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Jeep Wrangler - Restoration & Custom Outfitting
All photos, diagrams, and text on this page Copyright 2013 - David Todeschini - all rights reserved - see Copyright Terms

 

Reflective Custom Safety Netting

 

FOREWORD: This project requires much more patience than it does skill. I plan to add a section or link to a section that teaches these skills, but in the meantime, if you know how to use a hammer (to set rivets), a scissors (to cut webbing), a Small Butane Micro-Torch or a Butane Cigarette Lighter (to seal webbing ends), and have ever done work with canvas grommet tools or snap fasteners, this project is definitely for you.

 

My Labrador Retriever / Australian Cattle Dog puppy loves riding in the Jeep maybe even more than I love to drive it on a sunny Summer day. It was uncomfortable for her to ride in the front seat because she has to sit up to look out the window when the door tops are installed, and she has to curl up into a tight ball to lie down. If I stopped suddenly, she would end up on the floor. If I got into a collision that was serious enough to deploy the airbags, the airbag hitting her at the average airbag deployment speed of 200MPH could possibly kill her. It is possible to install an "Airbag Kill Switch", and I plan to do so in the future for MY vehicle. However, I won't cover it here for obvious reasons.

 

The solution to the safety / comfort problem was a back seat hammock, and some impromptu safety netting (see photos below) until I could find something suitable; the cargo netting sold for Jeeps was inadequate for dog safety purposes, as I put Ninja in a friend's Jeep that was equipped with a standard cargo net, and because she is a medium-sized dog, she could almost fit between the webbing.... besides, the price for what was available was just too much for something that didn't do exactly what I wanted it to do.

 

THE FIRST "SOLUTION"

When you have a dog who is your Best Friend, you want to make sure she is safe and comfortable. The standard cargo nets commercially available for Jeeps, are inadequate to the task of keeping my dog Ninja inside the Jeep on the rough trails I often travel. And so, lacking a source for what I wanted, the immediate need, a few feet of cord, some Waxed Dental Floss, Super Glue and lots of patience, motivated the construction of the DIY cord netting you see in the four photos below. I also constructed a make-shift overhead cargo net which is visible in the fourth photo, which served the purpose until I discovered the Smittybilt Overhead Console. All the places you see where the cords cross, is done by lashing with Dental Floss, and sealing the knots with Super Glue. This worked, but it looked tacky.

 

Ninja on the back seat hammock - behind DIY safety netting.

DIY safety netting for rar window of Jeep.

My Lab puppy in the Jeep - safely contained in my DIY safety net.

How can you NOT fall in love with such a sweet puppy face?

THE FINAL PROJECT

After shopping every online Jeep accessory store on the Internet, I finally concluded that what I wanted was NOT available in the Jeep accessories marketplace, and so after locating the raw materials and finalizing a design, I constructed a really unique cargo / safety net system, and have documented its design and construction here.

 

I searched for and found " REFLECTIVE Nylon webbing, and bought enough to do what I had envisioned. The reflective properties of the webbing net would also add to the Jeep's Visibility. I measured the Jeep, and designed the netting, adding elastic cord into the design to keep the netting taught where it attached to the side panels, and the rear deck, which would allow me to easily unclip it for access to the rear seat hammock, and to get it out of the way when I put the top down or back up).

 

The only problem with the design was that the netting had lots of places where the webbing crossed, and I wasn't going to sew it together. It took a while to find exactly what I needed, but I obtained 200 rivets (choose the style and size you need) and a rivet tool from Zelikovitz Leathers in Ontario Canada, and this made doing this project possible. I also obtained 200 #8 Stainless Steel Flat Washers (also available at Home Depot) (Crown Bolt #32472) which I used on both sides of the rivets.

 

I designed my netting around the Overhead Console and Radio Crossbar I have installed. I did not give measurements here because you may want to do something different. However, the idea is laid out pretty well here, and a tape measure is all you need to measure out your own custom design.

This is the part of the net that is over the front passenger compartment. The Crossbar Loops at the top of the photo are riveted together, and are designed to fit over the Radio Crossbar that I installed on the Overhead Console. If you don't have both of these, you can simply attach the webbing to the windshield frame with #8 x " self-tapping screws. If you later decide to install the Console and Crossbar, you will have enough webbing to construct the loops as shown here.

In order to provide a center strap, I used the two rubber-coated steel "L" clips that came with the Mesh Bikini Top, which I didn't use. The clips were fastened to the ends of two 18" long straps, and coupled to the center strap with a solid steel ring. The clips are attached to the two slots in the Gear Console Bracket, and are placed under the Velcro fasteners to keep them in place.

 

WARNING: Do NOT use a key-ring for this purpose. If you do this; it will come apart and the sharp edges of the ring will tear through your Top. Use ONLY a solid, heavy-duty steel ring with welded ends (so it cannot be pulled apart).

 

If you don't have a Gear Console, you can dispense with the "Y" connection (shown in the photos below) and attach the center strap to the Roll Bar behind the front seats, or to the windshield tie-down loop (aka "Footman Loop") between the sun visors on the windshield frame above the rearview mirror.

This is the part of the net that covers the back of the Jeep from the rear seat back to the top of the Roll Bar.

 

The adjustable loops at the bottom attach to a strong bungee cord stretched across the rear deck just behind the taillights. The constant tension keeps the netting taught, and keeps it from flopping in the breeze.

 

The five loops on either side are also adjustable, and attach to the Roll Bars on either side. They are adjusted for tension and so that the net is properly centered.

The back part of the net showing the long straps that extend from the Roll Bar over the rear seat.

The rear netting shown in ambient light (left photo) and with an LED flashlight shining at it from above (right photo). See the section on Visibility to see how this looks on the Jeep at night.

(left photo, below) The reflective netting being installed. Notice the Center Strap "Y" connector straps under the Velcro straps of the Overhead Console (green arrow), and the clips in the Overhead Console Bracket slots (red arrow). The loops of the straps (except the center strap) are pushed over the ends of the Radio Crossbar.

 

(right photo, below) View from the passenger seat through the top. Notice the adjustable loop at the top left, which is attached to the Roll Bar at the door, and the Radio Crossbar with double-riveted loops (red arrow). There is no tension on the net in this photo.

A Mesh Bikini Top is a great idea, but on those days when the sun is exceptionally brutal, you might be tempted to put the Top up, or wish you had a standard canvas Bikini Top. Having this net installed allows you stow your windshield sun visor where it is not just taking up space, but providing complete shade, just as a solid canvas Bikini would. If you do this, you must keep the rear end of the sun visor from flopping around and making that god-awful slapping sound. Use 4-inch scraps of webbing to fashion six loop clips to secure the back-end of the sun visor to the rear strap (red arrow in 4th photo).

Another advantage to having this cargo netting is that you can stow things up in that netting (overhead) where they are out of the way and within easy reach when you need them. A Log Book is a bit too big for the Gear Console, but a few scraps of netting riveted together at right angles with button snaps at the ends will secure that book overhead, and keep it there even with the Top down. This photo shows my Log Book secured over the net, and under the reflectorized bubble-type windshield sun visor which is secured under the Mesh Bikini Top.

This is one of the side nets. The dimensions are identical for right and left sides. All the straps are riveted together, except for the bottom (shorter) strap, which is removable. In the photos, the black (smaller) buttons are (permanent) rivets, and the (larger) silver buttons are (removable) Button Snaps.

These type of clips are the easiest to fasten and unfasten. The application of tension makes the clip grip tighter to whatever it is attached to.

 

Note that the bottom (horizontal) strap is NOT riveted, but is simply passed through the loops and held in place with snap fasteners at each end. This provides easy access to retrieve small objects without removing the netting.

The side-window nets are held in place and kept under tension by a length of 7 or 8mm Kernmantle Accessory Cord and a strong spring attached to loops screwed into the decking. Use ONLY Stainless Steel hardware. In order to construct this, DO NOT use regular cord, as it will stretch over time, and may break under constant tension. Use Waxed Dental Floss to lash one end of the rope into a small loop, use Super Glue to secure the knot, and cover it with a 1-inch length of Heat Shrink Tubing. Put another length of Heat Shrink Tubing over the free end of the rope. Secure the loop to the front loop with a 1/4" Stainless Steel Carabiner as shown.

 

Use a length of Parachute Cord tied to the end of the spring, and passed around the loops to form a "pulley" arrangement to stretch the spring to twice its length and hold it stretched. Take the free end of the rope and mark it where the spring loop is. Lash another loop into the cord as before, and cover the lashing with the Heat Shrink Tubing. Place the loop over the spring and remove the Parachute Cord. When you are done, there should be considerable tension on the rope.

The spring provides tension to keep the netting taught.

The end of the tensioning line is secured by a small carabiner.

Side view of the doggy hammock through the reflective safety net.

Attach the side net to the Roll Bar at the top first, then front, and back. Adjust the loops so that the net is centered, and the openings are symmetrical. Pull the rope up and attach the clips at the bottom to the rope. When you are done, the netting should be tight.

 

This arrangement provides for easy access to the rear seat, by simply removing a few clips.

 

NOTE: You must remove the three clips attached to the deck in order to raise or lower your Soft Top.

This netting is relatively easy to construct if you take your time and measure the webbing carefully. In order not to waste the webbing, always remember the old Tyrolean Carpenter's adage: "You can't cut a piece of wood longer". Leave 8 to 10 inches of webbing on each side when measuring between Roll Bars for the snap fasteners and web clips; you can trim the excess after you're done. I think you will agree that this netting looks a hell of a lot better than the first solution.

A SAFE Puppy is a HAPPY Puppy

My dog has ample space to get comfortable for those long rides, and is safe behind the reflective netting.

A dog's head - even a medium-sized dog - cannot fit between netting spaced 6 inches on center.

My dog Ninja behind the cargo safety net.

Excuse me while I get a bit of a nap here.

The reflective netting surrounds the rear passenger area.

The reflective mesh cargo net looks sharp on a dark colored Jeep.

The Jeep is distinctive-looking with the reflective cargo net.

NOTE - the netting that appears to go over the roof is actually UNDER the full-length mesh net Bikini Top.

The Reflective Cargo Net (top of photo) and the matching Tailgate Net (bottom of photo) with the tailgate open.

Installing the Tailgate Net means that even if the Jeep is parked facing up a steep hill, contents of the cargo area are prevented from falling out.

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