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Old 04-03-2018, 11:28 AM
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Her '18 Chief Blue build

I will keep this parts list update, in order of installation. This is just where I bought them from, most parts are available from multiple vendors.

Should’ve done this months ago, when we first got it, but here we are now.

The story starts around a year ago, around Jan/Feb of ’17. My wife was happy with her White ’13 known as Zebra (it was white with black accents). Then she saw a Chief Blue, and instantly had to have one. My company was a few months away from having sizable layoffs in June, so we both agreed to wait and see what happened. Well, it’s a good thing we waited, because I was part of the layoff. I tried for months to find a replacement position, and finally landed a much better position in October.

After I knew I had the position, but before my actual start date, we returned to the same dealership where we bought Zebra (Go Chrysler Jeep West, in Golden Colo) and talked to the same salesman, Jeb. He treated us right the first time, and we wanted to give him the chance to get our business again. He did not let us down. He was great to work with, and would recommend anyone looking for a personal referral to work with him. I had searched around for "the right one", but was unable to find a Jeep with exactly the right options, so we got Jeb to order us one. No deposit, no price agreement, just “order this, and we’ll talk”. The options she wanted were:
  • 2018 JK Unlimited
  • Sport S
  • Auto trans (Zebra was a 6 speed)
  • Max Tow package, for the 3.73 gears
  • Chief Blue (not Chief edition, neither of us like the look of the light blue and white)
  • 430 Radio
  • Connectivity group
  • Supplemental front airbags (this one was the main reason it was so hard to find one on a lot)
  • Dual top group (also hard to find. Zebra had dual tops as well, but the soft top wasn’t the premium, and the trade in value would tank if we kept the hard top.

The order was placed on October 17th, which we found out later was VERY close to the order cutoff date. We were told 6-8 weeks for delivery. I was ok with that, as that meant I would’ve received my first 2 or 3 checks from the new employer, just in case it was required for financing.

Well, on November 15th, we got a call saying the Jeep, known as Blue for now (the name might change later), was in town and would be ready to pick up the next day. I had only received one paycheck at that time, so I was concerned that would be an issue getting financing, but that turned out to be a non-issue. That night, I set to work on unmodding the ’13. I removed:
  • LED corner lights
  • Stubby antenna
  • Grab handles
  • Winter slush mats
  • Metal gas door (I reinstalled the factory plastic cup)
  • Rugged Ridge rock sliders (body mount)
  • Rubi rails


This is where things got interesting. Zebra was on a 2.5” budget boost on fairly new 35s. My wife wanted to keep the tires, and swap out the new rims/tires from Blue onto Zebra prior to trading it in. That’s easy enough to do but, as most of you can see coming, it requires a lift. Fortunately, I had thought of that, and I had another 2.5” budget boost waiting. Jeb was awesome, and said we could have 48 hours (or more, if we needed it) with both Jeeps to provide time to do the swap over.

I was hoping the Jeep wouldn’t be ready until the 18th, as that was a Friday, but it was ready on the 16th and we didn’t want it sitting on the lot any longer than it had to. We went to the dealership as soon as we could, which was around 4PM. After a test drive, a thorough inspection by me, negotiations, financing, and paperwork, we were on our way home at 8PM with both Jeeps.


First picture of Blue, taken from inside Zebra:



We picked up the kids from the in laws, returned home and put them to bed. I probably started working on Blue around 10PM. That night I installed:
  • Black Jeep logo (Zebra had this as well, but I left that one installed)
  • LED cornering lights
  • Stubby antenna
  • Grab handles
  • Metal gas door


Both parked in the driveway after getting home:


Photo inside the garage before any mods:




So not a crazy night, but my head hit the pillow around 4 hours before the alarm clock went off.


Went to work on the 17th. As I was planning how I was going to install the lift/tire swap it occurred to me that a buddy from a while ago is the head mechanic at Firestone, and happens to own a ’15 JKUR-HR on 37s. Full story, he and I were good friends for several years, but his now-wife and my wife got into a very large argument, and we hadn’t hung out in over 10 years. I’d have him install tires, do alignments, etc for me from time to time, but nothing outside of his shop. I asked if we could install the lift, and to my surprise he seemed very eager to do it. He told us to swing by after the shop closed at 6.


Rolling factory fresh into the shop:




We got to work installing the new 2.5” budget boost (I briefly considered swapping the lift from Zebra onto Blue, but figured it wasn’t worth the hassle), the whole time BSing, talking about Jeeps, cars, food, whatever. We installed the lift, swapped rims/tires, wheel spacers, as well as had to swap over the stock spare tire carrier that I had modified to fit 35s (retained the stock brake light, just cut down to be seen inside the wheel vs. above). He also aligned it, and rebalanced the tires. Including time for a dinner break, we rolled out of his shop just before 11PM. As I was backing out, I forgot that the tires rub on the plastic splash guard. Instead of swapping that over, I decided to cut the one on Blue the next day.


Rolling out of the shop, with Scott's Hard Rock in the background:




Parked in our garage, all lifted and on larger rubber:




We woke up the next day (Saturday the 18th), loaded up the soft top inside Zebra, and headed back to the dealership to hand over the keys.


Here is all 3 off the rigs: Blue now lifted on 35s, Zebra still lifted but on factory rubber, and my ‘ole 280k mile Runner on what now seem puny 31s:




It’s always a bitter sweet feeling letting go of the keys. We get attached to our cars, and Zebra was no different. We said our last goodbyes as Jeb was admiring over how quickly we had built up Blue.

Shots of Zebra and Blue at the dealership while handing over the keys. Out with the old, in with the new:





Later that day, I installed both the Rugged Ridge and the Rubi rails, as well as trimmed the splash guard that was rubbing. At that point, less than 48 hours after picking it up, Blue had all of the mods installed that I had previously installed over 4 years of owning Zebra.


Here he (wife says Blue a guy) is, 48 hours after we showed up at the dealership to pick him up:




That’s all for this post, thanks for sticking it out through to the end. I will write up another post or two on what all has happened since then.

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Her ride: 2018 JKU, custom ordered Chief Blue. 2.5" Budget Boost lift, 35" Dueler A/Ts, Off Road Armor sliders, AEV front bumper, Smittybilt SRC rear bumper w. carrier, TrailCal, factory dual tops, reverse camera thru 430 radio, Mopar grab handles, stubby antenna, metal gas door.
My rides: 2017 WRX Premium, Dark Grey Metallic, 6 speed. 1986 4Runner, 31" Dueler A/T, 280k+ miles
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Old 04-03-2018, 12:23 PM   #2
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Not seeing the pics, could be me though. Wish i had a Jeb around here. Well, the jeep sounds nice. I assume its your avatar pic...side note, so many people seem to have wrx and go to jeep or keep both. I came from an 08rex

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Old 04-03-2018, 01:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaisanoJKU View Post
Not seeing the pics, could be me though. Wish i had a Jeb around here. Well, the jeep sounds nice. I assume its your avatar pic...side note, so many people seem to have wrx and go to jeep or keep both. I came from an 08rex
Weird. Is anyone else unable to see the pics? They are hosted on imagur (I was a photobucket guy, but switched once they shat the bed).


I'm actually debating selling my wrx and buying a JLUR....
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Her ride: 2018 JKU, custom ordered Chief Blue. 2.5" Budget Boost lift, 35" Dueler A/Ts, Off Road Armor sliders, AEV front bumper, Smittybilt SRC rear bumper w. carrier, TrailCal, factory dual tops, reverse camera thru 430 radio, Mopar grab handles, stubby antenna, metal gas door.
My rides: 2017 WRX Premium, Dark Grey Metallic, 6 speed. 1986 4Runner, 31" Dueler A/T, 280k+ miles
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Old 04-03-2018, 01:32 PM   #4
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Can't see pics here either
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Old 04-03-2018, 02:19 PM
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(testing)

*edit: OMFG I hate imagur. Why isn't this working?
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Her ride: 2018 JKU, custom ordered Chief Blue. 2.5" Budget Boost lift, 35" Dueler A/Ts, Off Road Armor sliders, AEV front bumper, Smittybilt SRC rear bumper w. carrier, TrailCal, factory dual tops, reverse camera thru 430 radio, Mopar grab handles, stubby antenna, metal gas door.
My rides: 2017 WRX Premium, Dark Grey Metallic, 6 speed. 1986 4Runner, 31" Dueler A/T, 280k+ miles
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Old 04-03-2018, 02:29 PM   #6
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Imagur doesn't work here.

I use Nickpic or Shutterfly.
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Old 04-03-2018, 02:30 PM
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Can you see the pic in my last post?
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Her ride: 2018 JKU, custom ordered Chief Blue. 2.5" Budget Boost lift, 35" Dueler A/Ts, Off Road Armor sliders, AEV front bumper, Smittybilt SRC rear bumper w. carrier, TrailCal, factory dual tops, reverse camera thru 430 radio, Mopar grab handles, stubby antenna, metal gas door.
My rides: 2017 WRX Premium, Dark Grey Metallic, 6 speed. 1986 4Runner, 31" Dueler A/T, 280k+ miles
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Old 04-03-2018, 02:33 PM   #8
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Nope
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Old 04-03-2018, 02:35 PM
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*grumblegrumbestupidpieceofshi...grumblegrumble*

does google photos work here? flickr?

*edit: Apparently they don't



Pics uploaded to shutterfly, and appear to be working. LMK if that's not the case.
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Her ride: 2018 JKU, custom ordered Chief Blue. 2.5" Budget Boost lift, 35" Dueler A/Ts, Off Road Armor sliders, AEV front bumper, Smittybilt SRC rear bumper w. carrier, TrailCal, factory dual tops, reverse camera thru 430 radio, Mopar grab handles, stubby antenna, metal gas door.
My rides: 2017 WRX Premium, Dark Grey Metallic, 6 speed. 1986 4Runner, 31" Dueler A/T, 280k+ miles
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Old 04-03-2018, 04:23 PM   #10
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Looking good, my wife has a 17 chief blue and it fits her perfectly: )


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
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Old 04-04-2018, 10:39 AM
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Phase 1.5, making it usable


Nov 16th: the day we brought it home.

An addendum to the OP. We got home the first night, and I noticed one small issue when unloading the boxes for the soft top mounting hardware.

See anything wrong with this box of hardware that is intended for a JKU?



That’s right, the boomerangs are for a 2-door. “No big deal” I foolishly thought. I called Jeb the next day, and he couldn’t believe it either. Long story short, this was a massive headache for him. They had to fight with FCA, which was apparently very difficult to do in cases like this, as it was an incorrect part that came on the vehicle from the factory. Apparently, it would’ve been a lot easier if it was just a part they ordered on its own, but because of this, it took over 3 months for the correct parts to end up in my hand. Credit to Go West Jeep and Jeb, as they did all the leg work and made it seamless on my end. I’m just glad it was during the winter months when Blue was happy with the hard top, and not during summer soft top weather.



Nov 24th The day of WTF were they thinking.

I’m not sure how many of you know, but when you get a new Jeep with dual tops, it basically comes with both installed. This seems like a good idea, as it prevents the large, bulky, sharp ended shape of the soft top frame from bouncing around and messing up the brand-new interior. The problem is that when the soft top is mounted to the roll bar, it takes up a lot of cargo space, and makes the remaining space very difficult to use.





Now, I didn’t take pictures of the hilarity that was me removing the soft top, and in hind sight I should’ve. The hard top has to be removed to get the soft top out, as the soft top is wider that the rear window opening. I tried my best to Tetris it out, but there was no way.

I have a DIY hard top hoist in the garage that I made when we first bought a soft top for Zebra. It works pretty good, as long as you aren’t in a hurry. It consists of a ratchet strap at the front, and two ratchet straps at the rear that are hooked to each other.

Unfortunately, this configuration meant that the rear straps would be going under the soft top as well, since it sits above the body/top seam. So, I had to thread the straps under the hard top, over both arms of the soft top, then back under the hard top. Easier said than done, as there was very minimal room between the inside of the hard top and the soft top.

After all was said and done, I spend probably 3 hours basically removing the hard top, removing the soft top, reinstalling the hard top, then ratcheting the soft top up to the ceiling of the garage. Didn’t think this job would take over an hour. Arg.



December 2nd: The day the Jeep bug really hits.

Let me preface this by saying that Zebra was a mall crawler. Aside from one poser shot we took while killing some time in a mountain town, it never saw off road. I had assumed Blue would be the same way.

So my buddy Scott, the one who helped with the lift install, invited us to a Jeep event. Observant readers will realize that his wife and wife weren’t on the best of terms, but prior to this event we got together for a xmas parade, and everyone is now getting along. We had never meet up with any sort of Jeep group for any reason, so I wasn’t sure how this was going to go.

Couple of pics while stuck in traffic on the way to the event. Was stop and go for miles, and 90% of the cars were Jeeps (of course we had to get stuck with a Taco behind us lol). Scott's Jeep is ~8 cars ahead of us...we got split up at a stoplight.




The event was a toy donation drive, and there must’ve been over 500 Jeeps there. There was obviously a Jeep show, vendors, raffle, flex contest, demonstrations, etc. It was a proper event. I could tell that my wife was loving it. During the event, the topic of wheeling/crawling came up, and to my surprise her response was very interested. My brain started thinking of all of the additional parts required to turn Blue from Mall to Crawl…



Dec 4th The amazing color changing Jeep

One thing that I didn’t notice until we had Blue for a while was just how much the color changes in different light. Just found this humorous.

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Her ride: 2018 JKU, custom ordered Chief Blue. 2.5" Budget Boost lift, 35" Dueler A/Ts, Off Road Armor sliders, AEV front bumper, Smittybilt SRC rear bumper w. carrier, TrailCal, factory dual tops, reverse camera thru 430 radio, Mopar grab handles, stubby antenna, metal gas door.
My rides: 2017 WRX Premium, Dark Grey Metallic, 6 speed. 1986 4Runner, 31" Dueler A/T, 280k+ miles
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Old 04-04-2018, 10:58 AM   #12
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looks good
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Old 04-05-2018, 03:07 PM
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December 10th: it starts

Shortly after the Jeep toy drive, we started seriously talking about planning a wheeling trip. I looked up some trail reports and found that a favorite trail that we used to take our Runner on was still passable (winter wheeling in Colorado can be very hit or miss), called Yankee hill. It’s a pretty easy trail that has some playground areas too. We met up with Scott in his Hard Rock, and headed up.

Airing down, with Scott photobombing:




The trail was 95% clear of snow/ice, except for one incline that had been abused by a previous group to the point where the only path up was completely iced over due to their spinning tires (think Zamboni). The wife suggested I drive for the first time of the day, and I’m glad I did because halfway up the incline we lost traction, and slid the whole way down, probably 100’ or so, with very minimal control from yours truly. 2nd attempt went a bit better, with the same backwards result. Got it on the 3rd attempt. Scott also took 3 attempts, which made me feel better since he was on 37” tires with all of the Rubicon toys at his disposal.

That accent is now referred to by us in hush tones as the icy half pipe of death. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of it, but it wouldn’t really do it justice. Just picture an icy incline with high banked walls on either side, with sizable trees just off trail if things don’t go well.


We decide to summit Yankee Hill, which was way easier that the previously mentioned accent. View was amazing, but it was a bit chilly. We paused for lunch (had to eat in the Jeeps, since it was so windy/cold), before heading down.

Lunch with a view:



Another photo opp, after descending Yankee Hill




On the drive out, I wanted to test Blue’s flex. We found a little dried up gully, and flexed it out. Well…guess who didn’t realize that the budget boost kit didn’t include extended bump stops? That’s right, this guy! All 4 tires were getting shoved into the fender flares. D’oh.



Scott messing with my wife (she was teeter-tottering at this point):


Fortunately, there was no damage to the fender flares or shocks.


All in all, it was a great day. We got to enjoy the hobby that we hadn’t done in ~10 years, my wife got to see what Blue was capable of, and I got to see exactly where he needed improvement.
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Her ride: 2018 JKU, custom ordered Chief Blue. 2.5" Budget Boost lift, 35" Dueler A/Ts, Off Road Armor sliders, AEV front bumper, Smittybilt SRC rear bumper w. carrier, TrailCal, factory dual tops, reverse camera thru 430 radio, Mopar grab handles, stubby antenna, metal gas door.
My rides: 2017 WRX Premium, Dark Grey Metallic, 6 speed. 1986 4Runner, 31" Dueler A/T, 280k+ miles
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Old 04-09-2018, 10:58 AM
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Dec 18: Dammit Scott

Get a random text from Scott with a link to a Craiglist add for some front bumper. Now before this, I was thinking I put in some bump stops that it sorely needed last time, and maybe a few other small off road goodies like hitch mounted recovery point, sway bar disconnects, etc. I showed the bumper to the wife (it’s her Jeep, remember), and to my surprise, she liked it. I started researching the bumper, to make sure it was a quality piece. It was made by some company I had never heard of…AEV (lol).

I quickly realized that the $400 asking price was a screaming deal for an awesome bumper, and it came with the front skid plate and winch plate too. We met up that night and I got the price down to $300 since while all the mounting hardware was included, it was randomly sorted by someone other than the current owner (“umm…I think that box is for the winch plate? No, maybe the skid plate? I dunno…”. Yeah, it was a real cluster of random bolts/brackets, including some pieces that weren’t even for this bumper (there was a high lift steering bracket in there too).

Boxes of random bolts:



I got the bumper on (without instructions) despite the previous owner’s lack of sorting. Bumper looks great, but there is a giant hole that I HAD been planning on buying the cover plate for, but the happy owner said that a winch needs to go there (it’s still on the to do list, but waaay at the top). Not to mention this opened a whole can of worms in terms of where we were going with this Jeep. Couldn’t have a plastic rear bumper with an AEV front, etc.





Dec 25th, xmas goodies

Xmas presents were all Jeep related. In addition to the AEV front bumper that was considered a xmas gift, I bought her everything I’d need to install a backup camera that feeds to her 430 radio (camera, wires, 3d printed receiver camera mount), and some hockey pucks that I would make into bump stop extensions.

The camera install was easy, just remove the radio, plug in the harness, run the wires, tap into reverse light for power. It’s the tricking of the radio that requires special attention. Well, fortunately Jeb came to the rescue again, and for the price of tipping the technician ($20), I now had a radio that would look for the camera when the car is in reverse. No pictures of this, sorry.


Jan 18th: Rear bumper

Since finding out about AEV, I had become a huge fan of their products. But neither I nor my wife like the looks of the rear bumper. I showed her every rear bumper imaginable, and she decided she liked the looks of the Tactik rear bumper best. She doesn’t like the typical sheet metal bumpers, and really doesn’t like tube bumpers; but she likes stamped steel ones. I got a quote from Ryan (our sponsored vendor contact…he’s awesome!), and shortly thereafter it appeared. During the install, I noticed an area where the paint was chipping, but it was in an area where you wouldn’t see it, and there was still primer underneath, so I didn’t worry about it.

Got it installed and adjusted up (you can see the hitch camera mount here):



Shortly after the install, the paint began chipping around one of the mounting holes, as well as the edges of the end caps. I contacted Ryan, telling him the paint was chipping, and he had a new bumper heading my way before I even asked for a replacement.


Same area a few days later:



Unfortunately, the replacement looked like this right out of the box:



The problem with these bumpers is that the primer layer wasn’t properly keyed (scratched up) enough for the top coat of paint to adhere. As you can see in the photos, the primer is glossy, and it’s not surprising that the paint is flaking off. I’m sure this wasn’t always the case, and I’m sure the problem will be fixed shortly (if it hasn’t already), but we didn’t want to try again.


Ryan asked if we wanted a 3rd bumper, which we declined. I told him we’d select another bumper through him, and asked if we could keep the original bumper until the replacement could be swapped on, to which he quickly agreed (Ryan and Quadratec are top notch in my book because of this).


After going through every bumper Q’tec had to offer, my wife selected the Smittybilt SRC with tire carrier (single action swing gate was a must). This is obviously a much beefier design, which is another step forward from “mall” to “crawl”, especially since it takes the 35” off the modified stock tailgate mount. I got another quote from Ryan for the SRC bumper, and soon thereafter had one on order.


March 23rd Bumper and swing gate installed:



The same day, I installed the bump stop extensions. We were going wheeling the next day, so I wasn’t able to procrastinate this job any longer. Job went well, with the hardest part being the removal of the front springs.



These things scare the shit out of me. So much potential energy here:



Couple of hockey pucks and some bolts per corner, and he’s all set:




March 24th B-day wheeling

When asked what she wanted to do for her b-day, my wife said she wanted to go wheeling. Scott and I had been looking for a good winter wheeling spot for a while. I stumbled on Illinois Gulch Linky, that had a recent trail report saying there was no snow, so we decided that was the winner.


Airing down:



We quickly realized we were not where we thought we were. We were on basically a dirt road that a Subaru Forester would have no problems with (we seriously crossed paths with a Honda Pilot). We did find a couple of tiny play grounds, so there was some fun to be had, but overall it was a failure of a trip. The good news is that as we were exiting, we found the actual trail head to Illinois Gulch, but it was way too late in the day to start it.

Testing bump stops. It’s not completely compressed, but enough so that I’m confident in the height I selected (2”)”


Eagle eyed viewers might notice that while the rear bumper is installed, the tire carrier isn’t. The reason for that is that I ran out of time after the bumper was installed (11PM), so the carrier was actually installed later. Apologies for the deception lol.

Everyone still had fun, but we knew we'd have to make a return trip to try out the trail we had intended on taking.
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Her ride: 2018 JKU, custom ordered Chief Blue. 2.5" Budget Boost lift, 35" Dueler A/Ts, Off Road Armor sliders, AEV front bumper, Smittybilt SRC rear bumper w. carrier, TrailCal, factory dual tops, reverse camera thru 430 radio, Mopar grab handles, stubby antenna, metal gas door.
My rides: 2017 WRX Premium, Dark Grey Metallic, 6 speed. 1986 4Runner, 31" Dueler A/T, 280k+ miles
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Old 04-09-2018, 11:22 AM   #15
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These things scare the shit out of me. So much potential energy here:
Jeep is looking good!

But.... WOW what an incredibly dangerous way to use a spring compressor. FWIW spring compressors are absolutely NOT necessary, in fact they're a terrible idea IMO.... Just disconnect the lower shock, end links (and DS if you need to) and you'll be able to drop the axle and slide the springs in/out without issue.

In the event you do need to use a spring compressor then one on each side of the spring should be used. Would hate for you or anyone else to get injured.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrrtazxg2eg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYm9DoLsM0A
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Old 04-09-2018, 11:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Baby Sound View Post
Jeep is looking good!

But.... WOW what an incredibly dangerous way to use a spring compressor. FWIW spring compressors are absolutely NOT necessary, in fact they're a terrible idea IMO.... Just disconnect the lower shock, end links (and DS if you need to) and you'll be able to drop the axle and slide the springs in/out without issue.

In the event you do need to use a spring compressor then one on each side of the spring should be used. Would hate for you or anyone else to get injured.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrrtazxg2eg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYm9DoLsM0A
Yeah, I know. I actually had the shock and sway bar disconnected, and my...well large father in law standing on the axle, but I still couldn't get the droop I needed. I only needed an inch or so (I was able to spin the spring in it's perch before I compressed it). On the first side, I used two. I got bold on the second side, since I was compressing it so very little. That photo was actually taken as a "how to install a bowlegged Mopar JL lift into a JK" joke between Scott and I (since the JL lift makes the springs bow like that).
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Her ride: 2018 JKU, custom ordered Chief Blue. 2.5" Budget Boost lift, 35" Dueler A/Ts, Off Road Armor sliders, AEV front bumper, Smittybilt SRC rear bumper w. carrier, TrailCal, factory dual tops, reverse camera thru 430 radio, Mopar grab handles, stubby antenna, metal gas door.
My rides: 2017 WRX Premium, Dark Grey Metallic, 6 speed. 1986 4Runner, 31" Dueler A/T, 280k+ miles
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Old 04-18-2018, 12:16 PM
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Sorry for the long break, it’s been kinda hectic.

Shortly after the more or less failure of a wheeling trip, Scott and I started talking about making a return trip to actually hit Illinois Gulch and its main feature, Moab Hill. We decided on a time. We invited a few other friends with rigs along with, but the only one who could make it was my buddy Shawn with his basically stock 5th gen TRD 4Runner. Prior to setting up the trip, he had installed some pretty beefy sliders, and I think the planning of this trip inspired him to buy and install a front hitch receiver with skid plate.

I did a few tweaks to Blue before the trip, including “installing” at TrailCal (so now the speedo and transmission act right), checking (and fixing one) of the bump stop extensions, as well as making my own sway bar end link disconnects. I bought two M12x1.75 shoulder bolts (three actually, but I screwed one up), 4 fender washers, 2 locknuts, and 2 linchpins.

After some cutting and drilling (and swearing), I had my custom disconnects:




April 7th: let’s see what Blue can do
We met up at the same spot, and hit the road. We got to the proper air down spot (the place we aired up last time), and started prepping the trucks. I aired down to 22, Scott went to 18, but Shawn decided to keep tire pressure as is due to his factory size tires. I pulled my disconnects, tied the sway bar up with some backpack straps, and we set off

Some pics of the trail. Much more rough than last time, but still nothing to difficult (I was in 2wd for the first mile or so without even realizing it):







And the real attraction, Moab Hill. We were lucky it wasn’t snowy/muddy, as we had a decent storm in Denver the night before. Pictures don’t come close to doing it justice. There is one line that Scott tried to take, and he didn’t have a large enough approach angle (4.5” lift, on 37s), so he had to take it at an angle. At one point, he lifted his passenger front quickly, and we both though he was going over.

Couple shots going up different lines:






Video shot by Shawn of my initial ascent (I took a harder line later, but his camera corrupted that file):
http://www.youtube.com/&v=0Y_9q56DR8Q




Having lunch at the top of Moab Hill. It’s a great playground, and it makes a great spot to play around in while others are eating. We stayed here for a couple of hours taking turns making runs:




Coming down same lines, and testing flex/bump stops. Really glad I kept the 2” bump stops instead of dropping down to 1” like I considered doing!







A nice photo op when we stopped to clean up a campsite that some @$$holes left covered in trash:



Hi Scott (who’s currently watering a tree)



All in all, it was a great day. Moab hill had something to challenge all 3 rigs. Put a few dents in the Rugged Ridge rails, but I think most of them would not have resulted in rocker panel contact if the rails weren't there.



After returning home, my sway bar disconnects are making noise, and there is no way to prevent this. I swapped back in the original bolts, and will install the disconnects right before we head out on a trip. At some point, I’ll buy JKS discos, but it’s hard to justify the price when all they do is save me 5 minutes of labor.



That brings us about up to date with the build/wheeling trips. I have some parts laying around, and I will post up when I throw them on. Scott and I are heading back out this Sunday as well with some other people, so I’ll write that up as well.


Fun times, I’m enjoying the hell out of building and pushing Blue!
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Her ride: 2018 JKU, custom ordered Chief Blue. 2.5" Budget Boost lift, 35" Dueler A/Ts, Off Road Armor sliders, AEV front bumper, Smittybilt SRC rear bumper w. carrier, TrailCal, factory dual tops, reverse camera thru 430 radio, Mopar grab handles, stubby antenna, metal gas door.
My rides: 2017 WRX Premium, Dark Grey Metallic, 6 speed. 1986 4Runner, 31" Dueler A/T, 280k+ miles
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Old 04-18-2018, 12:39 PM
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Ok...why isn't the video embedding?
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Her ride: 2018 JKU, custom ordered Chief Blue. 2.5" Budget Boost lift, 35" Dueler A/Ts, Off Road Armor sliders, AEV front bumper, Smittybilt SRC rear bumper w. carrier, TrailCal, factory dual tops, reverse camera thru 430 radio, Mopar grab handles, stubby antenna, metal gas door.
My rides: 2017 WRX Premium, Dark Grey Metallic, 6 speed. 1986 4Runner, 31" Dueler A/T, 280k+ miles
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Old 04-19-2018, 10:35 PM   #19
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Chief power! I love the Chief color. Your build is looking nice too! I really like the looks of your rear bumper.
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Old 04-24-2018, 09:55 AM
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April 21st: Slider upgrade

I had been considering making my own sliders, using the stock Rubicon sliders as a starting point, and adding a bent round tube to it, similar to the Hard Rock rails, as additional protection without sacrificing ground clearance. The old Rugged Ridge rails stuck ~6” below the rocker panel, which is obviously a massive hindrance when crawling.


As I was planning my rails, I remember previously stumbling on a local shop who makes their own rails similar to what I was going to make. I found there ad again, and realized that for the price ($250!!), it was worth it to buy them, as it was a stronger design than the one I was planning (used thick wall rectangular tubing as the main support instead of the fairly thin Rubi rails).


After a botched install attempt by Scott and I (we mocked up the rails up where we thought they were supposed to go, and they didn’t fit…dumbass move, should’ve read the damn instructions!), I drove down to the fabricators shop to have them “fixed” (again, there was nothing wrong with them, just a mistake by the installers). He threw them on the car in no time, and I was quickly on my way.

I can’t say enough about Off Road Armor, facebook.com/offroadarmor. Great products, friendly service, and he’s local; just a few miles East of Colorado Springs. Can’t beat his prices either…did I mention they were only $250?!?!?!


There things are very strong, and have so much more clearance than the old setup that got several good-sized dings on Moab Hill (don’t think I would’ve hit if I had these rails on, and the tubing on the old rails is a lot thinner):


Old setup, for reference. Look at all that sacrificed ground clearance!




New hotness:





Just one setup further on the transformation from “mall” to “crawl”. The aspects of Zebra and 24 hour old Blue that I would consider mall crawler are:
  • Low hanging weak rock rails. Job done.
  • Factory tire carrier. Still surprised I didn’t damage either tailgate with that additional weight. Job done.
  • Factory plastic bumpers. Not really “mall” specific, but the new ones are definitely meant for rock protection. Job done.
  • Wheel spacers behind factory rims (my wife likes the factory rims…for now?)
  • Budget boost lift (not the best rock crawling suspension setup, but it lifts it up and allows pretty good flex)


So as of now, the easy mods have been completed. Blue will eventually get a 3”+ lift, and then some larger tires, and different rims. Those mods will have to wait a bit until our youngest is out of his infant car seat (we aren’t tall people, and it can be a struggle to get his seat to drop into the base at times). I still have plenty to do in the short term...


On the next installment of The Blue Building Show: seat covers and heated seat install!

(at least I think that's the next project, lol)
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Her ride: 2018 JKU, custom ordered Chief Blue. 2.5" Budget Boost lift, 35" Dueler A/Ts, Off Road Armor sliders, AEV front bumper, Smittybilt SRC rear bumper w. carrier, TrailCal, factory dual tops, reverse camera thru 430 radio, Mopar grab handles, stubby antenna, metal gas door.
My rides: 2017 WRX Premium, Dark Grey Metallic, 6 speed. 1986 4Runner, 31" Dueler A/T, 280k+ miles
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Old 04-26-2018, 11:59 AM
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1st post updated with links to the parts I've added. I will keep that up to date as the build continues.


More parts on the way, but the wife mentioned switching to soft top this weekend, so there might not be time for modding.
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Her ride: 2018 JKU, custom ordered Chief Blue. 2.5" Budget Boost lift, 35" Dueler A/Ts, Off Road Armor sliders, AEV front bumper, Smittybilt SRC rear bumper w. carrier, TrailCal, factory dual tops, reverse camera thru 430 radio, Mopar grab handles, stubby antenna, metal gas door.
My rides: 2017 WRX Premium, Dark Grey Metallic, 6 speed. 1986 4Runner, 31" Dueler A/T, 280k+ miles
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Old 05-01-2018, 04:07 PM   #22
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Looks good. Nice color.
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Old 05-08-2018, 09:26 AM
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May 7th, the day I remember I hate soft tops

Since the weather is getting nice, I decided to swap tops on Blue. I only had 30 min between when I got home and when we had to leave, so I knew I was on a tight schedule. Hard top came off easy enough. I had to scramble to find all the boxes for the soft top though. I thought I had them all (3 boxes, drivers side frame, pass frame, and windows), but I was missing the two smaller frames that go over the front doors, as well as the 6 mounting bolts. They took some time to track down in the garage, but I finally had all of the pieces on the car after 35 min.

Now when I say on the car, I don’t mean the top was mounted properly. I just meant that the brackets/frames were installed, and the top itself wasn't in place.


I forgot how much of a pain it is to stretch out the soft top, especially when it’s never been installed before. I gave up fully installing it after 55 minutes, so we left to our appointment with the front part of the top folded back. Once there, I remember some of the tricks (set the front latches, but don’t pull them closed, then do the back corners), so I was able to get it fully installed after another 10 min or so.

My forearms still hurt this AM.



All installed and tightened up:



Hard top synched up in the garage:





When all is said and done, the owner is happy, which is what matters. Also, the premium top that came with the dual top package is far superior to the old standard soft top. I am actually surprised how much nicer it is.

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Her ride: 2018 JKU, custom ordered Chief Blue. 2.5" Budget Boost lift, 35" Dueler A/Ts, Off Road Armor sliders, AEV front bumper, Smittybilt SRC rear bumper w. carrier, TrailCal, factory dual tops, reverse camera thru 430 radio, Mopar grab handles, stubby antenna, metal gas door.
My rides: 2017 WRX Premium, Dark Grey Metallic, 6 speed. 1986 4Runner, 31" Dueler A/T, 280k+ miles
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