Here's a little write-up about something that rarely gets elaborated on. Adding grab handles to an OBS..
One common beef that passengers have always had about my truck is that it's too hard to get into. My truck isn't crazy tall although it sits on 35s, it seems to have just enough ground clearance to make getting in some sort of acrobatic stunt for some passengers. In the process they usually smash down the sides of the seat cushion or try to pull on something that isnt intended to be used as a hoisting device.
I do give some credit to some passengers. They actually jump right on in perfectly. You'll know she's worth keeping around a little longer if she knows how to get in and not complain.
Alright, down to business..
My install was patterned after this guys pictures. He did this mod about 8 years ago with handles out of an 80s subaru, but he never elaborated on any of the forums. But his pictures were very helpful at the least.
Grab Handles, Cell Phone Bracket, Seat Trim, Tailgate Vise, Fused 12v Under-dash pictures from cars photos on webshots
I scooped up a full set of 3 grab handles from a 98 Ford Explorer. They were already opal gray in color and I liked their simple and effective design. These handles were used in several ford vehicles including Super Dutys.
*Although the handles were in the correct color i couldnt find all the rubber caps, so I grabbed some caps from a different colored interior. To solve the difference in color I ordered a can of Opal Gray interior paint made by SEM from here..
Mustang Parts, Chevy Truck Parts & Dodge Challenger Parts at Latemodel Restoration Supply
The paint matched perfectly for me.
Since mounting into the A-pillar is an extremely difficult task I decided I would mount the handles above each passenger door forward of center. I find they function great in the spot i chose.
So I marked where i wanted them on the truck and marked them in the same spot on the plastic trim.
For the hardware I went with 1.5" 1/4"-20 bolts and 1/4"-20 Well Nuts aka (expansion nuts). Note, there is plenty of room for 1.5" long bolts to fit in between the roof and door frame without interference.
Note that 1/4" is a bit overkill and 3/16" is more than fine. I found it hard to put a socket around the bolt head because the bolt takes up most the space in the cavity of the handle.
Here's a shot of the factory fastener compared to the 1/4" bolt.
Next i drilled 1/4" holes in the appropriate spots on the trim pieces.
Next you can double check the holes in the trim pieces with the markings you made in the cab and prepare to drill out the holes in the cab to accept the well nuts.
For the well nuts you want the hole for them to be a bit snug. My well nuts were 1/2 in diameter so I chose a drill bit a few sizes down. The hole was a little small so I filed it the rest of the way out til I liked the fitment.
Next I set up all my hardware and attached the grab handle to the trim. Sorry i did grab any pics of the backside but you need to add a few washers between the trim and well nuts to fill the small gap between the trim and the cab. This keeps the trim piece from being stressed and indented.
So with all the washers on you can hand tighten the well nuts onto the bolts and pop the trim piece in the cab. Make sure the well nuts pop in all the way and then begin cinching them down. Once again I recommend going with hardware smaller than 3/16 for these specific handles because tightening them down was difficult since the cavity in the handle is a bit small for 1/4" bolts.
Once the handle is tight to your liking you're ready test them out. I had two 275lb brother and his buddy of about the same size test them out. The handles are as rigid as can be and it made it alot easier for those big guys to get in.
So here's some pictures of the finished product. A special thanks the Chase (superduty4x4) for supplying me an extra set of trim pieces for experimenting with these handles.
*Note the rear trim pieces look a bit bellied out behind the handle. Those rear pieces have always been bowed like that. I think the hole that the trims screw into on the rear of the piece were drilled to short from the factory.