|By Jon Maib|
|While everyone is out buying Jeep "Angry Grilles", "Gladiator Grilles" (or as I like to call them, Vader Grilles), "Eagle Eye Grilles", and such, I decided I wanted to get the vintage Jeep look back for the JKU. Since the beginning of Jeep, the parking or turn signals have always been closer together than headlights. As you can see in the picture, from the early CJ2a's all the way up til the YJ, Jeep had kept the parking lights inset.
Beginning with the TJ, Jeep removed the parking lights from the grille all together and added them to fenders. I have always been a fan of the Jeep grille and the way it looks. I even went as far as converting my TJ to have CJ-7 parking lights and removing the blinkers from the fenders
In order to re-attach the parking lights, I ran to my local auto part store and picked up some plastic weld that is basically a 2 part epoxy. I taped the parking lights in place so they wouldn't move and applied the epoxy weld to the back side of the grille and let it dry.
Once the epoxy had dried, I tested to see how strong the bond was and the joints began to crack. Feeling defeated, I put the project aside and there it sat for a few months. I finally got to thinking that maybe I need to learn how to do plastic welding. So I hit Youtube and got my certified plastic welding degree and got back to creating my grille. (There are several good videos on how to plastic weld out there). After I welded the plastic and added some extra plastic in the low spots, I sanded the welds down until they were flat. Once both sides were sanded down, I added some Bondo Glass that I purchased to fill any imperfections in the grille.
Once the Bondo had dried, a lot of sanding ensuded with multiple grits of sandpaper in order to get the grille as smooth as possible and then I shot the whole thing with some primer. Once the primer had dried, I then needed to do some test fitting on the Jeep because the lights actually interfere with one of the body mounts and I needed to trim some of the mount in order for the lights to fit.
After multiple test fits, I quickly realized I would have to cut more of the frame mount than I had wanted or I was going to have to modify the parking lights. After reaching out to one of our vendors, they shot some pictures of the interior of LED parking lights and I knew this is the way I needed to go. I purchased a set of LEDs and then had to cut them down in order for them to sit in the pocket correctly. I then plastic welded the top back on, spliced the wires back together and then sealed all the wires to protect from water. After everything was finally test fitted, it was time to paint the grille Blitz Black and get the new vintage grille on the Jeep!
I think it is a less noticeable change than I thought it was going to be but, a vintage looking grille it is in my book!