My apologies for the delay in posting this. A rather nasty virus swept through the family, and finishing this post was the last thing on my mind …
Santa Claus brought me a stylish little addition that also will help Smokey run cooler as I begin adding heavy, power-intensive accessories. After powder coating the aluminum louver panel to match the Jeep’s gloss-black finish, it was time to install.
- Masking tape
- Sharpie or similar medium- or fine-tip marker
- Center punch
- Drill motor
- 7/32″ drill bit
- 3/4-inch and 1-inch hole saws
- Ruler or straight edge, 18-inches minimum length
- Cut-off wheel
- 1/8-inch hex key
- 3/8-inch socket & rachet
- Filing wheel or manual file
- Touch-up paint
- Dusting cloth or air gun (to remove debris from painted surfaces)
Step 1: Prepare the hood
Poison Spyder’s instructions call for the removal of the Jeep’s hood. Without an extra set of hands to help maneuver the hood off the vehicle and lacking a proper rest for it once removed, I opted to complete the install with the hood still on the vehicle. While this is completely doable, the process is much easier with the hood removed, and I’d recommend following Poison Spyder’s instructions where possible.
With that caveat out of the way, remove the windshield washer nozzle and windshield bumpers by squeezing and pushing up from underneath the hood. The footman loop is held on by two 3/8-inch nuts attached to the loop’s studs. (NOTE: Use caution removing these pieces. I realized at time to reinstall that I managed to break the clip that held in one of my windshield bumpers, resulting in a less-than-perfect fit.)
Next, cover the hood with masking tape to prevent the metal shavings you’re about to create from scratching your paint. If you’re completing this project with the hood in place like I did, I’d recommend taping plastic sheeting in place to completely cover your hood and windshield cowl, as these shavings get everywhere! (Also, invest in a wide roll of masking tape. Ever the cheapskate, I used whatever I had lying around — meaning it took forever to tape up the hood!)
Cut out the paper template using the scissors and cut out the holes for the windshield bumpers. Align the template on the hood using the windshield bumpers and footman loop, then tape in place. Make sure you smooth out any wrinkles in the template as you do so.
Use your spring-loaded center punch (or a standard center punch and hammer) to mark the 16 hole centers and the two corners for cutting, then remove the template. I circled the punches to be cut with the 1-inch hole saw (photo, above) to make certain I didn’t cut out the corner point by mistake.
NOTE: Do not use the paper template to mark or drill the bolt holes; this is guaranteeing your final fit will be off!
Step 2: Now or never — it’s time to cut!
Using a 1-inch hole saw, drill holes at each of the 16 marked locations. Be careful — the sheet metal is extremely thin. You don’t want to cut through the X-brace support underneath the skin of the hood. In one of my forward-most locations, I drilled through the outer skin and the inner brace without realizing it — the metal is that thin!
Fellow Jeepers will tell you it’s the first hole you drill in your pristine Jeep that’s the hardest, but they’re wrong. It’s the second. It wasn’t until I’d completed the first hole that it hit me what I’d just done to the Jeep, a realization that started my hands shaking. I calmed myself with the knowledge that Smokey’s hood already had suffered some minor hail damage prior to my purchasing her. It sounded good in my head, anyway.
Next, gently sweep or blow aside the metal shaving you’ve just created, restoring a clean surface on which to work. Then, use your straight edge to draw a cut line around each of the holes, mimicking the lines on the template enclosed with your louver panel.
Use a cut-off wheel to trace the cut lines you just marked and remove the trimmed panels. I chose to use a Dremel and reinforced cutting wheels. Cutting all four areas depleted all 11 reinforced wheels I had on hand, plus five standard-duty wheels. As with the hole cuts, use great caution to only cut through the outer skin of the hood. Removing the inner brace will have a negative effect on the structural integrity of your hood. Note also that there are some spots containing a small amount of adhesive material between the two layers. You’ll have to use a little pressure to get these areas to separate. Be patient, and carefully peel back the panel to separate the two layers.
Sand and de-burr the rough edges of your cuts and coat all edges and nicks (Don’t forget the X-brace and underside!) with a generous helping of touch-up paint to prevent rust.
Step 3: Test fit the louver panel
Once again, clear the hood of debris and place the louver on the hood, using the windshield bumper holes as placement guides. Use the louver panel as a template and drill a 7/32-inch hole at each of the four corners of the panel. Install one of the supplied button-head cap screws, a nut and washer at each of these locations and firmly tighten into place.
With the louver panel tightened down, drill the remaining 7/32-inch holes and install a screw, washer and nut hand-tight in each location.
A number of these locations will fall behind the X-brace. Poison Spyder’s instructions call for the use of a 3/4-inch hole saw used from the underside of the hood to open up enough space to clear a socket. I recommend removing the hood louver before doing this to avoid scratching the louver panel. Yes, it’s only the back side, but why scratch it up if you don’t have to?
If your louver is body-color like mine, now’s also the time to install any contrasting vinyl under the PSC logo. I acquired a 4.5- x 17-inch piece of silver vinyl from a fellow Jeeper, and marked the appropriate location.
Step 4: Clean up & final installation
Remove all hardware and clear the hood of any remaining debris. I also chose to give the hood a final three-stage wax since it won’t see much upkeep after final installation.
With that out of the way, put the louver panel back in place and begin tightening the button-head bolts in a crisscross pattern, as you would tighten the lug nuts on your wheels.
If, like me, you choose to complete the job with the hood in place, you’ll discover about now that the center bolt at the back is absolutely impossible to tighten with just one set of hands. I finally conquered the challenge with the help of a box wrench and some spare masking tape to give me the extra few inches of reach I needed to hang onto the hex key on the top of the hood and the nut below. Yes, it’s a Redneck solution, but it worked.
Given that we’re in the dead of winter, I can’t report a noticeable drop in under-hood temperatures, but I will say that there are plenty of heat waves rising from the hood at stop lights and at the end of a ride, indicating the louver’s functionality. Based on reports I’ve read online (take them for what they’re worth), I expect to see a drop of at least 20 degrees during summertime runs.
Total time to complete
About 10 hours (probably close to half that time if removing the hood for install or using a pneumatic cut-off wheel)
Total project cost
$156 ($116 New Years special from Northridge 4×4 plus $40 to powder coat)