Project Money Pit's Rock Lights
Project Money Pit Gets Some Under-Body Lighting Short Cuts

Article and Photos by: Ron Hollatz - 11/2001

When you need to see better on the rocks


Project Money Pit puts the rock lights to use

While preparing for a run at Paragon Adventure Park earlier this summer, I found out that one of the trail rides was going to be a night run. While these may be common in other parts of the country, this was going to be our first on the East Coast. One of the common characteristics of trails in our area is the trails usually rub through thick woods. This eliminates any ambient light from the moon and stars at night. Project Money Pit was already equipped with H-4 halogen headlights and a pair of PIAA 520 fog lights. These would help me see farther down the trail, but not help much in rock-crawling situations. It was time for some rock lights.

I started out just wanting to add a couple of lights along the frame of my YJ connected to a switch on the dash. What I ended up with was a whole new lighting system. While I was shopping around for the normal rubber coated utility lights, I came across some tiny halogen fog lights made by Blaster at my local Walmart. The best part is they were only $14.95 a pair. I grabbed a set and headed home to check out the mounting options. Thanks to the 2" body lift I installed last year, the lights were small enough to fit in-between the frame and body. As I test fit the lights along the frame, I decided I could use several sets to light up even more area along the sides of my YJ. Off again to Walmart where I picked up a couple more sets. By the time I was finished, I had 4 lights mounted underneath on each side.

Now it was time to figure out how to connect the lights to the unused toggle switch in the switch panel on my dash. A couple of years back I had mounted a Painless Wiring waterproof switch panel in the opening left after moving the stereo from the stock location in my dash. Originally I had my fog lights, driving lights, Quick-Air compressor, and electric fan wired into the panel. However, I had removed the driving lights from my windshield hinges after discovering that I could not fold the windshield down for rock crawling. The driving lights had been wired to the auxiliary fuse box I had installed under the hood to run my accessories. When I removed the driving lights, I had left the switch connected to the fuse box for a future project. The switch was even wired to the accessory circuit so I couldn't drain the battery by leaving the lights on. I now had a switched power source, but 8 lights were causing way too much draw for that one circuit. A quick browse through the Wrangler Northwest Power Products catalog and I had exactly what I needed. A quick phone call and a 6 Position ATO Fuse Center was on the way. This allowed me to put each pair of lights on their own fused circuit. I even had 2 fuses left for future expansion. The lights were individually wired using an old stereo wiring trick. I took two pieces of 12 gauge wire and put one end in a vise, while putting the other end in an electric drill chuck. By slowly turning the drill, the wires twist together. This keeps the multiple wires under control. I then used a relay for each set of lights between the switch on the dash and the battery. As a final touch, all of the wires were cable-tied or clamped up and out of the way. I don't want to take a chance of snagging the wiring while off-road.

switch panel Fuse Center rock lights
Painless Wiring waterproof switch panel Wrangler NW Power Products Fuse Center Rock lights mounted under the body

What started as a simple lighting project quickly turned into an afternoon wiring project. Like most of my projects, the cost got a bit out of hand. How do they work? I can clearly see all the way around (and under) the vehicle while on the trail. I can run without my headlights, making it easier on the eyes of the driver in front of me. Even vehicles around me can see well. As an added bonus, they make great work lights while in camp. They provide more than enough light for trail repairs. I get a few strange looks when I turn them on in the campground, but I've gotten used to people comparing them to aircraft landing lights.

Contacts Related Links
  • Wrangler Northwest Power Products
    Dept. ORN
    810 N Graham St
    , OR 97227-1606 USA
    Phone 1-800-962-2616
  • Painless Wiring
    Dept. ORN
    9505 Santa Paula Drive
    Fort Worth
    , TX 76116-5929 USA
    Phone 1-800-423-9696

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