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1997 Jeep Wrangler TJ - Restoration & Custom Outfitting
All photos, diagrams, and text on this page Copyright 2013 - David Todeschini - all rights reserved - see Copyright Terms

 

Rhino-Lining

 

Part of restoring a Jeep has to be replacing the carpet and if you're going to do that, you should add protective coating to the floor pan while you're at it. For the passenger part of the Jeep, all you really need is 2 cans of Dupli-Color BAA2010 Bed Armor Aerosol - 16.5 oz.

 

You can be lazy and just remove the carpeting and spray the parts of the floor you can see, but to do the job properly, you should remove the seats as well. You want to apply this to every inch of the floor and sides of the Tub. My '97 Jeep Wrangler had 3 types of bolts holding each seat to the floor. I found I needed a Torx wrench, a 1/2" socket, and a 13mm socket.

 

Scrub the bare floor vigorously with mild soap and Lysol Disinfectant Spray, then wash thoroughly with cold water, sucking up the dirty water with a Shop-Vac. Allow the floor to dry completely before spraying the coating on. Use two to 3 light coats, waiting 30 minutes between coats and allow to cure overnight before putting down the carpet and re-installing the seats..

 

This treatment of the floor is an effective rust proofing if done properly, and if you get caught in the rain with the Top down, or cross a creek that's just a bit too deep, you can wash the carpet with a garden hose, unplug the rubber floor drains to let the water out, suck up the rest with a Shop-Vac and let the carpet air-dry without worrying about the floor pan rusting.

 

For the rear deck (aka cargo compartment) from the front of the rear seat to the tailgate, you might want to treat this part of the vehicle with Dupli-Color Bed Armor DIY Truck Bed Liner with Kevlar Bed Armor. This stuff resists rough use, and even though you may put a carpet over it, you have a tough working cargo area for when you have to haul loads that would damage a regular paint job, and even the spray-on bed armor.

 

If you do your own carpeting, you can set it up so that the cargo area carpet snaps to the floor (using standard button snaps) for when you're using the vehicle for pleasure (passengers in the back), and when you need a cargo deck, pull-pins remove the rear seat and the carpet unsnaps from the floor revealing a tough-as-nails cargo bay ready for that heavy load.

 

Treating the floor this way has other advantages as well, such as deadening road noise and dampening vibrations that a steel floor naturally makes. Your Jeep won't turn into "The Cone of Silence", but when you add some nice carpeting with a felt pad underneath, you'll definitely notice the difference.

 

Preparation

 

BEFORE: For a 16 year old Jeep,  my '97 Wrangler's floor was practically "cherry" under the carpeting. First, I vacuumed up all loose debris and sand, and used dishwashing detergent and a scrub brush to get the rest of the caked-on dirt off the floor, sucking up the water with a Wet / Dry Shop-Vac. Water will drain through the floor plugs (red arrows). I plugged the holes before applying the spray coating to preserve the seal for the rubber plug (bottom, left). After I applied the Bed Lining, I filled the spaces between the floorboard plates with spray foam, primarily for Sound Deadening, but also as a way to inhibit corrosion.

Why Chrysler didn't paint the parking brake bracket, I don't know. I guess they figured, "out of sight, out of mind". I cleaned off all the rust I could with Jelmar CLR  Cleaner, and a wire brush, washed off the rust and painted the bracket black. NOTE: You must cover the brake switch contacts before spray painting the bracket. DO NOT spray the parking brake bracket with the protective coating. Check to see that the two bolts holding the bracket to the tub are tight, and while you're under here, spray some Silicone Spray Lubricant down into the brake cable housing.

Scrubbing the Jeep floor - note the drain hole (plug removed) shown by the red arrow. Light surface rust was all that was under the carpet of my '97 Jeep Wrangler
The parking brake bracket was rusted. I cleaned it with CLR and painted it black. I don't like rust. I cleaned the parking brake bracket with CLR and painted it black.
Driver's side floorboard had a bit of surface rust - that's all. Note I plugged the drain hole with foam pipe insulation before applying the protective coating. Brake bracket and lever painted black.

After the floor has been cleaned and allowed to dry, spray or coat the tub with the protectant of your choice. You can just paint the tub, but paint does not offer nearly as much protection against rust as a coating that is completely impervious to water. In addition, such protection will effectively channel the water towards the drain openings if you park the jeep slightly facing downhill.

 

You should also treat the cargo bay with the same treatment you used for the tub. Spray the entire surface of the bed up to the windows and don't worry about any drips; they will be covered  when you (re)install the carpet. Be extra careful to mask off the seat belts and seat belt mechanisms.

Photo of the Cargo Bay from the rear. The excess of the Custom Carpet I installed in the passenger compartment is ready to be put in place as soon as the Bed Lining dries. Green arrows show the seat screws, red arrow shows the seatbelt screw which have been soaked in Jelmar CLR  Cleaner, then lubricated with Silicone Spray Lubricant, and re-installed in the holes, which have been cleaned of rust and debris, and masked-off with masking tape.

Seat belt mechanism cover masked-off with paper and masking tape. Note that the Bed lining has also been sprayed onto the window deck (yellow arrow). Two screws (blue arrows) for a cargo ring I added on both sider are also re-installed in their holes so that the holes can be found when the carpeting is (re)installed. The coating, when finished, should cover the entire inside of the Jeep to form a complete waterproof seal. Keeping moisture off the steel means the bed cannot rust from the inside.

   

MORE PHOTOS TO COME

 
   
 

 

The Dupli-Color products are protectants, and the Permatex product is a silicone lubricant used to lubricate the parking brake cable. DO NOT spray silicone lubricant on the Jeep's floor, because it will inhibit adhesion of the Bed Armor.

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