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Location: Torrance, California

Cheap Condoms...NO, not those kind.


Post by Brucek » Mon May 26, 2008 1:27 pm

I have been using magnetic shields to help protect my vehicle for about 3 years. I get a lot of questions about them both on the trail and while assisting Tom Severin at the Badlands Offroad training classes so I thought this might be a topic of some interest.A lot of people are off-roading with newer and expensive rigs. I use my rig as a daily driver and paint scratches can ruin the look as well as the resale value. If you are leasing the vehicle to keep your monthly expenses down you will have to be concerned about the turn-in condition while not being afraid to use and enjoy it. I don't have the time here to relate all the stories of how these shields have saved me buffing time and protected my rigs from major scratching but let me just say that I wont go out without them unless I'm sure that I will only be operating in wide open terrain.
There are 2 options: You can purchase a set of pieces that are pre-cut for your vehicle and often come in a limited color selection or you can make them yourself if cost is a consideration. In my limited experience with the pre-cut sets, I find the quality of the material is often better (thicker) than the un-cut rolls but I would ask for a sample of the product before purchasing the pre-cut sets if you haven't seen a particular brand on someone's rig. As for the roll material, I am still using most of the original pieces that I made and they've been used on 3 different vechicles for over 3 years. For the sake of brevity, I will only mention one source for the pre-cut sets primarily because I've wheeled with him in the past and have seen the product that he sells and feel that it is a good value. If any one would like to comment on other brands, please do.
OK.....Check out a company called Magnashields at their website, They are located in Acton Ca. off the14 freeway. Scott, the owner is a dedicated wheeler and offers sets for Toyota FJ's, Hummer H2's and 3's and Jeep JK 4 doors. The thickness of the material is 30mil so they should have good longevity and be easy to work with. As of now they do not have sets for the JK 2 door (duh !) but are considering it. They come in 3 different price ranges depending on the coverage area and color. I recomend the full coverage sets for obvious reasons. They are available in Black, Silver, Blue and Yellow with Black being the least expensive color. The prices rang from 489.00 for an H2 to 349.00 for an FJ. There is a flat 29.00 fee for shipping. For those of you that don't want to go thru the effort of cutting and fitting your own pieces from a roll and are not concerned with saving a few bucks I highly recomend going the pre-made route.
Now for the budget conscience among us..............There is a product called "flexible magnets" that is available thru "McMaster-Carr". They are listed on the web and are local in the LA area. Basically, (as with the pre-made sets) they are made from a synthetic rubber product that is impregnated with a magnetic material that will stick to any metal surface. If you have areas that are plastic or fiberglass that need to be covered, you will have to tape them on. It comes in rolls 24" in width and can be ordered in any length up to a 50ft long roll. Pieces can then be cut out for individual areas of the vehicle. I am presently using 1/32nd" as a thickness but am going to use .025 in the future. The 1/32 can tear under it's own weight during installation/removal near a cut-out area such as doorhandles and locks etc when the material is warm and applied on a hot day. Carefull handling will help with this. Once the material is fitted to the vehicle, tape must be applied to the leading edge of each sheet to prevent lifting in the airstream or from a branch that could lift the forward edge resulting in the sheet peeling back and exceeding the magnets ability to adhere to the metal. This is true for both the roll material as well as the pre-cuts. While tape is available from Magnashield that promises no residue when removed I use "polytape(clear) which I get from Ace Hardware. It leaves very little residue if at all when removed promptly after a run and in cool temperatures. Actually, I've left them on for a week or so if I have back to back runs and haven't had too many residue issues. I carry some tape with me for quick repairs or if it loosens up on the freeway. I use a product called "OOPS" multipurpose remover to deal with any tape glue residue. It will not damage your paint or clear coat, is easy to use and very effective.
When you log on to McMaster-Carr, in the upper RH corner is a search box. Type in "flexible magnets". That will take you to the pages you need. Find part  #s 5756K53 or 5756K55 depending on the thickness you want. They are described as black on both sides, magnets on one side. White is also available but they offer no other colors. The material is priced by the foot. a 50 ft roll should do an H2 and will cost around 220.00. 35ft should do a jeep and is around 140.00. Measure your vehicle remembering that they are only 24" wide. The scraps from the main sections will do the window surrounds. Plan on extra material for future replacement of that odd piece that gets lost on the freeway or damaged beyond repair. The clear tape will do a great job of repairing tears etc.The material cuts very easily with an exacto or utility knife or a decent pair of shop sissors. My suggestion is to cut your basic length, put it on the vehicle, mark your curves and cutouts, then refine the shape. Remember to leave enough room on the leading edge side for the tape to adhere to the metal.When applying, make sure that both the vehicle side of the magnet and your vehicle surface is clean so as not to cause your own scratches. Don't get frustrated if your cuts aren't perfect. Remember you're after protection, not perfection. When storing after use, place them on a flat surface or drape them over a wide bar and after cleaning with water make sure they are dry before storing. The magnetic material can develope some rust spots if put on top of each other when still wet or damp.
Well, that's it..... I hope this info has been of interest. I realize that folks with older rigs or TJ's who's lack of girth lets them slide thru trails lined with brush, branches and cactus with ease are not going to be too interested in taking the time and effort to deal with this type of protection. There's no denying it takes time to install and remove this stuff, but for some it might be a way to keep your vehicle looking newer longer.
Bruce K

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