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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 out there to the left and right to be a bit of a problem. This is after upgrading to the best headlights ever made available to the JK! The problem is that 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. The Jeep needs off road lights!
The available pillar light mounts 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. Having been all over this thing, I'd discovered there is a pocket in the inner layer of sheetmetal that'd likely clear the back of a small flush-mounted light if positioned carefully. We were hoping some Baja Designs S1 Flush mount lights would fit, and they do! Here's a shot looking back into the fender gap and another up-close to see the pocket:
So with 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 ensuring out the center of this hole. 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.
This makes for 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:
We painted 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 to 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.
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. 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. Start by applying some of the dielectric grease to the wire and sliding the weather seals on:
Then strip the wires back and insert them in the terminals, before making the crimp like this:
Now you can take the freshly crimped ends, apply some dielectric grease to the boots and slip them into the connectors like this:
If you're wondering about wire routing, we found this spot works well for attaching the connector with a Zip Tie after drilling a small hole. The wires can easily be routed across the rain tray too.
Now just wire them to your favorite method of switching. For us it'll be a 4x4sPod BantamX with the 8-switch panel, though we haven't ordered that yet. We did test the lights with some jumpers and the placement and light output are superb as expected from Baja Designs. We can't wait to get this all finished up and add more lighting!