• Scrambler Wood Side Rail Restoration


    This page is intended to document information related to the Wooden Side Rails available on the Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler. It is always a work in progress and if anyone has any information that should be added to this, please let us know!

    The information is broken up into three categories:
    • Photos of Factory Rails
    • Specifications and Measurements for the Factory Rails
    • Restoration of Rails

    If anyone plans to make their own rails, please send us some pics of your project so that others can benefit from your experience.

    Valuable information to include: Type of Wood Used, Tools Used, Finishing and Detailing of Rails, Installation on Non-factory Equipped Scrambler

    Photos of Stock, Unrestored Rails

    These first photos show a Scrambler with and without the rails. The rails cannot be used with a full soft top or full hardtop because they extend past the body line in the back. Of course if you want to make them fit with a top of any type, have at it and be sure to send pictures

    If anyone has a Scrambler with a factory tonneau cover with the factory side rails installed, please send some pics of that combo for us to add.

    The following photos are from Matt's (forum owner) old '81 Scrambler (never should have sold it!) The photos are of the factory wooden side rails in the condition they were in when the Scrambler was acquired. This is fairly typical condition of rails after 18 years of service (at the time of the pics).

    A few things to note in the photos:
    • The varnish tends to come off of the top of the rail first as it is the surface directly hit by rain.
    • The varnish tends to come off of the back more as it is a rougher surface.
    • Cracking occurs where direct cross-cuts are open to the weather, i.e., the top of the back brackets

    Rail Measurements
    Length: 58 3/4"
    Width: 5 3/4"
    Thickness: 15/16"

    The rails mount to the rollbar in front via two tapped holes. The back mount is more complicated. The rail attaches to a wood bracket with two wood screws. The bracket is secured to the body with two mounting bolts.

    Front mounting measurements
    Holes are referred to as 1 and 2 with 1 being closest to the top of the rail. "Exterior" refers to the surface facing the outside of the Jeep while "interior" refers to the surface facing the bed.

    Front Exterior [Exhibit A]
    Center 1 --> Center 2 (Measurement Z) : 2 3/16"
    Center 1 --> Top Edge (Measurement Y) : 1 3/4"
    Center 2 --> Bottom Edge (Measurement X) : 1 7/8"
    Center 1 --> Front Edge (Measurement W) : 1 3/4"
    Center 2 --> Front Edge (Measurement W) : 1 3/4"
    Diameter of 1 and 2 : 3/8"

    Front Interior [Exhibit B]
    A : 7/8"
    B : 1 1/2"
    C : 1 1/2"
    D : 7/8"
    E : 2 3/8"
    The thickness of the box is @ 3/16". It's purpose is to offset the rail on the roll bar to provide a level surface.

    Rear mounting measurements
    The rear mounting bracket, referred to here as "bracket", is comprised of three separate pieces of wood that are glued together. The layers are referred to as 1, 2, and 3.

    Bracket [Exhibit C]
    Layer 1: 11 3/4" H x 2 3/8" W x 3/4" Thick
    Has a 1/2" 45 angle top cut
    Layer 2: 4 1/2" H x 2 3/8" W x 7/8" Thick
    Layer 3: 4 1/2" H x 2 3/8" W x 7/8" Thick
    Total Thickness of 1, 2, and 3 : 2 5/8"

    Bracket [Exhibit D]
    M & N: 7/8" diameter holes
    Center M --> Bottom Edge: 3 1/2"
    Center N --> Bottom Edge: 1"
    The other two holes in Exhibit D are used to attach the rail to the bracket. We did not give exact measurements for these because you will want to make sure the rail is level and these can be adjusted. These other two holes are countersunk and 1" wood screws are used to hold the rail to the bracket.

    Exhibit A

    Exhibit B

    Exhibit C

    Exhibit D

    Over time the factory finish will chip away and open the wood to the elements. When that happens, you need to restore the finish. Before we go any further on this subject, the most important thing to note is DO NOT GET IN A HURRY or you will have an unsatisfactory finish.


    1. Remove rails from Scrambler
    2. Clean and dirt/bugs/other debris from rail surface
    3. Apply stripper (paste works best) to surface (I used Bix)
    4. Stripper will most likely not remove every bit of varnish
    5. If needed, use orbital sander on flat surfaces to remove varnish that didn't come off with stripper
    6. Hand sand all curved areas to avoid removing too much material
    7. This step is often overlooked: Let stripped boards set untouched for 3-5 days to acclamate
    8. If possible, rub boards with sawdust (acts like a fine sandpaper)
    9. Ready to varnish! Obtain varnish --> WaterLox Marine Varnish is best I have found
    10. Cut first coat 10:1 with paint thinner
    11. Apply first coat, let dry overnight!
    12. Rub with Super fine steel wool to give first coat a tooth
    13. Apply second coat, let dry overnight!
    14. Rub with Super fine steel wool to give second coat a tooth
    15. Apply third coat, let dry overnight and then some
    16. Reinstall and enjoy your sweet wood rails!

    Sanded Boards
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. boyd's Avatar
      boyd -
      were are the photo's, can't find or click on any on the site??
    1. Jambo's Avatar
      Jambo -
      Attachment 46900
    1. Polarfire's Avatar
      Polarfire -
      The ad is from 2012.