Build decisions

Latest addition

My next contest installation was a Poison Spyder Customs fire-extinguisher mount. It’s a solid piece, and the description said it fit units up to 12 inches in length. Since my Kidde extinguisher was 11.4 inches, I figured it’d be a perfect fit. Instead, the upper strap wrapped around the spray nozzle, rather than the shoulder of the canister.

After posting a photo to my Instagram account, a fellow Jeeper, Brice, stepped up with an offer of his extinguisher, which is too long for his latest build. A simple trade left us both happy. Thanks again, Brice. It’s a perfect fit!

Installation: Bestop Under-Seat Lock Box

A Jeep Wrangler, especially the soft-top varieties, isn’t exactly the most secure of locations. And, those of us who drive Jeeps often have a love of things we don’t like to leave lying around in easy reach. So, how do you protect sensitive items like, say, your favorite banana (fresh fruit, ahem, is a serious thing), from theft?

Bestop is one of a few companies that offer Jeep owners a solution. The company’s under-seat lock box is available for either driver’s or passenger’s front seats, and consists of a locking 16-gauge lined steel drawer.

Materials/tools needed:

  • Bestop Under-Seat Lock Box (Part No. 426400-1)
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • 18 mm socket and ratchet
  • Torque wrench
  • Zip ties (2011 and newer)

Step 1: Install mounting brackets to the drawer

Using a Phillips screwdriver and the seven included screws, secure the forward mounting bracket and rear riser plate to the lock box.

Step 2: Remove forward seat-riser bolts


Using an 18 mm ratchet, remove the two front bolts connecting the seat riser to the floor. You may need a breaker bar to get these broken loose.

With the bolts removed, you may wish to clean the risers and carpet. (This project showed me I don’t clean the inside of my Jeep nearly as often as I should!)

Step 3: Slide the lock box under the driver’s seat

Slide the lock box rearward from the front of the driver’s seat underneath the seat. (Jeeps from 2011 to 2018 may have to relocate a wiring harness using the included zip ties before completing this step.) Make sure the left (toward the driver’s door) mounting bracket goes underneath the seat riser, and the right one over it. I’ve seen some installations where both mounting brackets went under the seat riser, and that had been my intent as well. Unfortunately, the bracket didn’t properly fit, leaving me no way to get the bracket under the riser, even with the lock box slid as far to the left as it would go. Indeed, to complete the install at all, I’d have had to either stack multiple washers to fill the half-inch gap (right image, above) or crank down on the bolt, bending the bracket into compliance. I chose the latter.

Step 4: Reinstall bolts

Bestop_LockBox_SideViewReinstall the seat-riser bolts and torque them to a final spec of 55 foot-pounds. That’s it, the installation is complete!

First impressions

I like the quality of this drawer. While I would have preferred a tighter fit between the latch plate and the lock’s striker, a couple of wraps of electrical tape eliminated the rattle that presents itself on launch and braking. The poorly formed bracket is a bit annoying, as a simple change in the bend would completely eliminate this problem. I was concerned I’d be able to tell a difference in the seat height from side to side, but that isn’t the case. I can definitely detect the subtle shift up in the forward edge of the seat. It’s nothing the Jeep’s seat incline lever can’t resolve. Overall, I like the extra measure of security this box provides!

Total time to complete

About 20 minutes

Total project cost

Free, thanks to an Extreme Terrain contest ($78.99 value)

Guess who’s a happy camper?

All but one of my packages arrived today. And, aside from one item containing an I’m-returning-this email from a previous purchaser, everything seems to be in order. Watch for product installs, to follow soon!

Big changes headed Smokey’s way!

You’ve waited long enough, so here’s the scoop: I received word last week via email I’d won some $2,000 worth of Jeep parts from off-road parts retailer Extreme Terrain in one of the company’s latest contests!

After submitting the necessary paperwork, I began compiling a list of parts, part numbers and values to request. When the promised phone call came, I discovered there were fewer restrictions on my parts requests than I’d originally thought, so I’ve again been pouring over XT’s website to finalize my list.

Barring anything unseen, I’ll order my parts on Monday. So, stay tuned to see Smokey’s build take another big step forward in the days and weeks ahead! Have a great weekend, everyone, and thanks so much, Extreme Terrain!

A fresh face

After recently commenting about my Nighthawk Light Brow bring the one modification I regret making, I decided to do something about it. I added a factory grille-to-hood weather strip to a recent Amazon order. (Installation of the Light Brow required removal of the factory part.)

So, thanks to a few minutes’ work this afternoon, Smokey is once again wearing her factory-fresh face. So much better!