Youth Elevated - Snorkel R&D, Part 3: Production
There's something about the outdoors that lets us reconnect with our youth. Maybe it's the memories of playing outside with our friends, or the simplicity of nature reminding us of simpler times. Whatever the reason, we could all use a little more time outside. Your Jeep Wrangler JL is marketed as a go anywhere, do anything machine, but sometimes it needs a little help to live up to that persona. Here at Mishimoto, we've been working on parts to help it do just that, including our latest project: the 2018+ Jeep Wrangler JL/2020+ Gladiator snorkel.
In the last post, we began the design process by 3D scanning our JL inside and out. We also discussed our options for routing the snorkel. In the end, we decided on a direct route from the lower airbox through the hood. While this path will require cutting the hood, it will also significantly reduce restriction and keep power going to the wheels. Finally, our engineer created 3D models for the snorkel and its ancillary parts.
With our design laid out, the next step in the process was to bring it to life through prototypes. We fired up our 3D printers and began printing parts for the main snorkel tube. Because the snorkel tube is so large, 3D printing would take multiple days, so we passed the time by trying something new.
To connect our snorkel to the lower airbox, we'll replace the stock fresh air inlet with a 90-degree rubber coupler. While the coupler looks like a simple part, creating a prototype for it wouldn't be easy. The prototype needed to be flexible, so 3D printing was out of the question, and setting up an entire production line for one part isn't exactly efficient. To solve this issue, our engineer came up with a clever solution. Instead of 3D printing the part, we'd 3D print molds for a DIY rubber injection molding process. We printed the two halves of the mold and used a liquid rubber to cast the coupler in two pieces. We then repeated the process for the bezel that seals the hood to the snorkel.
By the time the bezel and the coupler had cured, our snorkel tube 3D prints had also finished. We epoxied the parts together to form our snorkel. Before we could mount the snorkel on our JL, we needed a way to support it. We wanted to make the brackets as minimally invasive as possible and not require our customers to drill into the body. To accomplish that goal, our engineer designed the brackets to utilize existing bolts along the fender and rain cowl. Our fabricator cut our prototype brackets out of 2.5mm-thick steel and bent them to form, then handed them off to Ye to install on the JL along with the rest of the snorkel parts.
Our snorkel bolted right up, and the coupler we made fit perfectly. But there was still one issue: we couldn't close the hood. That meant the time had come to take the plunge and cut our hood. Luckily, we had prepared for this moment. At the same time our snorkel parts were printing, we used our 3D scans to print a scale model of the JL's hood with our cutout already made. With this model, we could test the size and position of the cutout and bezel without making permanent cuts on our hood. We also used the 3D models to make a paper cut template.
Cut template in hand, our fabricator took a deep breath, donned his face shield, and fired up the rotary tool. A few tense minutes later, our hood was a few ounces lighter. We installed the bezel and closed the hood. To our relief, the hood, bezel, and snorkel all came together with a snug fit. With our prototype installed, our hood cut, and everything fitting perfectly, we're ready to move on to the last step: creating a production sample.
A few weeks after sending our drawings to production, we received a large box at the shop. The vibrant blue printing on the box and Borne logo told us exactly what was inside. We cut open the box to reveal our production snorkel. Like our JL intakes, our snorkel is made from a durable heat and UV resistant rotational-molded plastic. The rotational molding process lets us create complex shapes accurately and repeatedly out of a variety of plastics. Our brackets are solid 2.5mm-thick steel and powder coated in a micro-wrinkle black, blue, or red, with the inlet screen coated to match. We'll also be offering the brackets and screen in a gray primer that you can easily customize for your build.
After admiring Ye's design, we pulled everything out of the box and installed it on our JL. The final test was to close the hood and see if our cutout still lined up with the production sample. We slowly lowered the hood and held our breath. Our sample fit perfectly, and the hood closed without a hitch. We breathed a sigh of relief and cinched down all of the bolts.
But we weren't done yet.
Given how finicky the 2.0T's engine computer can be regarding airflow, we wanted to be extra cautious before kicking off production. To make sure our snorkel didn't trigger any unwanted check engine lights, we sent the JL out for an extended road test. We drove the JL through sun and rain, winter cold, and summer heat. Several-hundred miles later, our JL was CEL free and going strong. Along the way, we also discovered a welcome addition that we weren't expecting: more induction noises. Check out the sound clip below.
With testing complete, we're ready to kick off production. That also means that we're ready to kick off the discounted pre-sale. So, head over to our website to get your snorkel at a deep discount, then get outside and get back in touch with your youth.
Thanks for reading,