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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
So today I installed the VersaMount 2 from CoolTech, along with a powered iPhone holder from Proclip USA.

I needed a convenient place to hold my phone because the Pioneer NEX has Apple CarPlay which requires the phone to be plugged in to usb, and I didn't want a long usb cable just hanging around. When getting in the car you have to plug in the phone, it takes two hands, it's a hassle and it's messy looking. And I like the phone to be somewhat in view, not stuffed in the console.
I almost gave up though because I didn't like any of the options I was seeing.
I don't like the mounts on top of the dash. To me, they are ugly and too high.
I don't like any of ProClips solutions. Bad placement and again, ugly.
I didn't want it on the left pillar, that's too far from the radio and power source.
I didn't want to block any AC vents or the radio or any other controls.

Finally, I came across the VersaMount... typically used for CB radios.
This worked out perfect! Perfect placement, just right of the radio, it attaches to the left side of the passenger grab bar.
It takes up ZERO usable space.
The phone is in plain view but not blocking my view of anything.
And with the ProClip holder mounted to it, I can just get it, place it in the holder with one hand and it's now charging and has the direct connection to the radio for CarPlay.

This is the VersaMount.



In order to attach the ProClip phone holder, I had to remove the base from it and drill 4 new holes through the VersaMount.
Then use some 3/8" screws, nuts and two washers on each.





I didn't want the bright silver hardware to stand out so I just brushed on a little black automotive paint I had laying around.



And the final installed setup...





 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Today I installed the Rugged Ridge Spartacus Tire Carrier!
I got a great price on it from Rubitrux. Big thanks to RubiTruxBen here on the forums.
Real quick shipping too.

Install went pretty smooth.
The instructions were very clear and easy to follow for the most part.
The only thing I noticed that seemed a little "off" was when installing the new hinge section, the 3 holes in the top hinge bracket matched up perfectly, but then when I went to attach the bottom hinge, the two holes on the left side of it were lower than the holes in the tailgate by quite a bit. I just barely got them threaded in.
I don't know if it was purposely designed this way or if something was just off with the hinge.
The hinge itself seemed lined up perfectly with the recess in the tailgate. Just the holes seemed off.
Anyway, it's on, everything is tight/secure and the rest of it install went smoothly.
So far it seems very strong and stable.
The tire itself was lifted several inches higher than the stock carrier which is great because I needed to clear the hitch mounted bike rack I'm installing. The stock tire mount was too low.
The tire was sitting maybe an inch above the recess in the bumper.
The tire is also nicely tucked up close to the tailgate. The carrier does not adjust just up and down but adjusts fore and aft, as well as tilting up and down.

At the moment, I'm very pleased with this carrier. Especially at around $250 cheaper than the Teraflex unit. For my use, I couldn't justify that much scratch.










 

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hey bud, do you have a photo of the front of jeep? specifically how it looks with the cut bumper?
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
hey bud, do you have a photo of the front of jeep? specifically how it looks with the cut bumper?
Oddly enough, I do not have a pic of the front since I trimmed it.
But it's not the bumper, it's just the air damn underneath.
Looks normal and basically unnoticeable.
I'll try to get a pic snapped for you soon.
 

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no worries! i thought you cut the bumper.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Had the whole thanksgiving week off work so I got some more stuff done.
First, headed back to the audio shop and they swapped out the temporary sub box for the JL Audio Stealthbox that is made specifically for our Jeeps.
I chose the left side location. It's nice to have my full cargo space back and it sounds awesome.
The only thing to note is that is mounts to two of the stock hardtop bolts. This probably adds an extra minute or so if you are going to remove your top.
You'd have to swing the brackets out of the way, then once the top is off, put those two bolts back to secure the sub.
Other than that, I'm very happy with this sub and I highly recommend it. Takes up space that would otherwise go unused and leaves the storage area under the floor available.
I'm still amazed at the CLARITY of this whole audio setup. Even standing outside the jeep it sounds incredible.







Then finally... I installed a lift! I went with the AEV 2.5" with their geo correction brackets.
Install wasn't quite as painless as I had hoped... but figuratively and literally! lol

The rears went fairly smooth. I did have to make one quick call to AEV because there was a missing detail or two in the instructions pertaining to the rear track bar hardware. But the major problem I encountered was with the rear sway bar links. First, the AEV instructions say to remove them completely. You don't really need to remove the links from the sway bar. The problem was that these bolts were a BITCH to get out. Then later when I went to put them back in, the left side would not thread! The nut would go on about an inch and then just bind. Both the upper and lower bolts. The end of one bolt stripped a little. Spent some time cutting off the first couple threads. Still wouldn't work. Then the inner nut against the busing stripped. I'd say I lost a good 2 hour or more fighting with these things on the left side. The right went back on easily. So now I'm sitting there with one sway bar link missing. I gave up and started searching for a replacement. It was now 3pm (I started at 8:30am and skipped lunch) and I missed the cut-off for overnight shipping from most places. Found the Rugged Ridge rear links on Amazon and they come with new hardware. So i was able to get those with 2nd day delivery. AEV recommends keeping the OEM links because they are built tough, but oh well. I'll have shiny new ones.
I was told later by another forum member that the upper and lower bolts are threaded with a different pitch, so I may have had the wrong nuts on the wrong bolts. Why Jeep would do this I have nooooo freakin clue. And I really thought I had put aside the correct bolt with the correct nut when I removed them, but who knows. What's done is done and I have new rear links.

Meanwhile, I was able to move on to the front. No major issues here! Just time consuming. The biggest pain was the front brake line brackets. That's some thick-ass steel. I just couldn't pry them open. Ended up carefully scoring a line all the way across with a dremel cut-off wheel, cutting into it at least halfway. Then they pried open fairly easily with my vice grips. The other issue I ran into was the top nut of the front shocks. I also had to call AEV again because the illustration on the instructions shows the rubber bushings and cup washers stacked. It does not show the stop shock mount between them and it doesn't say to get rid of the oem top bushing. So i had to confirm all that. Then trying to tighten the top bolt, the allen wrench thing just wasn't working, even after cutting away some of the plastic fender liner. What I found worked really well was using a vice grip with some protective rubber or duct tape on the shaft of the shock to hold it. Doesn't take a lot of pressure. Then I was easily able to tighten the top nut with a ratchet. AEV does not say how much to tighten. I tighten until the rubber bushing looked compressed a bit and I had at least 1/4" of threads visible. After that, everything went back together smoothly. The jeep was put back on the ground, wiggled around a bit and everything torqued. By this point, including the time wasted on the rear links, I probably spent about 15 hours on install.

Then finally, I installed the AEV geo correction brackets. This was the easiest out of all of it.
Spent almost two hours on this part including torquing everything.

The problem I had with the AEV instructions is their lack of details.
I know some things may be self explanatory to someone with a lot of experience but you know there are a lot of newbs attempting this, some more green than myself, so put in a little extra effort and address these.

Now, onto the ride.
I have to admit, I'm pretty disappointed.
During my research I kept hearing how great the AEV on-road ride quality was. I have to call B.S.
Handling is most definitely improved. Body roll is greatly reduced. But the ride quality is much harsher than stock.
And yes, everything was torqued while back on the ground, no bushing binding.
One reason I got the jeep was because I was tired of my lowered euro sedans rough ride over crappy city streets and now I'm back to that.
I even feel like there is a deep bass while going over bumps that I can feel in my ear drums... Like I feel like i need to crack the windows open or something. That's the best way to explain it.

So I've already ordered some Rancho 9000xl adjustables to replace the Bilsteins.
After further research the last couple days it seems I am far from the only one with this issue, especially on a light jeep with no aftermarket bumpers, winch and other gear. From what I've read, the rancho's really help. I want to keep the springs. So hopefully I'll end up with a nice compromise of handling and ride comfort. After an Amazon discount for using some credit card points to order, it only cost me $247 out of pocket so if they help it will be more than worth it.
My next step will be the JKS front links with yellow springs.

I've also seen people mention that you can try using the middle set of holes on the geo brackets since a light jeep probably ended up with more than 2.5" of lift.
Would that improve ride comfort?

I'll report back late next week on the shocks. They should be in on Wednesday. :)

Here's a before and after of the lift!



 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Got my Rancho 9000xl's yesterday.
Problem was, one of them had arrived damaged/used! It was dented, had no pressure, was leaking oil, hardware bag was opened... obviously installed, damaged and returned. Freaking Amazon... they are getting worse and worse!

But I went ahead and installed the other three... the two rear and the one front.
Set the front to 5 (bilsteins are probably at least a 7 though) and the rears to 3.
I can already feel an improvement. Still firm but it took the edge off. Still handles very well. Don't know if it's just my imagination but the rear seems less bouncy after going over road heaves.

Will have the replacement Rancho in a couple days and will drop the fronts to 4 and see how that feels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Got the replacement shock.
Fronts are currently set to 4 and rears to 3.
Soooooo much nicer on city roads compared to the Bilsteins.
Really took the edge off. Over the bigger bumps it's still firm and feels like a jeep but all the harshness over the little road imperfections is gone. And it still handles very well.

I'm going to keep the Bilsteins as spares for now and may switch back to them down the road if I ever load the jeep up with bumpers and stuff.
But for now, the Ranchos are the way to get the on-road ride quality that is promised with this kit.
At least on a light build.
 

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Really comin along well, Dennis.

I'm glad to see your mention of the Rancho 9000xl shocks. I'm considering replacing the Rubi Red shocks with the Rancho maybe in the spring. I have no problem with the ruby shocks but they can be a bit harsh in small road imperfections and although I'm pleasantly surprised they ride as good as they do, I'm always looking to improve.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Love that red @d2mini, Jeep is looking good!
Jeep looks great, you have made some good choices!
Really comin along well, Dennis.

I'm glad to see your mention of the Rancho 9000xl shocks. I'm considering replacing the Rubi Red shocks with the Rancho maybe in the spring. I have no problem with the ruby shocks but they can be a bit harsh in small road imperfections and although I'm pleasantly surprised they ride as good as they do, I'm always looking to improve.
Thanks, guys! I appreciate the comments. :)

So far so good with the Rancho's.
They definitely took the edge off and I have since turned the dial one more notch on the front so I'm running at setting 3 all around.

I've been dying to take some more photos of the Jeep but the weather has sucked recently! I was out there today under the carport washing it as it was raining. lol
Looks like we have some sun this coming week so I should finally be able to take some pics. Not only of the jeep itself but I also got the Springtail Solutions molle rack/table for the tailgate.
Other than that, waiting to see if Santa brings me any minor goodies this year. :worthy:
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
I was rushed and had my little girl with me but I stopped to take a couple pics today.
I think this is the first time the jeep has been clean since the lift.







 

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I was rushed and had my little girl with me but I stopped to take a couple pics today.
I think this is the first time the jeep has been clean since the lift.









Nice!
 

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Your pictures (image quality) are very nice, as is your build. Do you mind telling me what camera you used?
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
Your pictures (image quality) are very nice, as is your build. Do you mind telling me what camera you used?
Thank you. :)
Throughout this thread I have used either my Nikon D750 or my Leica M.
This last batch was the Leica with 21mm and 90mm lenses.
Shot in raw and processed through Lightroom.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Took my daughter to the beach today, it was 72 degrees!
The Springtail Solutions table came in handy. :)






And a few other shots on this gorgeous day...







 
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Took my daughter to the beach today, it was 72 degrees!
I hate you right now. :rant: Snow on the ground here, won't melt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
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