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Old 03-07-2019, 10:11 AM   #1251 (permalink)
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thats a pretty nice looking cage for a prebent set up, cant wait to see it all done in the truck
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Old 03-07-2019, 10:41 AM   #1252 (permalink)
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Me either! Even though it's pre-bent and notched, there's still fine tuning to be done and it's always the little things that add up to a lot of time.

The rear wall is fully welded and the back side painted. The a-pillar/main bars should be going in tonight, when a friend of mine comes to lend a hand or two. I mocked them up last night but couldn't keep them squared up for tacking into place by myself. Every time I moved one side, the other shifted slightly.



I did get some sound deadening installed since I know that when the cage is in-place, I'll never be able to get to these areas again. The floor will get some sound deadening before the interior goes back in, but that'll happen after the cage is mostly installed.

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Old 03-09-2019, 06:40 PM   #1253 (permalink)
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Looks like a pretty nice cage. Price? I don't like the A pillar shape, and must keep the rear seats. C pillar would go outside the cab on mine. Would that be an issue with this kit? I know slight mods would need to happen, but i don't want to reengineer the majority of it when i could build it all by hand. Keep it up man, great work as always!
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Old 03-10-2019, 09:37 PM   #1254 (permalink)
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As I mentioned before, since this kit is discontinued, there's no point in discussing the price. Also, with all the changes you want to make, it wouldn't be worth your while to start with it.

What about the A-pillar don't you like?
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Old 03-10-2019, 09:49 PM   #1255 (permalink)
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Worked my ass off Thursday with the help of a friend to get the whole cage mocked up pretty much so I could tack the underside of the roof bars. I was driving the truck down to Champaign for a Chevy truck meet-up so I wanted at least some creature comforts like a driver's seat, working headlights, and heat. Radio was icing on the cake haha.





Trimming the dash support was easier than I expected, but I'm going to have to get pretty creative if I want working outer vents still.

Fully welded the underside of the roof bars, and b-pillars and door bars removed. I'm planning on dropping the a-pillars through the floor so I can weld the top of the roof bars, paint, and install headliner before everything else goes in permanently.



Ratchet straps to keep the cage stationary during my drive. Worked well, not even a slight rattle was heard.


Rolled out of the garage and 40s back on. Felt good to drive it again, even though it was only down two weekends.


Visibility is pretty good, actually. Since the truck is so high, the bottom left corner of the windshield is the most important area to see and I can see all of it if I lean my head slightly to the right. I'm 5'10", and there's still 2-3" of clearance before my head bumps the tubes. After some padding is added, there won't be much head room. Anyone taller might consider a hybrid cage or something that tucks into the roof of the truck even more and gets rid of the headliner entirely.


Obligatory mall crawler shot:


Picking up more DOM tomorrow to redo some of the bars to my liking and to make custom frame supports (since I have a bodylift and the kit wasn't designed for one). I'm also isolating the cage from the frame with poly bushings so I won't have to worry about the pinch plates ripping through the floor of the cab or rigid mounting the cab.
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Old 03-11-2019, 03:55 AM   #1256 (permalink)
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As I mentioned before, since this kit is discontinued, there's no point in discussing the price. Also, with all the changes you want to make, it wouldn't be worth your while to start with it.

What about the A-pillar don't you like?
Yeah, i might be guilty of not reading your whole post

I just don't like how the a pillar of thre cage doesn't follow the a pillar of the truck. I realize this way is superior in strength, but how much? It would've been nice to start with something mostly completed for me it's the only reason I'm looking at pre bent cages. Beggers can't be choosers lol
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Old 03-11-2019, 07:58 AM   #1257 (permalink)
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Exactly. I bought this kit right before UA last year on the off-chance I got selected.

One thing I will argue about the a-pillar bar is that it actually allows better visibility than if it followed right next to the truck's a-pillar since the bottom comes in towards the driver and laterally outward.

Another reason it appears to have been designed the way it was is so that it can actually go through the dash without fucking literally everything behind the dash up. There's still some trimming that needs to be done and utilizing the factory outer vents might be a challenge, but no major components were upset otherwise.
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Old 03-13-2019, 04:28 PM   #1258 (permalink)
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Great looking build!
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Old 03-21-2019, 11:36 AM   #1259 (permalink)
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Nice work!
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Old 03-21-2019, 11:45 AM   #1260 (permalink)
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First, we've had pretty nice weather lately so I moved the truck out for more room (and light on the weekends). Definitely makes it easier with extra space. Gave me a better chance to start on my modifications to the pre-bent cage.


So the cage was never designed to run factory seats. I don't have the money for suspension seats and I'm not yet sure I want to make that investment before trying out a few different ones somehow. The only major issue is the B-pillar by design interferes with the factory seat where the seatbelt sticks out. I'm not super tall, but at 5'11" I'm not that short. To put the seat a comfortable distance from the pedals meant I'd be pretty hunched forward.

To remedy this, I re-made the B-pillar. I am going to attempt to still support the moved "node" somehow, but not entirely sure how just yet.




Now, I know it looks like it will rub... and it will. But not enough to prevent the seat from reclining with some bodyweight since it's soft material. Plus, this way the fiancee will be able to sleep on long trips which is a plus That said, it doesn't rub even in my ideal seat position, which is a win.


It takes up the space of the ext cab window in the rear door, meaning I don't have to fuck with modifying the door trim. Another small win.


Here's a comparison between the old B-pillar and the new one. Like I said, I'm still trying to figure out a way to keep the bend from being a 'dead node', but I'll be able to better figure that out once all the other bars are installed. At the very least, I justify not having that node supported because exocages go without center triangulation all the time and they're usually okay.
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Old 03-21-2019, 11:53 AM   #1261 (permalink)
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With that sorted, I started on another modification. I'd seen on the cagebuilder's instagram that someone split the front bars on a different truck to run their overhead console. Losing the console wouldn't have been the end of the world for me, but the headliner had a giant gaping hole where the console mounted and I wasn't digging that.
Plus, this will give me map lights, sunglass holder, and a switch panel... so it is nice to have.

The other modified tube design I saw had them both bend and connect at the center of the roof cross area. At best, it would have been a cluster trying to notch 4 tubes for terminating in that area.

@Bray_D suggested I do something a bit different, and I love how it turned out.





The two longest diagonal tubes were part of the original design. The tubes next to the overhead console area are new and so are the ones that hit that same node and go to the top where the B-pillar will be.

Ignore the booger weld at the center cross... that weld fought me the whole way and when I looked into why I noticed some corrosion on my welding wire. It's now in the trash and I'll grind it out and redo it before I finalize anything.


More pics:





Since I'm pretty much out of things to do until the top bars are fully welded, painted, and headliner is installed, that's my focus for tonight and this weekend. Need to remove the dash and seats again, cut holes in the floor, drop the a-pillar bars down through, fully weld and paint the top bars, and modify/install the headliner.

Once I'm done with that, I think the remaining bars will go in pretty quickly and I can start reinstalling the interior after paint.
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Old 03-22-2019, 09:29 AM   #1262 (permalink)
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like how you are making it work around some of the stock parts of the truck and more functional for your use. looks really good........well other then that one weld
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Old 03-22-2019, 12:32 PM   #1263 (permalink)
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like how you are making it work around some of the stock parts of the truck and more functional for your use. looks really good........well other then that one weld
I ground it out last night. Combination of a big gap on the bottom of the tube where the notches weren't perfect (kit fault, not mine ) and also poor feed rate due to the corrosion on the wire (I think/hope).

Welder got new wire, new tip, new nozzle, and a new 4ga ground wire (instead of the frayed 6ga that was on there), so hopefully she sizzles the bacon a bit more consistently now.

And thanks, much like the rest of the truck I didn't want it to be pure function and no form. Function comes first in all my projects/modificatons, but I like to have form follow closely when doable. I think we're far past "oem", but I still always ask myself, "What would an OEM design look like?" when designing stuff and try to make it true to that form or better.
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Old 03-22-2019, 12:39 PM   #1264 (permalink)
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Not much progress yesterday... but I did get the cage dropped down through the floor, tacked the new roof bars in place, and prepped all the other joints with the wire wheel.



The weather is looking pretty good this weekend, so I hope to make some serious progress. The goal is to get the headliner trimmed and test-fitted, fully weld the roof, and paint it Saturday so it can cure overnight. Then focus on getting the non-roof bars tacked and maybe even fully welded into place on Sunday.

I am worried that I may need to drop the cage down further to fit the headliner, but we'll see. Hopefully I can wrangle it into it's place. If I do have to drop it down further, I'll have to cut the holes in the floor larger and then the pinch plates won't simply cover them up so I'll have to weld some material back in place - not the end of the world, but just another time-suck to add to the list.
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Old 03-25-2019, 07:35 AM   #1265 (permalink)
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So… as you can see, the headliner will NOT go in with the doors on the truck still.


Driver’s front door needed new pins anyway, so I removed both doors on that side.


Initial test fit of the headliner definitely wouldn’t fit without at least some clearancing for the rear upper bars, so I went pretty HAM with the jigsaw and ended up trimming way more than was necessary.


Masked off the windshield and dash for both keeping the welding slag off and to kill two birds and help mask for paint.


Welded:


Painted (even with the cage dropped down, getting spray paint on the tops of the bars was tough, especially near the rear).


The state of things at the end of the day Saturday. I wanted to make sure the paint could cure overnight so it wouldn’t rub off on the headliner the next day during install. My phone’s “night mode” sure makes it seem like it’s sunset, but I assure you this was much closer to midnight than that. It was a long day. My knees had been nearly punctured numerous times by the random studs and ribs on the truck floor and at least one pair of pants was lost due to a rip from those studs.


First test-fit the next morning:


So, I don’t have any pictures from Sunday. @Grohe came by and we talked about how much I hated the holes in the headliner being cut too big. Since I’ll never be able to get the headliner out once the cage is put on the pinch plates (without a shit-ton of work), we decided to scour the local PnP for a suitable replacement. Unfortunately the 3-door headliners are different than the 4 doors ones, so the pristine one I found wouldn’t work. Settled for an otherwise not-terrible headliner with a few stains (hoping to get them out) for $20 out the door. Not terrible.

No pics of the new one installed because I finished up last night around 10pm and it was raining (and had been since around 6pm), but you can barely tell it’s clearanced at all once installed. I’ll try to remember to grab pictures at lunch. I did get the doors back installed so that the truck wouldn’t be filling up with water overnight. I also shop-vac’d out the puddles off the truck floor before flipping the switch last night
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Old 03-25-2019, 09:53 AM   #1266 (permalink)
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Coming along quite nicely! I dig the headliner in there. Looks goooood
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Old 03-25-2019, 10:10 AM   #1267 (permalink)
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Coming along quite nicely! I dig the headliner in there. Looks goooood
Thanks, I'm pretty stoked with how it turned out myself!
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Old 03-25-2019, 10:00 PM   #1268 (permalink)
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Picture of the new headliner with cage at proper height. Pretty stoked how it turned out.

Now to get the side bars in.
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Old 03-28-2019, 10:10 PM   #1269 (permalink)
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Daytime pic:



I haven't gotten much progress done this week because I injured my back over the weekend so I've been taking it easy. I did end up pulling a new dash from a junkyard truck on Monday before I realized my back was as bad as it is. The grocery getter has been earning its keep (other pic is how I brought the new headliner back ).





My back was feeling better today, so I spent some time mapping out where the pinch plates will go and stuffing the truck back in the garage while the seats were in it (no pics). All the side bars line up pretty well, so I'm happy about that. I'll probably bolt the pinch plates onto the floor and then start tacking before I pull the dash (to weld the underdash bar and trim one more bracket). Progress is progress, even if it's slow. I've got two half weekends (fiancee's birthday this weekend and our wedding shower the following) and a full weekend before I leave for EJS/FSI on April 14, so I need to get a move on. Doesn't need to be completely done, but I'd like some creature comforts like carpet and a dashboard in before I drive 40 hours round trip (not including the time on the trails).
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Old 03-29-2019, 10:29 AM   #1270 (permalink)
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pretty cool you were able to put the headliner back into the cab
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Old 03-29-2019, 11:54 AM   #1271 (permalink)
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Yeah aside from wind noise being less, it should also help keep things cooler in the summer. I sacrificed around 3/4" of head clearance, but there was a ton to begin with. Even with the 2" main tubes, I still have around 3" of clearance above my head and I'm not exactly short at 5'11", so it's tucked up pretty well.
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Old 04-01-2019, 10:24 PM   #1272 (permalink)
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Two steps forward, one step back... still one step forward I suppose right?

Got all of the side bars tacked into place and the cage is squared up. Just need to install the under-dash bar, and make the diagonal door bars for the rear. Picture is before I tacked everything. ALL my ratchet straps were used


Tonight's project started with me redoing the under-dash bar because it wouldn't fit properly. Figure I might as well make it completely fit under the dash cover... so a cut-and-turn was needed. Sleeved 5" on each side (probably overkill but whatevs).


Fits!!!




I cut this dash cover in half because it's my old one and all of the tabs broke when I took it off, so this makes checking fitment a million times easier. The new dash cover will not be cut in half when it goes in haha.

Now I just need to modify the driver's side of the bar a tiny bit and I can burn the sucker in.
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Old 04-01-2019, 10:34 PM   #1273 (permalink)
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After seeing this, I think Iíll just go with a big ugly exo cage lol. In all seriousness, awesome work. I appreciate the dedication to keeping the truck useable


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Old 04-02-2019, 08:31 AM   #1274 (permalink)
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After seeing this, I think Iíll just go with a big ugly exo cage lol. In all seriousness, awesome work. I appreciate the dedication to keeping the truck useable


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Yeah an Exo would be a lot simpler and faster to do, but I just didn't want the extra width, attention on the road (read: police, HOA if I ever live in one), and also trying to keep the cage rust free in salty Illinois winters.

As much as the pre-bent cage helped me save some time, I'm not sure it saved me enough to make it worth it if I were to do it again. It's a stout cage design, no doubt, and the fitment issues are not the supplier's fault - he never promised that it could be well-integrated and warned me it would be a lot of work to nicely do it, but he did say some of his customers HAVE done it. If I didn't care about fitment with the headliner, dash, seats.... it'd be in and the truck would be on the road already. But since I take this truck on 4000+ mile road trips... I want the comfort, as I've already expressed.

I will say, it was pretty therapeutic to cut the dash in half knowing I have a perfectly good one waiting in storage haha. Should be pretty nice to just set the two halves on the dash trimmed to clear the bars and then make a cardboard template of where I need to cut to transfer over to the new dash.
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Shortened 17" w/Bed, AAM 14B FF / Grizzly, Dana 60 HP / Chromos, Anti-Wrap Bar
4L80e, EcoBox/205 Doubler, 40" Mickey's, Rock Sliders, Hidden Winch, Hydro Assist
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Old 04-03-2019, 07:59 AM   #1275 (permalink)
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Member # 163019
Location: Park Ridge, IL
Posts: 4,061
Here you can see some of the changes I needed to make to the dash bar. I think it was designed so the dash cover can be installed but that doesn't mean it fits properly. Broken tabs, rattling... I can imagine being frustrated by that in the future. It's possible because the cage ended up about 1/2-3/4" lower in my truck than it was designed (due to the headliner), this may be a contributing factor, as well.

Anyway, with these changes, it now clears the dash cover by about 1/4", so I can stuff some foam in there to make sure it doesn't rattle. The other side was also cut and sleeved, and I had to make the bend on the driver's side a little more extreme (went from 30 degrees to about 37 degrees).

VERY happy with how it turned out. All cut/sleeved joints got 1.5"x.120" wall DOM sleeves that extended into the main tubes by at least 4" and were also plug welded.





Test fit before final weld:


Painted (outside the truck) and final welded.


Busy tonight, but tomorrow night I expect to fully weld all the tubes that are currently in-place. Then I only have left to do the diagonal door bars front and rear. The rear ones are just straight notched tubes, so those will be quick. The front may take some more creativity, but we will see. Hoping just one well-placed bend will be sufficient.
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2001 Z71 Silverado, Ext. Cab, 5.3L V8 -
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Shortened 17" w/Bed, AAM 14B FF / Grizzly, Dana 60 HP / Chromos, Anti-Wrap Bar
4L80e, EcoBox/205 Doubler, 40" Mickey's, Rock Sliders, Hidden Winch, Hydro Assist

Last edited by DMANbluesfreak; 04-05-2019 at 12:38 PM.
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