23 Innovations Anyone Can Do
If you regularly spend time out on the trail, you’re probably used to seeing interesting ideas and clever concepts on the vehicles you encounter. However, for new enthusiasts or those of you who do not get out much, let this story serve as inspiration because everything you see here came from fellow wheelers just like you.
Make It Rain
We encountered this uncommon trick on the Rubicon Trail. The owner hooked a small 12-volt water pump up to a sprinkler head positioned between the grille and winch. At the push of a button, he had instant dust control—or a wet t-shirt contest, depending on who’s around.
Fill the Void
If you own an ’07-up JK with 35-inch-or-larger tires, chances are your factory bottle jack won’t work anymore. We say ditch it and use the valuable void it once occupied to store other trail essentials. Here, the author shows off how a Mac’s Trail D-Vice stows perfectly inside the easy-to-reach jack storage compartment.
All too often we see people mount electrical components to the firewall. This makes them difficult to reach when troubleshooting that non-functional seat heater. Instead, put items such a relays, fuses, and voltage regulators on top of the inner fender where they are easy to access.
It doesn’t cost much to add underhood cooling that’s also easy on the eyes. All you need is a hole saw, flared hole die, and a light-duty press to transform the factory sheetmetal into what you see here. Thanks to the abundance of inexpensive flared hole dies offered today, the racecar look can be achieved on virtually any budget.
Recycle used beverage containers as catch cans. This subtle element will attract hippie chicks and provide hours of intoxication in the process.
We stumbled into George Foreman on the trail a few years ago. His grill wouldn’t work on 12 volts, so we deployed the skewers. Seriously though, if your rig lacks cargo capacity, leave the barbeque at home and cook meat the old fashion way. Skewers are light-weight and double as scrap metal for trail repairs when necessary.
The marine industry offers inexpensive fuel containers like this that work great as a temporary solution to a damaged factory gas tank. These reservoirs typically feed outboard engines, but come in real handy if your regular tank is punctured.
Most battery-powered electric tools can be converted to trail use by simply attaching wires to each of the corresponding battery contacts. A pair of alligator clips and an old drill can make you a trail hero in some situations.
Cooking with Gas
Take advantage of heat sources such as the top tank of the radiator to warm foil-wrapped rations as you drive. Add safety wire to retain flavoring.
Hose clamps work well to retain exposed U-joint caps on spare driveshafts.
If your leaf spring suspension has issues with inverting shackles, fix the problem by welding a piece of bent plate to the assembly a shown. This effectively limits the travel of the shackle while also creating a soft, spring-like bumpstop to cushion the final few inches of motion.
Looking to lower the ride height of your leaf spring Jeep without compromising flex? Consider fabricating a shackle slider system like this one. This setup uses bronze bushings that slide instead of sleeved bushings that pivot. You get a similar range of motion without the additional inches of ride height.
A broken main leaf can create all kinds of issues if not addressed quickly. However, with a few pieces of scrap you can continue on your way or limp home without incident.
Much strength can be found in a double-shear arrangement. Often times it only requires a simple homemade “L” bracket and a welder.
Trail Slide Hammer
A damaged automatic transmission pan can cease forward momentum if the fluid passageways are blocked. To remedy, simply tack-weld a nut to the damaged area and insert a long carriage bolt. Add a large socket, and you have a makeshift slide hammer.
Grow a Spine
Add strength to steering linkages by reinforcing bends with a backbone made of steel plate.
Old U-bolts make perfect yoke protectors with a slight bend and a little welding.
Clank Be Gone
A couple of pieces of precisely cut rubber hose are all it takes to muffle that annoying sound coming from extraction points.
We see this all the time in desert racing. A few dabs of silicone or Krazy Glue can secure spare lug nuts to a spare wheel and tire for convenient access. This eliminates the possibility of lost lug nuts while also expediting tire changes on the trail.
Don’t let a busted exhaust hanger ruin your day. With a little improvising and a healthy supply of shackles, a would-be exhaust problem is no more.
Consider adding sloped inclines to low-hanging mounts and framework. This enables potential snag points to slide over trail obstacles without issue.
If electronic gizmos are cluttering up your dash or center console, take the tactical approach and simply relocate them overhead. Not only does this free up a ton of space, but it also keeps vulnerable stereo equipment high and dry.
Consider adding a small portion of chrome-moly plate material to reinforce mounting holes on custom suspensions. This will prevent deformation of holes at pivot points and shock mounts should the bolts become loose.