AD­DICTED TO DIRT: PART 3

The Value of Tube Doors and a Se­cu­rity Com­part­ment

4WDrive - - Contents - Words and pho­tos by Bryan Irons @bryanirons Aries Au­to­mo­tive www.ariesauto­mo­tive.com Rugged Ridge www.ruggedridge.com

Open top, no-door ve­hic­u­lar trail rid­ing is an ex­pe­ri­ence that can’t be re­ally spo­ken or writ­ten about ac­cu­rately, so its best to en­joy it first-hand to gain a sense of true off-road­ing. As the build on our friend Zo­ran’s 2015 Jeep JK pro­gressed, so did our an­tic­i­pa­tion of what was to come next.

In pre­vi­ous in­stall­ments, we be­gan by beef­ing up the sus­pen­sion, tires and wheels. We also for­ti­fied re­cov­ery points and prepped for a fu­ture winch sys­tem. Now we turn our at­ten­tion to adding hard­ware that will give Zo­ran a “pride of own­er­ship.”

We know this ve­hi­cle can han­dle the trails as Zo­ran has glee­fully brought his pol­ished Jeep JK out on many runs in the moun­tains. These rides also re­vealed some short­com­ings, and it was fi­nally time to deal with this new list of 'wants'.

The first de­sire was to deal with the fac­tory run­ning boards that did noth­ing for pro­tec­tion against the el­e­ments and even rubbed against the tires at full stuff. Pow­der-coated run­ning boards from Aries Au­to­mo­tive were the or­der of the day (that also matched the bumpers). The run­ning boards eas­ily bolt into the fac­tory lo­ca­tions and take less than an hour to in­stall with sim­ple hand tools – per­fect.

The other area of an­noy­ance are the full doors. If you are lucky enough to not re­side in BC, where a lack of doors on any ve­hi­cle in which they were orig­i­nally equipped is il­le­gal, then we envy you. Nev­er­the­less, we or­dered a set of qual­ity tube doors from Aries Au­to­mo­tive, which were shipped with the same or­der as the run­ning boards. We also or­dered a set of Rugged Ridge fac­tory mir­rors for the new tube doors, so we wouldn’t have to swap mir­rors every sea­son when the other doors went back on. Again, here in BC, ve­hi­cles are re­quired by law to have two rear view mir­rors, which we un­der­stand. It’s just too bad that Aries Au­to­mo­tive doesn’t in­clude a set with its tube doors.

The in­stall is su­per sim­ple and only re­quires a Torx bit, which you should al­ready have if you own a Jeep. In the event you never taken your doors off in the past, ex­pect to spend some time (and the use of some pen­e­trat­ing lube) get­ting them off. Hav­ing a buddy to as­sist you is a good idea as well.

With the top down and tube doors, the Jeep JK plat­form doesn’t leave a whole lot of space to se­cure valu­ables. We or­dered a rear close out kit – again from Aries Au­to­mo­tive – so Zo­ran could keep his ‘speedo and tan­ning oil safely stowed away from pry­ing eyes’. The kit in­cludes close­out gates, which still al­low the rear seats to be folded down for ex­tra cargo space while keep­ing the rear trunk com­part­ment se­cure. The kit also al­lows a hard or soft top to be in­stall over it so there’s no need to be swap­ping it in and out dur­ing the year depend­ing on what top was on.

Some tweak­ing and tun­ing of the brack­ets was re­quired to get a proper fit and to be able to use the in­cluded locks and keys. One of our gripes was that the in­stal­la­tion in­struc­tions could use some bet­ter il­lus­tra­tions to show the place­ment of the brack­ets as we had to take a few stabs at it. None­the­less, we liked the rub­ber seals that keep rain or mois­ture out of the trunk area, as well as the top deck that’s strong enough to place larger items like a cooler on top.

Off-road­ing can be en­joyed in just about any­thing with the proper tires, and we have the fire-red Jeep JK ready for what­ever may come over the hori­zon, which is what it’s all about. Some per­sonal items to pro­vide more com­fort and se­cu­rity are al­ways money well spent when the funds al­low. Choos­ing ad­di­tional gear can be­come a choice of “who, what, when, where, why, and how much,” but by stick­ing with af­ter­mar­ket prod­ucts that are well engi­neered al­ways trumps “flashy” and “new” any time. We chose Aries Au­to­mo­tive for this in­stall be­cause the items are easy to pro­cure, they are well made, and have been around for quite a while with no signs of leav­ing the mar­ket any time soon. They are sim­ple to work with, just like us!

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