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7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In preparation for our upcoming trip from South Africa to Morocco, we are building our '07 JKU . Our goals are increased durability and improved reliability. To that end, we have sent the Jeep to Bruiser Conversions for a Cummins 4BT among other changes. Full Build Sheet is below.

Though we do have a couple of gear sponsors, the goal of this post is not advertising or marketing for anyone. Brand names are included for the items on the build sheet so people know the details of our build.

I spent a lot of time researching prior to choosing a 4BT Jeep for the trip. With gasoline less available than diesel, and the diesel they do have is not the low sulfur, clean diesel we have here in the states, the 4BT is a great choice as it can handle a wider variety of fuel "qualities" than newer engines. On top of that, it is the only platform I have found that has a proven track record of working in the JK. I have heard of Mercedes and VW diesels installed into Wranglers, but not with nearly the frequency and success of the 4BT. I am always excited to discuss the Jeep, the parts and services we chose, and learn more about how to make this Jeep a reliable and durable vehicle to get us through our journey.

Bruiser should start on their part just after the first of the year, unless we get lucky and a spot opens up in the shop earlier than that. Given the timeline from Bruiser, we should get the Jeep in mid February and drive it home to Oregon as a shakedown trip. We will have a few items to add after we get home. Once here and complete, we will ship the Jeep to South Africa and start exploring. Check out the trip, and our prep thus far, at

Started With:
Pronghorn Overland Gear MFES-JK C1
Warn 9.5 XP-S Winch
Gobi Rack Roof Rack
Road Shower Solar Hot Water System
Bundutec Bunduawn 3-Side Awning
HiLift Jack
JW Speaker 8700 Evolution 2 LED Headlights
JW Speaker 6145 LED Fog Lights
Mac's Custom Tie Downs Black Box Cargo Drawer
Bartact Seat Covers w/Mil-Spec PALS Webbing
Drake Off-Road Turnbuckle Hood Tie-Downs
Bolt Hood Lock
Daystar Upper Dash Panel Organizer Tray
Jeep Rubber Floor Mats
Blue Ridge Overland Gear Expedition Organizers
Jeep JKU Attic
JK Door Handle Pouches
JK Grab Handle Pouch
JK Headrest Panel and IFAK Bag

Bruiser will add:
Cummins 4BT conversion
Moderate power increase, ~150 HP, ~400 ft-lbs torque
NV4500 Transmission
Transmission case breather extension to raise level of transmission case breather, with large gauge hose
A-Pilar Gauge Group
EGT Gauge
Engine Oil Pressure Gauge
Lift Pump Low Pressure warning light and alarm
Rubicon Transfer Case (4:1 Low Range)
Transfer case breather extension to raise level of transfer case breather, with large gauge hose
Ultimate Dana 60 Rear Axle
4.88 Gearing
Eaton E-Locker
Axle case breather extensions to raise level of axle case breathers, with large gauge hose
New Drive Shaft to fit Larger Axle, Retain Stock U-Joint Sizing
New Parking Break Cable to fit Larger Axle
Ultimate Dana 60 Front Axle
4.88 Gearing
Eaton E-Locker
Install axle case breather extensions to raise level of axle case breathers, with large gauge hose
New Drive Shaft to fit Larger Axle, Retain Stock U-Joint Sizing
Larger master cylinder for brakes, due to larger rotors on the new axles
Gen Right JK 20 Gallon Dual Gas Tank
Rock Hard Sport Cage
Snorkel, with cyclone dust separator
Metal Cloak Overland "Elite" Suspension, 2.5", RockSport Edition
Currie Anti Rock sway bar
ARB CKMTA12 Dual air compressor
Braided Stainless air lines run to both front and rear bumper
Genesis Off Road Dual Battery Tray
G-Button included
Optima Red Top for cranking battery
Optima Yellow Top for accessory battery
Heavy gauge lines run to front and rear bumper with Anderson plug, for winch and trailer power
Convert trailer lights plug to South African standard trailer plug to rear bumper.
S-Pod 8 switch solid state power control module.
Front and rear lockers wired to S-Pod
Compressor wired to S-Pod
Wire in electric fan shut off switch to S-Pod
Hutchinson Rock Monster Wheels, to fit axles above (silver color for Chevy HD Trucks per Rock Monster web site)
BF Goodrich T/A KO2 tires, 35X12.50R17
Include spare (total: 5 wheels & tires)

657 Posts
wow, impressive list! subscribed!

7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Update with Photo

Bruiser has the lift on it, axles swapped, Currie Anti-Rock installed, and new wheels and tires on our Jeep. They also gave it a good wash before pulling it into the engine shop to install the 4BT.

Pretty, right?
Land vehicle Vehicle Car Chassis Automotive tire

Premium Member
3,104 Posts
This is going to be very interesting, and unlike most builds we see! Looking forward to watching this come together. Good luck with the build :thumb:


7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It's getting close!

They're getting close to finishing our Jeep at Bruiser! The 4BT is in, the body is back on the frame, and they've started it. They should drive it soon. More updates as I get them.

View attachment 2875993
Installing a sport cage for added safety and extra gauges for the Diesel engine.

Land vehicle Vehicle Engine Car Auto part

Sitting tall on our MetalCloak Overland Elite 3.5" lift!

7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
So, here is the fix from my photo inclusion problems.

Installing a sportcage for additional safety on our trip.

Sitting tall on our MetalCloak lift.

They make it look like it came off the assembly line with a Diesel engine.

7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
We finally got the call from Bruiser, it was time to book tickets to fly to Florida and pick up our Jeep! The guys at Bruiser offered to pick us up at the airport, which they did, in our Jeep. It was quite a thrill to see our Jeep, in it's new form, come around the corner at the Tampa airport. We could hardly believe it was the same Jeep we had loaded onto a truck the week of Christmas. It sits taller, with a wider, more stable stance. On the ride to the Bruiser shop, we both commented about how it now rides better than stock. Thanks to MetalCloak's Overland Elite lift kit. We also noted how it had more body roll than we wanted, more on that later. The other thing we noticed on that first ride was how the engine noise was relatively quiet. Sure, the stock engine was more quiet, but the Cummins was still tolerable, especially at a cruise.

Once at the shop, we got a quick tour of our Jeep before taking the keys. Dave showed us the work they had done, both inside and underneath. We got to see the custom fabbed air box, how the 4BT fit into the engine bay, where the air chucks are located, and how the drivetrain fit. As it was nearly 7 PM, and we had to get across the bay to our home for the next couple of days, we took our leave with the plan to return the next day to meet the team and go over the build with the head mechanic.

On our way to the shop the next day, we stopped and bought a fire extinguisher, thinking we would mount it on the front seat while at Bruiser. As we pulled into the store, we saw a spot next to another JKU, in stock trim. We parked next to it and took a couple of photos, for comparison's sake. Side by side, the difference seems both drastic and fairly small at the same time. It's only lifted a couple of inches, and the tires are only a few inches bigger, but it all adds up to a majorly different stance.

We got to Bruiser's shop just after lunch and met with Todd, the chief mechanic. We covered some of the outstanding work to finish on the Jeep with him. While the mechanics worked on these items, Todd went over part numbers and fluid recommendations with us, so we know how to maintain our new baby. We got to hang out at the shop and watch the guys finish some of the last items on our Jeep. They put back the stock rear bumper as our next rear bumper isn't ready yet. They installed the radiator fan shut off, so we can cross deep water without tam aging the fan, and ran power for a winch to the rear of the Jeep. We also called Metal Cloak about the body roll and learned that their lift kit is engineered to work with the stock anti sway bars. I let them know that we could not re-install the stock rear anti sway bar, since the GenRight rear fuel tank was in the way. They said to reinstall the stock front anti sway bar and see what happened with the Currie rear Antirock bar. They thought that we might even want to disconnect that as it is much stiffer than the stock unit. Bruiser reinstalled the stock front bar and the difference was incredible. The body roll was now gone, or at least back to stock levels. The Currie unit is nice, but too flexible for use with our lift kit.

Late in the afternoon, Jeff Garland, owner of Bruiser Conversions, and Jeff's Jeep Yard, rolled in the the JK Supercab Pick-Up and talked to us about our build, about his sweet CJ-6 sitting in the shop, and even helped us put on some decals! Everything was finished in a couple of days, so we loaded the spare tire on top, thanks again to MetalCloak for their Overland Fenders which I can stand on, and hit the road. Over the next 2 weeks, we drove nearly 5000 miles from Florida to New Orleans, Houston, San Antonio, Albuquerque, Phoenix, Lax Vegas, Bend, and finally home in the Portland area.

On the way home, we stopped at Pronghorn Overland Gear to get our radiator guard installed. We also discussed some of the things they a re working on for our trip, but more on that when we get those things mounted to the Jeep!

We finally got to take the Jeep offroad in Bend. We met Jen's cousin at China Hat and played in the OHV area. It is amazing what the Jeep can do. In 4 Low, 2nd gear, it idled up and over everything I pointed it at, and down the same hills and obstacles without running away. Compression breaking is amazing with the Diesel engine and the Rubicon transfer case. These will definitely come in handy in Africa!

After driving it across the country, and some around home, we love the conversion. On the open road, it drives like a dream. Anything over 40 MPH has you in 5th gear anyway, so you pick a speed and hold your foot in it. Small throttle modulation are all that is needed for climbing hills, passing, or descents. While cruising, the engine noise is only slightly higher than stock, with wind noise from the roof rack louder than the engine. I have come up with some observations on how it drives.
Never use first gear, it is just too low.
Even second is little more than an excuse to get to third.
Starting at an intersection in second, I am shifting to third halfway across the intersection.
Third is good for neighborhoods, or getting to 4th.
Anything over 25 MPH is done in 4th gear.
4th and 5th gears are the two most used gears.
It is most comfortable between 60 and 65, with 70 within reach but really used for passing.
The ride is smooth and just a bit better than stock. It soaks up potholes and frost heave without jostling the occupants at all.

Off road, it is a beast! While it won't win any races, it will get where ever you point it, letting nothing stand in it's way. Throttle control is super smooth and easy, allowing for minor modulation to get over any obstacle with ease. Up or down hill at an idle is easily achievable. My father in law put it best when he said "I don't think you will need a winch on this! Take one just in case, but you will probably only need it to pull other people out." I think he is right, it just crawls over rocks and out of holes with ease.

It also gets a lot attention! People constantly ask us about it in parking lots and give us thumbs up on the road. When they hear it, or realize it is a diesel, they get really curious! We have met countless people who want to know all about it and how we got a diesel Wrangler. I even saw one guy stick his phone out of his window at a stoplight to snap a photo of our Jeep waiting for the light to change.
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