Billet grille inserts and overlays like the ones from Carriage Works let you customize the appearance of your truck. But there is a distinct difference between an overlay that snaps over the OEM grille and an insert that replaces a portion of the OEM grille.
We installed a bar-style billet grille insert in a Chevy Silverado HD. The installation took about two hours (compared to about 20 minutes for an insert install). That said, after our install we feel that the overlay style billet grilles are the better way to go unless you are building a show truck or hate that you can see the factory honeycomb grille behind the billet grille from a close point of view. We like the idea of being able to return the grille to stock condition if you wanted to, but the insert grille we installed does look factory.
First, after removing the grille from the vehicle, mask off any painted an chromed surfaces to protect them. The honeycomb portion of the grille is going to be cut out completely, so it's important to make sure you don't damage the paint and chrome in the process.
Remove the factory grille's honeycomb sections with a cutoff wheel or a high-speed saw. You want to cut them off close to flush with the grille's frame to make room for the billet insert.
The cutoff wheel will melt the plastic as it cuts, making the process time consuming.
Once the inserts are cut out, use a small grinder or the cut off wheel to clean up the surface of the cut edge. This is where the details come into play. Any raised surface that isn't sanded down could cause the billet insert to not seat properly. Use a sanding block to finish up.
You will need to use a file to remove the material in the corners.
Next, insert the billet grille pieces into place and make sure they are centered and that none of the bars are bent or being pushed up by unsanded plastic.
Attach the billet inserts with the supplied brackets and screws. For the Chevys, there are several different style brackets for each mounting area of the grille.
Re-install the finished grille in the vehicle and you're finished.
Carriage Works Inc.