By: Terry L. Howe - 8/2003
|The main tube bend was the only tricky part to building the cage.|
|View from the front.|
|From the back, you can see the dash bar and the small gussets under the main bars.|
I wanted a roll cage that would maximize interior room and provide better than stock protection. It is hard to do that with factory cages and weld in kits, so I bent my own.
For recreational wheeling, I felt that 1.75"x0.120 wall DOM tube would be best for protection and space. The 2" tube takes a lot of room and the 1.5" is kind of small unless you are going to run a lot of cross braces. I've seen and been in rollovers with 1.75" tube and it has held up well, even with cages that are pretty airy and not triangulated very well. I probably could of run a thinner wall tube for the dash bar and rear cross braces, but it was easier just to use all 120 wall. I definitely wanted the 120 wall for the main hoops and upper cross bars since 120 wall resists denting a lot better than thinner tube.
Other than the three sticks of DOM tube, I used two six inch pieces of 3/4" 0.060 wall HREW for gussets behind the front seats. I also used six 3"x3"x3/16" pieces of flat stock for foot plates. I cut them out of a length of 3"x3/16" flat. I bought twenty-four 3/8"x1" grade 5 bolts, some fender washers, and stop nuts to bolt it down.
The first step in building this cage was the hardest, it was building the main hoop. Most factory cages are built making a hoop from side to side behind the front seats. I wanted to run two hoops from front to back to increase usable room in the passenger compartment. I also wanted to square off the back of the Jeep like later Wranglers to provide more protection for passengers.
Using my JD2 bender with 1.75"x6.5" die, I started a 15 degree bend at 31". At 40", I did another 75 degree bend to complete the 90 degrees. I did a third bend that ended up to be about another 75 degree bend at 87". The result is a little squarer than I wanted in the back, but pretty darn close.
After the two main hoops were bent, I cut and drilled the six foot plates. When the foot plates were made, I took four of them and welded them to the bottom of the main hoops. The foot plates allowed me to drill and bolt in the two main hoops.
With the main hoops bolted in, I was able to measure for the three cross members and the dash bar. I cut all of these the same length and fish mouthed the ends with my fish mouth jig. I also made the main upright bars that go behind the front seats.
After all the new crossbars were deburred and cleaned up, I tack welded them all in place. I welded the two foot plates to the upright bars and tacked them in place as well.
Before pulling the cage, I made two more bars to run from the top of the upright bar to the bottom of the rear of the main hoops. This triangulates the cage front to back.
It would be much stronger to triangulate the cage in the other direction as well, but that is a compromise in space and convenience. I wanted some extra strength in that direction, so I used some 6" long sections of 3/4"x0.060" HREW to make gussets in the other direction. These little gussets add a lot of strength and they are convenient to loop a strap through.
I also drilled some holes and welded in tube on the main upright bars so that I could run a three point seat belt in the future. Right now I only have lap belts, but I would like to run the three point belts in the future. I used the 3/4" HREW for sleeve the seat belt bolt hole. It would be been nicer to use a thicker tube to sleeve the bolt hole, but that is all I had.
After it was all tacked together, I pulled the cage and welded it out. When the welds cooled, I wire wheeled it and cleaned it up. Rattle can black finished it up. I like painting cages black because they are easy to touch up. It seems cages always get scratched.
The cage is very roomy and way safer than the factory cage my Jeep came with. From all my measurements, I'll have no problem fitting a soft-top under the cage, but moving the bows up and down might prove a little difficult. I'll find out when I get a top for the Jeep, until it gets cold, I'm just going to run a bikini top.
One really cool thing about this cage design is my visors work! I've never had a Jeep with a six point cage and working visors. I hadn't bothered installing the visors before, in fact I'd welded up the holes for them before I painted the windshield. I just needed to move them in one hole and drill new holes to fit them. The front crossbar is back a good 6" from the windshield which gives the visors room to move up and down.