Jeep M38A1 Poison Spyder Fender Installation - Old Jeep UpgradePosted in How To: Body Chassis on March 27, 2015
Technology over the years has progressed at light speed, yet sometimes we are in reverse warp drive to take advantage of it. As one of those get-around-to-it projects, even the low-tech concept of steel body protection has been put off on some of our rigs. Even though they snagged clothes and skin from time to time, our cut, beat, bent, and wrinkled fenders were deemed good enough for any terrain for the past 15 years.
However, swapping to bigger tires for tackling tougher obstacles also means new fender clearances were needed for our Ultimate A1, so we made a call to Poison Spyder to see what would work. Instead of using the stock ’52-’71 fenders, our A1 sports the ’72-and-later CJ fenders that are 4 inches longer than the early ones. Offered in a few different designs for the old CJs, we ordered the stock width instead of the 2-inch wider style. This keeps the bodyline flush and flat instead of flared out. The new fenders are supplied without an inner fenderwell, but since our stockers had been trimmed off anyway, we didn’t have to swap over any stuff that was bolted on.
While not a bolt-in product due to the many stock variables, it’s as close as can be had and is a zillion percent stronger than what we started with. Including paint, it only took us one hour for two fenders to be swapped on. Poison Spyder also makes the new style DeFenders, which is a 3⁄16-inch U-shaped fender instead of the standard 0.120-wall tube and 1⁄8-inch plate style that we have. If you have later Jeep applications, check out the new style for even more strength.
Fender swapping is an easy and beneficial wrench-a-thon. It can get out your mechanical aggressions as well as making your Jeep much more stylish and functional. If you have a regular Jeep, the inner fenderwells will have all sorts of stuff bolted to them, which is up to you to relocate. Ours had been trimmed away for weight reduction, access, and cooling years ago, so there wasn’t much to unbolt. Four bolts in the front and four in the rear made for a quick removal.
Poison Spyder ships their products in a safe container to prevent in-transit damage. It also makes for a handy stand to paint the fenders in the desert. We like our products to come in bare steel, as we will probably weld, cut, or otherwise modify them anyway. Our able intern, Shelby Hall, took a crack at painting in the wind to make the fenders match our beat-up M38A1.
Having friends around makes it a bit easier to install the fenders, as Harry Wagner holds up his end of the bargain. Fred Williams offered his help by sorting the tools into the three wrenches we needed for the swap. The Ultimate A1 was built for the 2001 Ultimate Adventure, the iconic event from 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine. Sporting a ’52 body, Currie axles and a Ramjet engine, the Jeep has seen thousands of wheeling miles since its first drive from Los Angeles to Canada and back.
While you might want to use a friendlier clamp on your rig to hold the fender in place, we deemed Vice-Grips to be the tool of choice for many mechanics. The new Poison Spyder units are so structurally improved over our old floppy fenders, we’re thinking of adding some inner fenders and other modifications.
Of course we had to try the new tubes out in the Socal desert during the Tierra Del Sol Desert Safari. The deep notches and gullies and hard walls can shred stock sheetmetal, and forcing a fender into a wall is just one technique to making the obstacles. Check out
Wall-slamming tough and good looking to boot means we’ll keep the Poison Spyder fenders for a long time. This is one of the first major upgrades to the A1 in 15 years and hopefully won’t be the last. Check out the videos from our Playground series to see these fenders in action: HERE.