some good photos to demonstrate how well the work!