2020 2dr Rubicon Build - Moab or BUST

t0mills

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I try to get out west at least once a year. This year we've had a house rented just south of Moab since December, and am really hoping we can make the trip out next month..

Back story on why I chose a 2dr JLR:
Last year I took my grand cherokee out there and it was awful. Even though it was a trailhawk, it just didn't have the suspension travel to soak up the rocks. Result was a lot of banging and 3-wheel action that was quite frustrating (seriously, look at my pics and laugh). Along one of the longer trails (really rough road up to the La Sals) a 2dr JK from Texas passed me and it appeared they were having a great time. Meanwhile, I was looking for the nearest cliff to end my suffering. :LOL:

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It was at that time, I knew I wanted to build a 2dr for the next trip out, and with a heavy emphasis on ride quality.

Anyway, life happens and I kinda got a late start on the purchase/build. I had a pretty specific rig that I was looking for, and it wasn't easy to locate.
My rig had to have the following features:
  • 2dr Rubicon
  • 6spd Manual
  • Silver
  • Hard top
  • LED package
  • Tow package
A couple of those last packages I was flexible on, because I knew those could be added, but the others were a hard requirement.

Ended up finding exactly what I was looking for and jumped on it last month (March 2020).


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t0mills

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I knew that wanted to keep it a reasonable height and I also knew that I wanted lots of suspension travel and NO tire rubbing.
That pretty much led me down the path of a 2" suspension system and some 35s. I also wanted it to be pretty bulletproof for what I plan to do with it.

Here's by build list that's current as of today:

Arcus Front Bumper
Arcus Skid Plate
Warn EVO 10-S
Patriot Series Rear Bumper
ARB Compressor Mount
ARB Dual Compressor
ARB Inflator Kit
ARB Snorkel
Synergy 2" Stage 1 Suspension
Fox 2.5 DSC Shocks
Method MR312 17x8.5 (0 offset)
Yokohama Geolandar G003 35s
PSC Hydro Assist
Dana Spicer 5.38 Gears
RCV Front Axle Shafts
RCV Front Axle Seals
Yukon Rear Chromo Shafts
Front & Rear 1350 Drivelines
Yaesu FTM-400XD Setup
Flowmaster Muffler Delete
Tazer Mini
RR Floor Mats
Hertz Upper Dash Speakers
Hertz 6.5" in Sound Bar
Hertz 6.5" in Lower Dash
Dual 8" Subs in Custom Box



First up was the Tazer Mini. Actually ordered that part BEFORE I picked up the Jeep. I can't do auto-start-stop stuff and I want to be able to disconnect the front sway bar when I want... So the Tazer was a no-brainer.

Next up was the ARB compressor. Gotta be able to air back up! I used the under-seat mount and it's a perfect fit. Very quick air source.

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After that, it was time to go test it out and see what I liked/didn't like.


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OP

t0mills

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I don't have as many pics of this build as I probably should. So bear with me and use your imagination for some of it. ;)

Parts started to show up pretty quickly after order.

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Time to tackle some of the audio stuff first. My Jeep didn't come with the Alpine sound system and really had a "muddy" sound to it. I wanted to replace the factory speakers and then go from there if it needed more.
These Hertz speakers are great. Very crisp and clear sound.

I used the DCX 87.3 for the upper dash replacements along with some 600hz bass blockers. Install was quick and easy on those and netted an immediate improvement.

For the sound bar, I used the SSV 6.5 conversion kit along with some Hertz 165s. That does involve a lot of cutting but they make it pretty easy. Much better sound quality after that as well.

For the lower dash speakers, I used the Metra 6.5 conversion kit with Hertz 165s, but HOLY COW..... That's a TON of work to get to those speakers (you're basically removing the entire dash).


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Creeker

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Like the direction the build is going!
One item that peaked my interest: 5.38 gears on 35's
Some folks are putting in 5.11 gears on 37's
Since I have a manual as well, interested on your take regarding the 5.38 gears.
Maybe future plans for 40's? :D
 
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t0mills

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Like the direction the build is going!
One item that peaked my interest: 5.38 gears on 35's
Some folks are putting in 5.11 gears on 37's
Since I have a manual as well, interested on your take regarding the 5.38 gears.
Maybe future plans for 40's? :D

No plans for larger tires at the moment. I'm pretty happy with the overall setup.
I did a lot of calculating and driving the jeep in various conditions before deciding on the gear ratio. After a few wheeling trips when it was bone stock, I had decided that it was under-geared for my preference. I think 4.56 would have been a better option for a stock rubicon, but I get all the fuel mileage standards that Jeep has to meet.
For reference, a stock JLR 6spd is geared to run over 200mph. Obviously it would never do that, but nonetheless it's still geared that high. Cruising in 6th required 1 or more downshifts on hills. And reverse was way too high (in my opinion).

When it was stock, cruising on the highway at 70mph (which is about the max I'll ever run this thing) was at 2100rpm.

With 35" tires and 5.38 gears at 70mph, it's at 2600rpm. So a 500rpm difference than stock.
 
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t0mills

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Next up was the Arcus front bumper and Warn winch. Really liked the look and the size of the Arcus. Quality and fitment was good, and my factory LED fogs dropped right in. Very pleased with the front bumper setup.


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After that, I dove into the suspension. The Stage 1 kit from Synergy was very complete and the instructions were easy to follow. Cordless impacts are your friend and made my life much easier during the install.
My only complaint revolves around the front swaybar links. This kit comes with extension brackets for the front axle-side connection, which move the swaybar link hole up approx 3". The instructions say to use the rear link arms up front (which is pretty typical in the jeep world), but that puts the swaybar position somewhere around the 10-11o'clock mark at ride height (these 2" springs really give you EXACTLY 2" of lift). Probably not a big issue, but when articulated this causes the swaybar to hit my shock reservoir lines. I had to get real creative here to make sure nothing would get damaged.
I initially tried running the stock front swaybar links (with extension brackets) but they're just not long enough with the amount of travel this thing has up front. The stock front links would go straight and limit travel. After tossing the stock rear links on the front, the articulation isn't hindered, but they do contact my resi hoses. I think the ideal length would be somewhere between stock front and stock rear lengths.

Anyway, the kits is awesome and it really did give me exactly 2" of lift height according to my tape measure. I was impressed by that. Ride quality is near-stock. I dialed in an extra degree of caster and it drove/tracked better than it did stock.
I found that it felt the best with low-speed compression set 1 click and high-speed compression set 1 click.

Before measurements:
17.5" front driver slider
17.75" rear driver slider
17" front pass slider
17.25" rear pass slider

After lift measurements:
19.5" front driver slider
19.5" rear driver slider
19.25" front pass slider
19.375" rear pass slider



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OP

t0mills

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Next up - wheels and tires
The MR312 wheel seems to be pretty popular for jeeps, but most run the 17x9" wheel which has more negative offset. I wanted less offset, so I ordered the less common 17x8.5" version which comes in a 0 offset. This puts the wheel just right in the fender well.



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t0mills

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This is the point where I decided to install the factory rear swaybar links up front and try and finagle the shock resi hoses into a position where they wouldn't get ripped off under compression. Hopefully Synergy will release their front adjustable swaybar links so that I can dial this in better. In one of the pics below, you can see how the swaybar arm contacts the resi hose under articulation.

Even though this is only a 2" suspension system, it uses shocks for a 3.5-4" suspension system. This was a big selling point to me, as it offers tons of travel. Paired with 2" bumpstops, the 35's tuck ALL the way up into the wheel well. No rubbing, but it's super close. Any larger and you'd be cutting out inner fenders.



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Dkretden

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OP, this is a terrific build. Good luck on your Moab trip.... hopefully they will have opened the county to “non-essentials” by then (perhaps they already have?)
 
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t0mills

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As more parts were starting to pile up on my porch, it was time to tackle the ARB snorkel install. Around here, there are lots of water crossings and some are quite deep depending on recent rainfall. Good peace of mind.
Install was pretty easy. Modifying the stock airbox took longer than I had expected. Lots of cutting/sanding/drilling, but in the end it seals up TIGHT.
Also got the head unit for my UHF/VHF radio installed. Using the Yaesu FTM-400xdr. I'm not brand specific, but I typically prefer the Yaesu products over the ICOM stuff I've ran.



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sedenJL

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Awesome build you have going. How are you liking the ride with the Synergy springs and the Fox 2.5s? This is a combo I would like to definitely try out in the future.
 

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@t0mills once cheap thing to try for the front links is to buy the Mopar 2" lift front and rear links, and remove the Synergy extensions. I was looking at pretty much your same lift and shock combo at first, and that was a recommendation from a shop back then. The Mopar links are really cheap, and longer. Without the synergy extension you should clear the hose.

here were the part numbers before:
68306982AA Arm-Stabilizer Bar front x2
68306981AA Arm-Stabilizer Bar rear x2
 
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t0mills

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@t0mills once cheap thing to try for the front links is to buy the Mopar 2" lift front and rear links, and remove the Synergy extensions. I was looking at pretty much your same lift and shock combo at first, and that was a recommendation from a shop back then. The Mopar links are really cheap, and longer. Without the synergy extension you should clear the hose.

here were the part numbers before:
68306982AA Arm-Stabilizer Bar front x2
68306981AA Arm-Stabilizer Bar rear x2
Thanks for the info on the links. I'll do some measuring at full travel and see if those might work for me.


Awesome build you have going. How are you liking the ride with the Synergy springs and the Fox 2.5s? This is a combo I would like to definitely try out in the future.
The ride quality is great. I'd compare it to stock but with a lot more travel. As you'll see when I continue posting this build, these springs are pretty soft. Things like a heavy rear bumper/tire need to be accounted for and the rear springs matched accordingly.
As my jeep sits at this point in the build, it's perfectly level but that all changes as soon as I toss on my rear bumper. Details ahead.
 
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t0mills

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I live in a part of the country where weekend wheeling trips are just a few miles in just about any direction. That was a big part of my decision to go with a 2dr JL actually. A 4dr will fit, but around here a 2dr just fits better.
A quick day-trip on a local (named) county road. The mud was THICK; I had to winch once and my friend had to winch like 3 times I think. No pics of the 3ft rock ledge we had to ascend.... His power steering pump decided to give out somewhere along the road, but better here close to home than far away.
I crunched my rear passenger bumper corner pretty hard against a large rock after my tire slid off. Will take care of that weakness next.



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