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JK Makeover: Armor and Winch

JK Makeover

Stuart A. BourdonPhotographer, Writer

Installing a set of aftermarket front and rear bumpers, a winch, and a better spare tire carrier might be the most common “next step” after upgrading the suspension and getting bigger wheels and tires. That’s true for many new Jeep owners, and it was no different when it came to this two-door JK. We had already planted an AEV 2-inch lift under it and bolted up a sharp-looking set of Method wheels and Falken tires. The ComeUp USA winch and the body armor and better tire carrier from MetalCloak would make this Jeep capable of tackling mild to moderate trails without breaking the bank to do it.

MetalCloak makes a wide variety of products for Jeeps, ranging from body armor to suspensions systems. We got ahold of its Frame-Built Bumper #1402 set (includes the Frame-Built Bumper Base, 56-inch Stock Flare Caps, and Mid Stinger), Crawler Rear Bumper Base with 6-inch Crawler Caps, and Sport Gate Tire Carrier. These bumper bits are primarily made from 3/16-inch, 10-gauge or 14-gauge hot-rolled steel. The same goes for the tire carrier. The Mid Stinger features 1 3/4-inch–OD, 0.120-wall steel tube.

The ComeUp USA SEAL Gen2 9.5rsi is rated at 9,500 pounds and features a waterproof wireless remote control, aluminum die-cast housing and steel drum that are designed to withstand two times the rated load of the winch, heavy-duty series-wound motor with thermal switch to prevent overheating, and the manufacturer’s New Intelligence Dashboard (IDB) and power cutoff switch. It came spooled with 100 feet of 3/8-inch SK-75 synthetic rope.

We figured out a few things during the process that can make your installation a little easier. Follow along as we share what we learned.

Tips and Tricks

Before removing the factory tailgate hinges, use some strips of duct tape across the full width of the tailgate and rear corners, and wedge some cardboard under it to support the tailgate. That will help keep it in place and properly aligned during the new hinge and carrier installation.

When removing the plastic cowl from under the nose, it helps to squeeze the plastic on the back as you unscrew the center plugs from the retaining clips, but don’t be surprised if you have to drill the plug out of some of the clips.

Have plenty of zip ties close by during the installation. They will come in handy when relocating the vacuum canister and foglights.

Paint any exposed metal from drilling (front bumper mount plates) or cutting (removal of the vacuum canister’s factory bracket) done for this installation. It will help prevent rust.

To keep the tailgate properly aligned and in place during the removal of its factory hinges and installation of the new MetalCloak hinges, run a couple strips of duct tape across the tailgate and both rear corners of the body. Cardboard stuffed between the bottom of the tailgate and the body will help support the tailgate.

Tools Needed

Socket/ratchet wrench
10mm, 13mm, and 16mm sockets/wrenches
5/8-in and 9/16-in sockets/wrenches
Socket extension
Phillips and flat screwdrivers
3/4-in and 9/16-in crescent/box wrenches
1/4-in, 5/16-in, and 7/32-in hex drive sockets/wrenches
T-50 Torx bit
Electric drill
9/16-in drill bit