Before you read into it, this is NOT a complaint against A.C.E.!!
Had them for two weeks. We were out at Catahoula Recreation in Sicily Island, LA last Saturday and there's a particular climb that has two options. The straight climb is rated at a 3, for the guys who are adventurous but want to drive to work the next day. I made that climb a week after I bought my Jeep. This time I had a full EVO skid system, ACE rails, PSC bumper, etc. It was time to step up my game a bit.
So I took the route that veers to the right. The one that gave a front/rear locked TJ (with 5.5" lift and 35s) some trouble. No one else wanted to try it, but I figure if I'm not pushing my limits once in a while, I'll never learn to drive better. I had to move a couple rocks here and there, but was making it up pretty well when I hit the mother load of issues. Front tires in mud, rear left tire trying to crest a root 15" off the rock it was on... and my belly pan was sitting on a rock, keeping all four tires from getting enough traction. The ACE rails were the only reason the tree (belonging to the root blocking my rear tire) wasn't all up in my doors. I had to get pulled about a foot off that rock and made the rest of it on my own, but bottom line, I didn't make the climb unassisted. I digress... the rail damage came before that point.
About a quarter of the way from the bottom I was working my way up a rock when things shifted. Not in a, "let off the throttle or you're going to slide into that tree" kind of shift. This was more of a, "Holy shit hang onto your nuts and hope you don't die when this bitch rolls the fuck over" kind of shift. Had I had a bigger breakfast it's possible I'd have needed to change my pants. Of course, this happened while the video guy was repositioning to get a better angle, thank god. My wife would have strangled me if she saw me subject my Jeep to that. It felt like I was falling to the driver side about two feet, at which point it was all on where I hit that determined whether I flopped over. Given the location and position of the Jeep, a sideways flop could have easily led to a roll. At least, that's the way it felt from my point of view, which was somewhat exaggerated by my uncontrollable urge to scream like a little bitch.
What happened was the rocks under my left rear tire decided to relocate while my left front tire was airborne, thus the fall. Fortunately (and I use that term pretty damn loosely) there was a boulder to my left that was positioned just right to catch my ACE rail on the way down, which gave enough drag to allow the right side of the Jeep to settle down instead of sending me into a version of divorced I don't want to face just yet.
In the drop, the ACE rails took a ding about the size of a quarter. After washing them off yesterday I discovered I rashed off a large portion of the powdercoat, too. That said, that's what these rails are designed for- to take the abuse and save my body from seeing the damage. I didn't even realize the dent until I was at work this morning showing off the missing coating and my co-worker (who sold me on these rails to begin with) pointed out it was dinged. To say the rails saved my life would be a far stretch of the imagination, but had they not been there, the boulder would have definitely been all up in my rocker panel, door, and then fender as I slid backward.
After that, I was intentionally putting them against rocks and trees just to see what they could hold up to and all I did was scuff up the coating more. They are DEFINITELY very high quality pieces and I've recommended them to everyone I know who is looking for a set of rails. I was just hoping I'd get by a bit longer before I battle scarred them.
Here's the video one of the guys threw together from his HD camera... it's long, so it should help kill a good bit of work day for those of you with nothing better to do. At 14:15 you can see where the rock hit on the front end of the rail. That point is where I had to get tugged, but fortunately the guy who cut the video was considerate enough to not show me getting winched.
Sicily Island 1 14 12 - YouTube