Posted by KD Fabworks on 3/15/2015 to Installation Articles
Everyone with a Jeep JK knows that the OE lighting could use quite a bit of improvement; from the headlights, right back to the reverse lights. This is why we decided to install a set of Rigid Industries SR-M Flush Mount Back-Up Lights on our Project JK.
The Rigid SR-M Flush Mount Back-Up Light kit comes with everything needed for installation, including the pair of lights, mounting hardware, wiring harness, and instructions. The SR-M Flush Mount lights put out 754 raw lumens per light, and only draw .72 amps. They use a 60 degree diffused hybrid optics in a cast aluminum housing. The small, compact build of these lights makes them a perfect fit in the stock JK tail light housings.
The first step when installing the back-up lights is to remove the stock tail light housing. You will just need to remove the two inner screws from the taillight that holds it to the body with a phillips screwdriver. (The outer screws do not go all the way through to the body). Tilt the housing outboard a bit and pull it out away from the body. Unplug the tail light wiring from the chassis harness.
Remove the factory light bulbs and harness from the housing and set them aside for now so you don't damage them when cutting the hole for the SR-M lights.
Using the gasket from the SR-M light kit, trace the inside of the opening onto the light lens with a sharpie to mark the cutting area. The gasket will mostly cover the reverse light lens on the factory tail light, so center it top to bottom, and left to right.
Next up is cutting, the point of no return. Begin by using a drill bit to drill a hole in each of the 4 corners of the area you traced out onto the light. You can use a 1/4" or 5/16" drill bit to get a nice radius corner. After drilling the holes, you can then use a dremel or a cut off wheel on a die grinder to cut out the remaining area. Go slow, start a bit inside the line you drew to get the piece cut out...and you can then start enlarging the opening bit by bit to fit the light.
Once you get the rough cut done, you can begin test fitting the light, and start gradually opening the hole to make the light fit. It's best to make little adjustments and test fit multiple times than take too much out. You can use a dremel with a sanding wheel or die grinder with a diamond bit.
When you're happy with the fitment of the light into the opening, mark the holes for the mounting bolts on the lens. Use a 7/32" drill bit on these holes. The 1/4" stainless button head bolts supplied with the Rigid kit will tap into these holes easily.
If you're going to wire directly to the factory reverse light wiring like we did, you can cut the plug off the end of the SR-M light. On the back of the light housing, drill a 5/16" hole for the wire to pass through.
Once you have all cutting and drilling complete, use compressed air to blow all of the plastic shavings out of the light housing to prep for final assembly.
You can install the lights with just the gasket from the light kit, but it is also recommended to add a small bead of RTV gasket material between the Rigid gasket and the factory lens. The factory lens has a lot of bumps on the surface, and the Rigid gasket will not necessarily seal against it. Once you have placed a bead of RTV around the opening, install the gasket, and then light...passing the wire from the light through the hole that you drilled. Secure the light to the lens with the stainless allen head bolts supplied with the Rigid kit.
To make sure the housing remains as sealed as possible, we removed the factory bulb out of the reverse light socket and cut the wires coming out of the back of it flush with the socket We then cut the socket down with a band saw, turning the socket into a plug to seal the hole on the back of the light housing. Place the light socket back into the housing capping off the opening.
You can now wire the Rigid SR-M lights to the factory reverse light wiring; black negative wire to the black negative tail light lead, and the red power wire to the white positive tail light lead. You can use butt connectors, or solder the connections and heat shrink them for a better, longer lasting connection.
Re-install the factory tail light onto the Jeep in the reverse order in which you took it off. Repeat these steps on the other side to complete the installation of the Rigid Industries SR-M Flush Mount Back-Up Lights!
You can order a back-up light kit of your own from KD Fabworks: