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How To Install Watson Racing Mustang Roll Bar (2015-2018)
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Published on 2018-01-10
Mustang Watson Racing 4-Point Roll Cage.
Strengthen the chassis of your S550, while improving you and your passenger's safety, with this 2015-2018 Mustang Watson Racing roll cage! Designed for the part-time racer that doesn't want a full-time roll bar, this roll cage is a bolt-in style cage with 4 points of contact. The Watson roll bar can be unbolted from inside your car for quick removal, and re-installation, anytime you want! Unlike other kits, you will not have to cut your interior trim panels if you do not want to. If you’d rather keep the trim panels and roll bar permanently mounted in the car, the modifications required to the trim panels are minimal.
Watson Racing Quality.
Watson designed this roll cage to bolt directly into pre-existing holes in the factory, high-strength corner gussets. This leaves what Ford engineered, and crash-tested, fully intact. Constructed with 100-percent TIG-welded 1.75" x .120"-wall DOM tubing, this cage has precision machined tube joints for high strength and safety! Watson Racing designed this kit to have as few bends as possible to maximize effectiveness and safety. Where bends are required, they used a precision CNC mandrel bending process to maintain strength. This roll cage comes in either a grey or red powder coated finish that's durable and blends nicely with your interior. Since this bar mounts on top of the factory corner gussets, the front seats are free to move back and forth to maintain a comfortable driving position.
What's In The Box:
(1) Watson Racing Roll Bar Main Hoop
(2) Watson Racing Left/Right Diagonal bars
(4) Long/Narrow sub-floor nut plates (for Rear Diagonal Bars)
(8) M10x1.5x25mm Zinc Flange Bolts
(6) M8x30mm Zinc Flange Bolts
(4) M6x1.0x20mm Zinc Socket-Head Bolts
(4) M6 Zinc Washers
- Roll cage will NOT fit convertible.
Application: 2015-2018 Mustang Coupe
How’s it going, everyone? Landan with LMR.com! In this video, I’ll be installing Watson Racing’s 4-point bolt-in roll cage, and their rear seat delete into our 2018 Mustang GT shop car.
If you're unfamiliar with who Watson Racing is, well; they were responsible for the 2016 Cobra Jet program. In fact, they put together insanely nice pieces for the S550 Mustangs. One of their iconic creations is this 4-point bolt-in roll cage.
This roll cage from Watson Racing is currently available in either a grey or red powder coated finish. It’s constructed from one and three-quarters inch DOM or drawn over mandrel steel tubing, and then TIG welded. Watson even incorporates shoulder harness retention loops.
This roll cage will benefit your S550 in several ways. It’s going to increase chassis rigidity, provide added safety, and it’s even NHRA and NMRA legal. The Watson engineers built this cage to be either bolt-in or weld-in, and for you guys like me that are over six foot three, it allows for full seat travel.
Installing this roll cage will require permanent modification to your car which includes drilling, cutting, and the removal of seam seal. Attention to detail, a steady hand, and a lot of patience is strongly recommended if doing this yourself. A high set of mechanical skills and knowledge of chassis strenthening is a bonus.
The rear seat and its components weigh-in at approximately thirty-eight pounds. Watson Racing’s roll cage and rear seat delete tip the scale at seventy-one and a half pounds. Total added weight is going to be in the neighborhood of roughly thirty-four pounds. Fitment wise, this roll cage will only fit the fastback model and not the convertible. All needed installation hardware and instructions will be in the box.
To get started, I went ahead and removed the two front seats for maximum workroom.
Simply remove the four bolt covers with a small flat head screwdriver, and then remove the four bolts with a T-47 Torx socket.
Lift up on the seat and then disconnect the electrical connection if equipped; these steps will be the same on the passenger side.
The seat bottom is removed by simply pushing in at the center of each side to release the clips.
Remove the two outer 15mm seatback retaining nuts.
Lower the seat backs and remove the middle 15mm bolt.
Now you can remove the seat backs from the car.
Unscrew the two plastic retainers from the floor and position the small carpeted floor piece of your way.
Loosen and remove the T45 Torx bolts securing both child restraint brackets to the floor.
Reposition the small carpeted floor piece and plastic retainers.
Loosen and remove the two 13mm bolts securing the seat belt receptacles to the floor.
To remove the rear interior quarter panel, start by pulling out on the section located near the package tray.
Work your way across the top of the panel near the quarter window and driver seat belt.
Lift up on the lower door sill panel just enough to remove the lower section of the rear interior quarter panel.
Bring the panel forward and then remove the rear seat belt trim piece.
Now you can fully remove the interior quarter panel from the car.
Gently pull the c-pillar trim panel away from the car.
Remove the passenger side rear interior quarter panel and gently pull the c-pillar away from the car.
Remove both push pins securing the package tray.
Pull the package tray towards you and then remove it from the car.
To remove the seat belt assemblies, loosen and remove the three 13mm retaining bolts.
Carefully rotate the assembly out of the body of the car.
Finally, remove the 13mm bolt securing the seat belt assembly to the floor, and it’s free to come out.
Repeat these steps for the other seat belt assembly.
Remove the four T-40 Torx bolts that secure the seat back strikers.
From inside the trunk, remove the main carpeted piece.
Unscrew the four plastic retainers from the rear trunk panel.
Pull the panel away from the studs and then remove it from the car.
Remove the two push pins from each side carpet and then remove those from the trunk.
Heading back inside the car near the floor brace and b-pillar; remove the 8mm bolt that secures a ground wire.
Disconnect the impact sensor electrical connection and dislodge the harness clip.
Continue dislodging as many of the harness clips as you can near the b-pillar and floor brace.
Trim away any seam seal from the three bolts securing the floor brace to the b-pillar.
Remove all three of the bolts with a 13mm socket.
Once the bolts have been removed, clean up any remaining seam seal.
Go ahead and repeat these steps for the other side.
Now you can have a friend assist with positioning the main hoop into the car.
Place the passenger side harness over the foot of the main hoop.
Let the foot exit the car just enough to position the driver side harness over the other foot on the main hoop.
With the bar in place, remove the plastic upper seat belt bolt cover from each side.
This step will vary from car to car, so some of you may have to remove these covers and others will not.
Loosely start the six provided M8x30mm flanged hex-head bolts with a washer underneath the bolt head.
There will be three per side.
Install the diagonal bars into the main hoop and fully tighten the four provided M8 socket-head bolts.
Make a note of the floor plates and any seam seal that you will have to trim away.
Remove the four bolts and then remove the diagonal bars.
With the bars now removed, trim away the seam seal with a small gasket scraper.
In my case, I also had to remove some noise dampening material.
I started by heating the material first and using a sharp utility blade to cut a precise line.
I then used the small gasket scraper to remove the material in bulk.
Take this time to support the vehicle.
Make a note of any and all lines near the support beam.
Dislodge any line or harness clip that connects to the brace.
All of these clips can easily be dislodged by hand.
Back inside the car, make a note of the spot welds that run the entire length of the car from side to side.
I went ahead and marked the spot welds for demonstration purposes.
To locate the centerline of the support beam, measure the distance of the spot welds and divide by two.
Mark this line with a square.
Also, mark the spot welds; I chose to measure the outside of the spot welds and utilized a square to ensure they were nice and even.
Do this for each side and then reinstall the diagonal bars.
Fully tighten the hardware and then have an assistant move the hoop until the floor pads are centered.
Make a note of the marks you just made in relation to the bolt holes in the floor pads on the diagonal bars.
Once that is achieved, torque the 6 M8 main hoop retaining bolts to 25 lb-ft.
Center punch each hole opening on the floor pads.
Remove the diagonal bar retaining hardware and then remove the diagonal bars.
Drill all twelve holes with an eighth-inch drill bit to create a pilot hole.
The center holes on each floor pad will be drilled to a quarter inch.
The four outer holes on each floor pad will be drilled to a half inch.
If you have access to a stepped drill bit, I would recommend this method to create a cleaner hole.
If you don’t have access to a stepped drill bit, progressively enlarge each hole to the desired size.
Once each hole is drilled, vacuum up any shavings.
Go ahead and position one of the rear interior quarter panels on a workbench.
Watson Racing illustrates in the instructions where you need to modify to clear the main hoop.
Measure an inch and a half towards the front the panel from the small opening.
Use painter’s tape to mark this distance.
Measure three and a half inches from the previous mark, and use painter’s tape to mark this measurement as well.
Place a piece of tape horizontally across the panel and approximately three-quarters of an inch up from the bend in the panel.
Indicate the middle of the horizontal tape line.
Use a body saw or Dremel tool and cut the vertical lines.
Stop just before the panel starts to bend up.
Use a Dremel tool to cut a half moon in-between the two vertical cuts.
Once the small portion of panel is removed, use the Dremel tool and a small sanding disc to further refine the panel.
Be sure and set the tool on a low to medium speed and don’t apply to much pressure.
After all of the rough areas have been refined, clean up the plastic shavings.
Repeat these steps for the other rear interior quarter panel.
Now go ahead and position the upper panel of the Watson Racing rear seat delete on a work bench.
Towards the lower section of the panel, locate the pre-cut holes in the reinforced panel.
Trace the edge of the opening with your finger and then cut an incision with a sharp utility blade.
Run the blade along the reinforced panel and then remove the material.
Flip the upper panel over and then cut the remaining material.
Do the same for the other opening.
On the two lower rear seat panels, locate the small notch that is covered by fabric.
Use the sharp utility blade and trim this flush with the reinforced panel.
Do this for each panel.
Reposition the package tray back into place.
Measure up from the bottom two and one-eighth inch.
Then measure seven-eighths inches from the oval opening and mark the area.
Do this for both sides and then remove the panel.
Center punch each mark and then drill each hole with a five-sixteenths drill bit.
Vacuum or use compressed air to clean up any debris.
Now go ahead and reconnect any sensor, electrical connection, or harness clip that you moved to install the main hoop into the car.
Roll the carpet over the main hoop and modify it in a way that allows the carpet to sit flush with the car.
Reposition the package tray back into place and then snap the c-pillar trim panels.
Feed the rear interior quarter panel through the trunk and then carefully position it back into place.
Do the same for the other side.
If there is fitment issues near the hoop, make a note of the clearance and then remove the panels; use the Dremel tool to remove more material from the modified area.
Whenever the quarter panels are in place, reinstall the two lower door sill trim panels.
Use the provided bolts and washers to secure the provided lower panel pedestals to the floor.
These will go where the rear seat belt assemblies were attached to the floor.
No worries on getting these mixed up either; they will only install one way.
Carefully tighten the bolts with a 17mm socket.
Use two of the provided square carpet pieces to cover the exposed wiring harnesses near the bottom portion of the rear interior quarter panel.
These simply slide into place.
Position the middle support over the tunnel.
The textured side will face up, and the single hole will be closest to the floor carpet.
The two large provided push pins will secure this middle support piece.
The push pin with the electrical tape will go in the front most hole, and the push pin with no tape will go in the rearmost hole.
You may have to remove a little tape to seat the push pin completely.
Go ahead and install both push pins.
Before installing the lower panels, reinstall all of the bolts back into their respective areas; Use a pair of needle nose pliers to remove the factory installed star washers.
Doing this will prevent water from potentially making its way inside the car.
All of this hardware retained the seat belt receptacles, child restraint brackets, and seat belt assemblies.
On the back of each lower rear seat delete panel, make a note of the small notch.
This notch will align with the small stud on the floor that is covered by the plastic retainer.
Install each lower seat delete panel into the car; these will only go one way.
Use the four provided glossy black push pins to secure the lower panels to the middle support piece.
On the upper seat delete panel, the side with the raised portion will face towards the trunk.
Install the upper panel in place, and use the two smaller push pins to secure it and the package tray to the car.
Use a sharp utility blade to cut the corner of the rear seat belt trim piece.
Be sure and position the belt out of the way.
Once the cut has been made, slide the belt out of the trim piece.
Do this for the other side and then reinstall each modified trim piece.
Slide each diagonal bar through the upper panel and position them into the main hoop.
Torque the hardware to 18 lb-ft.
Have a friend hold one of the provided nut plates in-line with the holes in the support brace.
Thread two of the M10x25mm flange-head bolts into the nut plate.
Repeat this for each nut plate.
Torque each bolt in a star pattern to 25 lb-ft.
Slide one of the provided washers over the M6 socket-head bolt.
Thread each of them into the nut plate and then torque to 12 lb-ft.
Reinstall the trunk side carpet and push pin retainers.
Reinstall the rear trunk panel and the four plastic retainers.
Reposition the large square trunk carpet.
Align it with the two side pieces.
Measure the distance from the side of the diagonal to the trunk carpet; write down the measurement.
Measure the distance from the rear of the diagonal bar to the square carpet; write down the measurement
Do this for the other side; the measurements should be very similar.
Now, measure the diameter of the bar and add a half inch to this number.
Place the small trunk carpet on a work bench.
Toward the rearward corner of the carpet, place two pieces of painter’s tape on the carpet.
These will be placed in a way that reflect the two measurements recorded in the trunk.
Where the tape intersects, measure toward the center of the carpet seven-eighths of an inch and place a mark.
Now, use a circular object that has a diameter of two and a quarter inch and center it on the mark you just made.
Trace the object with a marker.
Use a sharp utility blade and cut the outside of the mark.
Remove the carpeted piece and then trim the sound deadening.
From the center point of the hole, cut the carpet back and then out to create a small incision for the diagonal bar to pass through.
Trim away any sound deadening.
Repeat the same exact steps for the other side.
Now position the carpet into the car.
Be sure and tuck it underneath the two lower rear seat delete panels.
Slide the carpet around the diagonal bars and then reinstall the large carpeted piece.
Reinstall the front seats, take a deep breath, and you’re all finished.
Alright guys, wrapping things up here. Installation time for myself with an assistant was approximately a full day. I chose to bolt this in instead of welding. After all, that was one of the main reasons why we went with this roll cage.
Watson Racing did an outstanding job on this cage. Everything fit as advertised and I didn’t run into any fitment issues or concerns. Of course when going this route be sure and pick up their matching rear seat delete. It already has the needed provisions for this cage.
If you’re in the market for added safety and quite honestly some killer interior aesthetics for your 2015 to 2018 Mustang; then this Watson Racing roll cage is for you.
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