Installation of the Napier Precision Rear Fender Flares
Installation of the rear flares is more difficult than the fronts for two reasons: 1) they are two-piece to account for the door, so careful alignment of the two pieces is required and 2) to cut the wheel wells wide enough, you'll have to cut through the sheet metal seams, necessitating some creative caulking or other sealing techniques.
Making the install even more difficult was the fact that I committed a blunder when figuring out how much sheet metal I needed to cut. But I'll detail that bit of embarrassment a few paragraphs from now.
- Removal of the rear factory flares is similar to the fronts. You'll probably end up breaking off some of the bolts. There are also some very small bolts at the bottom-most edges of the flares that must be removed. At the trailing edge of the flares, I couldn't get a socket on the bolts and ended up cutting through them with the cut-off disc. The rear rocker cladding also needs to be removed. Once you remove all the bolts, it can be slid off with judicious application of muscle strength and grunting.
Factory flare removed.
With the flare removed, it's now time to begin cutting.
- My initial plan was to cut off the outer-most lip of the sheet metal, then notch the remaining lip and hammer it back. This is known as the "cut and fold method" for clearancing Cherokee fender wells and it was a quick and easy process, and provided about an inch of additional clearance all around the wheel well. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough clearance. I wasn't able to position the door-mounted portion of the flare in such a way as to securely attach it to the door and reach the wheel well opening at the same time. The front of the wheel well had to be opened up by about another inch.
Ready to begin cutting.
My original plan was to just cut off the outer lip, as shown here, and then notch and hammer back the remaining lip.
Notching the lip.
Hammering back the lip. This gained me almost an inch of additional clearance all the way around the fender well.
I was so confident that I was done, that I even sprayed the exposed metal with rocker guard. Then I realized that the opening wasn't enough to fit the front and rear portions of the Napier flare.
- Of course, I discovered my blunder after I had folded/hammered the sheet metal back and sprayed it with rocker guard. No one ever accused me of being the sharpest knife in the drawer. Undoing all that eager hammering took up about 20 minutes per wheel well, so it wasn't as bad as I thought. I only had to undo the front portion of the wheel wells. Once that was cut, I cut the notches deeper into the sheet metal. The cuts were deep enough that I could now see gaps between the inner and outer sheet metal skins. I planned on filling them with caulking once the metal work was complete. Near the bottom, where the rocker panel bulges out, the gap between the inner and outer skins was simply too wide for the cut and fold approach. Instead, I cut just the outer skin to the required wheel well opening size, and then hammered the inner skin over to cover up the gap. Then I trimmed off the extra sheet metal and tacked it all together. Confused? Have a look at those hair restoration diagrams that show how they remove a patch of bald scalp, stretch the hair-growing scalp over the now skinless patch, and sew it in place. Same kinda thing but without the blood and screaming. Well, there was some screaming as I kept blowing through the sheet metal with my .035 wire. I suck at sheet metal welding.
Here, I've just bent back one of the tabs to see how crappy it was going to be to unbend all those tabs.
As it turned out, I only needed additional clearance along the front edge of the fender well. So I unbent the metal, made deeper notches and made a new cut line near the bottom.
Another view of the same.
After the alterations were done. The tabs were hammered back, and the sheet metal near the bottom was tack welded together.
- After I finished up with the metal work, I sprayed all the exposed steel with rust paint, and then slathered silicon caulking over all the places where I notched, hammered, welded, and otherwise mutilated the sheet metal. I'll probably give it a yearly application of undercoating or rocker guard, too, because I'm paranoid about rust. With that done, I could now get back to the comparatively easy process of attaching the flares.
Positioning the back half of the rear flare.
A useful reference diagram.
Edge trimming has been installed.
Drilling mounting holes.
Rear is mounted, now it's time for the front half.
The small flare that attaches to the door will end up with one of those sheet metal screws protruding through the back side. Do not freak out. Just grind it out with your handy angle grinder.
There's lots of room to legally run a wider tire, now.
A before and after animation.