Strong as an OX

Jeepin’ spoke with Allen Wiseman, the owner of OX Off-Road, about the company, its products and the thrills of off-roading.

Allen, where are you from, and how long have you been a Jeeper?

I grew up in Small Town, U.S.A, a place called Wilmington, Ohio. Although an aircraft mechanic by trade, I have done a few different things before OX. I was an aircraft mechanic, DC9 aircraft instructor, dabbled in real estate — buy, fix up and sell — a classic car dealer, and managed a machine shop, just to name a few. As you can see, nothing has kept me captive too long. I guess I jumped around a bit because I have a passion for learning new things.

As far as my hobbies go, I have always had a vehicle in the garage to fix up or restore, and for the last 15 years I have played poker semiprofessionally.

I’ve been a car guy since I was a little kid. My dad fixed up and raced cars as a hobby the whole time I was growing up. He was a bit of a workaholic and always had us kids helping. I can remember block-sanding cars for him in the fifth grade. I had some 4x4s when I was younger but never a Jeep until I owned OX. Some of the best times I can remember as a teenager were spent off-roading in the woods with my best friend’s CJ that we had put a 304 in and gave a spray can camo paint job to. Now, one of my favorite times of the year is my workcation at Easter Jeep Safari out in Moab, Utah.

What inspired you to start OX Lockers?

I didn’t personally start OX Lockers, but was lucky to get involved with it early on and was hooked on the concept from the beginning. I worked with the company that produced them, along with many other unrelated products, and I had always felt it didn’t get the attention it deserved. Around 2008, the OX product line was sold to a company, and because OX lockers was not the company’s first priority, things started going poorly.

In late 2009, the opportunity came about for me purchase the company. It was in the red and bleeding badly. From my involvement, I knew it was due to lack of attention, poor management and absentee owners. I was certain it would be a quick turnaround if I could purchase the company. It was a great product and all it needed was someone to give it the attention it deserved.

I purchased the company and started giving the product line the love it needed in 2010. Things got turned around almost immediately with the ousting of the old management. We shortly after introduced the new shifting systems, electric, air and the manual backup device. We have seen fantastic growth annually ever since.

What are your biggest sellers?

Currently our main products are the selectable locking differentials and axle shaft U-joints. We sell ring and pinions and axle shafts to complement our products; however, we do not manufacture them.

What makes your products stand out from others in the Jeepin’ community?

Our products are designed to make the customers’ vehicles more capable and durable, so our bling factor is not quite the same as a cool-looking bumper or grille. People don’t always notice our products until they see their performance on the trails. Additionally, we are made in the U.S.A., using the best materials and processes to make them as tough as we can.

As far as what makes us stand out from others in the same category, I would have to say it would be our durability and versatility. Using the same mechanically selectable locker, it can be shifted manually with a cable and shift lever, electrically or pneumatically, by switch.
What’s the best part of your work?

The designing and building is the fun stuff. Figuring out ways to make things better — and stronger — is what I enjoy.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

First, I would like to thank our customers for their support. It means a lot to me, personally, when I hear a customer talk about how much they like our products. Second, I would like to apologize to all our hopefully soon-to-be GM corporate 14-bolt locker customers. We announced it was coming and then got involved with the Mahindra Roxor OE locker project, and unfortunately, the 14-bolt got set on the back burner due to lack of resources. We hope to get back on that soon. Additionally I will drop a teaser, we are working on a new product line that is in testing right now and we should be able to let the cat out of the bag later in 2019!

Nuts and Bolts

Allen Wiseman is the owner of OX Off-Road, a manufacturer of selectable locking differentials, axle shaft U-joints and other parts and components for Jeeps and other off-road vehicles.

What a Cool Invention!

Adam Gaskins is the inventor of the Ice Anchor, a line of cooler racks designed to safely and securely attach a cooler to any Jeep Wrangler. JCF asked Gaskins where he got the idea for the Ice Anchor and what’s next for his successful startup.

Adam, where are you from and how did you become an inventor?

I was born and raised in Starke, Fla., where I still live. My parents own and operate a garbage company. Working in the family business, there was a lot learn. We did everything ourselves. That is where I learned how to weld and fix things, which would eventually lead me into the fabrication industry.

Ice Anchor inventor Adam Gaskins didn’t realize he had a marketable
product until he took it to a Jeep event.

When did you get into off-roading?

I grew up in the country around Jeeps and 4x4s. During my high school years, I helped my dad restore a 1986 Scrambler, which he still owns today. Now, 25 years later, we are in the process of restoring the Jeep for the second time. But after a few years working in the family business, I decided to venture out on my own. I started working doing steel fabrication all while getting married and starting a family of my own at the age of 23.

Was it difficult to break into that industry?

After working a few different metal fabrication jobs out of town, I finally landed a fabrication job with a new local company. I became the head metal fabrication guy and learned a lot of new techniques and different ways to do things.

We were approached by a company that wanted trackless trolley cars. Little did I know that project would become a lifetime career. After building multiple trolley cars, the company I was working for decided they were not interested in building them any longer. The owner of the trolley company asked me if I would build them myself. Being young and ambitious, I of course took them up on this offer.

Having the means to fabricate pretty much whatever we wanted allowed me to be able to develop the first Ice Anchor. The two-door Jeep’s downfall is lack of interior space — especially when you have extra riders, including kids and dogs. I had to figure out how to take my favorite cooler with me without taking up space. Being from Florida, with the type of terrain we are accustomed to, I always run with oversized tires. I’ve never been a fan of having the spare tire hanging on the back of the Jeep. I decided I should utilize this space for something out of the norm but useful.

How secure is the Ice Anchor?

That was my first concern. After a few days of brainstorming and a few wasted materials, I was finally able to figure it out. The first Ice Anchor was designed around a 45-quart Yeti cooler. I decided to go with this size and brand for a couple of different reasons: A smaller cooler just didn’t seem worth the effort, and anything larger became a weight problem and could complicate approach and departure angles.

The Yeti cooler also has slots under the lid that allowed me to run a stainless steel bracket through the bottom of the rack and secure the cooler with a padlock. After a hard day’s work, we had our first Ice Anchor mounted to the back of my 1997 TJ with the cooler locked in place. At this point, I was just excited with the way it came out and that I now had a place for my cooler. I had no intentions of doing anything beyond that.

When did you realize it could be a viable product?

The first weekend. I put it on for a small, local event and it generated a lot of interest. People wanted to know where I got it. Those who knew me didn’t have to ask. But they all said the same thing: I would be crazy not to patent the idea and take it to market.

What was your first step?

I had to figure out how hard it would be to produce them on a larger level. Fortunately, there is a sheet metal shop in a neighboring town. I was able to work with their engineer to take Ice Anchor to the next level of production. They laser-cut and bend the components and we fit, weld and finish it. We then ship them raw or send them off to be powder-coated, depending on the customer’s selection.

Are you doing any marketing?

We started marketing Ice Anchor in mid-2017. I have made a lot of connections just by attending events. I have always owned Jeeps but had never been a part of Jeep clubs. So after beating some bushes and hitting up Jeep dealers and shop owners, I was able to introduce my product and they gave me a lot of advice on where to promote it.

My first Jeep event where we set up as a vendor was in October of 2017 at Jeeptoberfest in Ocala, Fla. The feedback was amazing and let me know I was headed in the right direction. The next event I attended was Krawl’n for the Fallen at the Jeep Ranch in Wildwood. I made my first few sales there and was approached by another cooler company, Eco Outfitters. They were interested in an Ice Anchor that would fit their coolers; at the time, we still only made them for Yetis.

By that point, we already had multiple inquiries about other cooler brands. This was the perfect opportunity because the Eco brand offers a very nice cooler for a more economical price. I saw this as a great opportunity to not only build another rack but set myself up as a cooler dealer so I could offer package deals.

So I spent the winter of 2017 and the spring of 2018 developing three other cooler racks, adding the Eco coolers as well as Gator Box and RTIC models to our product line. We were able to meet our production goals in time to make it to Jeep Beach as a vendor.

What’s next for Ice Anchor?

We will continue to attend the three events I mentioned as well as others. We will have several racks on hand, and we will sell them for $50 below the online cost. We will also offer that discount at our shop location. We are also developing some attachments that can be added to the Ice Anchors. We hope to have them available by next summer, and we will continue to develop racks for other popular cooler brands.

Nuts and Bolts

Adam Gaskins is the inventor of the Ice Anchor series of cooler racks. Ice Anchors are designed to:
• Fit a range of coolers made by Yeti, Gator Box, Eco Outfitters and RTIC.
• Safely and securely attach to the rear end of JK, TJ and YJ Wranglers.
• Offer superior quality for an affordable price.

Get a Grip: Jeepers Turn Entrepreneurs

Business and pleasure have intersected for Charles and Dawn Scott, co-owners of Monkey Grips and founding members of Trail Monkeys 4×4. JCF caught up with Charles Scott to learn more about their company and their Jeep group.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

My name is Charles Scott, owner of Monkey Grips. My Jeep club calls me “El Presidente.” I am the president and one of the founders of Trail Monkeys 4×4, along with my wife, Dawn Scott, who is the other founder of Trail Monkeys and co-owner of Monkey Grips. Together, we run Trail Monkeys and Monkey Grips. The two are kind of tied together.

When we first got our Jeep, we began getting to know the Jeep community and met so many amazing people. I started making my first set of grips for my Jeep with a roll of olive drab paracord that was given to me by a friend. After the first set, I started making grips for friends in the club, and from there, it’s all history. Here we are several years later, and now we offer so many great products besides grips.

I was born in New Jersey, but have lived in Florida most of my life, almost a native. My wife was born and raised here in Gulfport. We decided to be a little adventurous once and moved to Maryland. We lived there for five years until work and family brought us back to Florida to stay and raise our family. I am employed with the City of Largo. Monkey Grips just pays for my Jeeping hobbies and parts.

How long have you been a Jeeper?

I got my Jeep about six years ago. When I started, there were not many clubs around. That’s part of the reason Trail Monkeys was formed. Over the years, Jeep clubs have really boomed. There were only a few big events to attend each year. Now there is something great happening almost every weekend and big events almost every month. The Jeeping community has really grown.

What inspired you to start Monkey Grips?

Well, it is a weird story. Our friend’s dad passed away and we went with her to help clean out his place. While helping her I came across a roll of olive drab paracord. She said I could have it because she had no use for it, but that she would like me to make her a few keychains with it so she could have them as a keepsake to remind her of her dad.

With the help of our friend, Casey, and his work on the interweb, we made our first keychains. That is how we started. We stayed up all night learning how to make our first set of grips for my YJ, which I still have to this day. Over the years, we started to introduce new products to our inventory. So began the production of Monkey Grips. Our very first show was Jeeptoberfest in Ocala in October 2014.

What type of product do you make and sell?

We make rollbar grips and door-limiting straps  for all Jeep Wrangler Models, zipper pulls for soft tops, rear grips to bolt into the JKU soundbar and rear JKU grips for the headrests, winch straps and hook holders, rock rail foot holders, kid-friendly grips, keychains, bracelets, large and small monkey fists, dog leashes and collars, steel tumbler handles and inner replacement YJ handles.

Nuts and Bolts

Charles Scott is the co-owner, with wife Dawn Scott, of Monkey Grips and the president of Trail Monkeys 4×4, of which the Scotts are founding members. You can check out their products at

What are your most popular sellers?

I would have to say we have three equally good sellers that I cannot keep in stock and sell out of at every show: the steel tumbler handles, zipper pulls and rollbar grips. Often times the tumbler handles will be gone within the first 20 minutes of a show!

What is the turnaround time when ordering online?

We like to keep our turnaround times consistent, whether our customer is ordering online or at a show. If we have the color in stock, the turnaround is normally two or three business days. If we need to order the color, then it turns into five to seven business days. Depending on the size of the order, the processing time can vary as well. A very large order will take longer, but that expectation is given at the time the order is placed.

What events do you attend, and where do you sell your products?

We sell our products online at We also sell our products at the many local Jeep shows and markets around the area. My favorite shows are Jeeptoberfest and Jeepin’ with Sherriff Judd, but you can also find us at Jeep Beach, Jeepin 4 Justice, Jeep vs. Harley, Krawlin’ for the Fallen, and several local markets. We have plans in the future to add more shows to our list, hopefully even a few out-of-state events.

Are your products handmade?

Yes, all of our products are handmade. We do not buy and resell anything. Our products are made for Jeepers by Jeepers. That is what makes us different. Our entire family has their hands in the grip making. Everyone contributes and helps where they can, that’s what keeps us going strong. That and they’re cheap labor. … Just kidding!

Everything we tie is the same over and over. We focus on keeping tight knots and superior quality. It is tedious work, but the look on our customers’ faces when they see the final product keeps us going. We love the people we meet, the friendships we have made and the smiles that are a result of what we do.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Take care of each other like you would want to be treated — not just as a business owner but as a Jeeper. When we started Monkey Grips, a wise man told me that, to have a successful business, treat everyone equally, whether it’s the $1 spender or the $1,000 spender. Treat them the same and you will never fail. So, to this day, I try and stick to that. Whether you’re buying a dollar keychain or forty-five dollar grips from me, they get the same attention.

I feel like my customers really appreciate that in our business. That is why we are still going strong. Tight knots tied by Jeepers for Jeepers. Come see the difference you can feel.

The Shaftmaster

Humble beginnings and an acrimonious split from a former employer led to the formation of Tom Wood’s Custom Drive Shafts, an Ogden, Utah-based manufacturer of drive shafts for four-wheel vehicles. JCF met with Wood to get the story and learn what sets his equipment apart from the competition.

What inspired you to start Tom Wood’s Custom Drive Shafts?

From my late teens or early 20s, I knew I wanted to be in business for myself. That is the American dream. I never knew what it would be, though. Because of my youth and being under-educated at the time, in about 1979, I took a job at a company that built drive shafts of all types. I looked at this as a “McJob.” I couldn’t remember my father ever changing a universal joint. To my surprise, there was never a day that was lacking for work.

I worked for this company for about 20 years. I learned about product, business and a little about engineering. I also made great contacts with magazine editors who promoted my work and the company’s products. I also made good contacts with those who would eventually become my suppliers.

While working for the “other” company, I built the shop to be their largest sales volume, single location, drive shaft shop; they had about 16 total. The other company was family-owned at the time, and they really didn’t like that I was making so many decisions without their prior consent and approval. One day, we had what I call a “BAM,” for “big ass meeting.” I was told that they were in charge and things would be done the way they wanted. I only wanted to see how big I could make things. I really didn’t care if it was for them or for me. How stupid was I?

After this meeting, I knew that I would never be able to accomplish what I wanted to under their employment. So, I bought some machines — a lathe, a mill and a welder — that would enable me to build the equipment that I would need to build drive shafts. I rented a small shop, called in my contacts, asked a few favors, and went out on my own.

In essence, what inspired me to finally start my own business was my previous employer not taking advantage of my skills and desires.

Nuts and Bolts

Tom Wood is the founder of Tom Wood’s Custom Drive Shafts. His Ogden, Utahbased company builds shafts and joints for four-wheel-drive vehicles, including Jeeps. Visit for more information.

Are you or any other members of your staff Jeepers?

I own three highly modified Jeeps, all of which are more capable than I am. I really don’t get out as often as I would like. Much of this is because my favorite brand of wheeling is more akin to exploring. When I’m driving down the freeway, or even flying in an airplane, and see a road in the wilderness, I want to travel it. Unfortunately, though, there aren’t many events that accommodate my desire to explore, with no destination or time in mind.

I do have one employee who regularly takes his modified Suburban to Moab and seems to enjoy coming back with body damage. I’ve loaned him one of my Jeeps in the past, and he came back with body damage. I don’t mind. It’s good to know the Jeep is being used for its intended purpose and my employee is having fun doing it.

None of the other employees are into four-wheeling of any kind. That doesn’t bother me, though. You don’t have to be a woman to be a good gynecologist.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background? How long have you been in the automotive industry?

I’ve been working in the automotive business since 1979. I don’t have much formal education, with only two quarters completed at a trade tech. I’m self-taught. I would much rather read an engineering manual than a novel.

My father was raised a Missouri farm boy and a ninth-grade dropout. I was one of seven children, and we were poor. There were times when I had no shoes and there were times when I had shoes that had the toes cut out of them because, otherwise, they would be too small.

I had a life-changing experience when I was probably about 8 years old. I was watching my father use pry bars to change a tire on the rim because he didn’t have the $2 to go to the service station. I walked away and told myself, “When I grow up, I don’t want to be poor.”

When it came time to really plan on opening my own business, I talked with my wife about it. We were technically bankrupt — our liabilities exceeded our assets — but not declared. We both decided to give it our all. If things failed, we could always move back into a mobile home.

I’ve often commented that if I took my business plan to a college professor, I would fail the class. Fortunately for me, though, my plans worked out well. Having no money to speak of, I borrowed money from my previous employer’s retirement plan. It wasn’t much. I would get credit card offers in the mail with balance transfer checks. I took advantage of the checks and put the money in the bank. I also borrowed a small amount of money from a life insurance policy that I had. But the most important factor was the support I had from magazine editors, suppliers and friends. They were far more valuable than any money I could have had in the bank.

The rest is history. I had risked everything with the hopes that I could feed my family. Now, about 18 years later, Tom Wood’s Custom Drive Shafts is feeding 13 families.

What products and services do you offer?

Other than the slip yoke eliminator kits that we sell, drive shafts for four-wheel drive vehicles are the only things we do. We do not even have installation available.

What do you do differently that makes you stand out from your competitors?

I really don’t pay too much attention to what my competitors are doing, but I am sure we do many things differently. First, many of the parts we use are made exclusively for us. This is never done for cost considerations, but for improvement in quality and strength. For example, most of the slip yokes we use are made from forged steel, while others use cast-iron versions.

Many of the products we have made for us are because there are no other parts available. We do this to meet the needs of our customers. A prime example of this is our Super-Flex universal joint that nets an additional 10 degrees of flexibility before binding.

Our drive shafts are always shipped complete, balanced, greased and ready to install. With our 1310 series, CV type drive shafts, we send reduced head bolts for ease of installation and a service tool for re-greasing the center pivot point on the CV. Essentially, we pay attention to the finest details so the customer is less likely to experience a problem.

Finally, all of our drive shafts are built to order and shipped out the following business day. This means that, in a worst-case scenario, the customer can have their drive shaft in one week. And we are the one company that truly specializes in four-wheel drive shafts. Others will build any type of drive shaft they can sell. I tend to think that if there is only one thing that you do, you will be better at it.

What do you like most about working with Jeeps compared to other vehicles?

From an economic standpoint, I like Jeeps because of their popularity. Without the Jeep market, we would probably only have half the employees that we do now. From a builder’s point of view, I like that almost anything that can be done to a Jeep has been done and the recipe for the solution is already on the books, along with the availability of the myriad of parts required.

What should a Jeeper know before getting a custom drive shaft installed on their Jeep?

Much of the answer to that question will depend on how extensively they have modified the vehicle. With some vehicles — such as the JK, TJ or YJ — if there hasn’t been much more than a lift on the vehicle, the drive shaft solutions are fairly well established. This could involve a slip yoke eliminator kit and double cardan (or “CV”) drive shaft or simply replacement drive shafts for the JK.

If people have installed different transfer cases, differentials and lifted their vehicle, it will require a bit more research, on their part, to determine what type of drive shaft would be best for their application. While I don’t want to appear to be bashing the internet forums, I have seen a lot of dubious “information” out there. I would suggest they take the time to read up on drive shaft designs and what parameters they need to fall within.

Lastly, before getting to the point where a drive shaft would be needed, I think it would be a good idea to make sure what is planned can be done. One example of this is when people install a large lift on a CJ-5, install an automatic transmission — which shortens the length of the rear drive shaft substantially — and it turns out that they need a 10-inch drive shaft that will operate at 45 degrees. That just cannot be done.

Can you tell us about your trademark “Gold Seal” universal joint?

The development of the Gold Seal universal joint is a long story, but I think I was driven to it by politics. The company I previously worked for was the only local Spicer warehouse distributor for Spicer products. My previous employer didn’t like the idea that I was now their competitor and wouldn’t sell to me at a reasonable price.

Prior to this, I had always been a dyed-in-the-wool proponent of Spicer’s products. So, I “bootlegged” in the things that I needed from other companies, outside of the geographical area. I had contracted with one of these companies to provide me with a bit over 500 of the 1310 series universal joints, per month.

One day, the local Spicer representative came into my shop and asked about the universal joints I was getting. I showed him a large crate full of them. He then asked if he could buy one from me. My reply was, “What’s $5 or $10 among friends?” I gave him one. Within about two weeks, I was notified by my supplier that once the contract was fulfilled, I would no longer be able to purchase these universal joints from them. The cynic in me tells me the chain of events was more than coincidence.

What could I do? I needed product at a reasonable price. So, we reverse-engineered the Spicer universal joint, replicating — as close as possible — specifications for materials, hardness and dimensions. We also changed the color of the seals and gave them a better warranty than Spicer’s version. This changing of the seal color and the better warranty can be chalked up to simple marketing. Eventually, on the 1310 series, we had them made with the grease fitting in the end of the bearing cap, for easier servicing.

Do you back your work with a warranty or guarantee? 

We offer what I believe to be the best warranties in the business. If a weld ever breaks, we take care of it. If a Gold Seal universal joint ever breaks, we also cover any damage to the drive shaft, which often happens when a universal joint breaks. With most other companies, if the universal joint breaks, and if it is considered a warranty, all the customer gets is a new universal joint.

Our Trail Hazard Protection is an adaptation of Discount Tire’s Road Hazard protection (which I always buy and has proved to be a good investment). I want the customer to have the ability to know that whatever they may put their drive shaft through and in the event of a failure, which would not be covered under general warranties, they have the option of not needing to purchase a new drive shaft.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

If anything, it would be my sense of gratitude. I am grateful for the following that we have. I am grateful for the circle of people — customers, editors, suppliers and employees — that make it possible. Lastly, I am grateful to have been born in a country where success is possible for those who will take a risk and work hard.

Push the (Light) Bar Higher With Custom Off-Road LEDs

Aaron Watkins transformed what he has learned about lighting in the towing industry into a fully functioning second business: a custom lighting company for emergency vehicles. We talked to Watkins about what he’s setting his sights on next: a creative approach to custom lighting for Jeeps and other off-road vehicles.

What is Enforcement One?

Enforcement One builds service cars from the ground up, including tow trucks, emergency vehicles and patrol cars. We can build out any vehicle that needs emergency or extra lighting.

What inspired you to start Enforcement One?

We started installing emergency lighting for other towing companies. We were approached to do lights on vehicles in different industries, and the business took off.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background? How long have you been the towing industry?

I’ve been in the towing industry for 17 years, working for my family’s business. My uncle had a towing company in New York. He moved down here in 1995 and started this company. I’ve been running Pasco Towing on my own for about four years now.

We have 24 trucks on the road. We are now up to three guys in the lighting shop and two salesmen for the products.

What do you do differently to make the process of equipping vehicles easier than your competitors?

We give customers the whole package. Being in the towing industry, we are able to pick up and deliver vehicles. When we buy a vehicle for a customer to outfit, we make sure that it is checked over and mechanically sound. Every vehicle gets washed and detailed. We used to go to auctions, but we are mostly installing on new vehicles now. We’ll buy them from a dealer.

We are hoping to team up with local dealerships soon. With that being said, we’ve been wanting to get into the Jeep line. The creativity around the different stuff we are able do with Jeeps inspires us.

What do you like about customizing Jeeps?

Most of the Jeeps we have done are on the East Coast of Florida. They are outfitted with emergency lighting, such as the lifeguard Jeeps on Daytona Beach. Those projects were installing pre-existing products.

We like the creative part — brainstorming and getting together with skilled people to figure out how to make a customer’s idea happen. My installer, Al, and I spearhead that kind of stuff. We both really enjoy that process.

What products and parts do you sell and install?

We’re just doing lighting right now, but we are thinking about getting into lifts and other work in the future. We install interior consoles by Havis and are always looking to expand on the variety of lighting brands that we carry. There is a limit to the number of distributors in a radius for certain brands. We just bought out a local business for their distributorship of the Whelen product line.

How much custom work are you doing for law enforcement versus civilians?

Emergency lighting is 99% of what we do, but we’d like to change that. We are trying to get our name out there more and we are excited to attend more events.

We heard you will be working with Jeepin 4 Justice, a Pasco County charity event.

Yes, this will be the first year we participate in Jeepin 4 Justice. We are excited to be there. My towing company, Pasco Towing, is sponsoring the mudhole.

Are there certain things that you can only install on law enforcement vehicles and not civilian vehicles?

Civilian Jeepers are not allowed to install blue or green lights, which are restricted to police and security vehicles.
Civilians cannot use blue or green lighting on their vehicles. Blue is police-only and green is security-only. A civilian can have them on their vehicle for show purposes, but they must sign a waiver if they ask us to put them on.

What did you install on the first couple Jeeps?

A deputy whose agency used our services sent in our first Jeeper. We had to think outside the box to build the custom light bars he wanted.

We also did some flashing Whelen lights on the hood of a Jeep that we built from scratch. We like when someone brings us an idea. We get to run with it and make it into something.

How long did the second project take?

We custom-designed and fabricated the brackets for the lights on the hood. It took about a week and half.

You have the capabilities to build entirely custom pieces?

Yes. Our whole staff has been through emergency vehicle training and we have QTM Inc. right around the corner. They do our welding.

What is the warranty on your work?

Every product is under a five-year warranty from the manufacturer. We match that five-year warranty on our labor.

Nuts and Bolts

Aaron Watkins owns and runs Pasco Towing and Enforcement One, both based in the Tampa area. Besides being in the towing industry for 17 years now, he specializes in emergency lighting for vehicles. His company, Enforcement One, is branching out into the Jeepin’ world by offering custom light solutions to Jeepers.

What is the average cost to equip a Jeep with emergency/safety lights?

It depends on what you are looking for. It can range from around $500 on up. The customizing can get as expensive as you want. It’s a different experience for us and our clients to have the creative challenge of making something unique.

Light Up the Trail

Dave Sousa is the inventor of the CrawlBright series of light bars and light pods. Jeepin’ Central Florida caught up with Sousa to learn how he got into the off-road business and why cheaply made light bars have no place on your Jeep.

What inspired you to develop CrawlBright?
Years ago, I purchased my first light bar. It was inexpensive and poorly made. After the first heavy rain, the bar had water in it. My next night ride was equally disastrous. It just wasn’t bright enough to light the trail ahead.

After much research for a new, quality light bar, I realized that there are essentially two options: expensive or cheap. I had a need for a good light bar, but I didn’t want to break the bank, and I knew that there were many Jeepers out there like me. That’s how CrawlBright Performance Off Road Lighting was born.

Can you explain to us how your product is different from others on the market?
First, our lights use the best materials — name-brand Cree and Osram LEDs, aircraft aluminum frames, real rubber gaskets, scratch-resistant and virtually unbreakable polycarbonate lenses — that aren’t available even on other brands in our price range.

Second, we have features that much of our competition doesn’t. Our light bars feature a gore valve, so in the unlikely event moisture penetrates our gasket, it will evaporate out. We have specially designed 3D and 4D lenses to focus the light into a beam for maximum illumination distance.

Finally, we focus on quality. Our lights are submerged in a water tank for eight hours, then burn-in tested for 24 hours before we let them leave the factory.

Window Frame Bracket & 50-inch Light Bar on Jeep YJ
and the 21.5-inch 4D LED Light Bar

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I have a 25-year career in electronics manufacturing, along with a background in aftermarket automotive electronics. In 2003, I needed a new car. I wanted a convertible and the Wrangler caught my eye. I had no idea that other Jeep drivers I didn’t know would wave to me, or that random people in parking lots would comment “nice Jeep!” to my totally bone stock 2.5L TJ.

I was hooked, becoming part of the club. Since then I’ve owned that ’03, 2 YJs, and 2 JKUs. With my love of Jeeps and my background in electronics manufacturing, starting a company making Performance Off Road Lighting was an easy decision.

Do your light bars hold up to the elements better than others on the market, making them better for Florida’s climate?
We really focus on the waterproof aspects of our lights. We often hear stories of light bars that went through a heavy thunderstorm and are sloshing around like a fish tank. Weak solder joints and water ingress are the most common causes of light bar failure. You won’t ever experience those issues with CrawlBright lights.

Nuts and Bolts

Dave Name is the founder of CrawlBright, a supplier of light bars and light pods built for Jeepers who need more candlepower for night riding. Visit his website at

What products do you offer?
Name: We started with light bars in various sizes from 13-inch to 50-inch, plus light pods. We recently introduced 4D lenses to our bars and pods, which really project the light over great distance. We added high-quality rock lights, some with Bluetooth options, to the lineup earlier this year. We now offer two different models of headlamps plus various accessories like wire harnesses and colored covers.

Are your products compatible with all Jeep models?
Light bars themselves are fairly universal. You will need a bracket for your specific model. We currently offer various brackets for Wranglers built from 1987 to 2017. Our headlamps will fit JK, TJ and CJ.

Window Frame Bracket & 50-inch Light Bar on Jeep YJ
and the 21.5-inch 4D LED Light Bar

Do you have anything new coming out in the future?
We are working on a very bright new headlamp kit, which should be out by the end of this year. We are often asked for LED taillights, so that may be in the works as well.

How does your customer service work?
We are here to answer questions by phone, email or social media anytime. Orders placed on our website typically ship the same day, plus our products are available on Amazon Prime and at some select dealers around Central and Southwest Florida.

In the rare event that a customer has a defective light, we may sound surprised, but that’s not because we don’t trust our customer. We replace the product without question anytime within our three-year warranty period. We are Jeepers, and we are often selling to people we see at socials, trail rides and local events. We don’t want to have a single unhappy customer.

Is there anything else you would like to share?
Readers of Jeepin’ Central Florida can use code “JCF” when buying on our website to get 15% off all CrawlBright Lights, brackets and accessories.

Are Two Batteries Better Than One?

JCF sat down with IT engineer and Jeeper Shane Smith to learn how dual-battery systems work and whether they are the right fit for your Jeep.

What are the benefits of going with a dual battery system?

There are several benefits to having dual batteries, especially for off-roaders. The single stock lead acid battery is not well-suited to handle all the extra accessories that we like to add to our vehicles. Having two deep-cycle batteries will allow you to run all those accessories longer without being recharged.

A winch is the most common addition to a four-wheel-drive vehicle, but a winch can pull a tremendous amount of current during a hard pull. It’s very easy for a winch to kill a single battery, even with the engine running. With dual batteries, that winch load is spread across both batteries, so that you won’t end up with a dead battery while winching. Also, all batteries eventually die, so when that inevitably happens, you will have a backup battery to get you home.

Can you give us a brief description of how your system works?

Our system designates one battery for cranking, and the other battery for the accessories. When the cranking battery is fully charged, the smart isolator links the 2 batteries together so that the accessory battery can be charged up. Everything will run from both batteries, giving you extended run time when the engine is off.

Once the batteries drain down to 12.7v, the smart isolator separates the batteries to protect the cranking battery from being drained by your aftermarket accessories that are connected to our power and ground bus bars. The factory fuse box is hard wired to the cranking battery, so it is still possible for the radio, headlights, or 12v outlets to drain the cranking battery.

If you are unable to start the engine, simply press the built-in boost button one time to temporarily link the batteries together like jumper cables. This lets you use the power in the second battery to help start the engine.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Jeep owners and entrepreneurs Shane and Amy Smith.
I studied electronics and computer programming in college, with a BA in information technology from Mississippi State University. I spent 20 years as an IT systems engineer, working in large datacenters. Back in 2010 I was laid off from my tech job, and decided to start a 4×4 shop while looking for work. I spent several years working a day job in IT while working from 5 p.m. to midnight or later building custom Jeeps.

I needed a nice dual-battery system for a custom search-and-rescue Jeep for a first responder in Florida and could not find anything to fit the needs. There were a couple basic battery trays on the market, but we had to get an isolator, a spool of wire and a bag of ring terminals and figure out how to hook it all up. That project got a custom dual battery system to run the three winches and 28 switches that controlled everything.

I knew there had to be a market for a completely integrated system that would not require any wiring, so I took what I learned from that project, tweaked it to be easier to manufacture, and put it into production. The response from the market was great, so I switched gears and got out of doing custom fabrication to focus on the manufacturing side. A year later I launched the G Screen monitoring system as an optional add-on for the battery kit, and we’ve added several more products since then.

Where are your dual battery systems made?

All our kits are made right here in Mississippi. It was very important to me to find high-quality components that were made in the USA. We strongly believe in supporting USA manufacturers.

What type of batteries does your system use?

Any brand of battery will work, but it must be a Group 34 size. That’s the largest size that we could shoehorn under the hood. We prefer Odyssey batteries because they have the most cold-cranking amps and reserve capacity, as well as the best reputation on the market.

What other accessories would you recommend with your dual battery systems?

It’s a bit silly that Jeep didn’t put a voltmeter on the dash, so we came up with the G Screen to give the user as much info as possible in a small package. It’s a 1-inch LCD screen that shows the voltage of each battery. It also tells if the batteries are connected or isolated, and it serves as an in-cab boost button. Our optional digital air pressure sensor kit turns the G Screen into an air pressure gauge for monitoring an on-board air system.

We also make very heavy-duty quick-connect cables for accessing the battery power from outside the vehicle. These cables use industry-standard Anderson Powerpole connectors which are great for guys who want to charge a battery on a trailer from the vehicle’s alternator. Our quick-connect jumper cables have a mating connector so you can plug jumper cables in at the front or rear bumper. These are popular with service vehicles or guys who want the convenience of using jumper cables without opening the hood.

What Jeep models is your system compatible with?

Our Jeep JK kit fits all model-years from 2007 to present. We also have a kit for the Polaris RZR 900/1000, which is also very popular. For other vehicles, we offer a couple universal kits that the customer can mount into other trucks or SUVs.

What other products does your dual battery system work with?

Our dual-battery system gives you a convenient place to connect accessories that need direct battery power. The sPOD is a great compliment to our kit. By connecting an sPOD to our power and ground bus bars, all the extra circuits that you connect to the sPOD will run from both batteries while they are connected together, and then run only from the accessory battery when they are isolated. This way the accessories on the sPOD will not drain the cranking battery.

How does your customer service work?

We are a small, family-owned and -operated company. When you call, you get me, Shane, the owner, on the phone to answer your questions.

Do you have anything new coming out in the near future?

By the time you read this, we should be launching our new dual-battery kit for the Toyota Tacoma. Over the next year, I’ll be designing more vehicle-specific kits to bring the same great features from our Jeep kits to other vehicles. I’ll be starting with Toyota vehicles and then I’ll do a kit for other trucks and side-by-sides.