By: Randy Wheeler. 12/2004
Any four-wheeler will tell you that adding protection to your rocker panels is a cheap way to guard against expensive repairs to your vulnerable rocker panels. A long time ago, I'd installed a set of Off-Your Rocker Panels on my 1991 YJ then added another level of protection with the installation of some sidebars beneath the rocker panels. This combination worked well for me for many years. A the same time, I was always looking for something that would give me back the lost ground clearance of the sidebars and also offer more side and undercarriage impact protection, while still being stylish and functional. By chance, I hooked up with Jim Shrake, owner of a small but growing company called ShrockWorks. ShrockWorks specializes in custom bumpers, rock sliders and rocker protection applications for Jeep, Suzuki, Nissan, Land Rover and Isuzu. They utilize the very latest in Computer Aided Design and manufacturing to produce each product. Most parts are cut by computer controlled lasers or high definition plasma systems, then welded and hand finished by skilled craftsmen. ShrockWorks offers rocker protection for CJs, YJs and TJs. After reviewing their Jeep rock sliders and talking on the phone with Jim, I selected a pair of their beefy ShrockBars rocker guards for my Jeep Wrangler.
The first thing I noticed when the UPS delivery guy dropped the box off at my office was the heft of the package - it tipped the scales at nearly 100 pounds! Upon opening the box, I was delighted to see a set of rocker panels that would surely stand up to some serious abuse. I mean, these things are beefy. They are constructed out of a solid, 3/16-inch piece plate steel that's laser cut and bent on a CNC press brake for a precision fit. The bars came with a set of instructions and all the stainless-steel hardware need to mount them securely to your rig. The rocker guards can be ordered with or with out side tubes. I opted for the side tubes as they offer additional side impact protection to keep your rig off the rocks along with providing a handy side step. The tube portion of the sliders are constructed using 1.75 x 0.134" wall tubing. The tube is attached to the panel at a slight upward angle and is reinforced with two center support pieces. The mounting system utilizes a three part system: 1) the panels are secured to the side of the Jeep using six to eight stainless steel bolts installed through factory-drilled holes along the top of the panel, 2) the rock guards are further secured to the floorboard of the Jeep using two additional bolts that pass through the floorboard, and 3), the ShrockBars are tied into the front and rear body mount bolts to prevent any chance of the slider rotating into the body. Installation of the bars was pretty straightforward:
1. The first step was to prime and paint the rocker guards. I opted for Green Hammerite paint for my color choice. I'm learning that Green is good....
2. Clean the side of the Jeep to remove any dirt, grit or accumulated grime from the mounting surface,
3. Loosen the body mount bolts along one side of the rig,
|Clean the rocker panel to remove any dirt and grime...||Loosen the body mounts on one side of the vehicle...||Slip the rocker guards into place and position between the flares|
4. Use a floor jack and an extension to jack the body up just enough to get a 1/4-inch gap between the body mount and the body,
5. Insert the slider tabs into the center and rear body mounts and using a hi-lift jack, position the slide against the bottom of the rocker panel,
6. Adjust the rocker guard between the fender flares so that it is centered between the flares. Once it is positioned where you want it, lower the body back onto the body mounts and tighten the body mount bolts,
7. Starting on either side, drill a small pilot hole through each of the pre-drilled and countersunk holes of the rock sliders. Using a 5/16-inch bit, enlarge each hole for the bolt. Secure all bolts using the provided washer, lock washer and nut. The bolts use a 3/16-inch Allen wrench. The foremost bolt hole on the drivers side will require the removal of the windshield washer reservoir inside the engine compartment to install the washer, lock washer and nut.
|Drill the top mounting holes through the pre-drilled holes in the rocker panel...||Secure the stainless-steel bolts using the provided washers and nuts through the factory drilled, countersunk holes...||To access the front bolt hole, remove the windshield washer reservoir|
8. Once the top row has been drilled and secured, drill the two remaining bolt holes through the floorboard and secure the slider through the floorboard using the provided nuts, washers, lock washers and bolts.
|Underside of the rocker panels and a side view of the installed ShrockBars. Note the two bolt holes in the left photo. These are the mounting bolt holes that go through the floorboard.|
Since I installed these rocker panels by myself, installation took about 2 hours. I'm sure if I had a second set of hands, they would have been installed in half that time. The one thing you may notice is that the rocker guards do not extend all the way to the front or the rear of the rocker panel. While discussing my Jeep build-up, Jim noticed that I'd installed a set of TJ flares onto my Jeep and offered the option of getting the rocker guards cut shorter to fit between the TJ flares. What I failed to realize was that I'd previously trimmed the bottom portion of my TJ flares off to accommodate my previous rocker guards, thus leaving a portion of the rocker panel exposed. Not a big deal since I'll paint the exposed rocker panel in front and behind the rocker guards to match the same Hammerite Green color of the ShrockBars.
After installing these rocker guards and sitting back admiring the exceptional fit and rugged good looks of these sturdy bars, I'm anxious to get out onto the trails put these rocker guards to work. Since I installed these over the Christmas holidays, the real world testing will have to wait until the winter snows start to melt in the Sierra and the tough granite rocks of the Rubicon or Fordyce Trail can be traversed. The smooth finish and the underside coverage will provide plenty of protection for whatever obstacles I'll throw at my Jeep.
If you're looking for a new set of rocker guards for your Jeep, take a look at the ShrockBars from ShrockWorks. I'm sure you'll be as impressed with them as I am.