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Old 02-06-2021, 12:15 PM #1
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Flush Mount Rear Pod LED Lights - “How To” Write Up

Good morning, y’all! Hope the weekend is off to a great start.

I bit the bullet a couple of months ago and finally completed a project I initially asked the forum about in May 2019: Baja Designs Squadron Sport Flush Mount Pods. Nobody really responded to that, and then I forgot about it because it felt too involved. I’m here to tell you it really isn’t.

Let’s dive in —!

1: ordered Baja Designs Squadron Sport Flush Mount LED Pods - I got the “Work Scene” because these are in the rear, and will be used for camping/ranch work/hunt camp lights/etc. For this placement (in the rearmost corners of the truck), you will also need the wiring harness (item #64-0117 - powers two lights) AND you’ll need TWO of the Pro/Sport 2-Pin, 10’ Extension Cords (item #64-0165).



When they came in, I got super pumped, and went out to reconfirm where I wanted to put them.



Yep...That’s the spot!

Worth noting - I installed an engine bay auxiliary fuse block in 2019, so my goal was to run the wires/connections from the lights to a switch inside by my steering wheel, and then power wires through the firewall to the mentioned fuse block.

2: start running wires in/around the engine bay:



Used a straight coat hanger with copious amounts of electrical tape to pull it through the firewall grommet smoothly.



(Please excuse the dirty engine)

Here you can see my auxiliary fuse block. The relay will end up getting mounted by the other one shown here (for my grille mounted 32” lightbar). In this pic I’m positioning the wires for the light pods to fall down on top of my tire after pulling the power wire through the firewall grommet.



This is where the wires came out into the wheel well. The white tube you see running near the black wires in my hand is for my rear differential breather, and will serve as the “guide” for how I run these wires to the rear of the truck.

Finally for this step, here is a better “top down” view of how the wires run from engine bay into the wheel well:

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Old 02-06-2021, 12:16 PM #2
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Flush Mount Rear Pod LED Lights - “How To” Write Up

Now the fun begins!

3: Go to the back of your runner, drop the spare, and remove the bumper. I hadn’t dropped the spare in this pic, but I did shortly thereafter because you will need the room to run/secure wires up above the spare.



I had two plastic saw horses covered with a big “moving blanket” so that I didn’t scratch up the bumper.

4: trace your included Baja Designs template for where your holes will go. I used a Sharpie because I knew I was cutting the holes regardless.



NOTE: there is an “inside” line, and an “outside” line on the template Baja provides. I used the “inside” line initially, and I should’ve used the outside line. Example:

(Include pic of uncut template)

Due to the rounded corners of the bumper, it was hard to get my measurements perfectly “exact”, but I believe I was roughly 2.5” from each side (for horizontal axis), and shifted about 1/2” up from center (for vertical axis) to be ~2-2.25” from the top, and ~2.5-2.75” from the bottom of the squared “face” part of the bumper I cut into. That may drive some of you crazy, but at this point I was already dealing with having to size UP the original hole I cut due to being too small.

Original hole was kinda dirty, too:



GROSS!

I had read all sorts of stuff online for other mods about how, “an Xacto knife is perfect,” “don’t need too much force,” “you risk really damaging panels and melting them if you use a dremel,” etc, etc.

All of that is worthless advice, and resulted in this cut taking about twice as long as it should have. You can’t baby this bumper if you’re cutting into it. This is high strength ABS plastic. Don’t use an Xacto knife because it will bend and destroy the knife. Don’t go easy on the force because this plastic is incredibly puncture resistant. Finally, use a dang dremel because the part that “melts” literally just flakes off afterward - and no, it doesn’t gum up and rip off any paint. After the above starter hole was complete, I got out my good Gerber skinning knife (drop point) to clean the hole edges along straight lines, then used my dremel to round out the corners specifically to make the body of the pod to fit. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of this smoother hole, but here was the finished product of this step:



To secure the pod to the bumper, you have to drill four holes at the corners, and then you can use the included nuts (nylon backed for locking in place) and bolts to secure them in place.



Voilà! After learning my lesson on the first hole, the second cut was much easier, took about 15-18 minutes to do it right, and resulted in another successful pod placement:

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Old 02-06-2021, 12:17 PM #3
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Flush Mount Rear Pod LED Lights - “How To” Write Up

Step 5: underbody work and running power to the rear. Make sure you have plenty of light!



Now, I need to go ahead and apologize that I didn’t take the best pictures while doing the install, but I went out and took more pictures this morning to hopefully help highlight a little bit of how I ran the cables. It is not 100% clear on the paths in these pics, but I will do my best to explain where I ran them. Ultimately I zip tied the wires (after connecting and wrapping in conduit) to non-heated elements, and as close to the body of the truck as possible.

Starting out of the engine bay, I followed the breather tube (as previously mentioned):



Continued on the BODY side of the front, driver’s side body Mount and secured along the frame rail:



(Wow, I now see the rusty parts under there..getting that looked into unless y’all tell me that is normal. I’m in Houston, so the humidity can’t be good for it, though it’s not entirely saltwater air, either)

I digress, continued running the cables along the frame rail. You can see the connectors in this pic, and those are where the 10’ extensions meet the harness - about halfway of the truck:



Then follow that conduit BEHIND the rearward driver’s side body mount toward the wheel well:



Below you can orient yourself with my rear tire, and see how the conduit goes back into the area above the spare tire:



Now orient yourself with the spare tire in the below pic (camera angle is pointing straight up from the ground), the conduit for the pod cables are the ones that are the absolute closest to the body of the truck...this is where they split, and that what you should follow.



After these pics, I have nothing to show for wiring as they disappear into the corners of the bumper. The void behind the pods are the perfect size/depth for the pods, and the wiring tucks up very nicely into the paneling.

The only other pic of this wiring/cable run is the below pic where you can kind of see where I have the conduit drop down from the body before it curves around and out of sight (to connect to the pod light). This image is facing straight up and above the exhaust (you can see my Antman-style bumper tailgater cup holders here as well).

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Old 02-06-2021, 12:17 PM #4
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Flush Mount Rear Pod LED Lights - “How To” Write Up

Finally, let’s talk light output.

I knew these would be bright, and I knew I wanted to control them. I do not have them wired into my reverse lights because I didn’t feel like I needed them EVERY time I would be backing up. Honestly, I’m glad I put them on an independent switch for the times I need them and can’t/don’t need to go into reverse.

The switch for these is obvious...”Rear Lights.” I got the switch from AOB, and it matches my LED Light Bar switch I’ve had from them for years.



Pics post install —

Straight into the light:



House lit up from front of the truck:




Comparison of reverse camera image without pod lights...no comparison, really!

SCENARIO 1: backing into front, one streetlight ahead of vehicle...sidewalk visible, fence visible, neither are clear, and pretty washed out.

S1,Pic 1: OEM back up camera and OEM reverse lights



S1,Pic 2: OEM back up camera and pod lights ON



Now you can clearly see the grass, sidewalk, and fence with much better depth perception.

SCENARIO 2: on street parking next to a curb, one streetlight somewhere, general neighborhood ambient nighttime lighting scenario. Hard to decipher road from curb (yes, the blue guideline is blocking, but even then difficult to contrast), kind of all looks flat and washed out while camera picks up light in distance (which doesn’t help with parking)

S2,Pic 1: OEM back up camera and OEM reverse lights



S2,Pic 2: OEM back up camera and pod lights ON



Again, now you can see that your tire is near the curb (and might find some grass!), but otherwise you can tell the street is “actually” smooth, and you can actually see the curb you’re near as well as the curb on the other side of the street.

Overall, I’m very very pleased with this mod. I was a little uncertain at first (which is why I took so long to cut up the bumper), but I also am of the mindset that when I get a rear bumper replacement (steel bumper) I will have already completed the hard work and will just have to position the pods accordingly.

Let me know if you have any questions! Thanks for reading!
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Old 02-06-2021, 02:07 PM #5
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If you don't want to cut up your bumper, you can get this
Fusion Surface Mount Brackets

and two of these in white or red if you want brake lights.
Fusion Surface Mount Light

The stuff you see on Amazon from Feniex does not come with the proper BRIGHT lights.


Saw this in person on a new LR Defender.
They are incredibly bright for the size.
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Old 02-06-2021, 04:07 PM #6
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Thank you for these instructions, good work.
The lights sure are bright.
A few of questions:

1. My biggest apprehension is bumper removal. Do you have instructions for how to do this?

2. You ran the wires externally. Did you consider a way to route wires through the cabin and out to the bumper?

3. Connecting the wires to the lights. Did you make the connections first then install the bumper, leaving some slack? Then tie wrap the excess wire?

4. Is there slack, or an inline connector, so you can remove the bumper in the future without breaking the wires to the lights?


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Old 02-06-2021, 04:43 PM #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElectroBoy View Post
Thank you for these instructions, good work.
The lights sure are bright.
A few of questions:

1. My biggest apprehension is bumper removal. Do you have instructions for how to do this?

2. You ran the wires externally. Did you consider a way to route wires through the cabin and out to the bumper?

3. Connecting the wires to the lights. Did you make the connections first then install the bumper, leaving some slack? Then tie wrap the excess wire?

4. Is there slack, or an inline connector, so you can remove the bumper in the future without breaking the wires to the lights?



Great follow up questions, thanks for reading through and thinking of these!

1. Bumper removal is likely the easiest part to be honest. I’ll send a picture with what you need to remove, and full instructions on that. Ultimately there are several bolts you unscrew, pop off the sides, and lift over the latch. I’ll explain with pictures soon in another reply.

2. I actually did consider running them internally, initially, but when I took off the door jamb plastics I found myself looking at a less-direct path than if I ran the wires externally. Additionally, given the lights go on opposing corners, it would’ve been a little extra length needed to go from the rubber bumper grommet on driver’s side (just below gas cap area) to loop across where the spare is located. I can explain my findings on this if you’d like more detail.

3. Baja Designs does a great job of the plug-and-play aspect of their lighting. The wires off the harness are a good length, and plug into the 10’ extension connectors very easily. Coming off of the actual pod lights themselves is a ~6” cord with a female plug connector which that 10’ extension connects to. The lengths/extensions I used allowed me have about 6” of overall extra length, which didn’t require any real additional cinching/folding of the wires. If I didn’t have the extensions, they’d just plug straight into that pod connecting wire. Before installing the bumper back completely, I kind of “rested” the bumper, connected the light pods to their wires, then secured the bumper to the vehicle.

4. If the bumper were to need to be removed in the future, you could just reach up into the “corner” of the bumper from underneath, and into the back of the pod to unplug prior to removal of the bumper. Or, you could unscrew/detach the bumper, lightly pull away from the body, ans reach from the top down to disconnect the light pod wires. Then it would just all come off together. There isn’t a “ton” of slack in the length of these wires/extensions, hence my reference to the reason for running the wiring externally. Extra length would have to be achieved either by linking more extensions to reach your desired length. In that event, you would certainly have excess length to tie up either underneath, or in another hidden location.

Below is a good pic of the pod where you can clearly see the referenced ~6” length coming out of the back of the pod light (which the extension cord plugs into) and hanging below my hand.

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Old 02-06-2021, 04:48 PM #8
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awesome write up.
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Old 02-06-2021, 05:52 PM #9
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Thanks, great instructions! I was thinking of doing this but using a 3-position switch (On-Off-On) so it could be on with constant 12V, off, or on with the normal reverse lights. It’s hard finding a switch like this, though.

Looking forward to see your bumper removal guide.
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Old 02-07-2021, 01:34 AM #10
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You are amazing dude!! Thank you so much for this. My pods are on order and will hopefully be here in a few weeks.

I feel so much better about doing this after reading your write up.
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Old 02-07-2021, 02:19 AM #11
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Quote:
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Thanks, great instructions! I was thinking of doing this but using a 3-position switch (On-Off-On) so it could be on with constant 12V, off, or on with the normal reverse lights. It’s hard finding a switch like this, though.

Looking forward to see your bumper removal guide.

Didn’t get the pics I wanted before it got dark, so will get this for you in the morning!
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Old 02-07-2021, 02:20 AM #12
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You are amazing dude!! Thank you so much for this. My pods are on order and will hopefully be here in a few weeks.

I feel so much better about doing this after reading your write up.

Thank you! Just trying to continue to contribute to this forum because I’ve learned so, so much from others on here. Hopeful to help make some small impact to help others as I get more confident in abilities and different things I haven’t seen elsewhere.

Can’t wait to see how yours turn out, too!!
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Old 02-07-2021, 12:06 PM #13
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From the moment you mentioned the diif breather white tube I remembered you from the breather thread when I asked you why you did not follow the "everybody's route along the wire harness". BTW I need to check to see if my tube is melted...

Great write up. Question on harness tube protection, what did you use (I want to do the same, route the tube then fish-wire the harness).

Cheers
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Old 02-07-2021, 01:40 PM #14
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Quote:
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From the moment you mentioned the diif breather white tube I remembered you from the breather thread when I asked you why you did not follow the "everybody's route along the wire harness". BTW I need to check to see if my tube is melted...

Great write up. Question on harness tube protection, what did you use (I want to do the same, route the tube then fish-wire the harness).

Cheers

Heyooo I was wondering if anyone would remember my first go with the diff breather tube that melted ...hope yours hasn’t melted! I haven’t had any issues with my reroute and new white tube.

As for the harness wiring protection, I just bought the flexi conduit at Auto Zone (you can find it on Amazon for sure as well, and more options). Mine is the 3/4” diameter split loom, and I got the 25’ so it would be continuous along the length. After getting that all out and unwound, I ran the wires in their general location, then wrapped before zip tying to the body. If nothing else it is good for just protecting from getting dirty, but also maybe a slight benefit of heat reflection under the hood.
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Old 02-07-2021, 02:01 PM #15
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Flush Mount Rear Pod LED Lights - “How To” Write Up

Quote:
Originally Posted by ElectroBoy View Post
Thanks, great instructions! I was thinking of doing this but using a 3-position switch (On-Off-On) so it could be on with constant 12V, off, or on with the normal reverse lights. It’s hard finding a switch like this, though.

Looking forward to see your bumper removal guide.

Alright, hope this is clear enough! Here we go. It’s actually pretty simple, and you do NOT have to take off the silver bumper accent (for Trail versions) before removal of the bumper. Also, as referenced in the initial post, dropping the spare tire first will help you immensely with all of this - just easier to access everything under the truck.

I started in the wheel wells. Some may have the mud flaps, but I took the OEM flaps off when I got the truck, and replaced them with some custom cut, thick 18-wheeler mud flap rubber from Auto Zone as well (that’s in my build thread, nothing special tbh). Lots of screws and pop tabs, so just take your time. I think I highlighted all of them in each pic below.





Once you get the screws and pop tabs out, pull the “point” of the bumper (where the bumper meets the rear quarter panel) to release some of the body clips under the taillight. Don’t pull too hard yet - you have more screws to undo.

Before you open the back hatch, crawl under near your hitch, and unscrew these two screws:




Now pop the lift gate and you’ll see all of these screws circled below. Remove these, and then your bumper will be only held by body clips:



After removing all of the screws, gently pry one side around from under the taillight, then repeat on the other side. After those corners are free, you’ll be able to pull the bumper away from the body, but at the same time LIFT UP so you can get the bumper over the lift gate hatch.

You can even remove this little “latch cover” before the above step by pulling up just in front of the latch...see pics below for reference, and to see how the tabs on that piece work:






***I suggest setting up sawhorses/blanketing a ledge/blanketing a surface/etc for you to set the bumper down onto BEFORE you officially take it off. Then, once you remove, you can just pivot and lay it down. It is a little clumsy, and while reasonably rigid there is still flex/twist in the bumper.

Do what you will do with the removed bumper, and then a few tips for reassembly:

- focus on getting the bumper hole back over the latch area FIRST because it is a little tricky. You’ll want to make sure the foam covering the crossmember support (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it) doesn’t move upon reinstall. I was able to do this alone, so you still be, too, just need to “hold your mouth just right” while doing so.
- You can reinstall the “latch cover” after you fully reinstall the bumper. There is no need to rush to put that back together because it will probably pop out when you’re reinstalling the bumper anyway.
- push bumper into the taillight body clips before screwing anything in so you make sure you’re lined up properly elsewhere.
- IF you’re installing lights like I did, I suggest hanging the bumper over the latch first, then connect your lights, test they work, then proceed with the remainder of bumper reinstall.

There ya go!
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Last edited by mbumpus11; 02-07-2021 at 02:14 PM.
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