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JandL Off-Road's Roll Cage for Jeep Wranglers (YJ)

While planning my trip to Moab this year for the Easter Jeep Safari, I decided some extra protection was needed for my Wrangler.

I had been looking for a front roll cage for a while, but most that I had found were designed for CJ's and would take some significant fabrication or modification to fit into my YJ (Wrangler). During a trail ride last summer I had met Leo Schneider from JandL 4-Wheel Drive Center in Sun Prairie Wisconsin who gave me a flyer for a front sport cage kit they were selling for YJ's.

His shop is located about 5 miles from my in-laws (perfect for those quick "I need to go stretch my legs" excursions during a weekend visit) so I thought I'd stop by and see if it would fit my needs. I found that they offered two kits that would fit my needs: the J&L roll cage kit is offered in either a three-piece bolt together UPS shippable version or a one-piece welded version (which is not as easily shipped).

Since I could pick it up directly from their shop I opted for the one piece cage kit. In the weld in cage kit, each of the welded joints is also reinforced with a welded gusset for extra strength and rigidity. The kit replaces the two bars connecting the rear roll bar and the windshield and includes a cross bar which connects the two down bars.

windshield bracket
The windshield support bracket

One of the concerns I had with using a CJ front cage was the lack of a windshield connection. The JandL kit has two brackets that mount using the original nuts in the windshield frame and reaches back to bolt to the cage. The windshield can be folded down by easily removing one bolt on each bracket and one bolt on each windshield hinge (note: if you have lights bolted to your windshield hinges you may not be able fold down the windshield without removing them).

The mounting plate

The feet of the cage mount on top of two of the original drain holes in the floor so you may need to add new drain holes. I added the optional outrigger kit which welds to the frame and uses poly bushings which are bolted to the frame through the drain holes (note: My Smittybilt nerf bars were mounted in the same location as the outriggers, I just kept telling myself: "You need the extra ground clearance and just don't listen to your short wife complain about getting in the Jeep:).

All hardware and a very complete set of instructions are included with the kit. The install took two of us about two hours including welding on the outriggers.

Installation:

    Test fit - drivers side
    Test fit - drivers side
  1. Since it is still pretty cold in Minnesota during April I chose to leave my hardtop on for the three-hour ride down to JandL. We started by removing the top, sound bar, and roll bar padding. The reinstall of the roll bar padding goes a lot smoother when you lubricate the zippers with silicone spray and let it soak in. It is also a good idea to measure the angle of the windshield at this time. If you don't it will take some trial and error to get the angle right so your doors fit right (trust me on this one). The instructions guide you through this process.
  2. Unbolting the factory bars
  3. Unbolt the factory horizontal bars from the windshield frame and fold it down. This could probably be the most difficult step during the install. I had replaced the factory Torx bolts a while back while installing a Bestop Super Top and it required a good #50 Torx bit and a lot of patience. I still ended up stripping one of the bolt heads and had to drill it out. I replaced them with non-Torx bolts. I removed the lower #45 Torx bolt from the windshield hinge so I could get the windshield out of the way. I also had to remove the #20 Torx bolts holding the sun visors on.
    #50 Torx Bolt
    The cross bar is attached to the main loop with a #50 Torx Bolt
  4. The other end of the horizontal bars have a #50 Torx bolt running through the rear roll bar. Slide the padding forward to expose the #50 tamperproof Torx bolt in the horizontal bar. I was lucky enough the buddy helping me had a set. Once this bolt was out I could remove the factory bars and pull off the padding.
  5. The next step was to remove the inner stubs from the factory horizontal tubing and install them into the new sidebars. I also put the factory padding on at this time. The factory padding had to be shortened 3" but the sound bar covers it up.
    The frame outriggers
  6. Now is the time to line up the outriggers and weld them on. The easy way to do this would be to remove the drain plugs and temporarily bolt the outrigger in place and weld them. I of course put the cage into the vehicle and put the rear bolts in. To get the outriggers lined up we had to use a bottle jack and blocks. (Yet another note: Make sure you have paint to cover the welded areas so they don't rust like mine. I'll be coating it with Por-15 soon).
  7. I attached the windshield brackets to the windshield frame using the non-Torx bolts. I then folded the windshield back up and after careful measurement installed the top bolts loosely.
    The fit on the drivers side.
  8. I folded a piece of cardboard in half and used it as a shim between the side of the dash and the down tube of the Sport Cage. I repeated this for the other side so they were spaced evenly and then tightened the top bolts on the windshield brackets.
  9. There are holes in all four corners of the feet to bolt the cage to the floor. Since I installed the outriggers I didn't use these and only used the bolt through the bushings from the outriggers to the foot of the cage. This required putting the bushings in place and drilling a " hole up through the foot. Since I have a 1" body lift I had to add an extra bushing on top of the outrigger.
  10. All that was left to do was drill and tap four holes for the sound bar and put the top back on.

JandL Bolt in cage
Finished

Conclusions
One of the big concerns I had was the interference of the down tubes and my legs. Being 6'-4" I don't exactly fit real well anyway and I was worried I wouldn't be able to sit comfortably. Surprisingly the only time I'm affected is putting the emergency brake on. With a little practice I don't even notice it anymore. With my hard doors on I have to open the door to roll down the window but since I only have doors on during the winter I'm not really worried about it. The frame has been significantly stiffened now and I noticed more tire lifting at Moab. It surprised me the first couple of times but now that I expect it I seem to be able to control it. After seeing the aftermath of a couple of Jeep rolls during the Safari I'm really happy with my decision.

The results

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