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Bella's Jeeper
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Discussion Starter #1
This is my 1,000th post and I decided that since this forum had endured (for me at any rate) and been very useful I would create a thread to share my experiences, build and future Jeep plans.

Bella is a 2015 Hydro Blue Jeep Wrangler 2-door with manual transmission (my idea) and a/c (her idea) :)

To start off the thread here are the first and most recent pictures of Bella.
 

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Bella's Jeeper
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Discussion Starter #2
This week I thought I would post my upgrade plans. The list is likely to take a few years to complete! Next up is probably the lift and bigger tires - maybe next year.

I would like my Jeep to have balanced capability on the trail, in the rocks, daily driving and my winter commute up to the ski hill to patrol. I also have a preference for components Made in the USA.

Metalcloak Gamechanger 2.5 Rocksport Edition with all 8 control arms
Adams 1310 Solid front and rear drive shafts
Falken Wildpeak AT3W All Terrain Radial Tire - 285/75R17
G2 JK Dana 30/44 4.56 Gear Package Front/Rear
Detroit Trutrac limited slip differential on rear
Metalcloak HD Steering System, RockSport Edition
Currie Antirock front and back
Dana 44 up front with Eaton E-Locker
Atlas 2-speed transfer case with 5.0:1 ratio
Bigger brakes

I already have the Quadratec Hard Rock wheels which are 17x8.5 with 5.2 backspacing.
 

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You already have the best color so upgrades are just icing on the cake. :bop:
 

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Bella's Jeeper
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Discussion Starter #5
How I got to owning Bella

This weeks post is the story of how I came to own Bella.

It is April 2018. My son is at college in Arizona and is moving off campus. So he needs wheels. And we have a 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo and a similarly old Dodge Neon (don't ask) that both need replacing. So son decides to take Jeep off our hands and the wife she wants to replace it with another Grand Cherokee - especially as the new ones seem to have gone away from competing on "luxury" and back to "capability".

So off we go to the Jeep dealer. She gets to test a deep cherry red Laredo with the adventure package and is smitten. Just to make sure we go visit the Subaru dealer (gasp - what) and he shows us first a Forester, which she hates, and then a loaded Outback, which costs as much as that Deep Cherry Red Grand Cherokee we were just in. No comparison - so back we go the the dealer to get the Jeep.

While she's in there getting the Grand Cherokee squared away I take a wander round the lot. There are quite a few 2 door Wranglers on the lot in fun colors (although no Hydro Blue ones).

Once we get home I raise the idea of replacing the Neon with a Wrangler. She's agreeable so I hop onto the Jeep site and play with the configurator. BIG MISTAKE! I discover the Hydro Blue colour and just have to have it. So which models can I get. Remember this is early 2014 so the only two options are the Willys Edition and the Rubicon. I love the look of the Willys - the black trim goes really nicely with the blue so I put together a configuration. She requires air conditioning and electronic everything - so on goes the 23W and the Power Convenience Group. We decide on hard top for the winter months and will get a soft top aftermarket for the summer (the start of a VERY slippery slope).

So in May we head back to the dealer to order the Wrangler. After some backwards and forwards we get the Jeep configured right and the price order confirmation with the right options. Now the waiting starts.....

After about 4 weeks I get a call from the dealer. Apparently they aren't making any more 2014 Wranglers so my order is bumped to 2015. ETA is August sometime. But they will honour the agreed price. More waiting....

Finally on August 26th I get to go pick her up. The sales guy is busy with a customer so the manager shows be round. He doesn't remember to take the obligatory "happy customer with Jeep" photo and I forget too. So the first photo I have of Bella is out on the Boise Ridge Road. Seems appropriate.

On the ride home (which I take the back route to get used to the manual transmission again after driving auto for 15 years) I realise that every Wrangler going the other way is waving - so I discover the Jeep wave. During the first month or so I own her Bella spends 70% of her time off road on the National Forest and BLM trails I am familiar with from hiking. I have never enjoyed owning a vehicle as much - prior to this they were just a way of getting from point A to point B.

The adventure is just starting.....
 

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Bella's Jeeper
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Discussion Starter #6
First mod - a license plate holder!

The first modification was license plate holders. I had the MONS license plate on a 1996 Grand Cherokee and planned to transfer it to Bella. The old licence plate holder was plastic and falling to bits so I decided I should get a new one to help people figure out what the plate says upside down. I bought it early because we also wanted a new plate holder for a new Grand Cherokee. The holders were quite expensive but looked much nicer than the old one, were highly rated by reviewers and supposed to last much longer.

The license plate holders came from autoplates.com.

In case you hadn't noticed, MONS spells SNOW upside down. There is a story behind this. We are avid skiers and driving up and down to the resort here we enjoyed reading the license plate holders to keep the kids occupied. One in particular stuck in our minds - on a beat up old 4x4 it said "If you can read this roll me over" and it was mounted upside down. When we got our first Jeep we decided we would like a personalised plate. We opted for a skier plate and spent lots of time trying to come up with something witty in 5 or fewer letters and numbers. We wanted SNOW, but obviously someone else had that (turns out to belong to a ski instructor and is on a Subaru - gasp). Then my wife noticed the SNOW upside down spells MONS which is four letters.

So now I enjoy watching people in the rear view mirror as they strain their necks trying to figure out what the license plate says upside down :)
 

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Bella's Jeeper
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Discussion Starter #7
Harken Hoist

August in Boise is a nice time to Jeep with the top down. So we tried to lift the top off and try it out. At that point we discovered how heavy and awkward the hard top is plus we had nowhere to store it except outside. So we looked around for different solutions and found the Harken Hoist which solved both problems.

Install was pretty straightforward although setting up all the lengths for the drop lines was a bit fiddly. We also discovered that the instructions have you place the pigtails a bit too close together. This results in the lines not falling vertically down and restricting how high the top can be lifted. The best way to place the pigtails is to park the Jeep under the mounting 2x4s or joists and drop a vertical line down to the points where the top hangs from. That way you get vertical lines for the whole travel and can hoist the top as high as possible.

Our garage also meant we had to have the hoist line at a slight angle out to the back wall but this does not seem to affect the operation of the hoist at all. We added safety lines to our setup since the hard top typically comes off around April 1st and doesn't go back on until late October or November.

The only downside to this setup is it takes a few weeks of bumping my head against to top to remember it is there. Another good reason for the safety lines :)
 

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Bella's Jeeper
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Discussion Starter #9
I need to get this setup, do you remember if the Harken Hoist was only for the 2 door?
No, I think it is good for the 4 door as well. The install instructions I have show a 4 door.
 
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Bella's Jeeper
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Discussion Starter #11
Seat covers and floor liners

My next modification was to add seat covers and rear floor liners (my Willys Edition came with the Mopar front floor liners).

For the rear floor liners I chose the Rugged Ridge liners which are similar to the Mopar fronts. At the time there did not seem to be much choice for JK rear liners. We have USA made WeatherTech liners throughout in our Grand Cherokee and love them.

The seat covers I chose were Shear Comfort Kordura. We have Shear Comfort Neo-Supreme liners in our Grand Cherokee and they look and wear very nicely. We opted for the Kordura for the Wrangler due to its water resistance and toughness. The Kordura covers fit a bit looser, and they can get clammy when the temperature hits 90 degrees or more, but they are every bit as durable as the maker claims and are easily cleaned by throwing them in the washing machine. Mine get the dust washed out at the end of every summer and they still look like new four years later. In the ski season they get skis, boots and other gear thrown on them. In the summer they have all manner of trail gear on them.

Shear Comfort is a Canadian company and their covers for the US market are made in their US factory.
 

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Bella's Jeeper
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Discussion Starter #12
Rock Rails

My next modification was rock rails. The main reason for adding them was to provide a step up into the Jeep, especially when getting in the back. I was pretty new to modding Jeeps and not a member of this or any other forum my natural tendency was to look at the Mopar upgrades. Of course the Enhances Rubi rails looked just the ticket so I purchased some. They were very easy to install and I thought they looked pretty good at the time, but they turned out to be a poor step. They also only bolt onto the pinch seam and body so could not take any serious punishment although they are one of the few area I have yet to bash on rocks. Lastly the intrude about an inch into the rear wheel well which will require trimming to fit larger tires.

All in all this was the most disappointing upgrade to my Jeep.

I have since replaced them with a much nicer set of Rock Hard 4x4 rails which provide a great step, are bolted to the frame using the body mounts and do not intrude into the rear wheel well. I also like the look better.
 

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Bella's Jeeper
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Discussion Starter #13
Replacement Rock Hard 4x4 rails

And here for comparison are photos of the replacements.
 

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Bella's Jeeper
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Discussion Starter #14
Improved backup lighting

The next upgrade was a very simple one. I had noticed that the back up lighting did not illuminate the road behind the Jeep very well, or even objects that were directly behind.

Also we live on a flag lot and it was very hard to see the edges of our long driveway in the dark.

To fix this I installed some Jam Strait Super-Bright white LED backup lamps instead of the OEM ones. These throw a lot more light so objects directly behind the Jeep are now easily visible, and they improved the light thrown onto the ground behind the Jeep enough to see the edges of the driveway.

Backing up in the dark is still not ideal but I suspect the location of the backup lamps means that no amount of brightness will fix all the issues. But the brighter bulbs certainly help.
 

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Bella's Jeeper
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