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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had a few requests for a build thread, so here it goes. Unfortunately, I did not document the process for a lot of my mod's, but I will try to help answer questions the best I can. My intent it to help you make better decisions with the future mods and hopefully save a few dollars along the way. - enjoy

To start off, this is my first Jeep and it's purpose has changed a few times in the two years I have owned it. It started life off as a bone stock 99 Sahara hard top with a factory D44 rear axle a white exterior and camel interior. It was originally going to be stripped out for a hunting rig; however, I wanted to run 35's and fully bed line exterior to protect the paint from the harsh south Texas terrain. For this purpose, I purchased Metalcloak front fenders and had the paint sprayed with Superliner, a bed liner product produced in Austin, TX. They were local and very reasonably priced.

Here is ROK 1 - version 1 stripped down for hunting - stock lift.



Keep in mind, I had never been rock crawling or off roading for that matter since I was a child in my buddy's CJ5 some 30 years ago. I have had trucks and dirt bikes, but never intended to crawl. My first trip out was the dove season opener, where I realized that 35's on stock suspension was not going to work. With four of us in the Jeep, I bottomed out all weekend long, so it was time to research lift kits.

I knew I did not want to go too high, partially because I could not afford a long arm and I did not want to weld, but mostly because I wanted to stay low COG. Little did I know low COG would cost more in the long run and welding is a big part of owning a Jeep :).

After a bit of research, I ordered up an OME 2.5" lift with a steering stabilizer, an SYE, Currie front and rear track bars, a set of Currie upper rear control arms, a UCF no-BL needed aluminum skid, along with a Currie Anti-Rock front sway. I installed the lift myself and have a local shop do the SYE.



OK, so now I have to admit, the off roading bug started nibbling and last winter I decided to take a trip to Hidden Falls, a local off road park less than an hour away. I thought this as pretty radical at the time. Little did I know that would change as well. Rock crawling is a lot more fun than I thought it would be.



Next, I decide that I want to go for an off road excursion over the summer and pick the Lake City / Telluride area for a two week overlanding trip with my GF. Having never done a trip like that before, I decide to take the Jeep to the next level. For mods, I add a Warn M8000s winch, a UCF aluminum winch mount, 4.88 gears, ARB lockers, a spare wheel assembly, a Rancho rear bumper / tire carrier, a custom Rotopax water / fuel system, Metalcloak 6" front / rear fenders, a Smittybilt CRES and a custom aluminum safari rack. I also decided to re-purchase a set of full doors and a hard top, as I sold the original parts to fund my first round of mods. We were determined to rough it, so we left the hard top home and drove out topless. It was hotter than hell driving through west Texas and rained every day in Colorado. Should have thought that one through as well.





Loaded for bear and away we go. By far the coolest trip I have ever taken. We hit all the main trails including Black Bear and Poughkeepsie Gulch, which had a sign warning travelers that winches and lockers were highly recommended. How bad could it be? ...so we decide to traverse it at dusk in a down pour. Not one of my better decisions, but we made it out safely and decided to try going up the gulch the next day after everything dried up.







After returning, I realized my rear springs were no match for the weight we were carrying and decided to learn spring / suspension technology. After experimenting with several spring rates, I decided to remove the stock spring dampener, replacing the front with a 1.25" spacer and the rear 160# OME 942 springs with a heavier rate LJ 949's at 216# and a 1.75" spacer. This drastically improved the loaded ride height and did not affect the unloaded ride in any way whatsoever.

I also found that having a .5-.75" rake with a heavier rear spring radically improved the climbing characteristics while rock crawling. Prior to this change, the rear was loading over uphill obstacles and unloading the front, which was causing major problems over advanced terrain.



This was my first trip out to Katempcy Rocks K2, AKA, the Moab of Texas. Their easiest trails are like the hardest trails at Hidden Falls. OK, sink or swim - I'm going rock crawling...in the rain no less.






So, I learned another valuable lesson, trying to carry extra fuel, water is best left for overlanding. I didn't like the tire carrier banging into my tailgate and drug my tire in the dirt trying to get over that Bus Stop. I also banged the crap out of my stock gas tank skid and bent my lower control arms. Time to do more research.

The next phase of mod's included selling my rear bumper tire carrier and UCF low clearance skid, then ordering a full set of Rockmen LCA's, a UCF no body lift needed aluminum gas tank skid, a UCF Ultra low aluminum transfer case skid, a UCF low profile transfer case mount and a Novak shifter cable.

I chose the Rockmen LCA's because I liked the fact that they were oversized. 1.75" lower ams and 1.25" uppers with Johnny Joints on all ends. I changed out the front lower axle mounts with the Johnny Joint set up as well. Now I am JJ on every joint, I have the pinion set up well, stretched the arms back to retain stock wheelbase and take my Jeep to a suspension specialist who dials in my alignment, which removed any shimmy whatsoever from the ride quality. I am simply amazed how well this Jeep drives.

I can cruise 75-80 mph on the highway like it is nothing. I also experimented removing my rear sway bar and hated it. The handling was downright scary and there is no way I could drive on road that way. Testing on an RTI ramp proved that there was a minimal gain in stretch from removing the sway and an increased amount of body roll offroad, so back on it went.

The next set of improvements included suspension seats, outboarding my rear shocks, a full sport cage, shaving my lower LCA mounts, a 40" LED light bar, rock lights a Tuffy conceal carry storage drawer, a Tuffy oversize rear storage drawer, a custom aluminum rear storage tray, an Agate interior swap, an 03 switch panel replacement, a set of Savvy aluminum rear corners, relocated my Hi-Lift to the hood, I mounted my spare inside the cab for now and a Savage bowless soft top, which does fit over a Poly rear sport cage, just in case anyone is interested.

Here are how things stand today. Happy Jeeping









PRP Podium suspension seats
http://www.wranglerforum.com/f5/my-new-prp-seats-204124.html

Out-boarded my rear shocks
http://www.wranglerforum.com/f5/out-boarded-my-shocks-202151.html

Sport cage install
http://www.wranglerforum.com/f5/my-sport-cage-install-194405.html

40" TWF light bar
http://www.wranglerforum.com/f5/twf-40-light-bar-installed-225920.html

Rock light install
http://www.wranglerforum.com/f5/custom-rock-lights-using-oznium-led-floods-225924.html

99 to 03 switch panel replacement
http://www.wranglerforum.com/f5/installed-a-2003-switch-panel-in-my-99-a-204126.html

Savvy aluminum rear corners / tailgate cover
http://www.wranglerforum.com/f5/met...-savvy-corners-play-nice-together-225913.html

Safari Rack and tire carrier systems
http://www.wranglerforum.com/f5/fabd-safari-rack-and-tire-carrier-rotopax-mod-178399.html

Cheap Hi-Lift hood mounts
http://www.wranglerforum.com/f5/hi-lift-jack-hood-mount-on-the-cheap-204129.html

Interior mounted spare
http://www.wranglerforum.com/f5/mounted-my-spare-inside-for-now-204127.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Mine is sprayed with Super liner, a product sold in Austin TX.
It holds up well against everything except sliding on rocks, but not much does.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Yeah, I really like the bed lined finish. What did you do for the Rubicon label. Is it sprayed with bed liner or paint? Ordinary spray paint seems to take to mine very well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
Your jeep is amazing man! Its the same set up im going for but with a green jeep. Well done! Where did you get your rack from?
Thanks - had the rack made by a small marine outfitter in Austin

How did you guys get the Bed liners to look smoother then most Bed liners? All the ones I have seen look really rough but y'all's looks ALOT better.
It's the nature of the product. Superliner from Bedliner.com
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
I am not sure what Imped did with RC 2.5 springs, but I am sitting an inch and a half higher on the MC springs than I was on 933 OME springs with an additional .75 spacer, but I also took 40lbs off the front by swapping fenders.
 

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Discussion Starter · #41 ·
I don't know if it was his main reason but he had a taller spring in the front than in the rear to help level it out and to take away from the factory take some. Went with the RC's because of their unsprung length.

Which is why I am so interested in the cloak springs as you are, unsprung length. No more coils unseating at full droop. The jeep will eventually be 4 linked with mid arms in the rear so I would love to have a spring that can support a 12" or maybe even a 14" travel shock.
I will try to snap a picture later today, but you may want to consider selling your rear springsand bbuying the full MC set. I have a feeling the MC fronts are going to be taller. My front ride height (distance between the coil buckets) 16" if that helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #46 ·
...so I have learned a lot over the past year of building, wheeling and reading. If I had the money, I would have just purchased an 05-06 Rubi, left it stock and wheeled the crap out of it. That leads me to the next set of modifications to the TJ, which I have planned for this spring - a custom 4-link rear and a 3-link front suspension system based on the Metalcloak Duraflex end links.

If all goes well, I will start tearing it down in the next few weeks. I special ordered a set of 1-1/4 right and left hand links from Will at Metalcloak, which should be here early May.

I decided on TMR's frame mounts, since they come fully welded, TNT trusses and axle side brackets from Ballistic Fab. To balance the system, I am upgrading my shocks to Bilstein 7100 series short body shocks, which provide better mounting clearances and should yield a balanced 7" travel up and down - front and rear.

Although this is my first custom Jeep system, it is far from my first custom job, as I have modded out everything from choppers, GP race bikes, 100+ mph power boats and 1,000+HP street cars.

This will be a basic suspension geometry upgrade - no axles, stretch or custom steering, because my goal is to complete the system over a weeks timeframe max and get back on the trails. My plan is to draw a line in the sand after this upgrade and stop here. If I loose an axle, then I will go to a fabricated 609, but hopefully not for a while. Any mods past this point will be for the sole purpose of loosing weight.

The next logical step would be to stretch, upgrade the axles. ORI struts and 42" tires, but I cannot justify the cost for a Jeep and believe the money would be better served to just buy / build a purpose built buggy. A Jeep / Juggy simply cannot compete with a well built tube chassis on similar size tires.

The way I look at it, there are way more trails I can do, while still having fun on 35's. Depending on who I roll with, I can hang with light modded Jeeps and help them conquer new obstacles or go out with buggy's for a challenge. It really trips them out when I can do the same trails in a sleeper TJ on 35's.

Stay tuned, as I will post pictures of the upgrade as it evolves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #50 ·
Just wondering if you have gotten your MC Duroflex joints yet? I am planning to build a set of CAs using them and savvy aluminum CA arms. I am a little nervous though because not many people are using these joints yet. Any thoughts?
Yes, I already have my Duroflex joints. I haven't installed them, but they look great. Not concerned about longevity, because they are so easy to rebuild.

This is crazy...I saw a craigslist posting for the custom roof racks and thought..."That is my dream jeep".Then BAM, I see you here from looking at Imped's build thread lol. Just from pictures I saw exactly everything I wanted to do to mine! I just moved to Austin a couple months ago and been looking for people to talk/wheel with. If I ever get the chance to see that thing up close, I'm gonna be drooling!

Speaking of which....any local clubs you recommend? I've been looking at Austin Jeep Exclusives and Hill Country Crawlers.
Honestly haven't looked into any clubs. I typically just go out to HF whenever and hit up the private ranches when they have open weekends.
 

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Discussion Starter · #51 ·
FYI, I am selling all my Metalcloak / Bilstein suspension components, Savvy aluminum corner armor, Rockmen adjustable control arms, UCF gas tank skid, front and rear adjustable Johnny Join track bars and OR-Fab tire can carrier, Metalcloak front aluminum fenders, rear Metalcloak rear 6" flares, Metalcloak rock rails and front / rear Currie bump stop kits. Check out the for sale section for details.
 

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Discussion Starter · #53 ·
Pretty much with the exception of a fuel cell and struts. Need to order ORi's, new fenders and a fuel cell. I picked up a 2014 JKUR for overlanding, so I'm going to stretch the rear 9" with comp cut outs and fabricate aluminum boat sides.
 

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Discussion Starter · #56 ·
When are you dropping a "427" in? :happyyes:
Need to get the stretch / 4-Link done, then the next stage is D60's, full hydraulic, a front stretch and 40's. Next stage after that is some kind of LSX (probably an LS3 Corvette take out, unless I get a good deal on n LS7), an Atlas and an automatic swap. Not sure if a TH400 will fit, but that would be my preference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #58 ·
Received a lot of parts over the past few weeks and started tearing down the front end this weekend. I decided to 4-link the front & rear, going with a rear mounted radiator and plan on tubing out the front & rear. I am selling a lot of parts that I don't need - aftermarket and OEM. If anyone is interested, check out my part out thread.







 
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