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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone.

In July I purchased a 2014 Rubicon Unlimited; granite crystal metallic. We purchased this as our family fun vehicle but it is also my daily driver. Though we're not new to having fun outdoors and driving dirt roads in the mountains and stuff, we are new to wheeling for the sake of wheeling. We've already had a ton of fun!

Given I wheel with my wife and two kids I've focused primarily on upgrades that will give us a better chance of making it home with as little ordeal as possible should something happen (get stuck or whatever). Also, I've enjoyed working on these mods myself and after a $700 bumper sat in my garage for two months before I could put it on I realized I only have time for so much. Lift, big tires, it will all come, probably slowly. Oh well.

Anyway, here are a couple of shots of Beefcake. In the first, she's bone stock, still wearing temp tags and getting wet for the first time. The next is how she sits today with the following upgrades:

- Mopar trailer hitch and wiring
- Rugged Ridge tailgate mount Hi-lift jack holder
- Rugged Ridge euro taillight guards
- Warn Elite front bumper with guard
- Smittybilt X2O-10 Gen2 Winch
- Rugged Ridge front and rear lower control arm bracket skids
- 9/16" bolt upgrade on LCA's and trackbars (where current/planned upgrades didn't/don't supply new bolts)
- Mopar fuel door
- Heated leather seats (katzkin)
- Quadratec entry gaurds
- Teraflex tailgate table
- Quadratec cargo floor liner
- OR-Fab vacuum pump relocation kit
- Teraflex performance leveling kit (springs only, see below)
- Front sway bar links - using stock rear JK sway bar links up front
- Spidertrax 1.5" wheel spacers

Current Jeep Profile ------> HERE

I hope to use this thread to provide some useful information as I install these upgrades and maybe meet some like minded folks.

Enjoy!

-Beefcake5000-
 

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Build Thread Queen
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Nice jeep! Congratulations! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Teraflex Tailgate Table and Quadratec Cargo Liner

So, two of my first "mod's" were the Teraflex tailgate table and the Quadratec cargo liner. There is nothing notable about either one, but together they present some issues.


Tailgate Table

We got it because we picnic with the kids when we go out and it seemed handy. So far it has been. This was not a difficult install, but it did have me very nervous because I was about to drill holes into the body of a jeep for which I didn't even have real license plates yet. Also, I'm not a fan of the paper template method of identifying hole locations which is what this kit uses. I guess I'm not sure how else you would do it though. The kit also uses nut-certs which can be a pain if you screw up the holes you drill; luckily I did not. I was skeptical of the nut-certs but the table is solid. It has rubber bumpers so it doesn't rattle. It does eat into cargo space some as I found out when I went to install this...


Quadratec Cargo Liner

Easiest install to date ;). Put it in, went to shut the tailgate and it wouldn't shut. This thing has a huge lip around the edge and the tailgate table was hitting the lip when shutting the tailgate. Easy fix, I just cut the lip off (see picture). I probably could have been more elegant and fit it just right instead of chopping the whole thing off. As for the liner, its very light and easy to clean. On the other hand it doesn't seem like it would be as durable as the Mopar thick rubber liners.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Congrats! Looking forward to your build....
Thanks. Checked out your garage and was sorry to read about Lil Miss Badass. She looked, well, pretty badass. Hopefully all those in the vehicle were OK? Have you started into the new one yet?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Some new art work applied yesterday. From pixeldecals.com. Guess I haven't dealt with quality decals before. I was expecting more of the bumper sticker type experience. These things are awesome. The decal is actually cut per the design; they are not just clear vinyl with printing or something like that. They do take some care in installation. I ended up with one bubble I need to work out.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Rugged Ridge Lower Control Arm Skids

So, a couple of weekends ago I installed these. The first step on a long path to adding and upgrading the armor on this thing. The set I got came with both front and rear axle side LCA mounting bracket skids. Besides the skids, the kit comes with replacement LCA bolts for the end where you install the skid. The replacement bolts are 14mm, not as ideal as the 9/16" upgrade, but they are an improvement over factory in that they are partially threaded.

Overall the install is quite easy. Pull the factory bolt, slide the skid in place (note there are tabs that "hook" to the contour or shape of the brackets to hold them in place), insert new bolt and spacers (front only), torque to 130 ft-lbs. The spacers go between the skid and the factory bracket and I assume are required because the front factory brackets have a lip around the edge. Torqueing the bolts down to 130 ft-lbs was the hardest part of the install where I found myself employing all kinds of probably dangerous trickery to keep one side from spinning while I used what leverage I could get to torque on the other. Also, while I did this install I upgraded the frame side LCA bolts and axle side track bar bolts to 9/16".

These seem like they will provide good protection from front, and to some extent, bottom impact; especially in the rear where they cup the bracket and even have a beefy extension protecting the shock mount. One thing I did not expect or think about is that these do decrease ground clearance slightly; maybe 1/4" or so.

Issues: The fit of the skid/spacer/front-factory-bracket was not as snug as I would have liked, however the skid did sort of conform to the bracket when torqued up and in the end everything seemed snug. Also, the kit requires 4 spacers total (according to the instructions); two for each front skid. Well mine came with only two. So, I actually installed only 3 of the skids the first go around and waited for Amazon (where I bought it) to send a replacement kit so I could scavenge two spacers out of it. I did also contact Rugged Ridge (Omix-Ada) and they offered to send the parts as well, but the Amazon route was faster. Here is the interesting part of this: the replacement kit sent by Amazon was also short two spacers! Some kind of quality issue going on there.

These pictures show the front and rear skids (first 2 are front, last 2 are rear). In the 2nd picture you can see how the skid conformed to the bracket; the sides of the skid that are bolted started out perfectly flat.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Mopar Mud Flaps - Front

This year Santa brought me a set of Mopar front mud flaps. Since adding the TF Performance Leveling Kit and 1.5" wheel spacers I noticed the side of the jeep, particularly the door handles, were always dirty. Well, after the first couple of winter weather events that left my hand covered in road muck whenever I opened the door I decided I needed to do something different. These mud flaps seemed to get good reviews on the forum and some even reported they took significant abuse off-road without much issue.

The install was one of the easiest to date; it literally only took 30 minutes or so. Basically, per side, the install entails cutting off two plastic rivets that attach the fender flare to the fender liner, insert two threaded clips in their place, put in 3 screws and 3 of those Christmas tree looking things similar to what is used to hold interior body panels together (not sure what they are called). You do have to drill 4 holes per side (one for a screw and 3 for the Christmas tree things). The second picture below shows the 3 screws and body attachment things. The top and bottom screw replace the two plastic rivets cut off. The middle screw and the body attachment things are where you have to drill holes.

Issues: Really no issues. It was easy. The instructions show to cut off the plastic rivet heads with a wire cutter like tool. My wire cutter didn't work because it was too thick to fit between the rivet head and the fender flare. Instead I used a razor blade to very carefully cut through the rivet without scratching the fender flare. Also, unless you have a low profile drill you will find you need to turn the wheels to drill straight and even then you may not get in real straight depending on the size of your drill. Its not like you're drilling through something real thick so it may not matter much as long as you're careful. You could always remove the wheel. I did not.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Grabars Front Grab Handles

So, at 5'1" getting in and out of the jeep is sort of a pain for my wife. Once I get a real lift, at 5'8" it may not be much better for me. Anyway, I came across these on a forum thread and liked the installed location in the jeep and their sturdiness seemed to be unquestioned. Overall, I would say these things are solid. After installing I pulled on them hard. Handle doesn't move but the entire jeep does.

The install was straight forward. For each side, remove two bolts near the upper corner of the windshield. One on the pillar and one above the windshield just outside of where the visor mounts. You then replace those bolts with new ones that insert through the handle, a long spacer, then finally into the body. As many have noted getting the two bolts through the handle and spacers and aligned with the holes in the body can be a pain. I threaded the new bolts without the spacers and handle into the body holes a ways just to ensure they started smoothly on their own and to maybe make it easier when going through the handles and spacers. Other than that I just followed the directions which state to start the top bolt (with handle and spacer) a few turns then do the side bolt getting it mostly tight, then tighten everything down. Also, as noted in the instructions there is the possibility of losing the factory bolt on the pillar behind the body panel if you are not careful when removing it. I used the suggestion in the instructions to stuff a paper towel in the gap. I also had a magnetic retrieval tool handy just in case but did not have any issues.

Issues: The body bolt holes and the hole in the Grabar on the passenger side were not aligned real nice. With the bolt started in the hole in the body the bolt head didn't want to sit in the recess on the Grabar. I basically just forced the handle back with my hand (took some force) while cranking on the bolt until the bolt head was recessed far enough into the handle.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Update/Review Mopar Front Mud Flaps

I posted this on another "splash guard" thread...

After having these installed for a few days they finally got some real use in some sloppy snow. As you can see in the picture below I'm still getting quite a bit of stuff hitting the lower rear door hinges and the rear fenders. It is better in that before installing the mud flaps my door handles would have looked just as bad (particularly the rears), but they don't eliminate the mess on the fenders.

I post this because many look at these more to protect painted flares and hinges from rock dings. With my setup, where you see snow in the picture there will also be rock impact! Note, I have the TF performance leveling kit and I'm running 1.5" wheel spacers. These may perform better without the spacers, not sure. I'll keep them at least for the winter since my main goal was to eliminate the dirty door handles (sounds dumb, but is my daily driver).
 

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Painting Poison Spyder Diff Cover

Painted my front diff cover yesterday. Overall it was pretty easy following the advice of several threads on this and other forums.

1) Prep: I bought the bare metal version so it needed to be cleaned inside and out. I used brake cleaner. It was definitely very dirty and oily so I would not skip this step. Also, to prevent getting paint on the threads of the drain plug hole I wrapped the drain plug in blue painter tape leaving some threads showing and then installed the drain plug until the tape hit the cover. Some folks do a bit more in terms of sanding and that sort of thing. I did not. This is not a show piece, its a home paint job that I expect to take some abuse. Also, I'm not a pro and would have bought the powder coat option if really concerned about having a "shiny" product appearance.

2) Applied several coats of Rustoleum self etching primer.

3) Applied several coats of flat black paint. Again Rustoleum.

4) To paint the spider I used a very small foam roller (about 1" wide). Sprayed the highlight paint (Rustoleum "Galvanized steel" color) onto a piece of paper and then used the roller to apply the paint. Being careful this worked pretty good and was pretty quick. I did have to go back and touch up the black using a small paint brush because it was easy to press a little too hard with the roller and it would contact the lower surface especially on curves.

As you can see in the picture it still needs some touch up on the spider. The highlight color came out more metallic and glittery than I would have liked. Should have tested it first. :facepalm:

Hopefully I'll be installing this in the near future.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Synergy Front Track Bar, Front Track Bar Brace, and Poison Spyder Diff Cover

A few weeks ago I installed all of these. Just haven't had time to post anything and still don't have decent picks of the diff cover installed. I chose the Synergy track bar because Synergy Mfg. told me (via email) that it would clear the Poison Spyder diff cover which is known for having issues with clearance with pretty much every track bar on the market. Whether it does clear the PS diff cover or not is for a future post. I haven't really flexed it yet. Just looking at the angles it looks to me like it will be close. Also, I will eventually lift this thing and will need an adjustable track bar so now was as good a time as any and Synergy seems to have a very good reputation.

The track bar and bracket went on fairly easy with one minor glitch noted below. I followed the supplied instructions and it mostly worked out fine. Because I read on this forum that the adjuster sleeve on the track bar is susceptible to rust, following the advice of another forum member KJeeper, I took apart the adjustor mechanism, cleaned it all real good with brake cleaner and coated the threads with anti seize compound. The diff cover was a pretty straight forward install as well.

The end result feels really solid. May have been the placebo effect of installing something new but I swear the front end just feels tighter now.

Issues: Ah, the fun of installing s**t yourself! The track bar brace is beefy. I had to disconnect the sway bar and raise it way up and out of the way because I could not fit the brace between the frame and sway bar to get it in place. If you look at the picture of the installed brace below, right behind the sway bar is supposed to be another bolt. I say supposed to be because I could not for the life of me get that bolt installed. The problem was that the brace holes did not line up perfectly with the factory holes. To get the trouble bolt in caused the track bar bolt holes to not line up; and they are tight. If not aligned perfectly the track bar bolt ain't going in the holes. I tried keeping everything loose, getting the track bar on and then tightening everything down, but then that caused that PITA bolt to shift and there was no way I could get a socket on it (did I mention that from the frame side that bolt is way up in the track bar bracket, at a funny angle and with the track bar on you have an opening about 1" square to work with to get at the bolt). Anyway, at some point I gave up; realizing that some folks actually cut off one of the brace ears to clear large springs I figured I could run without that little bolt. I'll come back at some point to do the sector shaft brace and at that time I may do some drilling to open up a better hole for the bolt I could not get in.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks! Slowly but surely...
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Update - Synergy Front Track Bar and PSC Bombshell Diff Cover

As I recently posted in this thread with pics:

http://www.wranglerforum.com/f202/bombshells-and-track-bars-1030121.html

I have some clearance issues between the PSC diff cover and synergy track bar. I ordered an ARB diff cover for the front so we'll see how that works. I'll try moving the PSC to rear axle so its not a total loss yet...
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Install Mountain Off Road (M.O.R.E.) Front Skid Plate

This past weekend I installed the M.O.R.E. front skid plate. As I posted here:

http://www.wranglerforum.com/f202/front-skid-for-warn-bumper-1155305.html

and as the OP of that thread noted, there are not too many front skid options for the Warn Elite Series Front Bumper. That being said, the MORE skid is pretty beefy, provides good coverage of the e-disco motor, and installed relatively easy. Looks as good as something mounted under the vehicle should look in my opinion (i.e., you don't really notice its there) though it does clean up the look of the e-disco motor just kind of hanging there behind the crash bar. However, there are some issues with the install and possibly the fit of this thing.

Install Notes: Essentially, the skid brackets mount under the stock sway bar brackets (that hold it to the frame) and then the skid bolts to those brackets and the crash bar. As with most of these front crash bar mounted skids for some model year and later you are expected to cut off the extra crash bar drop bracket. Jeep left this extra material hanging below the crash bar on each side. I used a sawzall then an angle grinder to clean it up and then hit it with some black rustoleum. BEFORE YOU DO THIS CUTTING SEE MY NOTES BELOW. I did have to completely unbolt the sway bar on both sides to drop it a little to get the skid brackets in (the instructions note that this might be necessary). The bracket on the passenger side is a tight fit due to wiring and the e-disco motor. Also, I did have to drill a hole where it mounts to the crash bar on the passenger side (also noted in the instructions).

Issues: So, everything installed fairly easily once the cutting was done. Which brings me to my first issue with this kit. WHY THE HECK DID I HAVE TO CUT THOSE ENDS OFF?!?! Once mounted to the brackets and snugged up the skid doesn't sit flush to the crash bar anyway! The gap is probably smaller than the amount of material removed, but if it isn't flush anyway then it wouldn't matter as long as you could still snug all the bolts down. Do yourself a favor if installing this kit and put the brackets on, tighten them down to spec, and then test fit the skid before doing any cutting. You might get away with just a little grinding or no cutting or grinding at all. In case you are wondering I checked all around for interference of some sort and could find none. I just doesn't sit flush. I think I will email MORE about this.

There does appear to be some very light contact between the e-disco motor housing and the skid. At the back of the housing (engine side) towards the bottom middle is a bolt holding the two halves of the housing together. The material around that bolt just barely rubs on the skid right at the rear lip of the skid if the motor/housing is rotated up. Not sure if this is a major issue or not or how much that housing actually moves around on its own but I will likely grind down the inside of the skid right there or possibly cut out a little notch just to be safe.

The only other issue is minor. For some reason MORE used threaded washer like things welded to the skid for nuts. I'm not sure why they didn't just skip that and use real nuts because the welded things seem kind of thin and I think the bolts are long enough.

Anyway, here are some pics.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Also, the latest addition to our jeep family. Looks like I'm going to have to join another forum!

1998 Cherokee (XJ) Sport - 117k miles and bone stock
 

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UPDATE: Install Mountain Off Road (M.O.R.E.) Front Skid Plate

So, as I mentioned on my install write-up I noticed some slight rubbing between the e-disco motor housing and the skid. Well, this was bothering me (thinking about how expensive that would be to replace, possibly warrantee problems, etc.) so I decided to pull the skid and cut a notch out where there was contact.

The picture below shows the notch cut out and I circled where there was contact with the e-disco motor.

(Horrible cutting job I know! All the false starts were because I was originally trying to cut it out in place, but I couldn't really get the dremel tool up in there at a good angle so I had to drop the skid).

The picture angle doesn't do the skid justice. It completely covers the motor and it does not protrude through the notch I cut out (again it was very light rubbing). Motor now moves around freely.
 

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