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Discussion Starter #1
Hello Everyone,

So I've been meaning to start this build thread for awhile but have never really found the time until now.

So to get started, here's some background info. "Lady Jane" is my 2008 jku. I bought her used (1 previous owner, sat in a couple dealer's lots though) the summer of 2013 with roughly 92k miles already on her. Luckily, a lot of those miles were highway miles and the previous owner only ever took her on a dirt road to their vermont house. She's a 6 spd manual 3.8L V6. My girlfriend came up with her name one day as a kind of joke since I spend more money and almost more time with my jeep than I do her, so she's my "other lady" hence lady jane.

I myself am a college student but do have a small monthly income that I pretty much spend on my girlfriend, my jeep and beer. During the school year its hard for me to find time to do maintenance work let alone full on mods. So a lot of the work I do is during the winter breaks and summer. When I can find time to do work, I am a huge fan of DIY. Obviously though, I cant always afford the name brand version of the mods I want so a lot of mine are homemade DIY.

The reason I want to write and maintain this thread is because 1) I think my situation (poor college kid) is very similar/relatable to a lot of people on this forum so people can learn from what I do/dont do 2) I take pride in my jeep because it's my build for me and I want to show it off/share it with everyone else 3) an aid for me to keep track of everything I've done.

So without further ado, here is my build thread:
IMG_2454.jpg IMG_2457.jpg
Here she is the day I brought her home. I have always wanted a jeep wrangler since my friend took me up to vermont in his 2dr my freshman year in high school.

Now I will admit that at first I was very against the 4dr. I had always known wranglers as only having 2 doors and stood firm by it. However, as I began my search winter break of my freshman year, I began looking at more and more 4 doors. The look slowly grew on me and I liked the idea of not having my friends cramped in the back seat as i often was in my friends 2dr. I also moved towns which made my drive to school go from 2 hours to 12, so space and functionality became more important. So, ultimately I made the mental switch to search for just 4 door wranglers and found one for a great price. Oh, I should also note that one thing that never changed in my decision process was that it HAD to be a manual.

Here are some noteworthy specs as per the build sheet from Chrysler:
Dana 30 in the front (standard diff)
Dana 44 in the rear (standard diff)
3.21 gears
3.8L V6
power locks and windows
normal duty suspension
soft top
17x7.5 aluminum wheels
fuel tank skid plate
transfer case skid plate

Long story short, it came pretty much bone stock except for a fab four rear bumper and tire carrier. I never did figure out if the front bumper was OEM with a bull bar or aftermarket. I assumed OEM since it had "JEEP" cut out of it on the side. Also, it did not have a radio when I bought it. The dealer said it was "stolen while on a different lot" (Used that in my negotiations haha).

As I go forward, my hope is to build my jeep as more of an expedition rig. I did a lot of camping when I was younger and have always loved the outdoors. I love doing trail runs but the idea of just driving out into pure wilderness sounds even better to me.

So theres part 1 of hopefully many, Ill do my best to not ramble in future posts.
 

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First mods

So as I said in the previous post, lady jane didnt come with a radio. So I swung by BestBuy and bought a standard JVC unit (aux, usb charging, bluetooth etc). At the time, this was my first encounter with wires and electricity and all that jazz. It was a little overwhelming at first but thanks to youtube I got the hang of it. Was a quick install and a much needed mod.

The second mod I did was install some long range KC hilites to the windshield. To be honest, I did this mod mostly because I had the itch and after just doing the radio, how hard could it be especially since it comes with wiring harness. So I got them amazon along with the rugged ridge windshield mounts and installed them. Again, I dont have any install pictures, but I swear that I will have install pictures for future mods. I also added a spare tire cover

KC lights mounted:
jeep front.jpg

Spare tire cover:
jeep back.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Repainted OEM wheels

So right off the bat, I wanted new wheels. I never really liked the look of the OEM wheels and I want to eventually go to bigger tires (hopefully sometime this summer). At the time (summer of 2013) I couldn't afford anything but some sandpaper, primer and paint.

List of my materials used (all from home depot):
-150 grit sand paper
-rustoleum bedliner (rattle can form) (roughly 6 cans)
-Self Etching primer (bought about 4 cans, only really needed 2.5)
-attachment nozzle to make the spray paint can more like a paint gun
-Simple Green
-Paint mask respirator
-blue painters tape
-some trash bags

*note* unfortunately Im having a hard time finding the in progress pictures :facepalm:Also note, that I did not remove the wheels since I didnt have jack stands

1) Put on the painters mask and begin sanding off the polished aluminum outer layer. You want to do it just enough to get the shine off because the paint cannot stick to that. This will generate a lot of dust so it might also be wise to wear goggles and do it in a well ventilated area. I left the outer ring of polish on there because it was for the look I was going for. If you dont remove the wheels, you're also going to want to cover the brake discs and calipers. I did this by cutting a trash bag open and doing my best to stick it in between the wheel spokes and covering everything.

2) once all wheels are sanded down, clean them off with some water and simple green. Make sure to clean them thoroughly and get all the dust off. Let them dry thoroughly as well.

3) once they're dry, tape off the tires and cover them with the trash bags. Now since I left the outer ring of polish, I also had to tediously tape those off as well.

4) When you've finished taping everything off. shake up a can of primer and attach the nozzle adapter if you have it. Hold the can about 6 inches away and apply a LIGHT coat of primer. You do not need to cover the entire surface the first time. You'll accomplish this in multiple coats.

5) The primer I bought said to allow for 15 mins to dry in between coats, so I allowed 20 mins. After 20 mins, apply a second coat, again lightly but try hitting the areas you missed the first time around. Again, let it dry and repeat as needed. I did 3 coats, basically until all areas were decently covered.

6) once you're last coat of primer has had ample time to dry, the fun part begins: actually painting your wheels. Same procedure as the primer, just your wait time for drying will differ. I waited about 30 minutes in between coats.

7) *optional* depending on what look you're going for, you can also add a coat or two of clear coat. I didn't since I figured if it gets scratched or anything, I can easily just touch it up.

8) carefully remove all the tape and trash bags and marvel at the fact that you just repainted your wheels!

Tip-That I kinda used towards the end but could prove more helpful looking back. If you leave the tires on, instead of having to try and contort yourself in weird ways to get the right angles you can remove the trash bags over the brake discs in between coats and drive a little forward or backwards to rotate the tires.

Here is before (best I pic I had):
IMG_2457.jpg

After:
jeep side.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Front bumper and winch

While back at school, I bought a body armor 4x4 high clearance bumper and smittybilt xrc 8,000lb winch and D ring shackles. This should have been a pretty straight install but the bolts holding the original bumper were so rusted that they were a pain to get off.

After about 3 hours of grunting, swearing and elbow grease, they did finally come off. After that the install was very straight forward. A friend of mine also gave me a pair of riggid dually 4 LED flood lights for next to nothing, which I attached and wired to the bumper at the time.

Bumper+winch install.jpg
Bumper+winch side view.jpg Winch up close install.jpg

I like this bumper because it comes with the winch plate mount, fairlead mount, and mounting spots on the bull bar and on the wings for potential fog lights. I chose the winch because I would only be wheeling occasionally but its enough to pull myself out.

Ive used it couple times now, to pull myself out and others and even tree stomps. I do eventually want to switch it to synthetic line though.
 

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DIY cut fender flares

I wanted the look (and ultimately the functionality) of flat fenders but didnt see the point in paying upwards of $500 for them. So I bought a Dremel and cut away. Lined them with door trim from Autozone and painted them black to give them a more finished look.

two quick notes with this mod. After you cut, the fender won't be the most secure to the support. I fixed this by just drilling a hole through the fender and support and then running a long bolt through. Painted the top of the bolt black so it would blend in better. Ill try and get a picture of it tomorrow.

The other thing is that the fender liners for the front will also need to be reinforced in terms of attaching them to the body. At the moment mine just hang a little loose but Im looking into possibly drilling and attaching it with a bolt as well.

IMG_2275.JPG IMG_2336.jpg

IMG_2327.jpg IMG_2338.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #7
DIY cut fender flares

shots of the rear fenders. They make the tires look a lot smaller in the back. Guess I'll just have to get bigger tires to make it look right haha

IMG_2326.jpg IMG_2339.jpg
 

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You are coming along nicely. Very nice work. I just bought some ipf lights to put on my front bumper. How hard is it to wire them up? I have never done any kind of electrical work on any of my jeeps, usually leave it to a proffessional. But I would really like to learn.
Again...nice jeep, keep the updates coming!! Can't wait to see the new tires. Did you decide what you are getting yet?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Gobi Stealth Roof Rack

With the help of a couple of saved up birthday gifts, I was able to get the Gobi stealth roof rack. I ordered from EAD offroad on the forums. The directions are very easy, which makes for a pretty straight forward install. I had a friend help me install it, which definitely helped. Ive heard its doable with one person but as always, more hands makes for lighter work.

Came within about 8 weeks, which was expected. I was pretty impressed with the packaging. Very sturdy and secured inside the box.
Gobi packaging.jpg

I got it with the quick release feature and they also threw in the ladder and wind deflector for free.
gobi quick release.jpg

The rack is really easy to tilt back with one person. It can either sit on the spare, or they give you a strap that you can connect to the front bar. The rack came right around 4th of july so I was inspired to repaint the wind deflector. Simply sanded it down, cleaned it off, then measured, taped it off and lastly put a clear coat on it.
With gobi front.jpg

gobi side.jpg

One complication that did come up for me was my rear bumper at a lot of rust forming. So I had to take the time to grind and sand down the rust and then clean it all off. Once I did that I sprayed it with some rustoleum undercoating and then bedliner. Nothing too hard, but still an inconvenience
rear bumper removed with rust.jpg
 

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@mikemalbro After I made the first cut, not really any pucker factors. Although, the way the dremel cut (or maybe the cutting wheel I used), it would send hot little pieces of plastic flying. So by the time I was done cutting I was covered in little grey plastic dots haha.

lulu2533 I was the same way at first with electrical. It seemed really intimidating and confusing. Definitely do your research before such as the proper gauge, mounting options, if you're gonna need relays etc. Although even with just basic research its not that bad once you get into it.

Without knowing your specific lights and what they come with, I'd say just youtube various ways to connect wires. When I first started doing electrical work, I had done the simple strip, twist, heat shrink and electrical tape but since then have learned to solder.

For wiring the wires from the bumper to under the hood, I went under the grill guard on the passenger side, then up and over into the engine bay. Here are some pictures to try and better show what I'm talking about:
I didnt remove the grill but you can see the space im talking about
IMG_3818.jpg

Here is a shot looking up into it. I ran my winch cables and lights up it. Hopefully those pictures and my description make sense haha
winch cables.jpg
 

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@lulu2533 Since it is my daily driver and I have to drive over 750 miles to school, I'm only going to do so much with the wheels and tires. My plan at the moment is to do a 2.5" teraflex suspension lift, mickey thompson classic IIIs with 4.5" backspacing and go to either a 285/70/R17 or 285/75/R17 (most likely the 285/75/R17 just because its a bigger tire).
 

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@lulu2533 Since it is my daily driver and I have to drive over 750 miles to school, I'm only going to do so much with the wheels and tires. My plan at the moment is to do a 2.5" teraflex suspension lift, mickey thompson classic IIIs with 4.5" backspacing and go to either a 285/70/R17 or 285/75/R17 (most likely the 285/75/R17 just because its a bigger tire).
Thanks for all the info and pics. Appreciate it. I did watch some youtube videos. Have a bunch more to watch though.
I hear ya about the tires and having a long drive. I drive 60 miles a day for work. Not quite as far in a week as you but it's far enough. Just put a 2.5" lift and 35's on this past Nov. The fun factor makes up for the hit on my gas budget each week...lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Cb install

So just recently installed my cb. I got one because a lot of people near me use them on the trails and my club requires one. So I got the Uniden xlpro 520 from amazon as well as a 3 ft firestik antenna, mount etc.

I wanted to mount it somewhere a little more out of the way to reduce clutter in the cab and so theres less incentive to break in and steal it. So I mounted it in the center console. I got the idea from a user on another forum (jeepforum). It was extremely helpful and pretty easy. Heres the link (hope its ok to link another forum :hide: ).

BEST CB location! - JeepForum.com

Here it is in the center console after I removed the locking mechanism and cut the excess material away with the dremel. I used the screws that held the locking mechanism as "legs" of sort. Basically this way, when the console lid closes, it hits the screws and not the bottom of the cb.
cb install-screws for leg.jpg

Here it is all tucked away
cb install-cb in center console in jeep.jpg

Drilled a hole in the side of the center console to run the power wires to the battery
cb install-drilled console for wires.jpg

Antenna mount on just an L bracket on the rear trunk door. I havent tuned the antenna yet, so I have no idea how the mount and placement will work out.\
cb install-antenna mount.jpg

And a shot of it in the cab in the setup I'll run when out on the trails
IMG_3857.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #15
front bumper lights

Because of how the gobi rack mounts, I had to move my long range lights. I decided to put them on the front bull bar. I also picked up a pair of KC fog Lights off CL for real cheap. Came with LED replacement bulbs so I swapped those in and mounted them as well. Heres a pic of both sets mounted:
full front lights.jpg

Also picked up a pair of Rigid Duallys, which I mounted to the rear bumper for extra back up lights.
rear bumper lights.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Trunk Storage

So I wanted more secured storage in my trunk area. I had previously had an ATV box in the back, but it took up so much space and was really inconvenient. Since I only paid about $40 for it, I decided to repurpose it along with an old airsoft vest I found in our basement.

I used a dremel and a metal cutting wheel to cut up the box. In hindsight, this wasnt the most efficient method and probably wasnt a great idea to use the dremel that much, but it got the job done.

Side panel with tools and straps
trunk redo-side storage-tools.jpg

Side panel with trail axe and misc items
trunk redo-side storage-axe.jpg

shot of the whole thing
trunk redo-finished shot-seats up.jpg

I also made my own tailgate table using parts from the box. When its folded up, it accepts MOLLE pouches. When folded down, its really helpful for working on the jeep and ultimately used for camping.
trunk redo-molle table.jpg
 
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