Wickerbill Installation Misadventures

I had a miserable time getting a wickerbill installed. Join me after the jump for the misadventures, learn what NOT to do, and laugh at my expense!

Let me start this off by admitting that I’m not the most qualified or skilled individual to complete the task of installing a Gurney Flap/Wickerbill, and I’m not declaring any companies/products as subpar. Having said that, I had an awful experience trying to install one myself, but, I’m content with how this tale of woe ended. If you’re just here for the installation part [Skip to Installation Antics]. Also, this is a completely different sort of blog post for me; let me know if you enjoy this long-format post!

Let’s start from the beginning; Dan Gurney lied about trying to protect his race car's spoiler. Okay, maybe that’s too literal for the beginning. Fast-forward to Black Friday 2018. I ordered a Wickerbill from BJ’s Garage 516 and was anxious about the 4-5 week estimated shipping estimate as I would be traveling over the holidays.

Five weeks after ordering the Wickerbill, I still hadn’t heard that my Wickerbill had shipped. I emailed customer service and they replied promptly enough; they admitted they were behind schedule and they had a batch going off to powder coating next week. Sure, high volume orders from Black Friday and the holidays and it’s a small company; no worries.

Another six weeks later, I find a hand-written note on my door informing me that I had missed a delivery and I should call “Dispatch.” What is going on? Another long story short, a seller on Amazon misrepresented how they were shipping a piece of furniture. No Wickerbill. I email customer service again, mentioning the estimated shipping estimate was more than doubled at this point. No Reply. Greeeat…

About a week later or so, a Facebook post gets brought to my attention:

Brutal; that explains the remarkable lack of Wickerbill and communication. Cars & Coffee ICT is returning in about two months, and I’d love to have a Wickerbill installed for C&C. Time to find another Wickerbill offering. I shopped around and decided to order the Wickerbill from Downforce Solutions. Then about a week later, this Facebook post gets brought to my attention:

Neighborly of them to be concerned about the community, hopefully it’s not just a cash-grab. However, I already placed my order; surely they’d give me the discount for doing what they’re encouraging with their discounts? I emailed customer service, and they promptly responded with “absolutely.” Awesome. (PS: I’ve looked at their later posts on Facebook over the next couple months and these folks seem to be genuinely good folks; I don’t think it was just a cash-grab.)

Fast-forward again; I finally have a Wickerbill-shaped box in front of me. I pick it up, and partially rotate it, to carry it off which causes the unmistakable sound of fasteners rolling around in a cardboard box. Did they really just toss the fasteners in the box with the Wickerbill? Well no, they didn’t, they just taped the bag in such a fashion that the tape managed to cut the bag in half, releasing its rivnuts, bolts, & washers. The Wickerbill was wrapped well, which prevented any cosmetic damage from the fasteners rolling around inside. I finally got a Wickerbill after months of waiting, but now I don’t have time to install before C&C. Oh well.

At C&C, I borrowed a rivnut tool from a car club buddy, who had bought the tool to install a Wickerbill from BJ’s Garage. I brought one of the fancy-pants rivnuts which DFS is proud of, and it hardly threaded with the tool bottomed out. Looks sketchy, but other rivnut tools don’t look remarkably better, sooo… should be fine?

Now begins the installation antics!

First thing’s first, let’s cover the working areas with masking tape to protect it during mockup, drillings, and whatnot. Courtesy of DFS' installation video, I learned the trick to use wedges under the spoiler overhangs to level and rest the Wickerbill against the spoiler. Once leveled and centered, I taped the Wickerbill against the spoiler to mark where the Wickerbill’s holes are located.

With the holes marked, the Wickerbill was removed from its taped-up perch. I marked the center of the outlined holes by eyeballing it and confirmed/adjusted with calipers measuring from the dot to the circle’s line from at least four different radii. With the drill locations marked, it was almost time to start drilling. But, I don’t trust myself to start drilling full bore, so we’re going to use one of those auto-punches to dent the spoiler and use a tiny drill bit first.

In their aforementioned video, DFS used one of those stepped drill bits, but I’m not about to go buy one of those and, frankly, that seems like it’s easy to mess up (“mess up”, he says! Cue the foreshadowing music!). I’m pretty sure at least ONE of the twelve people reading this post will know that, while drilling, you don't want to put a lot of pressure on the drill; just let the drill bit's torque bore a hole. I had remembered that backwards. It didn’t matter at first, as I was drilling with tiny drill bits and stepping up the diameter slowly. Then I made the mistake of thinking the larger bits stepped up in diameter similarly in the set I had—not so. The final step to the ultimate diameter was also the largest step up in diameter; this, compounded with the fact that I was applying copious pressure, resulted with my first sin of this installation. The much larger drill tore off chunks of the spoiler around the perimeter of the hole, as the drill had too much purchase on the spoiler. $#@%!

Welp, it’s getting covered anyway by the Wickerbill, and thanks to the exotic design of the rivnuts from Downforce Solutions, there shouldn’t be any worries about the Wickerbill getting torn off by air-resistance. Plus, as long as I don't announce to the world that I screwed up, nobody will ever know! (...oh, right.) Onwards, and upwards! Now it’s time to set the rivnuts in the drilled holes.

Remember how I thought the borrowed rivnut tool looked sketchy for these rivnuts? Yup; installation sin number two coming up! The rivnut tool has a part that acts as a sort of collar to help add surface area for crushing the shank of the rivnut. Well, the more exotic design of these fancy-pants rivnuts meant that the tool wouldn’t thread more than a couple turns even with the collar removed. With the tool just barely holding onto the first rivnut, I attempted to insert the rivnut into the spoiler and crush it into place. Slowly, but firmly, squeeeez—


The rivnut stayed in the spoiler; I look down at the threads of the borrowed tool; brass flakes. Metal flakes are never a good thing to find in the automotive world (unless we’re talking about paints, of course). This installation just got a lot more stressful. I try to retrieve the rivnut; it doesn’t pull free. I use my phone’s flashlight to illuminate the tunnel of the rivnut. [Leaning-Shank-of-Pisa.png] I wonder if I can use the tool or a bolt to thread it back into alignment? [Nope.avi] I can’t. $#@%!!

My anxious mind replays the audio of another car club buddy talking about his concerns before installing his own Wickerbill: “If I mess up another spoiler is only another couple hundred dollars.” I don’t want to double or triple the price of this damn thing! I call my most trusted mechanic, my dad. “So is this game over?” I ask him (Game Over is rarely the answer from him). Get the drill and drill the head off the rivnut. Done. Can I maneuver the remaining half within the hollow spoiler in front of the drilled hole and pour glue over it to prevent it from rolling around? Using the cordless-drill-twisted-wire-pair trick to fashion a flexible hooked stick out of twisted hanging wire, yes; and now it’s in the corner hopefully finding permanent residence therein. Now how to proceed? This borrowed rivnut tool clearly is the wrong one and the ones on Amazon don’t look much better suited, and have scathing reviews to boot.

This is where despair and defeat assault my thoughts (and nearly won the fight). While I was despairing, Dad found a webpage sharing their solution to rivnuts as what we like to call “Monkey Tools.” Monkey Tools are the sort of tools that are crudely-designed, scraped-together tools that work far more elegantly than they should. Let’s skip my first gen tool because it’s difficult to describe, and it doesn’t help this narrative. Just know that I wasted hours, and most of my remaining cognitive resources, on it—getting me no further from Square One.

Second Gen Monkey Tool, however, is worth talking about. I bought the same size bolt (1/4-20), except with longer threading (2.5"), from the local hardware store (I wanted a hex-headed bolt, but they weren’t carried in store). On that bolt, from bolt head to end, I stacked: a washer, nut, box-end wrench, washer, nut (torqued against aforementioned nut), oversized washer, oversized nut, box-end wrench, and finally the rivnut with extra thread to spare. The idea here is that the over-sized nut is kept stationary, while the bolt is “tightened” against the rivnut, thus collapsing the rivnut shank as intended.

Success! Wonderful, relieving success! The ugly thing worked like a charm! The remaining rivnuts were less eventful then the lug nuts of a wheel. There’s still some stuff to do to make this install better and prettier, but it’s now time for dinner, and I’m exhausted of this installation. The Wickerbill gets bolted onto the spoiler via the rivnuts, and off I go to drive thru for dinner.

The next morning, it’s time to finish this and never touch it again. Something that DFS does—that I’m not immensely thrilled with—is they cut their logo out of the Wickerbill. It’s a neat idea, really, but I just don’t like that level of mandatory advertisement on principle. Anyway, since there’s a cutout exposing the face of the spoiler, they give you reflective vinyl scrap of your color choice to cover the spoiler, giving their logo a reflective pop. Again, neat idea/design/aesthetic, but I would’ve opted for without given the choice.

Anyway, I took the Wickerbill off and applied the reflective vinyl in its spot. The last thing I had for the installation now was a modification that I had brainstormed with a gearhead coworker. 3M Molding Tape above the rivnuts on the face of the spoiler to give some relief to the bolts at speed (and slow down thieves if it ever came to that). Since I’ve got a lowly R/T Challenger, my spoiler has a “notch” in it so I had to use three separate pieces of tape, and asymmetrical pieces thanks to the logo cutout. Well, I apply the tape, then bolt the Wickerbill back on. As I was cleaning up the area behind the car, my peripheral vision registers something dark and amiss with the car. Looking directly at the spot, I discover my third sin. The molding tape was visible through the back-up camera cutout of the Wickerbill. $#@%!!!

Even when I think I’m done, this installation comes back to bite me. Sans reflective vinyl installation, I repeat the whole process I just did this morning. This time, I didn’t mess up. I was finally DONE!

Weeks later now, I’m really happy with the result. Even though the white color-match isn’t perfect, it’s close enough for me to not notice every day. I did perceive some additional stability at speed, and some additional grip while cornering at speed. In full honesty, the perceived aero effects could’ve been placebo, since I didn’t do back-to-back comparisons or any form of testing.

And so that was my tale of aggrevation, and ultimately happy ending, installing my Wickerbill. If you're still reading, thank you! I hope it was an enjoyable read! Depending on the feedback or inspiration, I may, or may not, do more long-format posts later.

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