Winter is coming, eventually. While the weather has been irregularly warm, ye olde man is soon to thrash us with blizzards. In preparation, here’s a handy how-to with a couple of pictures. Oh, you won’t be able to use the backseat, just a heads up.
The goal here is to insulate the Jeep on the cheap, as it is my primary winter car. And since hard tops for TJs are stupendously expensive ($1500+), the soft top will have to do. Let’s use science to make this work! We can halve the cubic feet inside the Jeep with a partition and insulate it. This allows the heater to be more efficient and reduce losses. Also, let’s make the budget something well within the realm of affordability, like, 25 bucks.
3 or so yards of fleece / similar material - Skip the fancy print and find a coupon online, you can pick this stuff up for $3/yd like I did for a standard charcoal gray.
1 large cardboard box - Roughly 60" x 40" when flattened, preferably double ply for rigidity, wide enough to allow you to fold over the sides around the roll cage. You can zip-tie the box to the frame for more support. Cost = free, provided you have an old box laying around.
12 or so medium steel binder clips - Get them on sale for a few dollars from any office store. Maybe $5?
1 long bungee cord - At least 30" without tension. You can skip this if you have an overhead net or similar.
A knife, permanent marker, and a tape measure
1. Remove backseat, and put the top down. Jam the speaker box in between the backs of the front seats and the roll cage. Fold sides around roll cage and secure, if needed. The box will form the structure for the partition.
2. Measure distance from top of windshield to top of your speaker box. Add six inches. Cut this length of fabric from the roll and label it “top” or similar with a Sharpie in an inconspicuous place, then set it aside.
3. Drape the remaining fabric over the box, facing the interior. Leave two inches hanging over the box to the back of the car, and secure the fabric to the top of the box with two or three clips. It should reach all the way to the floor. Label this piece of fabric “wall” or similar with in an inconspicuous place.
4. Lay the other section of fabric longitudinally on top of the passenger compartment. Tuck forward corners in between the frames for the doors and the roll cage. Secure with two binder clips. Secure the rear of the fabric to the box with two or three clips. At this point, the partition should look similar to this:
5. Adjust tension to reduce sagging, and use the bungee cord to add support between top of windshield frame and rollcage crossbar. In my case, the overhead net does the job.
6. Adjust the wall fabric to reach the sides of the box and secure with a few binder clips. Put the top up and latch it.
7. Sit in the driver’s seat and look in the rearview mirror (it should be aligned to the rear window by default). Cut a 2" by 2" flap in the center of your field of vision - do not cut the bottom of this flap out if you want the option to close it later. Continue to trim away 1 or 2 inches at a time until the rear field of view is safe and acceptable. Try and cut cleanly to make it look nice.
8. Secure rear flap with a clip. Check for any loose or excess material and secure it with remaining clips. You’re done!
It’s not the fanciest thing in the world, but it looks pretty good for being done for less than a pair of movie tickets. From real world experience, it makes a significant difference in cabin temperature (roughly +15 degrees F). It’s also easy to remove and store, so you can use it year after year.