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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone. This is my first Jeep "Build". Going to start with a few words..

This is technically my 2nd Jeep. My dad and I shared joint custody of a CJ 5 with a 350 and bald tires back when I was in high school. It was fun but probably not the best vehicle for an invincible teen with a heavy foot. Either side of that I had Broncos including a 96' 82' and 74'. I loved each one for different reasons but never really did much wheeling aside from basic dirt roads.

I have a company work truck and this has been my primary vehicle for the better part of 10 years. At times the wife and I have had 2 personal vehicles but I never really considered them "personal" to me because any improvement beyond basic maintenance is strongly discouraged with family vehicles.. I have been considering getting something I could wheel and mod a bit. I was really looking at getting another late 90's Bronco again but also started eyeballing the Jeeps. My only non-negotiable feature was a manual. It's been close to 20 years since I owned a manual and really missed it. My kids are approaching driving age and I want them to know how to drive a manual. I would also like a second chance at teaching the wife.

One thing led to another and last October I ended up getting an 18' JK Willy's Wheeler. I'm a little ways into it at this point but this was the day I picked her up. Sadly my ugly mug is in the only stock picture I have.
 

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First up I wanted a slider/step. I went with a Barricade that provided both. I immediately didn't like it. Again I don't have any real wheeling experience but they attach to/below the body mount that leaves a 4" x 4" box hanging down. It looks like it's begging to hook a rock and do more damage than the protection it's supposed to provided.
 

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Went with the Teraflex ST2 - 2.5" lift with 2.1 Falcons. Everything went pretty smooth except I had a little issue with my wheels and tires. The rear Teraflex sway bar hits the factory wheel. I ordered mounted and balanced wheels and tires from Quadratec the same time I ordered the lift. Got the lift on and was was just waiting on wheels. At this point it's probably the coldest part of winter and I have my wife parking outside. She's not happy but the wheels will be here any day. Wheels arrive.. the wrong wheels and tires :banghead: Got the issue sorted out and the correct ones in process but it was still going to be 2 weeks + based on the time it took the first set to arrive. Picked up some wheel spacers for the back so I could move it over and get the wife back in the garage.
 

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Next up was gears and "lockers". This was a tough one. I ended up going with 4.88. I couldn't be happier with the ratio. Absolutely love it. If it was a daily driver seeing a considerable amount of highway miles 4.56 might be a touch better but for for what I'm doing 4.88 is perfect. With my limited off road experience I wasn't sure I was going to need lockers or if it would be a money well spent investment. Also some cons against locking a D30.. I ended up going with Eaton Truetrac's front and rear. I have been very happy with them so far. No bad charistics on road and they have performed very well off. I believe they truly shine in sloppy, muddy, snowy conditions. I've been over some moderate rock trails and have been very happy with their performance there as well. It won't be for quite some time but if I do feel the need I would likely look into getting a D44 and ARB for the front. This will be largely driven by how much and what type of off roading I actually get into. I also added Poison Spyder diff covers. I good with bolt on upgrades but gear set up is beyond my skill set so I had a shop set them up.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Bumpers. Holy crap this was a tough one as well. I am truly shocked at the amount of aftermarket parts available. There must be over 500 bumper options. I ended up going with Westin WJ2 Stubby Front and Westin WJ2 Rear. Also picked up a Smittybilt 10K winch.

I was trying to get the bumpers on by myself. Front was easy but the rear was a little more tricky. I was trying to balance it on a jack and it went tumbling. Put a pretty good scratch in paint. Got my wife out of bed around 11 and she helped hold it in place so I could start the bolts. What a lady!!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Trimmed the factory sliders and did not put the barricade slider/step back on. Functionally I think this is better and I also have the appearance of more ground clearance. Still looking for something a little stouter than the stock slider that will also provide a step. I'm leaning toward Rock Hard Patriot Boat Side or the Teraflex
 

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Love the wheels. I have a 75th anniversary Jeep but sold the wheels when I added 35s because I didn’t want to use spacers. Do these ones from Quadratec require spacers or do they have the right amount of backspace?


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Discussion Starter #11
Love the wheels. I have a 75th anniversary Jeep but sold the wheels when I added 35s because I didn’t want to use spacers. Do these ones from Quadratec require spacers or do they have the right amount of backspace?


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Thanks! They do have the correct backspacing. I didn't want to run spacers either otherwise I probably would have kept the stock black wheels. I really like the smoke bronze though. I think it goes great with the black body.
 

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Added some rigid cube lights to the rear bumper and used the Quadratec harness to plug them into reverse. This was the first thing that actually made me say WOW! out loud. I could not believe the difference they made backing up. I couldn't see anything with the stock reverse lights. Also did rigid heated headlights and mounted a fire extinguisher.
 

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Thanks! They do have the correct backspacing. I didn't want to run spacers either otherwise I probably would have kept the stock black wheels. I really like the smoke bronze though. I think it goes great with the black body.


Good to hear they have the correct backspacing! I love smoke bronze too. It looks great with Black, granite and billet silver Jeeps.


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Great job on the build. I'm also running 4.88 gears and honestly I think its a good balanced ratio for off/on road driving.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Great job on the build. I'm also running 4.88 gears and honestly I think its a good balanced ratio for off/on road driving.
Thanks. I love that I can idle up into the garage and start in 2nd on a level surface. I did have a substantial drop in mpg but it was more attributed to my driving. Before tires and gears I was shifting around 2500-2800. After I found myself shifting around 3000-3200. I go back and forth on my driving but find it feels like there is more throttle response at the higher rpm. Ill find my self cursing at 3k where I used to at 2.5k

Off road in 4L :happyyes:
 

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Discussion Starter #17
My only real requirements when I was searching for a Jeep were 2 door and manual. I hadn't owned a manual in close to 20 years and really missed the interaction of driving one. Add to that I want my kids to know how to drive a manual and a second chance at teaching my wife. I didn't join the forum until after I purchased it and that's when I found the multitude of threads regarding issues with the manual. :atomic:

I wasn't thrilled with the shifting but with my previous manual vehicules being full size Broncos I will admit I don't really have much to compare it to. I did fell like I was searching to correctly hit 5th and 6th and even made a lovely grinding sound a few times by hitting reverse instead of 6th.

Aside from somewhat sloppy felling shifting I haven't had any pop out of gear issues but went ahead and installed the B&M shifter. Love it! Much tighter and positive engagement. More fun to drive.

Only picture I have was my stock shifter before I took everything out.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
One of the reviews for the B&M recommended replacing the dinky shift ball. I might have had the most fun searching for this. I looked for quite some time and wanted something truly custom to me. I found some really cool hotrod sites and Etsy shops that do custom knobs. All kinds of colors and styles to choose from. I really liked the knobs with something embedded in them. Found a pretty slick spider one but my wife said she would no longer ride with me if I got it. The search went on for quite a while without finding something that stood out enough to purchase... until I came across an old buckle. This was my dad's buckle. He passed last fall. It was his buckle of choice for many years when I was young. It's not my style but it hit me I could possibly use the W in a knob. After a few emails I went with a guy from Etsy. He did an outstanding job and his customer service was probably the best I have ever dealt with. The piece has no monetary value but to me it's priceless. I had some concern with shipping it off to a one man show or anybody really. His communication throughout the process was top notch. Now instead of a dark box in the basement it gets sunshine, wind, and smiles. The W is for our last name and along with Willys Wheeler creates my bild title of WWW.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I'm topless! Got a Harken hoist set up, pulled the top, and installed a full length Alien shade. I'm considering a soft top and a Rock Hard sport cage but want to test run this way before I invest in either. Not sure I can swing both this summer. If I have to pick one I think I will do the cage for safety sake.. Opinions?
 

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Received my supertop today. I was stoked because they weren't supposed to ship until the 27th. Got going on it this evening and ran into a little problem. Looks like the arm on the side bow was twisted when welded. It doesn't allign with the side bow.


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