Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I decided to take on a second garage project, so in addition to the custom 4-link I have going on with my TJ, I my girlfriend and I just picked up a 2014 black on black hard loaded JKU Rubicon that we plan on using for overlanding. My TJ is 15 year old has 160k on the clock and has taken us all over the country and back. Not that it's on its last leg, it's just time for it to take a new role in the family. Short distance around town travel and rock crawling.
My plans for the Rubi is simple - keep it light and low, which means as much aluminum as possible and as close to stock lift as I can on 35's without adding bump stop.
Here is the short list of parts I plan on picking up next week to start phase one of the build.
- 1.25" body lift
- .75" BB
- 35" MTR's
- Black Moab wheels
- 2" wheel spacers
- ARB stubby front fender
- Warn VR8000s winch
- ASW Offroad aluminum safari rack mounted to Yakima hard top rails
- Blue lens Dually's mounted on the bumper
- Air-lift 1000 load assist for the rear
Still need to make decisions on fenders and tire / can carriers.
- Genright aluminum fender flares or Smittybilt XRC armor. I am honestly still on the fence with this one. I want the weight savings of the Genright, but need the clearance and protection of the XRC amor. May have to give up some weight here, but it's only about 40lbs difference total when you factor in the XRC has full corner armor built in.
- OR-Fab tire can carrier - once again, I have to sacrifice weight for practicality. The OR-F carrier is double the weight of the Genright aluminum, but I cannot figure out a better way to carry a pair of Specter military containers and would rather not have them on the roof, but I may end up going that route if the lbs start adding up.
Phase 2 will include:
sPod switch system
50" dual row LED to PSC aluminum mounts
ARB onboard air
Custom rear aluminum bumper plate
Low profile muffler
I decided to go with the XRC armor front fenders and rear corners. They give up weight, but are by far the strongest and have the best clearance as far as I can tell. Also decided to get another OR-Fab tire / can carrier. Once again, I'm giving up some weight, but it's best in class for carrying extra fuel. Should be a long weekend building the JK, but I want to give it a shake down run next weekend in the Ozark National Forest in preparation for a two week trip to the San Juan and Santa Fe National Forests in November.
I received a bunch of parts on Friday, but had a party to attend, so I worked off a hang over in the garage and started on the project late Saturday morning.
The first thing I did was take some base weights and measurements:
Front cross member to ground - 11"
Front frame to ground - 13.5"
Rear frame to ground - 15"
Roll height (centerline of axle to ground) - 15.5"
13.75" - Rear / LCA z-dimension (z) - frame
11.75" - Rear / LCA z - axle
19.5" - Rear / UCA z - frame
20.0" - Rear / UCA z - frame
Rear spring ride height (distance from upper to lower coil pad) - 11"
Front spring ride height - 10.25"
Front up-travel = 3.75"
Front down-travel = 5"
Rear up-travel = 5"
Rear down-travel = 3.25
25" - centerline of axle to bottom of the front fender
XRC front fender (single) with edge guard - 30lbs
Stock front fender (sheet metal), with fender flare - 18lbs
The clearance and strength of the fenders was worth giving up 24lbs total.
Front door: 63lbs each
Rear door: 46lbs each
The 35's on my TJ don't seem much larger than the stock JKUR mudders.
Next, I started pulling all the stock parts; e.g., fender flares, front fenders, the spare tire carrier and front bumper. Luckily I had help, because I was still moving at half pace, so while I worked on the driver side, my co-pilot took care of the driver side.
I started with the XRC front fenders. A couple note worthy comments; first, they were very well packaged - no bent tabs, scratches or dents. The finish of the parts themselves looks very durable and they shipped ALL stainless hardware including nylock nuts, which is more than I can say for several well known manufacturers. It frustrate me to have to spend another $50 on matching hardware from suppliers who advertise stainless hardware only to find steel nuts and even more when they supply steel SAE fasteners instead of the correct metric hardware (cheap and lazy). I have a huge box of useless (to me) hardware from my TJ project. Steel hardware has no place on a Jeep - certainly not as exterior fasteners. ...enough of my rant.
I am feeling pretty good about the alignment of the parts.
The XRC armor really opens up the wheel well.
I knew I was going to give up some weight running these fenders compared to an aluminum replacement fender, but I really like the look of this kit and it is WAY stronger than the factory sheet metal. I like that the XRC designers were thinking out of the box and it looks different than 99% of the JK's running around town and there are a lot of mall crawlers in Austin.
You have to really want these corners, because the installation is a PIA. It took the better part of the day to add the body lift, tear the rear apart for the OR-Fab tire carrier and install one of the rear corners. You have to add five rivnuts and two of the holes are very difficult to get to. Fitment wise, they are not as clean as the fronts, but it's a Jeep and is going to be used off road as much as possible, so function of finesse. Needless to say, two people, along with six speed clamps make the job a lot easier.
The Teraflex body lift was as easy as their video suggests. This was my first time doing one and it was no more than an hour start to finish.
The OR-Fab tire carrier is also a PIA, maybe more so than my TJ was, but I already had my interior ripped out and the tailgate removed.
Ok, the other side went on smoothly and I tightened the first side, so everything since up nicely. So far, I am very happy with the XRC fenders. Now that they are on, I need to start on the OR-Fab tire carrier. They are oneof those ccompanies that supply steel fasteners, so $75 later and I have all stainless. Also decided on a Poison Spyder BFG rear bumper. It looks about as clean as it gets. Will post pics when it comes in.
I installed the front bumper last night. I like the look, but wish it was a little lighter weight. Fitment requires grinding the top edge of the frame mount and chamfering the outer corners. Next came the driving lights and the winch fit like a charm.
I wrapped up the tire carrier and fenders last night. They were a lot of work, but worth the effort. OR-Fab makes a great product, but their instructions were not the best. Luckily, there was a good youtube on theinstall that helped with part of the install. This morning I had my tires (35" Goodyear MTR's) mounted to a set of black Rubicon wheels. I favor the older five star design over the newer ones.
Not at all a fan of the Smittybilt stuff or body lifts on JK's.....
But the girlfriend nd asnd I also just got a automatic 4. Plans are still.
I'll be interested in hearing how you decide to build. I never really paid much attention to JK' so until I purchased one. The 1.25" body lift literally takes 20 minutes to install and is one of the least intrusive ways to gain tire clearance. I'm not sure what you are finding, but their isn't a whole lot out there in the way of true suspension systems other than the $5k Genright dual triangulated worth upgrading to. There are all kinds of coil lifts and replacement control arms, but as you know they all come at the sacrifice of geometry. I'm typically not a Smittybilt fan either, but I really do like this XRC armor. I would have no concerns putting them against a tree if needed and they have excellent wheel clearance. The only downside is the weight, but they are full corners.
I took a shakedown trip to the Ozark National Forest last weekend. Camping in the back of the Jeep was a pleasure comparedto tent camping. It was great to wheel at night without needing to set up camp before dark. I had a bulk of my gear, along with 5 gallons of water on theroof rack. I'm guessing there had to be roughly 250 lbs up top. As a matter of fact, it worked so well, I am going to upgrade my existing Yakima / ASW Off-road aluminum rack system to a full length safari rack. The current system works well, but I am going to need to bring a lot more gear during winter trips. This system is for sale if anyone is interested
Picked up the JK from Simmons Industries, developers of Super Liner, a spray on bed liner product hheadquartered just north of Austin. The product is textured, but smooth to the touch. The quality of their installation is second to none.