How would you outfit this custom LJ?


Expedition Leader
I'll take 2 in black!
I did the test one in brown leather because I've got lots of brown leather here. My 06's have gray door panels so I'll probably make pulls for those in black leather. I don't have any black leather on hand so I'll have to get some the next time I'm near a Tandy Leather store ( There's a store in Syracuse and I was in Syracuse Tuesday but I didn't make the brown one until yesterday so on Tuesday I didn't know I would want black leather.

These are very simple and quick to make, the only thing you really need is a sewing machine that can sew through two layers of leather plus a plastic stiffener that the leather is wrapped around. Unfortunately a typical home sewing machine won't have the power to drive the needle through those layers.

If there was a market for high end TJ things I'd turn the design over to OO for them to make and sell, but the market isn't there for that kind of thing for the TJ/LJ these days. If I thought they'd sell even a small quantity I'd suggest these to them. They can do very small production runs pretty efficiently and I've thought about organizing group buys with them for special items like this that there isn't general demand for.


Expedition Leader
I like the look. How are you reinforcing the ends to prevent tear out at the screws?
The leather I used is quite thick (a little less than 1/8") and very tough. It's the same leather OO uses for their products (they supply me with it so I can sew prototypes of potential products for them). Tear-out should not be a problem.


Expedition Leader
I'll take 2 in black!
I was in a Hobby Lobby store today and discovered that they sell sheets of black leather: (they also sell the same thing in brown). There's a 4-6 square foot piece of leather in the package, so I bought one. The leather is a little bit thinner than the brown leather I used to make the prototype door pull but it can be doubled up where the screws go in to strengthen it. And 4-6 square feet is plenty to make a bunch of door pulls.

I won't have time to get to this for at least a week but as soon as I get time I'll make a few black ones and I'll post step-by-step instructions and photos so people might be able to make their own.


Expedition Leader
The prototype leather door pull I made a week ago was brown leather because that's what I had on hand. My LJ has a gray interior, I think Jeep calls it agate, so I made more in black leather I got from Hobby Lobby. In case anyone else wants to make their own leather pulls, here's a pattern and step-by-step instructions.

Materials - leather, preferably about 3/32" thick (typically called "6 oz." in the leather biz.). I found some black leather at Hobby Lobby (they also sell the same thing in brown). There's plenty of leather in the package to make a dozen or so pulls. The leather is thinner than what I would prefer to make these out of so I'll double it up.

Also needed is plastic to form a stiffener. I cut that from lawn edging, the kind you stick into the ground around a flower bed -, but any flat, semi flexible plastic that's maybe 1/16' thick or more will do. BTW I also use lawn edging as the bottom retainer for soft sides, this photo shows the retainer at the bottom of the roll-up soft side panel for my LJ Safari Cab that was made from lawn edging, it's fairly easy to sew through and strong enough to work well as a retainer strip:

If you can't find anything else to use you can cut three or four pieces from a gallon plastic milk jug and sew them together to make a thicker piece to serve as the stiffener for this project.

This is the pattern for the parts. There's a scale on the pattern so when you print the pattern you can verify that it's printed full size.

The parts:

As I said, the Hobby Lobby leather is thinner than I'd like, so I made two of the leather pieces and glued them back sides together with contact cement.

After gluingb the two pieces together, I sewed a box around each end to strengthen the tabs. This won't show once the pull is installed, so you don't get extra points for stitching a perfect box :):

Punch the screw holes in the tab ends. I used a 3/16" punch to fit the screws but there is a boss on the inside of the door panel that's about 5/16" in diameter, so the holes could be punched larger for the boss to fit in. I like the smaller hole because the pull is clamped tighter between the door panel and the door frame.

The leather is wrapped around the plastic stiffener and temporarily held in place with some sewing clips. Test the fit, and trim the leather as necessary if it overlaps in the back.

Two lines of stitching are sewn along the pull, going through the leather on both sides and the plastic stiffener in the middle. You can use whatever color thread you like for an accent color, I chose gray to match the door panel.

Some sewing machines, particularly the inexpensive ones that are mostly plastic these days, may not have the power to sew through the leather plus the plastic, so it's worth testing whatever machine you have with the leather and plastic before you get too far into this project.

Installation is simple - remove the screws holding the factory pull in place (Torx T-15), slip the old pull out, slip the new pull into place and insert and tighten the screws.

It's a pretty simple project and I think they're a lot nicer than the factory pulls.



Expedition Leader
I wrote in my JK thread that Overland Outfitters sent me a box full of preproduction samples of their new spare tire storage products to test. I did a quick install of each of them on the LJ this morning. These are preproduction samples, so they don't have final production hardware and some of the details aren't final yet but they're close enough for testing and for me to provide them with feedback. Don't mind the salty LJ, it serves plow duty all winter and doesn't get washed until the plow comes off in the spring. The SpareHopper:

I've had a SpareHopper on both my JKU and my LJ for a long time - the first ones were prototypes I sewed and later I've been using preproduction samples from OO. I use them all the time - in NY State stores aren't allowed to put your purchases in bags anymore so I carry my reusable shipping bags in there because there's no good place to keep them in the Jeep. And when I'm on long trips or offroad expeditions I use it for a trash and recycling bag, it's just the right size for a standard kitchen trash bag to fit inside.

It's easy to move the SpareHopper between the two Jeeps because the mounting straps are separate and the bag attaches to the straps with clips. I've got mounting straps on the LJ and the JKU so I can use the bag on either one.

Next up is the Tactical Spare Cover. It's got MOLLE grids on both sides and on the face, and also a pocket inside the face.

In this next photo my Tree Saver strap is sitting partially out of the pocket, it does fit all the way in.

To go with the Tactical Spare Cover (or any other place where MOLLE is exposed to the weather, there are 6" and 12" weather resistant MOLLE bags. Here are a few on the spare cover:

And for more storage, similar to the SpareHopper but in a smaller size, are the SpareSide bags. They attach to the MOLLE on the side of the spare cover.

On the TJ/LJ the spare is a bit towards the passenger side of the Jeep so a SpareSide bag can interfere with the tail light on that side. The JK is wide enough for a SpareSide bag on either side, but on the TJ/LJ it's probably best to use a SpareSide bag only on the driver's side and put a weather-resistant MOLLE bag on the passenger side.

The SpareSide bags or the MOLLE bags can also be used without the spare tire cover - the MOLLEWrap is a band that wraps around the spare and has the same MOLLE grids on the side that the spare cover does. The MOLLEWrap is also compatible with the SpareHopper, in the next photo I've left the SpareHopper straps in place and installed the MOLLEWrap over them so both the SpareHopper and a pair of molle bags or SpareSide bags can be carried at the same time.

All of these products are made from DWR/UV-treated (durable water resistant) polyester so they'll stand up well to the weather and the sun.

Since they're pretty quick to install, I'll use them on an as-needed basis. I'll keep a SpareHopper on each Jeep all the time for the uses I mentioned above and throw on one or more of the other bags as needed for whatever situation I'm about to go into.

I do have some suggestions for improvements in the details of the products which I'll pass along to them. They haven't given me exact release dates for any of these other than "soon".


Expedition Leader
Accessories that suck (in a good way).

At SEMA in November I can across a company called SeaSucker - they make cargo accessories for boats and vehicles that attach with powerful suction cups. Here's one of the products they were showing, it's a Rotopax holder that can stick to the side window or body side of a vehicle (

At SEMA they were also showing a range of things mounted to a Gladiator cap window:

At SEMA there was also a Chinese company offering similar suction mounts, but theirs have a vacuum motor and a battery and they detect loss of suction and automatically tighten the suction grip when that happens ( They were demonstrating this rack with their automatic vacuum mounts:

Both of these interested me enough that I decided I would experiment with vacuum mounting. I kept in touch with Chinese company and their automatic mounts are not on the market yet but just about ready for testing, so I may get a few samples from them but in the meantime I found a source for discounted SeaSucker mounts and picked up some samples to play with.

Since a Rotopax holder already exists, I had to try something else. How about a table that mounts to the side of the Jeep?

A while back I designed and built a tailgate table with features not found in any other table and I still have the prototype here so I decided to try that with suction. Here's the table on a TJ tailgate (using screws, before suction):

I designed that table so that with a minor change in mounting hardware the same table could be installed on TJ, JK or JL tailgates, and since it was designed to be adaptable it was easy to make a suction mount. Check it out:

The MOLLE panel is optional and perhaps not necessary for the side mount version.

The way I designed the vacuum mount I don't intend the table to be installed while driving - I only used two suction mounts at the top and it has rubber feet that rest against the body at the bottom but with two vacuum mounts at the bottom it could remain installed while driving.

Another idea... a while back I designed a MOLLE panel intended to mount inside the hardtop and be accessible through a side window/hatch:

I've still got that prototype panel here so I decided to try it with vacuum mounts on the outside. For this test I used 4 vacuum mounts so the panel could be left in place while driving.

It's not going anywhere.

I think that accessories that suck have a future.

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