Right from the start I knew
I wanted to get all kinds of body and chassis protection. When I had finished installing
the roof rack, my next round of items
ordered was the engine and
gas tank skid plate items. I ran out
of extra money right where I had listed Sun Performance Rocker Protection in my
priorities. It would prove to be an unfortunate thing that I did not order and install
them before I went off-road.
on several outings with no problems. I
didnt even hit my side steps. I knew it would just be a matter of time before the
steps got whacked, but I wanted to wait as long as possible, thinking they offered some
protection (they dont) and that they were convenient for my wife and kids.
Well, finally the day came when I went on
a moderately challenging trail
and found myself off the not-so-beaten path, sitting seriously off camber in a boulder
field. Behind me was another member of our group in a similar predicament. Between us was
one of the regulars with a very nicely built Jeep (with the very rocker protection I am
describing). Ahead was a nice guy with a Grand Cherokee®, who snatched me out.
During the "extraction", my
Jeep® received its first major trail modification: The passenger-side step was
unceremoniously wiped off, and the support bars were "swept back". The rocker
panel was reformed into something resembling a ruffles potato chip
Somewhere along the way a hard branch
also signed its initials deeply into the rear quarter panel. My wife looked on in horror
and my kids (2 and 4) knew something was up but took it in stride. I had vertigo for the
rest of the trip. I had fun on the trail but the price of that fun was a little too high.
And it was bitter because I knew this would eventually happen. I had my side
steps removed in a similar manner with my
Willys many years ago, and it had
countless gaffes in the rockers.
It killed me that the very next piece of
armor on my list was the rocker protection. I went home and took off the other step and
was given a couple sets of steps that I am holding in reserve for when the Jeep® is
returned to street guise for resale (Hey, I want a Rubicon, what can I say?)
Notwithstanding the pain of that outing,
it was several months before I could actually afford to spend the money to buy the rocker
panel protection. I went on many more trips, but was extremely lucky not to do any further
damage to the passenger side. Somewhere along the way, someone drove their car under my
drivers side and wrinkled my rocker on that side. So I was driving around for months with
"whacked" rocker panels.
Even though I like trail riding (the
Jeep® has countless scratches to prove it), I am one who likes to keep a vehicle looking
as nice as possible. (I take a lot of crap from people because I show up for a ride
with a fresh wax job and Armor-All on the tires...) But I like to be ready
for what a trail dishes out too. I will take the "go-around" if an
obstacle is too much, and avoid anything extreme that is optional, but you know how it
goes sometimes things go wrong and you find yourself in a predicament.
Anyway, circumstances finally came around
to where I could afford to spend some money and the first thing I did was to fork over for
the Sun Performance Heavy Duty Rocker Protection. I have seen them on the nicest Jeeps®
around. They are never beaten up, never rusty, never dented, and they have a terrific fit
and finish. And seeing first hand what these Jeeps go through, I know they arent
being babied. The rockers are one of a few such products that cost about the same amount
of money, but for me, these were the ones.
The package they were shipped in ignored
what was going to happen to these rails on the trail. They were packed like they were
going on a show car! And for that I am very grateful. For even though I know what
they are going to look like after the first time I use them to pivot over a mogul or
against a rock, I want to be the one doing the damage, not the postman. And these babies
are heavy. With this addition, along with all the other steel that I have added to the
Jeep®, I have finally convinced myself that some
heavy duty springs are NEXT on my list
of mods, but I digress
(I did them two weeks later.)
The installation is incredibly easy.
Well, once you get past drilling 16 holes into the side of your body, its
I read the instructions (in black below) and decided to diverge slightly from
them in order to do a couple things I wanted to do:
- add lock washers
- paint the holes to prevent rust
- drill the holes in a different sequence
for a tighter fit
I have annotated the original
instructions below with my comments in bold blue text
following my initials (ppro).
These instructions are reproduced
here exactly as they are found in the package with the rockers. Be sure to refer
to YOUR instructions if you buy these because the product or instructions may change,
making what I did wrong for you.