DIY: Roof mounted driving lights - Jeep Commander Forums: Jeep Commander Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-18-2010, 10:00 PM Thread Starter
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DIY: Roof mounted driving lights

I recently installed a set of PIAA 510 Driving Lights on my '06 Commander and thought I would share. I hope you find this helpful and if you have any questions let me know.

Tools:
Drill
Uni-bit (3/8" & 5/8")
Wire strippers
Wire crimp
17mm socket
10mm socket
Universal joint (for socket)
6" extension (for socket)
Philips screw driver
Xacto knife
Stiff wire (for fishing)
Heat gun
Metal punch
Sharpie
Clear touch-up paint

Materials:
PIAA 510 light kit
Push-in Grommet, 3/8"id, 7/8"od (McMaster-Carr PN#9600K46)
Push-in Grommet, 5/16"id, 5/8"od (McMaster-Carr PN#9600K31)
Moisture Seal Flexible Polyolefin Tubing (McMaster-Carr PN#6855K12) 2 Packs
High-strength Multipurpose Neoprene Rubber (McMaster-Carr PN#8456K632)
Black rubber sealant
Black adhesive sealant
Clear rubber tubing 5/16"od (Home Depot) 2' length
Stainless steel washers (2x) 3/8"id
18 gauge wire (two different colors)
Butt-connectors (for 18 gauge wire)

Prepping the lights (perform for each light):
1. Cut the harness off of the lamp leaving as much wire as possible still connected to the lamp
2. Remove the wire loom from the PIAA lamp
3. Cut a 6" piece of the clear rubber tubing and slide the wires in leaving a ~3/4 gap between the PIAA drain plug and the rubber tubing
4. Squirt some black rubber sealant in the end of the tubing closest to the lamp making sure to close the gap between the wires and the inside of the tubing (you don't want water running down the wires through you're newly constructed wire loom)
5. Allow the rubber sealant to set
6. Take one of your 6" pieces of heat shrink tubing and carefully slide it over the rubber tubing containing the wires from the lamp. (This takes patience, the heat shrink tubing is lined with a heat-activated sealant that will waterproof this whole thing but it doesn't make this step easy) Slide this heat shrink past the end of the rubber tube so that it covers the 3/4" gap we left in step three
7. Squeeze some rubber sealant in the end of the heat shrink (do not fill it to the top) and allow to partially set
8. Now that the sealant is partially set, apply gentle heat to this end so that the heat shrink tubing shrinks and squeezes the partially set rubber sealant. (CAUTION: do not use open flame or torch to shrink the tubing. The rubber sealant is flammable.) This will make a headache-free watertight seal for the wires which will run to above your headliner
9. Continue with the heat-gun over the rest of the heat shrink tubing making sure to get the entire length of heat shrink
10. While this tube is still hot and mailable, bend the tubing 90 degrees and allow it to cool. It will now have a tendency to keep this shape. (See photos)

Prepping the Commander:
1. Install the PIAA wiring harness as directed by the directions (don't connect the + yet
2. Inside the cabin, remove the panel that is above the driver's feet (two screws)
3. With a friend watching from the gas pedal area, take your Xacto knife and cut through the large grommet in the firewall. You will want to be closer to the OEM wire bundle than the outer diameter of the grommet as there is a outer plastic ring on the grommet on the cabin side that will prevent your wires to be pushed through (See photo)



4. Push the small white PIAA harness (for the switch) through the new hole and have your friend pull from inside as you guide the wire from the engine side
5. Cut off the two white harnesses for the lamp connections (there's no way you're getting them through the grommet). Feed these wires through the grommet just like the other one
6. Strip the ends of the wires and add extensions using the two different colors of 18 gauge wire. Make sure the extensions are long enough to get to the lamps



Getting the wires above the headliner:
1. Remove the Oh-Sh** handle on the driver's side (socket wrench)
2. Remove the useless pocket that's hidden above the driver's sun visor. This is done by pulling gently
3. Remove the rear view mirror. This is done with brute force by simply pulling downward. Careful not to slam your hand on the dash as I did.
4. Remove the overhead console. Just pull on it gently.
5. Now, take a piece of stiff wire and fish it down toward the fire wall grommet from the opening created by removing the Oh-Sh** handle (near the dash speaker)
6. Tape the wires for the lamps to the stiff wire and pull them up to above your dash
7. Run these wires up the pillar in to the ceiling




Mounting the switch
Really you can place the switch anywhere, but a great spot is in the dash pocket between the steering wheel and driver's door.
1. Remove the pocket by prying outward.
2. Drill a 3/8" hole in the back of the pocket on the small step.
3. Push the connector at the end of the wire with the switch through the hole. I does fit, just takes some force.
4. Stretch a 5/16"id grommet (McMaster-Carr #9600K31) over the plug and run it up the wire. Then just press it in the hole you just drilled.
5. At this point you should have the grommet mounted in the hole with the switch wire threaded through the grommet.



6. Connect the switch plug to its mate on the harness side, replace the pocket, and mount the switch with the 2-sided adhesive supplied by PIAA.




Now for the fun part...

Drilling holes in your roof
1. *IMPORTANT* Take a look at your roof's contour on the interior. You can best see this where we removed the pocket hidden by your sun visor. You will notice that a curved piece of sheet metal (originating from the area of the top of the windshield) meets with the main piece of sheet metal that is your roof. There is a seam with adhesive (you will see it). You need to make sure that the positioning of your lights is at or behind this seam! If you don't take note of this when positioning your lights, and you choose a spot too forward on the roof, you will find that the holes you drill to mount the lights fall in to this inaccessible void. Also, to prevent you interior from being showered with metal shavings, devise some method of capturing these shavings. I used a sheet of plastic.
2. Measure, measure, measure.
3. Once you mark the two spots to drill for the lights, measure 2.5" directly behind each spot and make a mark. This will be your pass-through for the wiring.
4. Use the metal punch several times at each of the 4 drill locations. This will help to keep the drill bit from "walking".
5. Using the unibit, drill the 5/8" diameter holes for the lights, and 3/8" diameter holes for the wires. For the start of each hole keep the drill speed low, this will help to keep the bit from "walking". Take your time drilling, it's not difficult.





6. After drilling, you shouldn't have any burrs on your roof, but you will have some on the underside. I used needle nose pliers to remove them.
7. Now take your clear touch-up paint and apply several coats to the bare metal edges of the holes.

Mounting the lights, perform for each light
1. Apply a thin bead of the black adhesive sealant around the hole for your light. Take the 3/8"id grommet (McMaster-Carr #9600K46) and press it in to place. *Note* If you chose a position far enough forward on the roof that you drilled through 2 pieces of sheet metal (on the seam mentioned in step 1 of the drilling section) you will need to trim the lower lip off of the grommet so that it looks like a mushroom (sort of).
2. Now apply adhesive sealant around the threads of the light's mounting bolt. This will seal any tiny thread gaps between the bolt and the grommet.
3. Carefully push the mounting bolt through the grommet making sure you don't pop the grommet out on to the headliner.
4. With a friend keeping pressure on the lamp and mounting bolt from above, install a 3/8" id washer with some adhesive sealant on the ceiling side, then the locking washer, then the nut.



5. Tighten everything with the 17mm socket.
6. Now, temporarily hook up this light and power it up to aim it as best you can. That way you don't have to twist and turn the lights after the adhesive sealant has set.

Now for the wires
1. Essentially the same thing as mounting the lights.
2. Install the grommets with adhesive sealant.
3. Push the shrink wrapped tubing through the grommet.
4. Just before the point where you want to stop pushing the tubing through, apply a thin coat of adhesive sealant around the heat shrink tubing. Then finish pushing the tubing through and the sealant will seal the non-existent seam between the tubing and the grommet.




That's about it.. Just make your wire connections with the butt connectors and reassemble the interior of your Commander.




I hope that someone finds this DIY useful. Before I started this project, I scoured the internet looking for advice or how-to's and found nothing. If you have any questions please let me know.

Thanks!

Last edited by GoingCommando; 01-18-2010 at 10:13 PM.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-19-2010, 12:03 AM
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Very nice write up. I was considering mounting two GoLites in that same spot and wondered how much work it would take. Thanks for going first.





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2006 XK, Steel Armadillo Front Bumper w/Warn Powermate winch, Rear Bumper w/tire carrier & Super Sliders, Rhino Rack Roof Rack and Foxwing Awning, KC Lights on Steel Armadillo Light Bar, 4xGuard Rear Differential Cover, Steel Armadillo Plates.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-19-2010, 12:13 AM
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Thanks for the write up. I have been considering doing this and was searching the forum a couple of days ago for a diy but didn't find anything. This definitely helps.

06 65th anniversary

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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-19-2010, 09:43 AM
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Drilling into sheet metal gives me the heebie-geebies.

You've got cajones, my friend! Awesome job!



2007 Jeep Commander Overland - Steel Blue
5.7L Hemi + QDII
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Last edited by lekmedm; 11-20-2010 at 10:55 PM.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-19-2010, 09:53 AM Thread Starter
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Quick photo from this morning

Thanks for the compliments!

I couldn't help it.. It was foggy this morning, so I pulled off the road and got a quick photo. Yea, I know they aren't fog lights, just thought it made for a sweet photo.

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-19-2010, 12:14 PM
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Looks great! And a great DIY write up as well.

I REALLY want a set of lights but am trying to figure out a way without all the drilling into the roof. I know some will be required, but those are some big holes you put in there. I dunno if i could pull that off.... And great pic too!
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-19-2010, 01:01 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MRPEZZHED View Post
Looks great! And a great DIY write up as well.

I REALLY want a set of lights but am trying to figure out a way without all the drilling into the roof. I know some will be required, but those are some big holes you put in there. I dunno if i could pull that off.... And great pic too!
There was a slight moment of hesitation before pulling the trigger on the first hole. I was convinced that drilling the holes was going to be the hardest part, but really it went very smoothly. You may also look in to other light manufacturers, maybe PIAA uses a larger diameter mounting bolt than others. But, once you start drilling.. What's another 1/8"?
Thanks!
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-21-2010, 08:29 AM
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In my opinion, and from experiance in the collision industry for 20 years, it is never a good idea to drill holes in the roof. Now with that said, to each his own. I would suggest mounting them on an extra roof rack cross bar or on a cargo rack as I did. I will do some pics and explain the running of the wiring.

American by birth, Southern by the grace of God.
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-21-2010, 09:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smitty1970 View Post
In my opinion, and from experiance in the collision industry for 20 years, it is never a good idea to drill holes in the roof. Now with that said, to each his own. I would suggest mounting them on an extra roof rack cross bar or on a cargo rack as I did. I will do some pics and explain the running of the wiring.
That would be nice to see. That would be the route I would most likely go if I decide to put lights on the roof. I don't think mounting them right on the roof like that would work for me anyway because of the sun roof. I do think it looks good though commando. Good job.

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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 01-21-2010, 10:25 AM
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I like the way that looks.

I'm with lekmedm. Drilling holes in my vehicle is a scary prospect that I would never relish the thought of doing.

One thing that should also be said, if anyone else is going to do this, be sure your drill bits are sharp.

I wonder if there is a way to use powerful Earth magnets or suction cups that could achieve similar results without having to drill.

Now that I would try!


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