Barn Door for JK factory hardtops


Expedition Leader
The other day I got a promotional email from Cricut offering 50% off supplies, like decal vinyl. While browsing their site, I discovered that they offer material for cutting stencils. Since the early Jeeps (40's/50's and maybe some 60's) had graphics painted on through stencils, I decided to get some stencil material to try.

Many of the early Jeeps had this stenciled on the tailgate:

I'll cover the steps in case anyone is interested. First, I cut the stencil on my little Cricut Joy machine:

Then the cut stencil is "weeded" (that's the term Cricut uses). The part to be painted gets removed. When making a decal, usually the background is weeded away but since this is a stencil that is to be painted through, the image is weeded out.

To transfer the fragile stencil to the surface to be stenciled, clear transfer tape is applied over the stencil:

The backing is then peeled off the stencil and the stencil is applied to the surface which in this case is a piece of the tub left over from when I made my pickup.

Applying to the surface:

Peeling off the transfer tape:

I covered the area around the stencil with masking tape to protect the surface from overspray:

Rattle can painted:


Looks at least as good as the original stenciled/painted on graphics on early Jeeps.

I'll continue to do most graphics in vinyl, but it's nice to have stencils in my array of possibilities.


Expedition Leader
I mentioned that I was writing an article for Auxbeam about their "halo" LED headlights and that I wasn't going to post any of it here because halos aren't something that the people on this forum typically are interested in. I sent them the article earlier this week and apparently they liked it because they asked me to do some more writing for them for the holiday shopping season. For the new article (or articles, maybe more than one), they told me in an email this morning that they're sending me these:

More lights to play with :). I'm not really a "light guy" and don't need additional lights for the way I use my Jeeps but it's fun to try out new things anyway and I do enjoy doing reviews and writing. Since lights like these might interest people here I'll post reviews of the new lights once I've installed and tested them.


I guess this is my week for writing. Sometimes I'm asked to write instructions for the things I design and yesterday I wrote instructions for OO's upcoming SpareHopper bag...

I also have been helping OO with design for their holiday sale catalog, which they tell me will be sent snail mail to all of their customers and maybe PDF to their email list. The cover:

Enough writing for one week, time to get back to actual Jeep projects.


Expedition Leader
A few years ago I designed a simple charging system for fridge/kitchen batteries and I've had it in use in my JKU and my LJ since then and it's worked exactly as intended. I posted all the details back in February:

The kitchen battery and charging system also saved us from a dead main battery on a trip to Florida in 2021:

The Trail Kitchen charging system isn't intended to start the Jeep, but as I described when I posted about the Florida trip all I had to do was swap one wire from one terminal to another to be able to use the system to start the Jeep. I've been thinking about making a design change to the system ever since and I've finally had some time to plan it.

I just received switches for this for both the JKU (left) and the TJ:

The TJ switch I found on eBay. I couldn't find a similar switch for the JK in horizontal format (I've got open switch locations on my a-pillar that take horizontally oriented switches), so I had that one custom made.

These switches will override the normal operation of the kitchen battery charging system. Normally the kitchen battery is only connected to the main battery when the Jeep is running; that charges the kitchen battery when the Jeep is running but disconnects it when the Jeep isn't running so the kitchen can never drain the main battery. The connection is currently made with a 40-amp relay, which is more than enough capacity for charging current for the kitchen battery. I'll be replacing the 40-amp relays in both Jeeps with a 500-amp ones and the switches above will switch the relay on when the kitchen battery is needed to start the Jeep. It's a simple change - swapping out the relays and a small wiring change to bring power the the switch to operate the relay to override normal operation.

I think this change will be the best of both worlds - a power source for the kitchen that's charged by the Jeep and can never drain the main battery, plus the ability to use the kitchen battery to start the Jeep just by flipping a switch. I'll be doing the installation over the next few weeks as I get time between other projects. I'll post more about it when I get it done.
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Expedition Leader
Another Cricut project - making patches.

I wanted to try making patches using the Cricut so I ordered some blank patches and did some quick tests with Circut Iron-on material. I just used images I already had and the Rubicon one is a little incomplete - it should have a hill under the Jeep for it to climb.

I added velcro to the back so I could stick them on a prototype Overland Outfitters Tactical Tool Bag, which has velcro loop behind the MOLLE grid.

These worked out very nicely. A range of different colors of blank patches are available out there, and Cricut Iron-on comes in a wide range of colors, so many different patch designs are possible, including using multiple colors of iron-on on the same patch. These are screen shots from one of the patch places I found on the internet and the colors of iron-on from the Cricut site.



Expedition Leader
UPS dropped these off yesterday, they're from Auxbeam...

7 Inch 360 Pro Driving lights + optional amber covers

They tell me black covers are on the way too.

12 Inch 5D Pro Light bar

They also say they're sending me a pair of their latest 6-way light pods and a another pair of 25,000 lumen H13 LEDs but those haven't arrived yet.

All of the above are for two articles they've asked me to write for their web site. I'll post reviews when I finish testing. I'll probably test them all on my '06 Retro Wrangler pickup because there are easy ways to mount everything on that Jeep; if that's the Jeep I test them on I'll post the reviews in my LJ thread.
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Expedition Leader
Also in the mail yesterday...

About a week ago Lumary ( asked me if I would be interested in testing and reviewing their outdoor lights ( Since those really can't be defined as Jeep or offroad things, I declined with thanks. Back in March reviewed their WiFi security camera: and the camera isn't a Jeep thing either but since I use it to monitor the inside of my garage where all 3 Jeeps live, I declared it a Jeep thing and posted that review here in case anyone else wanted to be able to watch over their Jeep(s) remotely.

When I tested the security camera, I also tested their "Smart Plug". Also not a Jeep thing, I didn't post about it here. It's a small device that plugs into an outlet and a lamp or other electrical thing plugs into it; the Smart Plug connects to the home network via WiFi and allows control of the lamp via Smartphone; you can define an on/off schedule and other functions; it's a nice little gadget and very reasonably priced.

When they asked about the outdoor lights the other day I told them how much I liked the Smart Plugs and said I was planning to order a 4-pack so I could control additional lights around the house but hadn't gotten around to placing the order yet. Yesterday these showed up in the mail:

It was very nice of them of send these to me, and completely unexpected. So why am I posting this? To say thanks to them, and to say that in my dealings with Lumary I've found them to be excellent people with fine products (even if their products aren't Jeep or offroad related).



Expedition Leader
I got an email from the other day telling me that they were discontinuing publication of Four Wheeler magazine. I am a subscriber, mostly because that was the only print magazine left - a few years ago there were four magazines in the U.S. covering the Jeep/offroad space, now there are none. I didn't even really like Four Wheeler but the subscription wasn't too expensive and I was trying to do my part to keep the last magazine afloat.

I do still subscribe to two of the several Land Rover magazines published in the U.K., and each of them is thicker each month than any of the four magazines used to be. I guess the Brits still read and Americans have gone for instant gratification and gone to social media :(.

Even though they aren't specifically about Jeeps, I find a lot of good information and inspiration in the Land Rover magazines, more than enough to keep a thread active with the ideas for Jeeps:

I've kept all of the issues of JP Magazine, if you're wondering what every issue looks like:

I've got a searchable index of all of the JP issues here and occasionally look things up when I'm researching something, although a Google search is likely to turn up a lot more information than I'll ever find in JP but I still like paging through the old issues from time to time.

A few screen shots from the JP index...

I like the internet just fine but I am mourning the death of print media.


Expedition Leader
My wife prefers to have homemade food on the road as much as possible, so she cooks meals before leaving, puts servings in airtight containers and transports them in the fridge in the Jeep. Almost all truck stops have microwaves, so on the highway we stop at those to heat up the prepared meals. But truck stops aren't always convenient, so I decided to come up with a way to heat meals while underway, at a campsite, or in a hotel room.

I bought a 6-quart rice cooker at Walmart. We've always had a stove for cooking things, but the cooker is much better suited to heating some foods than a stove is. It's got a removable pot inside for cooking rice or heating things, it runs on 110v AC and it'll heat up a meal pretty quickly.

The JKU has a factory inverter and an A/C outlet, but it's only 150 watts so it won't run the 300-watt rice cooker. After a long search of reviews online, I decided on a 750-watt inverter from Harbor Freight. It's got some bad reviews too, but I couldn't find any inverter of any brand that didn't have some bad reviews. Maybe people don't understand watts and overload them or maybe they all have inconsistent quality, I don't know, but I figured I'd try the HF one and give it a good workout for a while (it's got a 90-day warranty). If it doesn't fail within 90 days, it'll probably be good for a long time.

The inverter needs to be directly connected to the battery in order to output the full 750 watts. It comes with wires with battery clips on the end, but I made up new longer wires with ring terminals on the ends for a more positive connection to the battery. I used Anderson SB50 connectors and made up two sets of battery-side wires so I can leave the battery-side wires connected to the batteries in each Jeep and just plug the inverter in to the Anderson connectors when I move it from Jeep to Jeep. The kitchen batteries I use in both Jeeps have additional 5/16" terminals, so I've connected the inverter there. The battery cover is removed for this photo so the wiring is visible.

I haven't decided on a final place to mount the inverter in each Jeep, but in the JKU it fits very nicely behind the MOLLE panel that supports the battery tray. The MOLLE grid should provide enough air flow to keep the inverter cool, although the LCD display on the inverter is facing away from the grid so it can't be seen when the inverter is behind the panel. Still some thinking to do about the best home for the inverter. I don't plan to buy two inverters, so I need to come up with a solution that works easily in either Jeep, and with or without the full Trail Kitchen installed. For many trips we just carry the fridge and not the entire kitchen.

So now we can heat up meals in the Jeep.

I still need to figure a way to secure the cooker so it doesn't tip over from a bump on the highway while in motion. I've come up with a retainer for the lid, and next I'll work out something to secure the cooker itself and hopefully we'll be able to heat up meals while underway, to be hot and ready when we stop. The lid retainer is made from a couple of pieces of leather from a belt and some 1/4" elastic shock cord:

Also I'll sew a carrying bag for the cooker that will also hold some cooking accessories. With everything stored in a convenient bag, the bag can be carried into a hotel room to heat meals there.

This is going to be a really nice "comforts of home" addition on the road.


Expedition Leader
I modified the Trail Kitchen Charging System in the JKU today to enable the kitchen battery to start the Jeep in the event of a main battery failure.

Normally, the kitchen battery is disconnected from the main battery when the Jeep isn't running, and when the Jeep is running the kitchen battery gets connected and is charged by the alternator.

This switch connects the kitchen battery to the main battery at any time. When the switch is turned on, the kitchen battery will start the Jeep. When the switch is on (right), it's illuminated to indicate that the kitchen battery is functioning as a main battery. The photo doesn't do the illumination justice, it's brighter than it appears in the photo

The main change to the charging system is the addition of this 500-amp relay. It's powered through the switch above and draws power from the kitchen battery. Mounts nicely on an existing bolt in the engine compartment.

Hopefully I'll never need this switch, but if the main battery ever fails it'll be nice to just flip the switch and then turn the key to start the Jeep.

Next I'll make the same mod to the Trail Kitchen Charging System in the LJ.


Expedition Leader
In yesterday's mail from OO - their new leather grab handles are in production, and their holiday catalog is out. A few new products are in the catalog and a lot of great discounts.

Pictured above is the JK/TJ/LJ/YJ/CJ version, there's also a version for the plastic-shrouded roll bars of the JL and Gladiator; also a version for the JL/Gladiator that includes a small pocket for sunglasses and such.

They tell me the catalog is going in the mail this week so if you've bought from them you should get one, if you haven't bought but want a catalog you can request one through the "contact" page on their web site (ask for the holiday catalog)..

In today's mail I'm expecting the last of the lighting products from Auxbeam that they've asked me to write an article about, so hopefully I can finish up that assignment soon. The article is for their web site, I'll post excerpts of the article in my LJ thread (the products aren't just for the LJ but since I installed/tested them on my LJ pickup I'll post there).

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