In our last section we removed all of the sheet metal needed to put in our new heavy duty rocker guards. Now it’s time to prep the new metal. Check out Part 1 We started with some 2” by 3” by 3/16” thick rectangular tubing and started to mock it into place. There was still some of the body support structure that was hanging down that needed to be accounted for. Using floor jacks to hold it in place, we marked the spots that would need to be cut out to make room for it all. We then went ahead and cut it out. Once that was done, we were able to get into its final place and mark where the ends would need to be cut and also measure the angle of the cut at the fender. The idea was to blend it in as much as possible so it looked like part of the body. The angle of the cut was 30 degrees on both the front and the rear. Time was also taken to cap in both ends of the new rocker. This provides a clean look and keeps stuff piling up in there.
Once the basic rocker was done, it was time for the kick out protection. This is simply a tube that bends out from the rocker, travels down the length of it and then turns back in. The idea is that it will give you something to slide against and to help protect your doors. It also provides a sweet step to access the roof or just climb into the Jeep. We did ours with a 45 degree bend into the main rocker and just spaced it out a few inches. We also gave it a 30 kick up to help give us all the clearance we could. It clears the doors opening by about an inch which is about as close I wanted to be in case I needed to open the door with the body of the Jeep all flexed up. This turned out to not be a problem at all out in the field as it looks like the rocker itself went a long ways in making the whole unibody of the Cherokee much stiffer. The side protection needed to be braced as it was pretty long. There are a few ways to do this but in the end we simply cut a long piece of metal that fit in there and we drilled in a bunch of 1” holes down the length of it for drainage. It has worked out well and it looks pretty good. However, it took forever to drill all of those stupid holes.
Once the side protection was welded on, it was time to mock it all into place on the Jeep. Plans was to weld it all the way across under the doors, stitch weld it to the body in the back, and to finally put some braces down to a reinforced unibody frame. Since Jeep Grand Cherokee’s (and regular Jeep Cherokee’s) are a unibody setup, there isn’t any real frame rail that you can safely weld to. There are two frame like channels that run down underneath, and when reinforced, work as a good mounting point. Ours was reinforced by some ¼” angle running down the length of it. Since we had gone for all the clearance we could, the braces from the new rockers to the frame rails could only be about an 1” thick. Since they were only 1” thick, we made them 2” wide for some more strength. It was a bit tedious to weld it all in but this step is important. When prepping the metal to weld to, use a flap disk to get all of the undercoating off. The metal is not very thick and a grinding wheel could take off too much and make it thin. Also the metal is galvanized so make sure that is also removed. You can tell as the galvanized part is a grey color and it gets shiny when it comes off. After it was all welded on, that same flap disk was taken to the weld right below the doors to smooth it out and blend it in. It worked good enough that most people do not even see that it’s not the stock rocker in there anymore. It looks like I just welded a bar to the body of the jeep!
So does it work? Oh yeah. I’ve come down on it pretty hard a few times and used it to pivot around other stuff and its help up great. I’ve gouged the metal out some here and there and I just smooth it back out with that same flap disk and hit with some more paint. It was a lot of work but now I have great protection and I didn’t lose any ground clearance!