Mirror Relocation Brackets - Custom FabricationCONTENTS
1) Vehicle Setup
2) Overview / Performance Review
3) Fabrication / Installation
4) Additional Notes1) VEHICLE SETUP
This modification can be performed on stock of altered Jeep and requires no previous modifications. Any dimensions given relate to a Jeep TJ Wrangler. Dimension and design for other eras of Jeeps should be verified.2) OVERVIEW / PERFORMANCE REVIEWOverview
Jeeps are designed with easily removable doors. But in order for Jeeps to run without doors the side mirrors must either be relocated onto the body tub or additional mirrors attached to the Jeep. A secondary mirror can be bolted in to the upper (now empty) door hinge. But this takes time to bolt in and requires tools. Plus, any time the door is reinstalled the mirror must be unbolted and removed undermining the convenience of the removable doors. The alternative is to install a mirror relocation bracket, a piece of metal to permanently mount the mirror on the body. Once installed there's no need to mess with tools or disassembly and the doors can be removed and reinstalled at will.Problems With Current Aftermarket Brackets
Versions for earlier Jeeps (pre-03 I believe) have a simple hole in some bracket tabs through which the mirror post is inserted. The stock spring is removed from the mirror and there are no detents in the upper bracket ear. The stock detents allow the mirror to interface with the stock mount and keep the mirror at a semi-fixed position.
By spring-loading this assembly it allows the mirror to deflect and fold back when struck by enough force. But otherwise the mirror is in a fixed position
By removing this feature the relocation brackets are relying solely on the frictional clamping forced of the nut on the end of the mirror post. Over tightening can easily snap the threads off the aluminum mirror post. Additionally as the mirror is brushed against trees and is knocked back it can tighten the nut causing it to eventually overtighten and fail. And if it doesn't fail then the connection loosens and requires further tightening which can then cause it to fail.
Therefore, problems with current bracket designs include:
- no utilization of factory spring-loaded positioning detents
- reliance of frictional clamping force to fix mirror into place
- potential overtightening during mirror installation
- potential overtightening due to brushing mirror against other objects
- need for retightening as mirror is swung back and forth wearing contact surface
Aftermarket brackets for '03+ Jeeps do relocate the whole mirror assembly but they project out nearly 1.5-2" away from the Jeep. By pushing the mounting surface further out from the Jeep it simply provides a better chance that the mirror will hit something, not to mention greater leverage on the mount if the mount itself is caught.First Remedy - Failure
The first attempt to fix the above problems was to modify existing aftermarket relocation brackets. A piece of steel pipe was to be welded to the bottom of a relocation bracket by removing the lower ear. This would mimic the spring pocket on the stock brackets. A thicker piece of steel was welded to the top of the upper ear and detents cut into this. The concept was decent but due to a personal lack of fabrication skill the necessary accuracy just wasn't achieved. As a result there was unacceptable slop in the detents. Also, this design tied the bracket into one particular mirror (see Additional Notes). This solution was deemed a failure and abandoned.Slim Profile Mirror Bracket Concept - Success
The Slim Profile Bracket Concept uses two plates of steel that overlap. One plate is the mounting surface to the Jeep, the other is for the mirror. Total thickness is only 1/2" (vs. 1.5-2" of the '03+ brackets). It allows for the entire stock mirror assembly (mirror, mount, spring, and hardware) to be moved onto the new bracket so that the stock spring loaded detent features are also retained.
The key to this is that the mounting hardware to attach the bracket to the Jeep must be accessible. The '03+ aftermarket brackets do this by greatly spacing out the mirror mounting plate. The Slim Profile bracket concept does it by drilling a large enough hole in the outer plate. The body mount fastener can then be inserted through the outer plate to reach the inner plate. This also allows the mirror to tuck closely into the body and close to the door hinge. The mirror is then installed on to the outer plate.Performance Review
Visibility is the same as the regular aftermarket brackets so there is no improvement here but there is no loss compared to the aftermarket bracket solution either. That is to say, the driver's side mirror is visible and the passenger side mirror can be difficult to see without leaning over. The issue is the mirrors are moved forward from the original door location. On the passenger side the windshield and door frame are then in the way. There are no obstructions on the driver's side, however. Once the doors are removed, the passenger side mirror is visible.
One big improvement, however, is that now the passenger side mirror stays put because the detents can be used again. Prior to this, whenever the mirror would get hit I'd give up on it and leave it at whatever angle it was knocked to. Now it's easy to snap back into position. The same is true for the driver's side mirror.
With the complete OEM mirror (or replacement mirror) and it's base now mounted on the Slim Profile brackets the mirror does indeed stay in position. It's not loose. And there's no need to monkey with adding or remove a hinge-type mirror.Costs
Material costs are pretty low. Nearly everything was cut out of a roughly 6" x 12" piece of 1/8" steel scrap plate that was purchased out of the scrap bin. A 1/4" x 1/2" flat stock rod was used as a spacer at the perimeter (see fabrication below). Steel costs = $4 or less. The weld-on nuts ran $1.50. Add in the cost of a can of spray paint if you don't have some laying around and the whole project came in under $10.Time
This project should take a few hours. There is a bunch of careful measuring and setup for cuts that takes some time. Tools required are some welding equipment, angle grinder, and a drill and drill bits.Review Update
After several years I can report some mixed success with this project. While the concept has proven itself pretty well in terms of offering a solid, vibration-free mounting platform I did get the Jeep into a bind and rubbed the mirror against a tree while backing up such that it still caught the mirror's base mount which bent the 1/8" steel plate.
To make the bracket stronger the 1/4" spacer between the plates could have been welded entirely around the perimeter. This would have effectively added a flange for added strength. Bottom line is that I am still very pleased with the over all design.3) FABRICATION / INSTALLATIONPreparation & Measuring
Gather up the necessary steel for the mounting plates. A piece of 4" x 1/8" flat stock 19" long and about 14" of 1/4" x 1/4-1/2" flat stock will be enough for the project. Acquire, also, 6 nuts for the mirror bracket hardware (3 for each side). The nuts must match the mirror mount screws so remove one if you need to get it matched at the hardware store.
Either using the dimensions below (Fig 1) or a cardboard template layout the shape of the base plate on the steel. Due to the variable width of cut, I'd recommend laying out each piece one at a time. Wait until the pieces are cut and cleaned up for further marking.
Fig 1.Initial Cutting
Trace outline of mounting bracket onto plate steel. Here I'm
using the old mirror relocation bracket as a template.
Using a plasma cutter and a 1" aluminum angle as a cutting guide, the 4 main pieces were cut out of the 1/8" flat stock (Fig 2). The plasma torch, while not necessary, does make some nice and reasonably clean cuts (Fig 3.). Some slag does need to be chipped off the backside, leaving an edge that'd easily dressed. An angle grinder may also be used to make these cuts. After the cuts are made, clean and dress the edges.
Cutting the base plates out of some flat stock.Fig 3.
The base plate, the mirror plate, and the mirror mount.
Note that the driver's side mirror mounting plate needs to be a little longer to clear the antenna / door swing.Marking, Drilling Plates
Mark off the center of the main mounting holes on the base plate. Use a center punch to mark the center to keep the drill bit from wandering and to improve accuracy. Drill 7/16" holes. Using a stepped uni-bit works great as the shoulder for the next larger size step can be used to chamfer the hole edge for straight holes. With the holes drilled, use a 3/4" countersink bit to enlarged the hole enough so that the windshield mounting screws sit flush with the surface of the base plate.
Next, trace the outline of the stock rubber mirror gasket onto the mirror plates and trace the three screw hole locations (Fig 4). Mark holes with the center punch. Next, mark where the big pass-through hole will be. The back edge of the mirror plate should be 7/16" from the back edge of the base plate to give the hinge enough room. The vertical location can be variable but safe bet is to set the top edge of the mirror plate 2 1/2" from the bottom of the base plate. Drill holes. The the three mirror screw holes should be 1/4" (verify). The big pass-through hole should be 11/16". Grind down the corners of the mirror plates to match the OEM mirror base. I ground off the lower edge to an angle to match but left the top edge squared off with the back of the plate for easer alignment.
Trace outline of rubber mirror gasket on the mirror mounting plate.
Mark off the three screw holes and their centers.Fig 6
Mount mirror hardware to mirror base plate and weld nuts into place on the back side for threads.
Next, cut some of the 1/4" flat stock to fit the upper and back edges of the mirror plate where it overlaps with the base plate. The main areas of concern are where the two plates over lap as well as the lower forward corner of the base plate. By welding the 1/4" flat stock to the mirror plate first the edges can be ground flush for a tidier look. Once the mirror plate is cleaned and dressed align it so the access hole is over the lower base plate mounting hole and weld the two pieces together. Clamp together so they won't move. Weld (Fig 8 ).
Fig 7Finishing Touches
These are the two plates ready for welding. Where the plates over lap is
where the 1/4" flat stock should be welded on. However it will be easier to weld the
flat stock to the mirror plate first so it can be ground flush for a tidier appearance.Fig 8
Finished mirror bracket with pass-through hole for screw access (unpainted)
Once the welds have cooled use a wire wheel and/or steel wire brush and clean up the welds. Wipe down with some acetone or other cleaner. Spray on some paint. Traditional black paint is fine but for a trick look pick up a can of Dupli-color or factory Mopar spray paint for $12 from either source to have a body-matched relocation bracket.
When the paint is dry, remove the windshield lower hinge side bolts and bolt on the new relocation bracket. Then bolt on the factory mirror.
Figures 9, 10, 11, and 12 show the finished bracket (unpainted) mounted on the Jeep by itself and with the mirror mounted.
Fig 9.4) ADDITIONAL NOTESAlternate Fabrication
Mirror relocation bracket mounted (unpainted) for a test fitFig 10/.
Mirror attached. Fig 11.
Mirror attached.Fig 12.
Front shot showing how compact the relocation bracket is.
Rather than weld on nuts and use a 1/4" spacer, a thicker mirror plate may be used with the mirror screw holes tapped for threads. If the 1/8" plates are used with a spacer, perhaps the bottom of the bracket may be left open for access with a wrench. Make sure the space between the plates is wide enough for wrench access.Drivers vs. Passenger Side
The driver's side mirror bracket may be more compact than the passenger side. The passenger side mirror angles further back requiring more forward placement in order to clear the door when it's opened.Door Adjustmen Fine-Tuning
The degree of door opening may be adjusted to keep the door from impacting the mirror when it opens due to differences between mirrors (OEM vs. aftermarket vs new style or old style). Simply unhook the door limiting strap and give it a few twists before slipping it back over the tub hook. Three to four 180 degree twists takes out several degrees of open door movement.Radio Antenna Adjustment
Another complication for the passenger side is the radio antenna. This may require some bending to get it to clear the mirror base. Mark what face of the hexagonal antenna bottom faces out, then unscrew the antenna. Bend a jog in the antenna approximately 1/2" - 5/8" off axis in the direction of the marked face . Too much bend and the antenna will hit the side of the cowl that will prevent it from being screwed back in. Reinstall the antenna before installing the new mirror brackets.