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ZJ Chop Top

Author: Swamp Boy

Well it all started on a beautiful Louisiana summer day...

My buddy Jeff and I where standing in his back yard talking about chopping up our rigs and doing this and that when all of a sudden....

Jeff said, "Pull your rig in the back and lets see how we can do it."

So we took off the rear hatch and popped out the glass just to get a look at it mind you...

Well, once the tailgate was off and the glass out (which was much harder than expected) I stood back and looked at it and said....

" What are we waiting for?"

So we broke out the sawzalls and went nuts.

This is the first picture we took.

Remove the windows, unbolt the hatch and cut the roof

It was a little late but all we really did was pop a chalk line across the roof and cut along the body lines at the D pillar. Then I cut the glass out of the rear hatch and we cut along the body line on it too. Here it is - just stuck in place where it was while I decided what to do next.

Cut the hatch and tack weld it back on

I trimmed a little more off the roof line and I ran to Academy Sports for a tarp. This is how it looked when I went home that night.

Top removed

Needless to say, doorless and backless left something to be desired. So I bought a 3X6 piece of 14 gauge steel and started measuring and marking.

Sheet metal marked and ready to cut

The dotted lines on the side are for scoring to fold over so that it will wrap around and can be welded on. While I was out getting steel, I stopped by a bone yard and picked up this Toyota sliding glass window.

Toyota window ready to install

I traced it out on the piece of steel and cut it out as well. Then I took the steel and put it in place.

Test fit the window

I used a piece of 1x1x 3/16 angle to support the steel while I was tacking it in place and decided to leave it there. So I welded it to the body on both sides as well as welding the plate to it.

This is the end of day 2.

Installed window and sheet metal

After some finish welding and grinding and such it was quickly taking shape.

Apply bondo and primer

Then a little paint.

Paint the body

I drilled right through the tailgate and put some bolts on to mount my hi-lift jack to.

Mount the hi-lift to the tailgate

Well, the first time I went offroad, I broke a brake light and realized that the tailgate had to go. It was not strong enough to make it functional plus I decided I didn't want the spare on the roof.

I don't have any photos of this being made but, I just started with a piece of sheet metal and traced out the tire then cut it out. I then welded a piece of pipe inside the body rails to support the back of the tire. The hi-lift jack was attached to that bar.

New tire carrier

Time passed and I decided that I wanted to close the back off. So I went to work again. I started by standing the tires up straight and taking the pipe out. Then I welded a crossmember in the 1x1x 3/16 angle...again.

weld the crossmember in place

Here you can see the new spare tire mount and the sheet metal taking shape on the sides, as well as the piece of treated plywood I used to fill from the angle to the sheet metal of the tire rack.

New spare tire mount

The inside is taking shape - I have welded more of the 3/16 steel to the floor under the platform that you can see here. Then I covered the whole thing with 1/2" treated plywood. I made the platform to mount another seat right in the middle.

Interior photo

Here is the back wall that I built. You can see I use an ammo can for tools and I have a VIAIR 325 compressor mounted that fills the tank in the back.

New back wall and Viair compressor

Well here it is pretty much finished. The deck lids open so I have access to the back and the air chuck comes straight off the tank.

The finished product

You can see that it is very solid. No problems at all. That is full flex on the back axle. There is a hole under my tire and I am on a stump on the diver's side.

ZJ offroad

Stay tuned for the next installment where I will put the new seat in the back and rhino line the whole interior....

Carl

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