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Custom DIY Fuel Carrier for the Jeep JL TeraFlex Alpha Hinge Reinforcement

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Posted (edited)

Had the opportunity to learn some basic fabrication skills from @theksmith who graciously lent his time, tools, experience, and garage to the project. Thanks man!


Before we dive into some details - here's a photo of the finished project:




Once of my big fears when on some of the longer trips is range anxiety. Not only for myself, but for some of the folks we're traveling with who have some pretty thirsty rigs. :) 


Since I'm kitted out with a soft top and am unable to run some of the more typical roof-racks systems available for the Jeep JL, I was pretty limited on spare fuel options for the Jeep. To date, I've been keeping a 1 or 2 five gallon Wavian jerry cans in the boot whenever I was having some range anxiety. Obviously not an ideal situation for a lot of reasons - but you do what you've got to do.


I've been waiting for about 3-4 years for the aftermarket to finally produce a carry option for those of us that prefer the higher capacity of the classic Jerry Can as opposed to those darn-new-fangled RotoPax solutions. At 5 gallons of capacity, the steel Jerry Can is unmatched by its plastic lego rivals in both capacity and form factor. The highest capacity RotoPax is 4 gallons and is about 40 ft long (a slight exaggeration on my part). That said - if you like fantastic plastic - Scepter makes a well regarded fuel/water storage solution as well.


I was hoping for a JL specific version of the Smittybilt Atlas rear bumper with slots for twin Jerrys, but alas, we have been forsaken. Our only "affordable" rear-carry options for hauling the Jerrys are LoD's Destroyer and Rock Hard 4x4's Patriot - both clocking in north of $2,500 once is all said-and-done.


It's worth noting there are some solutions that mount to the side of the Jeep behind the rear fenders - but the look isn't for me. That and the added risk of a tree branch getting in to where it doesn't belong.


Ok, enough of that... ON TO THE PROJECT!


The general idea was to leverage existing mount points on my newly installed hinge reinforcement from TeraFlex. TeraFlex provided four M10 mounting locations on the rear of the hinge and six M6 mount points along the top of the reinforcement. TeraFlex plans to offer future accessories that will mount on these points, but only offers a hi-lift mount and a radio antenna mount to date - with no noted announcement on future accessories.


We utilized some pretty basic materials to fab up a basic carrier:

  • 1-1/2" 1/8th steel angle 
  • M10x1.5 bolts for the rear (flange head)
  • M6x1.0 bolts for the top (button head)
  • A lockable toggle latch


A range of tools were used, but primarily:


We started off by measuring a piece of 2" c-channel metal theksmith had laying around his garage. We drilled holes the appropriate distance apart with the goal of mounting the can cradle above the level of the rear tail lights to avoid any clearance issues.




We measured the piece and cut to the desired size, just above the level of the tail lights. 


Next up, we created a cross-piece with some angle iron which would utilize some of the top-mounted holes. Here it is layer out for welding.




Kris tack welded it so we could check for fitment before committing to a full weld-job.





Next up was to fab/mock-up a frame for the "cradle" the fuel can would rest in. Here's a shot of our 4pc unit clamped down for some quick tack welds.




Fully welded corners



Mocking up a cross-piece support for some triangulation action and extra surface area to weld our vertical support and cradle together.




The tack-welded "contraption"




Some creative grinding to ensure a flush fit of the top of the vertical support and the Jerry Can cradle.



Prepping for complete welding of all joint edges





Another cross-piece that would serve to help support the fuel can in addition to providing extra material to weld.



Adding in some vertical 45 degree triangulation to help support the weight of the fuel can.




With that done and fully welded, it was time to move on to a metal strap that would lock down and hold the fuel can in place.


We landed on a thick metal "tab" that would serve to catch a "hook" at the end of the strap. We took a thicker piece of scrap and used a grinder to shape it.




Here's a shot of the buckle and "hook" after I had painted the entire contraption.




The strap itself was made of 1/8" steel stripping and bent in a vice. A hook was welded to 1 end and one of the toggle latches welded to the opposite end. The "hook" or "catch" that came with the latch was cleaned up and welded directly to the fuel container holder.





Close up of the latch assembly. Note that the container in the image is actually a water container that shares the same form factor as a standard 5 gallon Jerry Can. Dimensionally, it had the largest overall footprint, so we utilized it heavily in the overall design and test fitting process.




Here's a shot with the fuel canister mounted and locked down.




Side shot showing clearance. It holds pretty close to the Jeep and is the same depth as the spare tire.



Here's a shot with the tailgate open. You can see how the back of the strap mates up with the "buckle".



Photo with the soft top up and all panels installed. 



Used some rattle can enamel paint all over the rig. Once painted it was pretty "stealth" against the rest of the TeraFlex hinge (or about as stealthy as you can get with something like this).





Here's a shot showing clearance. Note that we had to modify the fuel caddy with a 45 degree cut on one corner. Due to the swing radius of the door and the position of the corner just inside of the hinge swing arc, we came within a few millimeters of hitting the paint. Slicing off the corner gave us a much better gap and clears the soft top with room to spare.





Here's the water jug loaded up for a trip this past weekend. 5 gallons of water weighs in at just over 41 lbs. The trails were easy with some bumps and washboarding, so it was a good test with something that couldn't catch fire.




Note that I put an extra strap to help secure the load until I can learn to trust the metal strap fitment a little more. I also picked up a new padlock for it that is coated in a yellow rubberized material. I'm hoping this will keep the movement of the lock from tearing up the paint job and cut down on any potential rattling noises.




One last booty shot.



Edited by 4x4tographer
Spelling is difficult!
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Looks really good Ryan!  

I didn't see anyone wearing flip flops in those pics...lol

smiles, ladybug

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On 4/14/2022 at 6:21 PM, Ladybug said:

Looks really good Ryan!  

I didn't see anyone wearing flip flops in those pics...lol

smiles, ladybug

I was re-reading this and the lack of flip flops jumped at me too! Not sure how I missed it the first time. 🤣


That is a pretty killer set up Ryan, nice work.

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