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Finally getting around to starting my own build thread. I'll start with the backstory then try to get my mods in chronological order and post those up with pics.

Near the middle of January, with the slow season approaching at work, I was looking for a way to get rid of some of my monthly payments. I had applied all my equity from my 2012 JKU trade in towards my 2014 JKU in February of last year, so that's where most of my available equity was tied up. So I went and talked to my friend at the local dealership about finding me a new Jeep and putting zero down and getting a check for my equity.

We spec'd out what I wanted and he did a search and just incredibly, boom, there's a Tank Sahara JKU just an hour away with all I want. We start working on paperwork while he calls to arrange a dealer swap. Insert brick wall here. Of the 40 some wranglers on this dealers lot, they decided it was a good idea to pull the only one that wasn't black white or silver to put 3" lift and 35's, at I can only imagine 200% mark up. No other Saharas in a 500 mile radius in Tank or my second color Sunset Orange. He asks if I have thought about the new blue pearl, as he found one in Morgantown that met all my other requirements. We worked out a deal that kept me under $100 more a month payment and got me back a check for $7500.

Three days later my new blue jeep showed up. Initially I wasn't sure about that color but figured I can always trade it in next year if I want to...

My new Jeep:
2015 Wrangler Unlimited Sahara
Hydro Blue Pearl Coat
6-speed Manual Transmission
3.73 gear ratio
Trac-Loc rear anti spin differential
UConnect
Black 3-piece Hard Top

Doing my final inspection I realized an oversight on my request list of options. No trailer hitch! I had forgot to mention that when I asked for the gears.

So that night I looked online and ordered a bundle from QT that had the hitch with bolts, wiring harness, and Jeep hitch plug.

No choice as I had dads trailer sitting in my driveway...

(To Be Continued...)

Joe
 

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FINALLY!!! :facepalm:

Just kidding! Great start so far! :thumb:
 

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Discussion Starter #3
FINALLY!!! :facepalm: Just kidding! Great start so far! :thumb:
What can I say, I'm a procrastinator...with ADHD...and a jeep that's way too much fun.
 

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Dhory getting traded in on a 2016 in 3...2....1..... :D
No way. The more sweat and blood I put into this thing the more and more I fall in love. The color has definitely grown on me a lot. I think this fish will always be in my pond.

Joe
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Alright, round two...

First "mod" was to transfer my Husky floormats into my new Jeep. Then I installed my AKC dog hammock in the rear seat to keep my 2 year old Siberian Husky, Nanuk, more comfortable. He loves riding with me in the Jeep, whether its down the highway or out in the woods.

I shopped around for some aggressive tires with good road manners, and liked the price and reviews of the General Grabber AT2s. I ordered 5 from Discount Tire Direct for $991 shipped to my house. I had already talked to my friend at the dealership about buying my stock tires when I found some to replace them.

I went from the stock Bridgestone Duelers in 255/70/18 to General Grabber AT2s in 275/70/18. Basically stock was 32x10 and the Grabbers are 33x11. Not a huge difference on paper, but here's how they look side by side, and before and after mounting them. IMO it makes a huge difference in the overall look and stance of my JKU.

Joe
 

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After looking around and deciding to go with a full width bumper, and with some help with getting the numbers crunched by XTRyan, I ordered a Rugged Ridge XHD Modular Winch Bumper along with the Full Width Endcaps and a 10,500# Rugged Ridge winch w/ synthetic line. I wanted a little protection for the front grille and also for the winch itself, so I added the Rugged Ridge Over-Rider Hoop to my order.

Some other odds and ends weren't shipped in the first bunch of boxes, but those are for a later post...

Joe
 

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Installation Day!!

With the parts sitting in my living room for over a week, and the snow outside finally melting a little bit, it was time to start thinking about when/where/how I'm going to install the new bumper. I work in the casino at The Greenbrier, and one of my friend that works cocktails tells me her boyfriend is busy that day working on his jeep...hmm... So I message him later that night, say hello, and ask him if he's got a day I can borrow his garage and a little help. We strike it off pretty well and with a case of beer in the Jeep, I head over a couple days later to tackle getting the bumper mounted. :beerme:

Removing the stock bumper went pretty smoothly, just a few stubborn nuts with not much room to work a wrench. Working from underneath, we popped off the air dam and set it aside, then disconnected the fog lights and removed the bulbs from the housings. Didn't really need to take those out but it was easier to disconnect the electrical plugs once the bulbs were free. Working with ratchet wrenches we backed the nuts off the stock bumper mounts from underneath, not worrying about that damn plastic gap cover after failing to get the soft plastic plugs to back out without stripping out the center screws.

Once we got the stock bumper off, we simply slid a prybar under the plastic cover between the frame rails and pulled the piece up to get the plugs from their holes.

Now the real fun!! Anyone else ever taken a cutting disc to a new Jeep with 2200 miles on it?!? A little nerve racking to say the least. But...that vacuum pump has to be moved for anyone installing a sunken winch front bumper. Rigged Ridge does supply the necessary bracket to relocate the pump, however, their destructions aren't super clear on how to mount it in the correct place. After a bit of finagling, taking a break to make sure we were reading it correctly, and finally getting it to sit down in the crossmember correctly, I drilled the hole and attached the vacuum pump securely to its new bracket. Then I used my Dremel tool and cutting disc to trim about two inches off the original stock mount. Hit the edge with some decent black spray paint, then hit around where we had to drill through the crossmember. That about did it for prep for the new bumper install.

Stock:
Bumper removed with pump in stock location:
After relocation the vacuum pump:
 

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Looks good, so far! Where's the rest? :D
 

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Install Part 2

Looks good, so far! Where's the rest? :D
Geez, tough crowd! lol

Ok, first thing we did at this point was to remove the stubby ends and bolt on the full width end caps. Really simple and interesting as its only three nuts per side, I think its realistic to possibly swap end caps if going out for a rough day on the trails. Next step was to reattach the stock fog light housings to the new bumper.

Then it was time to tackle the winch... Everything said its much easier to mount the winch before mounting the bumper, so that's what we did. Start off simply by running the winch electrical supply cables through the left side gap beside the winch plate. We removed the synthetic line completely from the winch spool, after looking back I'm not sure it was necessary because I think the fairlead would have been able to slide through the opening in the bumper, but it didn't add too much work to the project. So with the winch line removed, we rolled the winch and bumper together and slide in the box nuts and attached the winch to the bumper with the supplied bolts. Once we had the winch mated up to the bumper, I remembered someone saying its easier to attach the winch solenoid ground to the bottom of the winch housing before mounting the winch to bumper. So we unbolted the winch, attached the ground connection, and reinstalled the winch to the bumper.

Knowing that I was putting the over rider hoop on later, I used the supplied solenoid angle mount brackets to attach the solenoid above the winch spool. I ended up putting it on backwards, to where the solenoid angles back toward the Jeep's grille. That was initially an oversight, but it ended up working out better this way. Next we lifted the bumper/winch combo into position and lined everything up to loosely attach it to the Jeep frame by sandwiching the bumper between the frame rails and the supplied D-ring brackets. I ran the electrical supply cables under the grill, up in front of the A/C condenser, around the inside of the air box, around the fuse box, and attached to the (+) terminal of the battery using the extra studs already there from factory. The Negative cable was run in the same manner except around the outside of the air box and along the side of the engine compartment to the (-) terminal of the battery. Reattach the grille, tighten up the bumper mounting bolts, and OOPS! guess what we forgot....10 points if you noticed that the hawse fairlead is still lying somewhere along with the winch line. So we had to loosen up the winch mount bolts to slide the winch back enough to gain the clearance necessary to work the nuts behind the bumper face and get the bolts for the fairlead tightened down. Then retighten the winch mount bolts after pulling the winch back into the correct position.

Next step was the Over Rider Hoop. Simple install with 4 bolts per side, only issue here was making sure we angled the hoop forward to give the clearance to attach the winch controller to the solenoid box. One bolt on each side was stubborn but it was just due to tight tolerances around the base where the bend put the tube very close to the bolt head. Easy way to get around this was to put all the bolts through the holes then set the hoop onto the bumper and lower it as you tighten down the bolts. This way you're not fighting around that bend as the bolt heads stay flat against the base the whole time. I did notice just the other day that apparently I scratched the powder coat enough during this part of the install to allow some rust to start forming. Plan to touch that up later this week.

Install complete! Only thing left to do was to reattach the synthetic line to the spool and winch it onto the spool. RR gives you two sections of tubular webbing already installed on the winch rope. One section is to be used as a heat shield and goes on the first wrap of rope around the drum to prevent it from damaging the rope if heavily used and the winch starts to run hot. The other section of webbing is your standard chafe guard that can be slid anywhere you need to protect the synthetic line from abrasion against rocks/tree limbs/ sharp edges on the vehicle being recovered. Last step was to drive down to the local park and use the winch to pull my jeep across the parking lot to pretension the line on the spool.

Joe

Stubby ends being removed while mocking up winch placement:
Full endcaps installed and winch bolted down:
Finished product minus putting the line on spool:
 

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Sorry, Joe! You know I just had to give you a hard time! :flowers:
 

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Haven't given up on logging my build, just been busy working and wheeling... Next up will be short write up of my lift install with before/after pics followed by slider/step install and pics.

Stay tuned!

Joe
 

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Bring it on! :D
 

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Ok so the next thing I got around to was installing my Teraflex 2.5 lift along with Rancho LCA brackets and 9000xl shocks. Didn't get any pics during the install even though it took me and a bud 11 hours from start to finish...
Started off the day by breaking loose all control arm bolts and Trackbar bolts along with swaybar links. Air gun wouldn't do it so had to go old school breaker bar.


We started on the rear axle, and the install went pretty smooth. Remove wheels, lift frame high enough to fit jack stands under at their highest setting, unbolt shock from axle side, remove swaybar links, drop axle down and remove breather tubes. Pull out the abs attachment plugs to give enough slack on those wires, unbolt the brake line bracket, and lower axle enough to get stock springs out. Get new springs into place and install spring retainer plate included in the kit, using their handy bent wrench thingy lol. Remove stock shocks completely and install new Rancho shocks. I messed up here because I went ahead and followed the directions and installed the rear bumpstop extension blocks. Guess what, with those installed there's no way to torque the upper control arm bolt. Putting the rear Trackbar bracket on was pretty straightforward. I chose to use the upper most hole in the bracket to get the rear axle as near center as I could. Install brake line bracket supplied and reassemble the rear axle. Boom...done with rear in no time, maybe like 3-4 hours tops.

Pulled the jeep out and turned around to start work on the front. Same basic disassembly as the rear, wheels/brake lines/breather tubes/ swaybar links/etc. Getting those brake line mounts off the brake line at the shock tower was a pain! Used crescent wrench and lock jaw pliers to finally get them bent back enough. Dropping the front axle enough to remove the springs wasn't super smooth working without a lift. Eventually just had to rest the rotors on some lives of foam and jack the frame up and away from the axle. Once we did that the springs pretty much fell off their perch. Getting the new bumpstop extensions in, we used the wood block and floor jack method. Those aren't going anywhere anytime soon. We had to fanneggle the axle back and forth to get both new springs seated in there but wasn't too much work. Then it was a matter of rerouting the brake lines and sensor wires along the side of the springs, just used loose zip ties to keep them tamed. When I got to the passenger side new shock install I knew it was gonna be a pain from reading on here. I tried a few times to get the nut started using just my finger tips but quickly just said f it and grabbed the pliers to break off enough of the plastic battery tray crap to get access. Easy peasy after that. Got the new shocks installed, reattached the breather tube, and lifted the axle up to hook up the swaybar links that got moved from the rear to the front. Before we put the wheels back on we went ahead and swapped out the stock Trackbar for the Teraflex monster front Trackbar. Talk about beefy. That thing was easily twice the weight of the stock one and it is solid. Got it put on and then started putting front end back together. With the jeep back on it's own weight I adjusted the Trackbar to center the front axle. Time spent on front axle was probably in the 5 hour range.

With everything back together I backed the jeep out and we started the Rancho bracket install. We did the Grade 8 bolt swap at the same time. Another huge thanks to Ken for clearing up which bolts went where! We used some small metal wheel chocks to hold the axles in place while swapping out the bolts and installing the brackets. Took out the control arm bolts one at a time and replaced them with the upgraded ones. Got the brackets installed and front done in about an hour. Then we went around the rest of the jeep swapping front and rear Trackbar bolts and the rear control arm bolts. Another 45 minutes to an hour getting those swapped out and lined back up.

Now the most fun after ten hours of wrenching and actually changing the look and performance of the jeep, we got to spend the last hour torquing all the bolts to spec, except as mentioned before the rear upper control arm bolts weren't accessible due to new bumpstops. So we just cranked down on those as much as we could and figured it had to be close to the 125 ft/lbs necessary.

Finally done for the lift install!! 11 hours, a pack of smokes each, and a 12 pack of beer later, the 33's look just about right. On second thought maybe they're a little small. Maybe I should have gotten 35's :)

Joe
 

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Great job!! :thumb:
Thanks! This posting a month after the fact is a little difficult. Trying to remember the details without many pics is tough. But hopefully once I catch up I'll keep it more up to date.
 
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