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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone. I have been on the forum for a couple years and decided it is finally time to start a build thread. I did a factory build on a 2014 JKU Willys Wheeler in Hydro Blue that got delivered May 14th, 2014. The options I got were the 6 speed manual transmission, 430 radio, hard top, and side air bags.

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I have completed what I considered “Phase 1” and am about to start “Phase 2”. As I know a lot of us are, I’m on a tight budget so Phase 2 will be a little slow but I’ll update this thread as I complete it. Phase 1 was all of the “practical” items I wanted/needed for day to day driving. Phase 2 is going to be 35s and everything needed to fit them. Phase 3 will be winch and other items to make it more capable and off-road ready.

Phase 1 (completed, listed in order of completion):
Ace Engineering Sliders
Rugged Ridge Hitch and Wiring Harness
Bestop Super Top NX
Rugged Ridge Quick Release Round Mirrors
Rugged Ridge Mesh Grill Insert
Spiderweb Shade
Safari Straps
Bartact Seat Covers
Backup Camera
Bestop 2-Piece Soft Doors
Other little things here and there like grab handles and fire extinguisher mount that I’ll show in pictures

Phase 2 (in progress):
Teraflex 1.5” Leveling Kit (installing on 2/10/2017)
Fender trim
VDP Stubby Bumper Kit
Trim Rubicon Rails
Spidertrax 1.5” Wheel Spacers
MBRP Spare Tire Relocation Bracket (and extending the rubber isolators)
315/70R17 Cooper Discoverer MTPs

Phase 3 (in flux):
Olympic 4X4 Rear Frame Cover
Olympic 4X4 Rear Frame Shackle Mounts
Rugged Ridge Spartacus Tire Carrier and Hinge
Portable Air Compressor (maybe MV50)
Sway Bar Disconnects (probably JKS)
Winch Plate for Stock Bumper (in flux)
Winch (in flux)
2.5 inch suspension lift (probably TF)

Current Picture:

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Here we go…
2 days after taking delivery I drove it up to Breckenridge for our annual hockey tournament:

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Which we won!

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Once I got back I installed the Ace Engineering Sliders. These were very easy to install. You have to grind down the body mount washers but other than that it’s just a bolt on.

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First time removing the freedom panels!

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My daughter helping me install the hitch. Install was very easy. 4 bolts to the frame. It’s not necessary but removing the rear bumper makes it much easier. The wiring harness plugs into the tail light connector.

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Couple weeks later I got to put it to use:

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Soft top install. Luckily it was a hot day so the fabric stretched out nicely. Install went very smooth.

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
My mom helped me make a storage bag for the windows. It has felt in between the windows and is stitched on 2 sides to make it easier to slide the windows in:

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And I made a strap to hang it in the back. You can roll it tighter than this but I was paranoid about my new windows (at first).

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First big rain storm we had showed me both my front door seals leak. It took me 4 trips to the dealer to get it fixed.

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2 months after I got my “dream jeep” my brother-in-law decided to get damn near the exact same thing. 2014 JKU Freedom Edition in….. HYDRO BLUE.

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I was pretty pissed at first but I’m trying to be a “grown up”….

First time with the front doors off. I usually leave the rears on since I have 2 little kids.

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
(Does anyone know how to post more than 5 pictures at once???)

Not really a “mod” but I got a cheap sun screen and cut it to fit the jeep:

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First time naked!!

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Here’s how I store the Hard Top. Cheap and easy.

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And for the soft top I just made a wood “shelf” with some U-Bolts and then use the same eye bolts that the hard top used:

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
While talking about the garage, I use the ladder hooks from Home Depot for door hangers (got the idea from this forum):

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Here’s the mesh grill guard. Install was easy but one of the provided screws didn’t bite into the grill very well and one corner is a little loose. I will fix it eventually.

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Fire Extinguisher mount:

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The Willys came with front and rear grab handles for the roll bar (maybe all jeeps come with them…) but I didn’t like the rears. They were too far forward to be useful in my opinion so I got some that mount to the sound bar:

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And I moved the roll bar ones to the back of the front head rests:

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After pulling all the carpet I didn’t like how the wiring and connectors were exposed so I got some wire loom and self-fusing tape to cover it up:

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My dogs like to put their front paws up on the wheel wells and stick their heads out the window when I have the soft top on and windows out. I was afraid of them slipping on the bare metal so I added some grippy material to the wheel wells. It is a textured plastic that is used on trailers as a rock guard.

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It turned out great…. For about 2 months. The sun/heat has melted the adhesive and driving with the doors off has started to peel up the mat. This lead to adding the Safari Straps (which I absolutely love):

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I had to move the straps around a little since I have the quadratec rear cargo mat but these are one of my favorite mods. Keeps the dogs safe, keeps gear/dogs from falling over the seats onto my kids, and they are a useful place to hang all kinds of stuff:

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I hang my window roll from there and a backpack with things like dog leashes, dog water and bowl, extra kids clothes, extra diapers, some rags and towels etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I had an FJ before I bought the jeep :hide: and I figured the one thing I would really miss is the roof rack I added:

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But who needs a rack when you have a roll bar!

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Added a Spiderweb shade. I love this, it helps to keep the sun off me and the kids and cuts down some of the wind when driving topless:

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And for the days I want the sun but still want my kids protected:

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Next was my seat cover search. I was looking when Trek Armor was changing over to Bartact and at the time they didn’t offer seat covers with side air bag provisions. I REALLY wanted their covers but that made it a no-go. So I looked around and finally settled on some Carhartt seat covers. I really liked the material but had some issues with them.

First, one of the main reasons I wanted seat covers was for the backs of the rear seats, since that is the only place left in the jeep that is carpet. The dogs rub up against it and it’s a pain to clean. Well, the pictures didn’t show this, but the Carhartts don’t cover the backs:

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Next, I bought the ones with the “lumbar support” cut out but they forgot to cut it out:

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They also didn’t have anything attaching them in the corners of each seat cushion and really didn’t stay in place very well:

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Sensitive content, not recommended for those under 18 Show Content
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Lastly, the just didn’t fit very tight and looked sort of cheap in my opinion (there’s no mistaking they are seat COVERS):

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
So I ended up returning them and started searching again. I contacted bartact and they said they had just come out with side provisions for their covers. So I bought them. Here is the flap for the air bags:

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The thing I liked about Bartact is they actually tested their provisions to make sure they let the air bag deploy as normal. These things are night and day from the Carhartts. They are incredibly well made. They are a lot more expensive then the majority of seat covers on the market but in my opinion, they are worth every penny. After I installed them I had 3 different people ask me when I got new seats.

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And one of the many reasons for wanting the covers in the first place:

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The molle webbing is very useful. I have one of the pouches filled with first aid stuff, one filled with zip ties, bungie cords, and other tie downs, and the large one in the back I just have a wind breaker in there for now.

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I wanted more storage for camping gear since I no longer have a roof rack so I got one of the hitch mounted baskets:

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As you can see from the picture above it wouldn’t let the tailgate open so I flipped the mounting bar and it works great now:

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
It’s amazing how much crap you end up with for 3 days of camping with 2 small kids, wife, and dog:

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Everything on the ground when in the basket. I had a roof top cargo bag but didn’t use it and afterwards really wish I had. We drove up to crested butte and it rained on the way up there. The dirt roads you have to take caked mud all over everything on the basket. Luckily our camp site had a river running through it and I was able to wash everything off.

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And a couple shots from a trail we found near our camp site:

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I noticed my clutch master cylinder was leaking fluid into the foot well of the jeep:

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At the same time I had this leaking, my rear axle seal was leaking, and my oil filter cap was leaking.

This is as good of time as any to tell you about all the problems I’ve had since I bought the Jeep. Before these 3 things I also had leaky door seals (which I showed above), my radiator leaked, my front axle shaft leaked, I had a bad rattle in 3rd gear, one of my HVAC control knob lights was out after the first week of owning it, my front passenger seat belt wouldn’t retract all the way, and after I owned it a few months it took a really long time to get it to start.

Now that I’ve written it all down it makes me mad all over again. Luckily, ALL of it was fixed under warranty over the past 2.5 years except the Clutch Master Cylinder. They fixed that for $100 as a “show of good faith”. It sucked having built a car directly from Jeep the way I wanted it and then having all of these problems pop up. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been to the dealer. I’ve had issues with getting some of these things fixed but that’s a long story. :atomic:


Back to a happy note, I installed a backup camera. That was one more thing I missed about the FJ. We have lots of little kids in our neighborhood and between the rear head rests, the tire, the brake light, and the Safari Straps I can’t see anything out my back window.

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For some reason I didn’t get a picture of the camera itself… It’s installed in the center of the rear bumper. The tire does cover up the top ¼ of the view (not shown in the picture above) but overall I’m happy with the location. If anyone wants a picture of the camera location or what the view looks like with the tire closed, let me know.

If I was to do it again (and I will do this if I get a new rear bumper down the road) I would put it up higher. Maybe make a small bracket and stick it between the spokes of the wheel of the spare tire.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
And now soft doors!! I love running doorless but in Colorado there could be a zero percent chance of rain for the day and then we end up getting a downpour. I wanted something that I could throw in the back of the jeep and just put on in case of rain. They are also nice if we are out running around doorless but head home after dark and its cold out. Really the only option out there are the Bestop 2-piece soft doors. I really like them and ran them last year from the end of spring to the beginning of fall. They are noisy, don’t seal well, and windy on the highway, but they serve their purpose. I definitely wouldn’t use them for any road trips though. I only got the fronts as I want to leave the steel doors on the rears for the kids.

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I made a couple modifications to them. I added some Velcro to the bottom of the door to act as a limiting strap so they don’t swing open at hit my rugged ridge quick release mirrors.

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I also added Velcro to the top of the door that you can run around the sun visor when on the highway. This prevents the leading edge of the door from bending outward at speed.

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What’s nice is that you can tuck the Velcro into the door itself when not in use:

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I always had the garage door opener up in the rollbar in a Ziploc bag (idea came from this forum) but I didn’t like the bulge it created in the roll bar padding. I ended up cutting some of the roll bar foam away and sticking the opener in there (idea also from this forum). It now lays flush and you can’t even tell it’s there.

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Had to do this for Halloween:

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So that’s pretty much everything for Phase 1. I haven’t done much to the jeep for a while saving up for Phase 2. Phase 2 starts in 2 days when I install the TF leveling kit and the Relocation Bracket (not needed yet but figured I’d put it on). I swung by Discount Tire a few weeks ago to get an idea of what the jeep will look like with 35s:

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Needless to say…. I’m pumped!! I spent MONTHS going over lift and tires and for the lift I finally decided on the 1.5 inch leveling kit from teraflex. It’s only $150 and I didn’t want to replace any of my suspension since part of the reason I got the Willys Package was for the upgraded shocks (at the time I thought it was upgraded springs too). The leveling kit will suit my needs in that I can run 35s (after I complete the other Phase 2 items) and it will get me by until my shocks and springs need to be replaced. At that time I will be putting a 2.5 inch lift on it.

As for the tires I spent a ton of time going back and forth between the Cooper MTPs, Cooper ATPs, Ridge Grapplers, S/T Maxx, STT Pros, KO2s, and duratracs (basically every well-known and liked tire on this forum). I have a spreadsheet of each tire in the different sizes I was looking at with info like price, sidewall ply, weight, and load.

I wanted something light (which removed the STT Pros and S/T maxxs), and something that did well in the snow. I ended up narrowing it down to the duratracs, ATPs, and MTPs. Here’s the Duratrac next to the MTP in 315/70R17:

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I decided on the MTPs after talking with the discount tire rep on this forum. He was very helpful and provided me some data on the ATPs, MTPs, and Duratracs as far as dry traction, wet traction, snow performance, comfort, noise, etc. I was expecting the ATP and duratrac to pretty much blow away the MTP in every category except off road handling but all 3 very close in each category. The ATPs just didn’t look aggressive enough so I nixed those and finally decided on the MTPs since they weigh almost the same as the duratrac (MTP is only 62 lbs) and they did very well in all the testing the discount tire rep gave me. Plus, EVERYONE around here has duratracs so I thought I’d try something a little different.

Just for reference if anyone is between sizes, I had originally planned on going with 285/75R17 duratracs. Here's a comparision between a 315/70R17 MTP vs stock tire on the top of the picture and a 285/75R17 Duratrac vs stock tire on the bottom of the picture:

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If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading my “Phase 1” build and let me know if you have any comments/questions/suggestions. Phase 2 begins soon!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thought I’d end with a couple “poser” shots:

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And one of my daughters Jeep. Really, she’s the one that made me want half/soft doors. Couldn’t let the Barbie Jeep show me up.

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And the latest “Jeeper” of the family:

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Phase 2 has begun!

Teraflex 1.5 inch leveling kit install:
Everything went pretty smooth. Couple bolts gave me some trouble but it took me about 4 hours by myself with just hand tools.

Before:



After:





The only thing I would have done differently is to remove both front sway bar links at the same time. I went corner by corner which I think is the way to go but on my first front corner I was limited by the other side's sway bar link I think. It was really difficult to get the spring back in.

Other than that it went well.

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I put on the Spare Tire Relocation Bracket just to get an idea where the tire will end up. I need to extend the isolators about 2 inches and the stock tire is already covering the brake light.

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I'm going to run to home depot to see what I can find for the isolators (lots of great ideas on this forum from heater hose to PVC couplers).

As for the brake light, I am thinking about using something like the small LEDs that go into the 2 un-used lugs on the spare:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BY2OFQ...=UTF8&colid=YFUFM0Z6CKIN&coliid=ICNG90LZUG57U

Anyone else have any suggestions for relocating the light? I liked the idea of cutting it off and just mounting the stock light in between the "spokes" of the wheel but the rubicon wheels don't have a lot of room. And since the relocation bracket rotated my spare I don't think it would work too well. I also don't really want to extend the brake light up any since it will just take up even more of the rear view (not that there is much left anyway between the head rests, spare tire, and safari straps).
 
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