So after what seems a lifetime ago (August, 2012) when I saw JeepCoop's ride (particularly his hood) and Omelet's rack I started out upgrading my own ride. Over the next few days I'll be updating this thread with as-close-as-I-can-remember chronologically photos, but to start off with, I'll post what I started with, what I've ended with and a short video of the white stuff that has finally decided to grace the east coast with its presence Cameo appearance by my brother's ZJ 5.2 and my mom's F25 (bimmer sporting some rigid D2's and SR 20")
Special thanks to Buda for calling me personally. I don't think I would have gotten my head around all this wiring without it
I had put on a westin bull bar a few years ago and it came with a rebate for free westin lights. Well that had to come off to make room for the Matrix I also inspected my roof to see what condition my paint was in. Since I would be adding a full roof rack, putting something hearty up there was important since it would never see the business end of my buffer. It looks so naked without those roof rails.
First thing was the roof rack. I'd look at several member's rides and Rola seemed to be the top candidate. Then I saw Omelet's Gobi roof rack and knew that was the one for my Jeep. It took an obscene amount of time for them to fabricate it (8-weeks) but the build quality is top notch. My plan was to mount one 30" Rigid E-series spot bar to the center of the rack, flanked by two Duallys to cover the flood. Rather than going a Spot/Flood combo unit light bar, I found this route to let me be more granular in how much light I was casting.
But as omelet found out, a light bar doesn't exactly fit up there out the box, so I knew I had to fabricate something.
I have zero welding skills or tools, so I couldn't follow Omelet's route of cutting in to the rack, so I decided to build out from it.
Didn't have a bench grinder, so I had to fabricate that too. I got some metal stock and took some measurements to get the light bar centered up and spray painted the custom mounts with primer first then some flat black paint to make it all blend in. The end results were quite stable. I bolted everything to the outer two factory light mounts on the Gobi rack. The Dually's would have to be mounted to the Rigid 1" light bar clamps.
With the top finished (I did not take pictures of the reverse lights but they are up there too), it was time to move to the front. Since I live in MD with their arcane front license plate rules, I knew I had limitations on where I could mount my lights since I would still need to run a front plate. Fortunately, the Matrix comes with holes pre-drilled. So it was just a matter of mounting the lights. I went with PIAA ATP lights for primary, a Dually's for secondary and a 20" rigid spot beam light bar for the in-between. Note that the Rigid 20" bar does not fit the matrix out the box. I had to dismantle the Rigid end caps to put in a longer bolt, then redo the silicon seals of the Rigid and slap it all back together. Its not brain surgery, but if you do screw it up you will get moisture in your expensive light bar and potentially ruin it. I've heard that the Tough-light 22" bar makes the span out the box without any issue.
I had previously mounted some Dually's behind the kidney grills on my mom's X3, so I was quite aware of how bright they are for such a small package. Being front and center on my Jeep, I knew some roads, they would be overkill . That is why I decided to mount the PIAA ATPs as primary for the roads where the street lights were present, but spread out. The Dually's would be switched on in place of the PIAAs for those roads where the only light is from my vehicle.
I knew I was going to do the undercarriage lights, but I also wanted to do something I had not seen before on this forum. So I came up with Logo lights
I took off my chrome side strips and using a dremel, carefully carved out the letters, while still leaving enough material to make the letters out. I didn't want the "O" to be just a big circle, so I left some stilts to keep the inner circle part in tact. Same for the other letters that had internal parts. After that I sanded down the chrome and sprayed it all color-matched (black pearl) and sealed it with 2K max clearcoat spray.
The clearcoat has an internal tube that you "pop" and mix ahead of spraying. That gives it near HVLP quality in a can, but only a 48 hour shelf life before the mixture dies. During this time I also spray painted some Stillen eye lids and re-did my entire front bumper. The bumper had a lot of road rash to it so I tried my hand at filling in the original license plate holes as well as sanding down some broken paint flakes.
To keep gunk out of the strips, I carved down some thin lexan plexiglass and scuffed it up with some medium grit sandpaper and locked it down with some hot glue. I then mounted the LED light strips and capped them off with some quick connectors just in case I had to remove the strips down the road. On the outside I put some 3M paint protection strips to keep gunk out of the lexan.
To actually run the wire, I just followed WKJeeps guide for changing your door speaker. I won't run down all the steps, but basically once you get the speaker out, you can hand feed the wire through the door gromet. I took pictures of the worst part because getting those rubber socks off is a big PITA. To increase the reflective value of the LED strips, I put some foil tape behind the door strips.