Under Construction


A stock, XJ Cherokee Jeep with the spare wheel mounted in the rear cargo area gains a significant increase in cargo space if the spare wheel can be relocated to an external wheel carrier. A roof rack had been purchased for our Cherokee so there was no need to complicate the carrier with Jerry can holders, etc. The preference was for a clean looking carrier that kept the stock look. The Detours TailboneTM was the obvious choice.

This document is not a substitute for Detours step by step Installation Guide, it is just my notes that may or may not assist. I'm not an automotive engineer or mechanic therefore you are just getting my best guesses and you cannot rely on the accuracy or validity of any information in this document. Basically if you try to use or implement any of this and it ends in tears or there are other issues don't come crying to me, you should have followed Detours instructions. You have been warned.


The closest 4x4 accessories shop is ARB but online they didn't list a rear wheel carrier for the XJ Cherokee. Locally Wooders Garage listed the Garvin and Proto Fab carriers but none of these products made use of the existing bumper skin nor maintained a clean, factory appearance. So it was time to search the intertubes.

Looking offshore, there were a wide variety of shapes and sizes but for our purposes none was better than the Detours Tailbone. Obviously you must have a clear idea of your requirements. For example, the Tailbone isn't suitable if you want to totally replace the factory bumper and end caps with a solid bumper.

The following list created in early 2011 probably doesn't cover every carrier in production and there are others that are only available secondhand e.g. a factory Jeep/Mopar unit.

Brand Model
Detours Tailbone
AJs Offroad Armor Tanker Tire Carrier Bumper
BPI Fab Rear Bumper
C-ROK Rear Bumper
Spare Tire Carrier
Custom4x4 Fabrication Rear Bumper
Swing-away Tire Carrier
Dirtbound Offroad Tire Carrier Bumper
Garvin Wilderness Rear Bumper with Tire Carrier
Hansen OffRoad Rear Bumper & Tire Carrier Combo
KevinsOffRoad Rear Bumper with Carrier Stealth Style
Rear Bumper with Carrier Tube Style
Logans Metal Products Rear Bumper with Tire Carrier
Nates4x4 Rear Bumper with Swingout Tire Carrier
Olympic 550-Rock Rear Bumper
Tire Swings
700-151 high gloss
700-154 rubicon black
Proto Fab Rocksolid Bumper with Tire Rack
Classic Bumper with Tire Rack
Rock Hard Rear Bumper
Smittybilt XRC Rear Bumper with Tire Carrier
Tomken Rear Bumper
Swing Out Tire Carrier
Warn Rear Bumper
Tire Carrier


Tailbone Purchase


Decide if you want the spare wheel held vertical or offset (angled back to match pitch of the tailgate window). Then place your order via email or telephone. Remember to specify lefthand or righthand drive as it determines which way the carrier pivots and places the spare behind the driver to minimise visual obstruction.

Telephone was the quickest way to get answers to our questions then to place the order. From Australia this did mean some 3:00am phone calls to sort out what we wanted and the phone calls were worth it. It wasn't obvious from the Detours web site that there was a righthand drive option plus we had many other questions related to the Detours Backbone, and then there was a looming deadline for loading a shipping container on the west coast.


Cost of shipping a single, heavy package (65lbs/29.5kg) from the United States could be outrageous. I was quoted $US274 shipping and handling for moving an empty box to Australia. I wanted an empty, secondhand, Tektronix TM5006 instrument case to carry test equipment in Volvodemort. Had a bit of a surprise just now, turns out the Tektronix specifications say 14.5kg empty. Who would of thought an empty box could weigh so much. Given the Tailbone shipping weight was ~30kg then shipping and handling charges to Australia could be more than the purchase price of the Tailbone.

Our neighbour was bringing in some shipping containers from the west coast and our XJ fruit was shipped for a nominal amount. Only catch was an unexpected holdup getting the shipping containers onto the ship. Christmas presents may have been a bit late but I did like the cheap shipping.

US prices with a strong Australian Dollar may make direct purchases look attractive but moving stuff across the pond is a killer.


Due to the Tailbone being in a shipping container load a Customs Agent was required to clear the shipment through Australian Customs. The Customs Agent entered the details from the invoices and the charges for this processing included a fixed charge for each line item. So it may not be a good idea to add a $US0.20 packet of washers to an order just to save paying $1.20 for the same item from a local hardware store. Also, buying a kit of parts for $xxx.xx is cheaper to process than an order consisting of multiple line items with their individual sale prices.

There maybe a free trade agreement between the USA and Australia but that doesn't mean an item shipped from the USA will automatically be exempted under the agreement. An invoice needs to say the item was made in the USA to escape a 5% duty. I didn't know this, didn't ask Detours to add this comment on the invoice, and got slugged an extra 5% which I think was added before the GST calculation. Trap for a noob. Exchange rates and the GST makes an appearance in the Customs calculations and even the freight cost can get added into the mix.

Major shippers would probably handle the customs clearance in the background and just present you with the bill. At the end of the day the government is going get a significant amount of your money.


Selecting the Finish

As the Tailbone is supplied primed the first decision is what type of finish to use. The Detours Paint Tips recommends against powder coating and describes spray paint products that you're unlikely to see in your local Bunnings store. If colour matching to the Jeep had been required it would have been a job for a professional spray painter. My partner does the aesthetics and she requested a satin finish, black topcoat.

Paint Application Method

Given the basic black colour I chose to do my own painting. To save money I had removed some of the floor sheets in the Volvodemort motorhome before delivery to Volgren's Service Centre for the framing work. This plywood floor was secured by screws with thread that was ever so slightly triangular shaped, presumably to prevent screws working loose in service. It was impossible to remove all these screws by hand with just a screwdriver so I bought a cheap, chinese air compressor and tools from the local Aldi supermarket. A very basic spray gun was supplied with the compressor. Although pressurised spray cans was one possibility suggest by Detours, given the total surface area of the Tailbone plus the Detours Backbone to be painted, a spray gun was the way to go. I already had goggles, mask (with P1 filters and prefilters) plus gloves so Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was not a problem. The Tailbone became my first spray painting job. Major components of the Tailbone and Backbone can be seen in the photograph.

Spray painting Detours Tailbone and Backbone components

Spray Paint

The local Bunnings only stocked one type of satin black paint that might be suitable. The gloss and flat black paints had instructions for spray painting with a paint dilution recommendation but the satin finish didn't. Given the spray gun was nothing special it was no great loss if the paint clogged the gun. So I went ahead with the satin paint and guesstimated a dilution.

Disassembly for Painting

The Tailbone is shipped as two major assemblies: the pivoting carrier and the more complex base. The base appears symetrical with the only visible difference being five bolts on the pivot end and four bolts on the latch end. The primed, righthand drive variant is shown below. The colour differences are due to changing from natural light to using an electronic flash. If you need to examine an image more closelythen clicking an image should open a larger, higher definition version.

Detours Tailbone base as delivered
Detours Tailbone base primed, alternate view 1
Detours Tailbone base primed, alternate view 2

The base breaks apart into a number of components that all require painting. As there was going to be a delay between painting and installation I photographed each step of the breakdown to aid reassembly and keep track of the various bolts.

Step 1

Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Left Mounting Bolts  Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Right Mounting Bolts
Qty 9:  3/8" dia. x 1 1/2" High Tensile Bolts.
Qty 9:  Spring Washers.

Step 2

Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Left Mounting Bolts  Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Right Mounting Bolts
Qty 2:  3/8" dia. x 1" High Tensile Bolts.
Qty 2:  3/8" dia. x 3/4" High Tensile Bolts.
Qty 4:  Flat Washers.
Except for these two flat pieces all the other metalwork was supplied primed.

Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Left Mounting Bolts
Note the length and location of the bolts.

Step 3

Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Left Mounting Bolts  Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Right Mounting Bolts
Qty 2:  3/8" dia. x 1" High Tensile Bolts.
Qty 2:  Flat Washers.

Step 4

Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Left Mounting Bolts  Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Right Mounting Bolts
Qty 4:  M10 x 30mm High Tensile Bolts.
Qty 4:  Flat Washers.
Qty 4:  M10 Nuts.

Step 5

Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Left Mounting Bolts  Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Right Mounting Bolts
Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Left Mounting Bolts
Qty 2:  3/8" dia. x 1 1/4" High Tensile Bolts.
Qty 1:  3/8" dia. x 1 1/2" High Tensile Bolt.
Qty 6:  Flat Washers.
Qty 3:  Nuts.

At this point the major base assembly is stripped.

Step 6

Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Left Mounting Bolts  Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Right Mounting Bolts
Qty 2:  3/8" dia. x 1" High Tensile Bolts.
Qty 2:  Flat Washers.
Qty 2:  Nuts.

Step 7

Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Left Mounting Bolts  Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Right Mounting Bolts
Qty 4:  5/16" dia. x 1" High Tensile Bolts.
Qty 8:  Flat Washers.
Qty 4:  Nuts.

And this completes disassembly of the base.

Step 8

There is no disassembly required for the swinging frame, just removal of a minimal number of bolts.

Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Left Mounting Bolts
Qty 4:  1/4" dia. x 3/4" High Tensile Bolts.

Step 9

Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Left Mounting Bolts
Qty 2:  7/16" dia. x 1" High Tensile Bolts.

Step 10

The last bolt is a 3/8" dia. x 1" stainless steel bolt with a spring washer that is for the pivot of the swinging frame.


Use masking tape to cover the pivot's grease nipple.

Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Left Mounting Bolts

As you can see above, I attempted to use Cat 5 computer cable to suspend the frame then blocked the remaider of the bolt hole with paper. Basically this was a failure as it leaves the large bearing end open and overspray can coat the bearing surface. Definitely not recommended.

Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Left Mounting Bolts

Use masking tape to seal the open end of the pivot's bronze bearing. Using a Stanely knife or box cutter carefully cut the masking tape along the 'V' shaped groove between the bronze bearing and the steel frame.

Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Left Mounting Bolts  Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Right Mounting Bolts

Spray Painting

I had to spray paint in the garden and major problems were dust and birds. All dust collected in shipping has to be removed before applying a coat of paint. Between coats I used very fine grade Wet and Dry sandpaper to remove any embedded dust. Also avoid painting in dusty or high wind conditions.

Worst problem was bird poop. The paint takes many hours to dry and as I was hanging the metal work from wooden beams Indian Myna birds would sit on the beams and drop bird poop onto the wet paint. As the bird poop became embedded into the wet paint I had to sand back to the primer and redo the next day. A drawback with spray painting was the amount of cleaning required after each days spray. Given the setup and cleanup was always more time consuming than spraying I added another coat to all the metalwork even if only one item required a respray. To avoid a bird strike the next time I moved the drying metalwork into the barn but a different piece of the Tailbone suffered a bird strike. The aim was always to apply multiple coats of paint so the bird poop was only ever a minor inconvenience.

Before each spray I would change the orientation or location of the cables. I would also avoid painting the attachment points to prevent a buildup of paint between the cable and metal.

Detours Tailbone RHD primed base, Left Mounting Bolts


Due to old age I wanted to improve my access to the chassis and wanted to place the Cherokee on axle stands. Looking at the Detours' instructions all the work can be done with the vehicle on the ground so this step really is optional.

How Not To Jack Up Your Cherokee Using A Trolley Jack

XJ Cherokee jacking locations First step was to look at the jacking up instructions in the driver's Operating Information booklet.

Removal of Towbar


To Be Continued......

XJ has finally made it into the shed. To be continued.......