I just recently finished a front roll bar installation on my 78 CJ-5. This project was somewhat of a pleasure to do because it was not too difficult. I started out by ordering a Smittybuilt Sport Bar kit, the one that will fit with my CJ’s dash pad. After getting it home I placed it in the Jeep for a test fit. I soon discovered that the bar was about 1.5 inches higher then the top of the Jeep’s windshield and it was also narrower then I had hoped for. I suppose that since my CJ has a fiberglass body that it is possible for the floor to be thicker which may account for the excessive height.
I decided to do a little customizing (as always). First thing I did was cut the front hoop in the horizontal section, and both vertical sections. I now had a front hoop that was in four pieces. I took careful measurements and cut about 1.25 inches out of the vertical sections to reduce the height of the bar. I took small pieces of angle iron and reassembled the bar using wire tires and installed it into the Jeep so I could eyeball it up and get a good fit.
After it was in I was happy with the height of the bar, now I went about measuring the width. Since me CJ has soft doors I could move the roll bar all the way out towards the doors to free up some leg room. This also made it easier to access the glove box and parking brake. I ended up adding about 1.5 inches to the width of the bar.
Now that I was happy with the fit of the front hoop I proceeded to bring out the welder. Now I hate to weld stuff inside the Jeep because of welding splatter but I was not going to be able to remove the bar without messing up the fit. So I covered up as much as I could, got out the garden hose and fire extinguisher and went to work. I tacked all the joints, each in 4 places, and then I removed the bar to finish. I now had a front hoop along with the floor plates all intact. One thing I did was to bevel the edges of the tubing where the welds were to be to insure a deep strong weld.
Now that the front hoop was done I bolted it into the Jeep and started on fitting up the spreader bars. I measured them up and notched them using a 1.75 in hole saw. Amazingly I was right on the money with both bars and they fit right in. I cleaned off the paint on my existing back bar and tack welded the spreaders into place. With some help I removed the whole cage and finished up the welding. Now we are getting somewhere.
In order to make the bar more attractive I used a grinder on the the areas that I welded together to widen/shorten the hoop. I paid close attention and fixed any spots that the welds may have looked a little thin. Using a little bondo I smoothed out the grinder marks to make the welds invisible. Also I used a little bondo on the spreader bar welds. I then sanded, primered, and painted the cage.