Equipping Smokey with legitimate protection for her vulnerable rocker panels has been on my list of must-do modifications from Day One. After a great deal of research and consideration, I chose the Poison Spyder Customs Ricochet Rockers, not to be confused with the DIY product of the same name. The original Ricochets mount to the factory Rubicon rails, which themselves bolt to the pinch seam. My frame-mounted sliders offer much stronger protection, and afford my wife and kids a practical step for ingress and egress.
Installation was fairly straightforward. Here’s how it went.
- Poison Spyder frame-mounted Ricochet Rockers (Part No. 17-08-040)
- 1/2″ ratchet handle
- 3/8″ ratchet handle
- 18 mm socket
- 9/16″ socket
- 9/16″ box wrench
- 3/16″ drill bit
- 3/8″ drill bit
- 29/64″ drill bit
- Drill motor
- 1/2-20 threading tap & tap handle
- Anti-seize compound
- Blue Lock-Tite
- Shop towels (optional)
- Center punch
- Permanent marker
- Rustoleum Professional primer (2 cans)
- Rustoleum Professional High-Performance Enamel, semigloss (2 cans)
Step 1: Remove transmission & fuel tank skid bolts
After removing any existing steps or rocker protection, use a ratchet and 18 mm socket, remove the bolts on the underside of the frame holding the transmission skid plate (automatic transmission only) and the fuel tank. NOTE: Loosening the two forward fuel-tank bolts will allow the tank and skid plate to drop just enough to allow the Ricochet Rockers to slide into place between the frame and fuel skid. Yeah, ask me how long it took me to stop fighting with a pry bar like the instructions said and figure out there was a better way! (smh) Just don’t loosen the forward bolts too much. The skid plate does hold your fuel tank in place on the JKs!
Step 2: Mark & drill outrigger holes
Slide the Ricochet Rocker into place so the lower mounting place is between the frame rail and the transmission and fuel tank skid plates. Replace the skid tank bolts, and tighten enough to hold the rocker in position. Using the 3/8″ hole in each outrigger as a drill guide, drill a 3/8″ hole in the two body-mount brackets on your frame.
While Poison Spyder Customs’ installation guide and online video cautions installers to make sure each outrigger is snug against the body mount bracket, both my sliders and the company’s own YouTube video show a gap between the two parts. With the holes drilled, remove the rocker and set it aside. Clear the holes you just drilled of any burrs, and paint exposed steel to prevent any rust from forming.
Step 1: Remove transmission skid bolt
As with the passenger-side pre-installation, remove the transmission skid plate bolt in the underside of the frame and loosen the forward bolt to allow the skid to hang enough for clearance. (NOTE: Make certain you’ve reinstalled the passenger-side bolt before removing the driver’s-side bolt to avoid letting the skid plate fall.)
Use the transmission skid plate bolt and jack stands to hold the rock slider in place while you mark and drill the remaining left-side holes.
Step 2: Mark holes and drill outrigger holes
Step 3: Drill & thread rear mounting point
Center-punch and drill a 3/16″ pilot hole in the center of your marked area on the underside of the frame. Step up at least one size before enlarging the hole to a final size of 29/64″. Use caution to keep this hole as straight and perpendicular to the frame as possible, as you will thread this hole to receive a mounting bolt.
Next, use a 1/2-20 threading tap and tap handle to create threads in the 29/64″ hole you just drilled. Keep the tap as straight and steady as possible. While the frame is thicker in this area, my finished hole is only four (maybe five on one side) threads deep. Frankly, I’m not completely comfortable with such a small “nut” for my slider’s primary mounting bolt. I’ll be watching for signs of movement, and may weld this corner in the future if need be.
Paint the exposed steel in the body mount brackets to prevent rust. I also attempted to deposit some paint around the upper edge of my mounting hole to prevent rust inside my frame.
Step 1: Clean & degrease
With the pre-installation complete, use a scouring sponge, some denatured alcohol and a clean rag to remove any lingering manufacturing dust and/or oil from the rock sliders. The cleaner the surface, the better the primer will adhere to the surface, so don’t get stingy with the scrubbing, especially in tight areas!
Step 2: Prime
Next, comes the second-most difficult part of the entire process. I call it difficult not because there’s anything overly complex about it, but because it requires discipline and patience to achieve a quality outcome.
Set down three jack stands, raised to their highest setting, then cover them with a sufficiently large drop cloth. To protect other items in my garage from overspray, I hung drop cloths along one end of the garage as well.
Vigorously shake the can of primer, then begin applying a very light coat. The particular brand I chose, Rustoleum, notes that a second coat may be applied within the first hour, or after 24 hours. So, I applied three light coats about 45 minutes apart, then let each slider rest 24 hours before flipping them to coat the opposite side.
In both priming and painting, pay special attention to the crevices along the underside and inside of the outriggers, as these areas are likely to retain rust-causing moisture.
Step 3: Paint
With the sliders primed and dry, paint may be applied. Using the same technique I used for primer, I applied five light coats of paint on each slider.
Step 4: Let it cure!
While the Rustoleum Professional series primer and paint I chose dries to the touch in an hour, that does not mean it is ready to mount on the Jeep.
All paint, especially spray paints, require time for the paint to cure to its full hardness. This process can take a full two weeks, making it easily the hardest part of the entire process — it requires patience!
In my case, I let the sliders rest about a week in my garage. With them installed, I’m also avoiding using them for another week to allow the curing process to complete in place.
Step 5: Reinstall
With the primer and paint having cured about a week in my garage, I was comfortable with completing my final installation. I’m also avoiding using the steps for another week to allow further curing while they’re in place.
To complete the installation, simply follow the steps used for pre-installation, using the factory bolts for the fuel tank and automatic transmission skid plate mounting points. (If you have a manual transmission, use the supplied bolts in the factory drilled and threaded locations.) Poison Spyder includes bolts, flat washers and nylon lock nuts for the outrigger mounting points. Apply anti-seize to all bolts, and re-tighten after 1,000 miles. NOTE: Because I’m not completely sold on the effectiveness of the left rear mounting hole’s limited number of threads, I chose to use blue Loc-Tite in place of anti-seize for this bolt to give it a little more holding power for daily use.
I like the Ricochets’ easy bolt-on installation and frame-mounted strength. I was disappointed — perhaps unduly — that they didn’t fit fully flush against the frame or brackets in places as I had expected them to. I don’t anticipate that this will reduce their effectiveness. They’re quite solid on the frame. It’s just something that annoys the perfectionist in me. Beyond that, the Ricochet Rockers are a nice compromise between a family-friendly step and a hard-core rock slider.
Total time to complete
About two hours combined for test-fitting and final installation
Total project cost
$464.95 ($441.79 for the sliders via ExtremeTerrain coupon code, plus $23.16 for paint, primer and supplies)