Yesterday, I spent some time working on the Lil’ Red Rubicon. Earlier in the week, I’d ordered a set of Drake grille inserts. For some reason, Jeeps don’t have any kind of mesh to prevent bugs from ending their lives against the radiator fins… some kind of insect genocide, I guess.
With that, there’s a whole bunch of instructions out there for DIY grill inserts/guards, and I’d thought about going that route — it’s easy and cheap, and can be done with parts from the hardware store. In the end, I wanted something a little more “finished” looking. Enter the Drake inserts.
These things are beasts, built of billet aluminum in three different finishes (I chose black; a choice I would later question), and can be installed with no glue or permanent alterations of the grill. Winner, winner, winner!
As I thought about putting these on the Jeep, I was also looking at “blacking out” the nose. Folks usually do this with Plastidip spray-on coating. This stuff is used for a lot of purposes, but I think it’s primarily for putting a rubberized surface on tools for better grip. It’s also dynamite as a removable coating for things like grills, wheels and fenders. I figured that as long as I had the grill off, I might as well black out the grill too.
Pulling the grill was easy. Drake’s instructions were spot-on, and I had the grill off in about five minutes. And then, I was confronted with how committed I was to changing the nose of my virtually new Rubicon.
I sprayed the first couple of coats on the Drake inserts — no commitment needed there. But, then the grill stared at me, challenging me as to whether I was ready to start blacking it out… and then I pressed my finger on the can nozzle. I was committed, and continued on about my spraying.
In the end, I used two coats of ‘dip on the grill, and four coats of red paint on the inserts. Starting out with black inserts was probably a mistake. It took a lot of coats to get the inserts to the color I wanted. Had I started out with brushed aluminum inserts, I think the painting would’ve gone easier … it’s just a lot easier to NOT have to cover up all that black.
Installing the inserts was easy, and re-installing the grill was a piece of cake. Frankly, I love the look. It’s unique, and I did it… both good things!
A close-up is worth a thousand words…