Jim Piatt’s JK Hood Lift

Well, I haven’t broken down yet and bought a JK.  I’m not sure when or if I will.  When Jim Piatt of hoodlift.com sent me an e-mail and asked if I had a JK, I told him I didn’t…..but I knew a few local Jeepers that did.  He was looking for a review on his Jeep JK hood lift.  I could do that.  I called my buddy, Bob, and set aside some time during the weekend to do the install and take some photos.  Actually, I let Bob do most of the install work.  I tightened a bolt just so I could say I really did help. 

Bob had long ago seen the hood lift I put on my TJ and so he was really looking forward to getting one on his JK.  He was not aware that Jim and brought a JK version to market.  Bob’s JK was a perfect candidate because since he was doing the install and it got messed up, it wasn’t my fault <grin>.   OK….on to the installation.

Meet Bob, one of my local Jeep buddies.  It’s my opinion that Bob really doesn’t like reading directions…..and since I know Jim went to a fair amount of effort to write up some good ones for this project, I made Bob read them.  <grin again>  It was only fair….I think it was the least Bob could do.  To be safe, I read them too.  <big grin!>

With the hood propped open (it’s the last time you are going to be using that prop rod so you might as well enjoy it), use a 10mm socket to remove the bolt as shown in the above photo (you are viewing this from the driver’s side).

Note that there are left and right brackets for this first step of the intallation.  There are a total of 4 ball stud brackets and for this step, select the two brackets with both a large and small mounting hole. (the other two have small holes)  Select the bracket that positions the large hole toward the firewall while allowing the ball stud to face inwards towards the engine.  With the supplied spacer placed underneath the ball stud bracket, reinstall the bolt that was just removed.  While the bracket is shown in the correct position, I misaligned the spacer (above) so you can see it

Bob laid the hood back against the windshield (he needed a bit more elbow room) and slipped the spacer back in position under the bracket.  He then proceeded to drill the other mounting hole with the drill bit supplied in the hoodlift kit.

Using a 5/16″ nut driver, the bracket was secured using one of the supplied screws and star washers.  Now that the first bracket was installed, Bob repeated the same steps on the passenger side of the vehicle. 

We were half way done with the install and it was time to mount the two remaining brackets to the underside of the hood.

Jim Piatt’s JK Hood Lift

So the next step is to mount a bracket to the underside of the hood.  The install instructions warn about being careful to NOT drill through the bottom of the hood so hard that you run the drill up against the top of the hood (it is double walled where the brackets the two remaining brackets will be mounted).  An ‘ol standby technique is to wrap the drill bit with some masking tape to help prevent it from going too “deep” into the void in the hood.  For those not familiar with this method, there is a good description of it in the install instructions.

Since tape and drill bits and Bob don’t always get along (I think he told me that, really!), we improvised a little bit and came up with an alternative method.  A couple of strategically selected sockets made for a “don’t drill it too deep” drill bit guide.  Bob’s variable speed battery powered drill allowed him to drill very slowly and the the bit had ample room to clearance the inside of the sockets.  No doubt some auto mechanic purist might very well have a coronary when they see this but such is life…..after all, we are working on a Jeep, right?  For those who are really troubled about it, here is the standard disclaimer…..”The installation you are viewing was performed by training professionals on a closed circuit course.  Kids, do not attempt this at home without adequate parental supervision.”

So, with “don’t drill the hole too deep” protection in place, we proceeded with mounting the first of the remaining two ball stud brackets (these have two small mounting holes in them) to the underside of the hood.  Again, I forced Bob to read the next step in the installation instructions and then I read it too.  (ok….the truth be known, Bob is dyslectic.  The dead give away is his name…..even when he reads it backwards, it still comes out right! <grin>)

The install directions give good guidance regarding the positioning of these two brackets.  We found that they pretty much lined up with the clip that holds the hood insulation in place (on both sides).

Here is the passenger side bracket with the just installed support strut holding up Bob’s hood on his JK.

Passenger side…..the lower mounting bracket for the support strut.  Jim uses high quality support struts in his hood lift kits.  Many OEM companies use the very same struts on there factory products.  If you end up with a strut failure, they are guaranteed.  Contact hoodlift.com for a replacement. 

Before I got started on the install, I asked Jim for some background info for the write-up.  I got my hoodlift from him in 2002.  This was what he sent me in an e-mail…..

“Well, I’ve been making HoodLifts since 1993 and continually improve the products and include those improvements right away into the production runs. For instance, the JK HoodLift you are getting is actually revision 3. Someone has copied it but they copied revision 2. Revision 3 is smoother, uses better geometry and works much better, in my opinion and some others. The other guys give a 90 day guarantee and I give a lifetime guarantee. I use expensive OEM-quality gas springs but my price is actually less than theirs.

BTW they also took the CJ/YJ/TJ HoodLift I developed over a 15-year period and copied the black metal pieces exactly. They don’t use the fasteners or quality gas springs I do and offer their 90 day guarantee while I give the same lifetime guarantee I give on everything. I also reduced my price to be under theirs now.”

Bob and I agreed that the install went super easy and there were no surprises.  If Bob’s hood lift is anything like the one that went on my TJ seven years ago, I’m pretty sure he’ll be happy with it for a long, long time. 

We cleaned up the tools, recycled the shipping box and packing material, and declared it a success.  Since I had taken a movie of my hood opening some 7 years ago, I decided I should do it again, this time for Bob’s JK.  So here is a JK hood lift video to show you how nicely the hood opens on its own.