AJ's Offroad Armor :: Cherokee Rockrails Installation

Cherokee Rockrails Installation

Cherokee Rockrails Installation


  • * 7/16 wrenches and/or socket
  • * 9/16 socket
  • * 21/64 drill bit (for self threading bolts)
  • * 9/32 or 5/16 drill bit (anything slightly larger than 1/4" for pinch seam bolts)
  • * 3/8 or 1/2 drill bit (for rear spring hanger bolt)
  • * Vice grips * Something to mark holes (marker, scribe...)
  • * Center punch and hammer

First thing to do is trial fit and mark the holes you'll need to drill out. This is best done before you paint the rockrails so you don't bang up the finish anymore than you have to. Looking at the rails you'll notice the plates that mount to the frame are different on each end, one is T-shaped (front mount), the rear is L-shaped. Best way I've found to hold the rails up in place is with a pair of vice grips clamped to the pinch seam and pinch seam mount. Either have a friend help lift them up into position or just sit with your legs under the Jeep and use your knees to help hold them up before clamping them. You can use jackstands too, whatever works best for you. A few key points about positioning the rails. The rear mount needs to be pushed back against the spring hanger. The pinch seam mount needs to be up as high as possible. If you find they aren't high enough to have sufficient metal to drill/bolt to then feel free to mark where the frame leg mounts are and grind/cut away some of the pinch seam to raise it up. Once you have them clamped to the pinch seam, give the mounts on the framerail a kick or smack (real technical here) upwards. BE CAREFUL YOU ARE NOT UNDER THE RAILS WHEN YOU DO THIS!! The vice grips can let loose and SMACK...believe me, they hurt falling on your knee, not that I know from experience.


Now that you have them in position, makr all the holes for drilling with a scribe, marker, pencil, whatever works best for you. The pinch seam mounting holes can be a little difficult to access, just use a short drywall screw, stubby pencil or even a q-tip dipped in paint. To prevent the drill bit from walking, center punch your marks prior to drilling.  Start marking the pinch seam holes and then if necessary, use a jack to push up the framerail legs or hold them into position.


TIME TO DRILL! The framerail mount holes will be drilled to 21/64, this is critical for the self threading bolts to properly thread. Pinch seam mounting holes get drilled to 1/4" or something slight larger to ease the installation of the hardware. The spring hanger mount uses a 3/8" bolt so anything slightly larger will work out fine. The key to drilling is to use sharp bits, go slow and don't be afraid to use some sort of coolant if necessary. Heat destroys drill bits and makes the metal your trying to drill even harder, so go slow or pulse the drill. Use good pressure to get the bit to bite and if it's getting hot, spray with WD-40 or dip the bit in some oil to cool it. Drill the holes in the framerails as straight as you can, try not to wobble or "egg" out the holes.

Now would be the time to apply some finish to your rails. Check out the "How to Paint" instructions if you need some pointers. They key to mounting them is to get all the hardware started, then tighten them down bit by bit.


You may notice slight gaps between the mounts and the metal of the XJ, either at the framerail or at the pinch seam. This is not uncommon and not a problem unless the gap is 1/4" or bigger. All our rockrails are built on a production jig so variances are highly unusual. It's not uncommon for XJ's to have variances in this distance though and usually it's not much. Feel free to call with any concerns or installation instructions, we'll be glad to help!

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