I am going to give my detailed opinion on the install, design and just general thoughts I have regarding the cage. First, some background on myself, I was a full time Master Technician at BMW in Las Vegas, Master ASE technician, I’ve done the work to my JK…as well as countless others and I am also a 3rd year mechanical engineering student at UNT. To say the least, I feel I am more than qualified to install this cage. Lack of mechanical experience or general problem solving is not the category I fall under. My take on the Poison Spyder JK cage is the following. My initial response to looking at the cage, was it was the best one out there. Integrated floor mount, DOM tubing, nice inter-locking joints and backed by Poison Spyder’s reputation. As I have mentioned, Kevin and I ran into numerous problems when installing this cage, these problems I will explore throughout this post. Most of is post is going to be opinion based on what I have seen in the past, what I feel could be improved upon, what I feel may be flat out wrong, and what I thought was good. I will do my best to make a claim and support the claim the best I can if it is something I feel is wrong with the cage.
As far as cages go in a JK, I have installed two and lent a hand in a 3rd. My own rig has an OR-FAB sport cage with the floor mounts, along with the Poly Performance rear weld-in cage. Most of the time when I refer to how OR-FAB does it, it’s because that is what I know from personal experience and I can make a direct and accurate comparison to it.
I suppose I will start from step one of the instructions and just comment on our experience with the installation.
Starting on page one is the packing list of parts, all of the parts were there along with the hardware. However there were two mysterious plates that could not be identified and still cannot be identified. They mimic the floor plate identically, however there is no place to install them. Kevin and I were unable to find the location of these brackets; they are neither on the packing list nor anywhere in the instruction sheet. Currently according to SpyderSales…he is still awaiting a response regarding where these plates actually go.
Moving on, page two starts out with a tool list, which I had everything that was required. However, the listing for “drill motor with ½” bits” is a bit vague. You end up needing a 3/8”, 7/16” and a ½” drill bit to install this cage. I am not really sure why they aren’t listed in the initial “tools needed” list. Also consider the ½” drill is used for the floor plate, which means a standard length ½” drill bit will make it very interesting getting your drill under the dash. A right angle drill is going to make life much easier when it comes to the forward floor plate holes.. The images in the instructions show a normal size pneumatic drill, without magic or trickery…I don’t see how they were able to get the ½” drill bit straight over where the required holes needed to be under the dash. Even using a small Makita drill, it was all we could to do to get the bit to go where we needed it…locating the actual floor plate will be discussed later.
Pages three and half of four is discussing stock component disassembly. None of which was a problem for us, I had done this quite a few times and the process went quickly. The one thing I did notice was there was no mention about the distance between the windshield and soundbar. OR-FAB has the installer measure this distance and return it to that distance after the installation has been completed. River Raider, Poly Performance, Rock Hard and OR-FAB all keep some sort of mounting tab at the top of the windshied; however Poison Spyder does not. (Did you notice I mentioned every JK sport cage manufacture as of right now?)
OR-FAB installation instructions:
Step 12 is where the fun begins, the “template”. I expect some feedback on this process from others that have installed this cage. This is how it worked out for us. The template included is for the three A-pillar bolts. First I will discuss why these three bolts are so vital to the entire cage. This cage bolts into the A-pillar using three 3/8”-24 Grade 8 bolts to locate the cage base on each side. These holes should be located as precisely as possible, they are the most important in a trouble-free installation of the cage! The tube joints can be off, they can throw off fitment to the dash, they can throw off how well the floor plate meets the floor…it’s extremely important to locate these six holes in the Jeep. Now I will discuss the process for locating these holes, the short version. Locate the ½” plate with three holes in it and figure out which way is up with a tape measure [easy]. After you do that, there is a notch on the A-pillar, take a tape measure and go 4-1/2” up and mark it. Hold the plate up at the mark and move it in, eh, about 1/16” of an inch and perfectly parallel with the A-pillar [go ahead and eyeball that], mark your holes and drill it. Sound precise?
Now you may be wondering why I have an issue with that, and I will explain. First off there is a notch, yes, it’s easy to locate. Now when measuring this 4-1/2” distance with a tape measure, is Poison Spyder measuring from the bottom of the notch? Measuring the top of the notch? Measuring the center of the notch? What about the measuring the actual beginning of the tape or the end of the tape measure? It is very easy to get these holes 1/8”-1/4” off, remember I said how important they are? Now that isn’t the only place for error, the next place is that 1/16” in from the edge. This is easy enough but keeping it perfectly parallel the edge, 4-1/2” up, while 1/16” in and then marking it can be a bit of a handful. The entire time I wondered why is this process so over-complicated? These holes are vital to the cage installation, yet the potential for error is huge! At this point you may be thinking, alright self-proclaimed guru what would you do differently? Well I’d certainly start by take notes from OR-FAB. They include a laser cut, no questions template. See how much easier this would be??
While I have the image here, also take note that with the OR-FAB cage with the floor mount you get 5
- 3/8” bolts on each side of the Jeep. The Poison Spyder is 3
per side. Also the OR-FAB has ~1/2” of thread engagement for those five bolts, where-as Poison Spyder only has threads in the 3/16” plate steel. This is a significant difference in thread engagement, let alone bolt count. However this is not a comparison thread…therefore my other recommended solution for a template would be something that bolts into the top factory door hinge threads. This would eliminate error and also act as a drill guide and take advantage of the already removed hinges. Since one or two of the holes we had to drill lined up just off center to a pinch seam spot weld, when our bit hit that spot weld it kicked the bit off center and hogged out the hole. Was it because our template was too high/low, too far inside/outside from the vague instruction location? Possibly…but you now know how it is possible to get that template off.