Part 5 - Changes
After spending some time with my black and tan JP Jeep, I like it. It brought a smile to my face when I saw it in a parking lot, and even though it wasn’t close to being authentic, I constantly received compliments on it or saw people take pictures of it. And so I began phase 2: Prep work. This would involve finding the half doors, correct wheels, and other large components to replace. There were also a few dents on the hood that needed to be pounded out. By the end of Phase 2, I would be ready to strip the Jeep down, and drive it into the paint booth. But before then, I had to move from southwest Texas to southern Mississippi. I loaded up a small U-Haul trailer, and drove across the Southern US.
Phase 2 begins!
I spent some time looking on eBay and on Craigslist for a variety of parts I’d have to replace. My fender flares were textured black, almost like they’d been sprayed with bedliner. I wasn’t sure if that’s how all non-Sahara/Rubicons were, but I didn’t see them taking paint well, so they had to be replaced, as would my full doors. Half doors are hard to find, and finding them in the right colors, and in good quality, is near impossible unless you want to spend a small fortune. I considered YJ doors since they were cheaper and would fit with little modification, plus letting me get great looking leather door pouches, but TJs were easier to replace and the panels match the interior styling better. I could always probably hack the two panels together if I really wanted the YJ’s door pouches.
Luckily I found a set of tan half doors from a 99TJ on eBay, within a couple of hours of me, saving me the hassle and expense of shipping. Good quality, and bidding seemed to go slow, letting me purchase the pair for $400. I had seen individual doors go for that price. I took the Alyssa’s Fusion and drove up to Montgomery to pick them up. Once home, I immediately took off the Jeep’s full doors and put on the new half doors. The tan color didn’t match, with Jeep changing colors from Desert Tan to Khaki sometime between 99 and ’04, but it didn’t look terrible either. Still, it was too much difference for me to be really happy with them.
I stripped the doors down, removing the panels, door handles, and seal, and dropped them off at a nearby Maaco to have them painted. Picked them up a little later, reassembled them, and hung them back on the Jeep with significant improvement.
What’s a Jurassic Park Jeep without door crests? Once I won the doors, I reordered the decals. They arrived a couple of days after I picked the doors up from paint and I applied quickly applied them, the process seeming to go a lot smoother this second time around.
Rather than sending the Jeep off to a paint shop, and have to explain my specifics to someone who didn’t have my level of perfectionism, I chose to paint it myself. How hard could it be?
In my research, I had seen two main colors people used for their red. One option was Jeep’s own Radiant Red, but I’m a Ford guy and have owned several Mustangs in my time, pushing me to the other option: Ford’s Performance Red, from the 92 Mustang. Since Sand Beige is supposed to be a low gloss paint, I picked up a matte finish clear coat to apply over everything.
More than paint, I also picked up a new Spice colored soft top that included frames for the half doors. There were a few differences between my original top and the new replacement, but it looked the part, but I expected it to be a good fit.
With time to kill while I waited for all of my parts to arrive, I headed to a local body shop to see about pounding out the hood dents. He took a look at the hood and suggested it’d be cheaper to buy a new one. Somehow, he happened to have a spare TJ hood lying around that was never picked up by a previous customer of his. 45 minutes later, my old hood was off, and a new one on.
With the last of the prep work finished, I was ready to start painting