Do you ever start a Jeep project and think, “Uh oh, what have I got myself into”? How many times do our projects require multiple repetitve tasks? Do you ever wish you could just start on the second one of those repeat items…since the first one didn’t quite go as planned?
Well, welcome to my “simple” weekend project! This project should take about 30 minutes for each step to be installed…or it may take as long as 3 hours…and I’ll hopefully give you some tips to NOT allow that to happen!
We use our Jeeps for a multitude of things, from overlanding and rocklanding to rock crawling and mall crawling, and while doing those things it would be nice to have a simple way to get on top of your Jeep, even if its just to clean the top or remove a freedom panel! Luckily Metalcloak has a strong and simple solution for making that happen! Enter the MetalCloak Rocklander Hinge Step!
From their website: The MetalCloak Pro Step for the JL or JK Jeep Wrangler and JT Gladiator Truck is the best hinge mounted flip down step available. A masterpiece of function and design, this step is made to last.
- Compatible with JK, JL, and JT Jeeps
- Fits 2-Door or 4-Door Models
- 2 Section Adjustable Mount Design
- 1/8″ CAD Formed Steel Structure
- Texture Powder Coat
- Jeep Specific Mounting Adapters
- Stainless Steel Flip Down Step
- 8 Flange Nylon Pivot Bushings
- Micro Pivot Tension Adjustment
- Fully Welded Stainless Steel Stop Pins
- Laser Cut “M” Logo
- 100% Made in the USA
The kit comes complete with everything you need except for a few tools…and you might need more than what is required but more on that in a bit.
I wanted to install these on my 2020 Jeep Gladiator in order to make it easy for me to access the items on my yet to be installed roof rack. I figured that in a couple hours I could quickly install these (I chose to install 2 kits or 4 steps) all before lunch time and still be able to work on a few other projects. Well, let’s just say some things don’t go as planned.
I started with a clean slate and mostly clean JT, grabbed a few required tools and opened up the boxes. The KEY TOOLS would be a good T50 Torx bit or wrench; a socket wrench; a 9/16″ and 1/2″ open end wrench; and a few allen wrenches, 7/32″, 5mm, and 3/16″. The installation is very straightforward and the MetalCloak installation instructions are very detailed. The MOST difficult part “could be” the removal of the factory T50 Torx bolts in the door hinges.
Most of us know about the dreaded Torx bolts that Jeep uses in their builds. Some are removed easily and some just aren’t. I was prepared for a fight…and a fight I got! But fights build character and they hopefully make us smarter! So I’ll share a few tips and hopefully your installation will go nice and smooth!
A can of Liquid Wrench might also be handy if you have rusty hinges and/or rusty bolts. A good impact gun might also be handy, but you need to be cautious with using it. A breaker bar will be useful. And…I’ll cut to the chase…a good direct heat source, like a heat gun will make things easier.
On the first step installation which starts with the removal of the upper door hinge bolts on the passenger rear door, I chose a direct muscle approach which involved a shot of liquid wrench, my 1/2″ impact (20v Dewalt) and a good T50 Torx bit. I don’t just plant the impact bit into the bolt and hammer away…it’s more of a burst at a time while watching the bolt head and Torx bit VERY closely, while applying a lot of forward pressure so the bit doesn’t slip in the bolt head. I hit all 4 just a couple times to see where things were going to start from…none of them budged from this first attempt. The last thing I wanted to do was to strip the bolt heads, so out came the 30″ breaker bar. Keep pressure on the bolt head while trying to rotate the bar can be difficult with one person so a friend is helpful. I was able to pop loose one in each hinge, the two towards the rear of the Jeep. The front bolts nearest the hinge were giving me grief. I hit them again with the impact for a little longer burst….pop…the bit snapped, which is good rather than the head stripping out. Out came another bit…this time a cheaper bit…which twisted the splines of the Torx. I did this on a couple of others. I went back to the breaker bar and the threads started to strip so I stopped. Back to the impact…pop! But this time it was the threads in the head of the bolt that gave way. I got stubborn and couldn’t stop myself…I stripped the other one out as well.
Out came the drill. I drilled the heads off of the bolts, through the hinge and then had to pry the heads out of the hinge…ding ding ding! Notice the paint on the inside edges of the bolt heads. The bolts were basically “paint sealed” to the hinge when it was built. This was one of those moments where I’m not sure where my head was at…maybe it’s just age lol. If I would have heated these heads up, I was sure they would have let go easier. Once the heads were drilled off and the hinge could be swung out and away, it was easy to turn the remaining broken bolts from the Jeep. So, I’m embarrassed to admit that what was a 30 minute job had eaten up almost 3 hours of my day. I installed the step as per the instructions…easy peasy…and took a break before installing the front step.
After my break and learning experience, I was much more prepared for the front step to be installed. Out came the HEAT GUN, a cheap Home Depot tool that I’ve had and used for many years. My confidence was high as I heated up the first bolt…even so I did hit each of them with my impact before the heat just to “see” if the rear was an anomaly…they didn’t budge. So about 2 minutes of heat, the breaker bar, and my last T50 Torx bit…pop…the bolt brook loose from the paint and turned! The same was done to each of the other bolts…and in about 30 minuted total time the new flip step was installed. Lesson learned.
Now onto the driver’s side…I’m gonna start that next side like I started the second step…but first I need to run out and buy a new Torx bit 🙂