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4x4tographer

Hi-Lift Trail Trak System

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Had the opportunity over the weekend to install a little project on the Jeep. I've found myself in a few situations lately where a hi-lift has been handy, but I don't currently have a great place to put it.  

 

Hi-lift themselves makes a range of nice mounts that are very flexible and supports accessories beyond their jacks. For the JL Unlimited they offer their new "Trail Trak" system, which is essentially two aluminum rails that allow for infinite adjustability and options for additional accessory mounting.

 

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The overall install is very straightforward. They provide you with a nice paper template and some very well illustrated instructions.

 

You essentially center the template on each C-pillar, tape it down, center-punch your points for drilling, and drill away!

 

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The drilling (for me) was the most nerve-racking part of the process. Not just because you're poking holes in your Jeep, but because the metal sport-bar on the JL is made with a new hardened steel that is a pain to cut through. I ended up breaking multiple 1/16 cobalt bits while drilling my pilot holes. 1/16 bits were just too brittle and easy to break. After 2 separate trips to the hardware store to pick up more bits, I finally stepped my way up to the final hole size of 25/64.

 

The next step is to install some nutserts. This process was a breeze, thanks to the rivet nut tool that Michelle gave me for Christmas! I added a dab of RTV gasket maker (Permatex Ultra Black) around the hole and on the nutsert to help protect against rust or corrosion.  

 

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The above shot was before I wiped off the excess RTV. It cleaned up really nice - but didn't really matter, it was getting covered up in a minute.

 

The rail itself installed in just a few minutes with four tapered bolts, a rubber washer, and an aluminum spacer/riser.

 

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Next up is to install the bracket that the hi-lift will mate up to. It takes a bolt and a square nut and can slide up and down the track.

 

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Here is a top view with the bracket slid to the top of the rail.

 

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To mount the jack itself, you slip in a carriage bolt, line up your jack holes, and spin on the nice aluminum knobs.

 

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The final product. Hi-lift provides 2 extra bolts with wing nuts to help you install the jack baseplate in-line on the jack itself. All you need to do it remove a cotter pin on the base.

 

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This solution works for both the hard and stop top. For the soft top, you need to take the extra step of removing the jack to fully open the top - but that only takes a few seconds to do, thanks to the speed of the 2 knobs.

 

An additional benefit of this system is that it helps to open up some new storage options. There is quite a bit of unused space around the C-pillars in the rear. You can fab up some form of bracket yourself, or build a shelf, for example.

 

Hi-lift also sells an accessory mount that can ride inside or outside of the C-pillar. It's pre-drilled to accept RotoPax style mounts. People also run things like PowerTanks on these. 

 

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Here's a photo from Hi-Lift showing some possibilities: 

 

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I'm thinking of running one or two 2-3gal water tanks in the outboard potions in the unused space for some of our overland trips. I have a home built gerry can holder on the tailgate hinge (built at the "KSmith Steel & Ironworks") but I normally have range anxiety and carry fuel on it instead of water.

 

Overall - pretty happy with this purchase. It keeps the jack up high and out of the way, it's easy to remove the jack, and it opens up future opportunities!

 

 

Edited by 4x4tographer
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Looks good.  I've been debating whether or not to keep my Hi-lift or let it go when I sell Barbie.  In all the time since I started going off road, I used it once and the factory jack would have worked in that situation.

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14 minutes ago, Curly said:

Looks good.  I've been debating whether or not to keep my Hi-lift or let it go when I sell Barbie.  In all the time since I started going off road, I used it once and the factory jack would have worked in that situation.


Totally get it. I‘be gone 6-7 years with one and haven’t used it at all until this year. Twice with a wheel lifter attachment to stack some rocks. That’s about it though.

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Looks good!  We switched to bottle jacks for the most part but can reattach the highlift to the custom rack if we change our minds. Hopefully not one of those decisions we regret! Lol

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1 hour ago, Bradywgn71 said:

Looks good!  We switched to bottle jacks for the most part but can reattach the highlift to the custom rack if we change our minds. Hopefully not one of those decisions we regret! Lol

 

Got a 20 ton bottle jack too! 😅 I guess if you include the factory jack that makes 3. I'll use those to change a flat, certainly don't want to be under a vehicle held up by a farm jack. 

 

 

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neat system Ryan!

 

i actually just decided to remove my hi-lift last week. i'm going through and seeing what all i can ditch to lighten Gadget up some. i've only used the hi-lift a couple times in many years of offroading but still always hesitated to remove it - just in case! i still have my mounting brackets in place if i change my mind.

Edited by theksmith
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That drilling is indeed nerve racking. Great write up. I keep meaning to write it up, but I had no where near the number and quality of pictures you have.

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On 4/1/2023 at 5:08 PM, theksmith said:

i actually just decided to remove my hi-lift last week. i'm going through and seeing what all i can ditch to lighten Gadget up some. i've only used the hi-lift a couple times in many years of offroading but still always hesitated to remove it - just in case! i still have my mounting brackets in place if i change my mind.

 

I’ve bailed my rear end out twice in the last year with the Hi-Lift. Once with the Hi-Lift being the only thing between me and phone a friend, via satellite or a long walk up to cell signal. I find it hard to give up such a multi-use tool.

 

The nice thing for the JL, is that this track puts it up high and out of the way. Plus the track is multi-use itself with the adjustable mounting plates.

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