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Discussion Starter #1
I bought this Copperhead Pearl 2014 Unlimited Rubicon on May 23rd.

It is not my first Jeep but it is my first Wrangler.




Here's why I bought it:
  • I've been wanting a Wrangler since I was 15. One more item knocked off the bucket list. :)
  • My Z4 is not a very good winter car (duh!) and I can't keep relying on the wife's SUV.
  • I bought a country house in Vermont and need a country vehicle.
  • After being hit by two hurricanes (Irene and Sandy) and freak snow and ice storms in recent years, I want a good get-out-of-Dodge-no-matter-what vehicle for the next storm or zombie apocalypse.
  • I wanna go wheeling!
My offroading skills are basic and rusty (sold my GC Overland in 2006) and I'll be wheeling on class 4 roads in Vermont which while sometime challenging aren't really Moab or the Rubicon trail!

This thread will chronicle my built. It will be a slow build, I'll add things like a lift and armor as I need them. For now my skills will probably be limiting me more than the Jeep.
 

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Can't wait to see how she grows up! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The stock Jeep

These are the options I got:

  • Manual 6-speed transmission
  • Dual Top group
  • Connectivity Group with Bluetooth
  • Max Tow package
  • Supplemental Front Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
  • Air Conditioning with Automatic Temperature Control
  • Heated seats
  • Engine Block Heater
Didn't care for leather seats or Nav in a Wrangler nor for the Rubicon X bumper and hood, which is why I didn't get the X package.

The manual tranny? Well I learned to drive manual at the tender age of 11 on a farm tractor and love DIY shifting. Both the Jeep and my Z4 have manual gearshifts. If I were to rock crawl in Utah I'd get an automatic but since I'm not...
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Stage 1 - cosmetic and convenience stuff

Covered some of the basics in week 1:

Outside:
  • MOPAR Door guards
  • Rugged Ridge mesh grill insert
  • AntennaX Off-Road 13-inch antenna
  • Rampage locking gas door
  • Antitheft license plate screws, painted black
  • Started painting recovery points in red
Inside:
  • Smittybilt first aid bag
  • Smittybilt G.E.A.R. tailgate organizer
  • Installed the Jeep handles that came with it
  • Kobalt bit and socket set
  • Jumper cables
  • LED D-cell Maglite
  • Fire extinguisher & Smittybilt holder
Basic trail & recovery stuff:
  • Crown D-Ring shackle assembly for tow hitch
  • Recovery straps and shackles
  • ARB tire deflator
  • Quadratec folding shovel
  • Smittybilt trail axe







 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks guys. A winch and front skid plate should be going on next weekend! :happyyes:
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Something's happening...

 

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Discussion Starter #10

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Discussion Starter #11
Stage 1 - Recovery

Added the basic recovery stuff:

  • VDP stubby bumper ends
  • RockHard winch plate
  • Superwinch TigerShark 9500
  • Skid Row front skid plate
  • Quadratec Offroad Recovery Kit
  • Finished painting all my towhooks and shackles red
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Stage 1 - Sway bar disco skid plate

The Skid Row Offroad front air dam/skid plate I had installed looks good but does not extend to the sway bar disconnect motor ($1,600 to replace if broken!)

I ordered the sway bar skid plate from the same company.

Two unexpected things happened.

First, the two skid plates may be from the same company but they are not designed to be used together even though their functions are complementary!
You can see here that both plates are designed to be bolted to the crash bar but that the sway bar skid plate extends beyond that same crash bar preventing them to both be bolted there:



I ended up securing the front skid plate only at the bumper, with some small screws between the two plates to keep it from vibrating. The bottom skid plate is the beefier and most critical one anyway. It actually looks good from the front.



Second, I discovered that the rear brackets holding the sway bar skidplate were built the wrong way.
On this picture you can see a "lip" extending to the rear (left on the picture) when it's supposed to be on the other side:



Compare this to their own website's pic:



This manufacturing defect caused one of those lips to come dangerously close to the pitman arm when the steering wheel was about center. In fact the rubber bushing was rubbing lightly against the bracket. Potential for my steering to freeze on me! :nonono:

I'm going to call them on Monday, but couldn't wait for a resolution as I'm leaving for Vermont for the summer next weekend and want to go wheeling.
I ended up trimming the offending lip off the bracket:



and now I have 3/4" of clearance between the pitman arm and the bracket at their closest point:



Problem solved for now. What should have been a 1/2 hour install took a couple of evenings. :atomic:

In retrospect I may have been better off going with the Mopar skid plate for about the same overall price. Though the plate itself is very sturdy (3/16") and I'm glad I was able to make it work.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Stage 1 - Engine & transmission skid plate

My next install this week was the Rock Hard engine oil pan and transmission skid plate.

This was supposed to be a straightforward installation but again two unforeseen delays:
  • There were not instructions in the package I received from Quadratec!
  • The OEM transfer case skid plate has "lips" extending around its front bolts that interfere with the large, tapered washer used by the Rock Hard kit (they share two bolts when installed)
The instructions part was resolved by finding a very nice DIY video on YouTube. Gotta love the Intrawebs.
The OEM skidplate part was resolved by trimming off those little lips to make the skid plate flat:



The rest of the installation is as easy as juggling a 53 Lbs chunk of metal while squeezed between a concrete slab and a two ton Jeep can be. :)
The result looks great, leaves plenty of clearance for the suspension and provides great protection. The scratches are from installation, there will be more from rock pretty soon I'm sure!



You can see here how some bolts are shared with the factory transfer case plate:



Overall a very nice product. Not sure what happened to those instructions.
 

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Good stuff! I love these build threads and wish I started one myself. Your Jeep looks really good.

Hey did you notice any reception loss in either AM or FM after installing the AntennaX?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Good stuff! I love these build threads and wish I started one myself. Your Jeep looks really good.

Hey did you notice any reception loss in either AM or FM after installing the AntennaX?
Thanks!

I listen mostly to XM and my iPhone, occasionally FM and never AM.

FM seems to work fine. Didn't even try AM.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Stage 1 - Evap canister skid plate

I completed the skid plate upgrade by replacing the flimsy evaporative canister shroud with a Poison Spyder skid plate.

The installation is straightforward enough (the removal instructions are for older Jeep models but it's not rocket science to figure it out). The skid is top quality (massive, well built and showing nice welds) but the supplied bolts are crap. A quick run to Home Depot and 1 hour and $1 in bolts later the job is done.



That should do it for armor for now. The OEM rubi rock rails, transfer case skid plate and fuel tank plate should more than match what I'll throw at them. If they don't, I'll upgrade as I see fit!

I did lose about 1/2 in front after adding 200 Lbs of steel plates and winch. A 1" Teraflex or OME front spring spacer will be my next mod...
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Love the KOBALT set and build, which set is that?
Kobalt 63 Piece Interchangable Ratchet Driver Set

$60 bucks at Lowe's. It has the Torx bits and fits perfectly in the cubby under the carpet.

I may get a few larger metric sockets to upgrade it.
 
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