BroncoHound

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First, a note about the thread title. Yes, I've read the book. Yes, I know the spoiler ending. No, that same spoiler ending isn't the case here; I just liked the name and it seemed appropriate with the current vibe of the world.

Hi, my name is Bud and the dogs name is Bear. Bear and I have been without a Jeep for about a year and half, which turns out is just too long. So, while I was finishing up a 1-year overseas work assignment to Australia, I placed an order for a new 2020 JLUR in Sarge Green, which we just picked up last week.

In this journal, I'll attempt to document the Jeeps development along the way, with particular attention to lessons learned for others to pick up on, particularly for those who enjoy more solo adventures, both with working on the Jeep and with driving/exploring in the Jeep. I'm not the most social Jeeper out there and, while I don't mind occassional social gatherings and trips and such, my Jeep time is mostly best enjoyed by me when it's just Bear and I and the great wide beyond. So, in this journal I'll try to highlight things I tackle solo and the thoughts/preparations I exercise beforehand to be successful. For the times I'm not successful, I'll attempt to document lessons learned for similar-minded folks.

And, because we just happen to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, there will be plenty of scenic Jeep shots to come.

Part 1 - the build, the order, the delivery
Bear and I's last Jeep was a 2013 JKR and this new JL was going to be our first 4-door Jeep. Here were my reasons for finally breaking down and getting an "old man" Jeep, despite my heart still crying out for 2-doors:
- our car camping trips keep getting longer and longer, and it seems like it's only a matter of time before I invest in a roof top tent and cargo rack for extended backcountry trips. The 4-door is the better platform with more space for extended driving.
- Bear likes to hang his head out the side and, with a roof rack and RTT in the future, the amount of time spent topless will be significantly less. So, having back windows that roll down are a nice comfort feature.
- Moving gear around in the back of the Jeep every time Bear needs to get in and out during a trip is annoying. Having a 4-door meant he can get in and out with the side rear doors and the gear that gets packed by the rear hatch can stay put. WAY easier on the old man who drives.

The old JKR. Her name was Jolene, and I miss her dearly:
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So, when it came time to order, I knew immediately it was going to be a custom order. First, because I'm one of those archaic old fossils who still prefers 3 pedals, and finding a 6-speed on the lot isn't easy. Second, because I was pretty specific on wanting Sarge Green just as soon as I found out it was being released as a color on the JL. So, I decided on a factory order and this was exactly how I wanted the Jeep built:
- 2020 JL Unlimited Rubicon
- 3.6L Pentastar, 6-speed manual transmission
- Sarge Green exterior, black cloth interior
- Black hard top, unpainted fenders
- LED lighting upgrade
- Stereo/Nav/8.4" screen upgrade
- Cold weather group
- Steel bumper group
- Trailer tow/aux switch group
- Remote proximity keyless entry (was a requirement for the Rubicon package)
- Block heater

So, on June 3rd I placed the order with Mark Martinez at Mac Haik Jeep in Georgetown, TX (just outside of Austin, TX). I knew I was going to be coming back to Texas for a couple months prior to returning home after the Australia assignment, so I wanted to buy the Jeep from a Texas dealer and Mark at Mac Haik was phenomenal top to bottom. The Jeep was ordered June 3rd (5.1% below invoice out the door, less vehicle registration since we don't pay sales tax in Montana), it was assigned a VIN on June 8th, and it arrived at the dealership on July 6th. Mark kept me up to date along the build and shipping, and sent me pictures of the Jeep just as soon as it rolled off the truck:
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The Jeep was cleaned up, the prep finished, and it was put away out of sight from foot traffic until I returned to the states on August 1st. On August 4th (last Tuesday), I drove my 2016 Dodge Challenger Hellcat over to Austin from my place in Houston to say goodbye and welcome the new Jeep to the family. Mark was outstanding all the way through the deal; the Jeep was cleaned and full of gas and ready when I arrived, I got $2500 more than I was expecting for the Hellcat on trade, and when I told them the only way I'd finance through them was for 0%, they didn't bat an eyelash and got it done. Easily the best car buying experience I've ever had. The only sadness of the morning was saying goodbye to Virginia (the Hellcat), but the nice little 250 mile drive back to Houston in the new Jeep helped ease that sadness:
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My initial impressions of the JLUR (who still doesn't yet have a name):
- The drive to Houston was incredibly quiet and smooth. This new JL platform is sooooo much nicer than anything named Jeep has a right to be. Just amazing at how much more refined the interior is over the JK platform, while not losing any of its distinctive "Jeep" identity. This is easily the best Jeep that's ever been made.
- The new Aisin 6-speed transmission is an inprovement over the NSG, though I didn't have any complaints over the old transmission. But the gearing on this one makes each gear so much more useable. I actually spend time in 3rd and 4th gear now, rather than just using them as a conduit between 1st and 2nd to get started and 5th and 6th for most all cruising. The shifter is tight with a slightly sporty feel yet not too sporty as to take away from the "Jeep" identity I mentioned before. The pedal is light, almost too much so. Coming from the heavier clutch of the Hellcat and the heavy dual-disc clutch on my Ram Cummins pickup, I almost put the clutch pedal through the floor the first time in the Jeep. My only non-positive thus far is the size of the shifter is a bit large and awkward, though I'm quickly getting used to it.
- The cabin is much quieter, with a much more insulated and solid feel of the doors closing and such. Again, all this points back to being a much more refined vehicle, while still being distinctively Jeep.
- I'm not sure what to think yet about an electric steering box. This is the first vehicle I've owned without a hydraulic steering box (though not the first I've driven as my F150 work pickup has electric steering) and I'm personally someone that prefers a heavy steering feel requiring direct feedback. It makes me feel more in tune with the system. The electric steering just feels distant and vague and, while it's effortless, I'm still not sure I like it. It isn't exactly something I could've optioned out though, so whether I like it to not is pretty inconsequential. It is.

So far, it's on its way towards being the best $46,500 I've spent in recent memory.

Next up, the mods begin.





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BroncoHound

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Bud
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Part 2 - the early mods, part 1
So, I got back to the Houston house around noon with the new Jeep. What to do? Why, mod of course! I mean, I'd owned the new Jeep nearly 4 hours at this point, it was time to start taking things apart!

Day 1:
First off was some of the really low hanging fruit. I took the Weathertech front and rear mats with me to the dealership and installed them before I left the lot. I didn't bother to photograph them. But upon getting home, I needed to prep the interior for Bear. So first off is folding the rear seats down and installing the Canvasback cargo liner. This took all of 10 minutes, super easy, and a great product. I had one in my JKR and, after 6 years of dog traffic it had sun faded from all summer being topless but otherwise had no tears, no rips, no damage. And the carpet underneath looked brand new.
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Next up was the outside. The folks at Mac Haik were great and all, but I'm not one to advertise unless I'm being sponsored, so the graffiti had to come off:
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And now, adding a little personal touch (though I really need to get a new license plate frame as this one is looking pretty ratty:
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Next was the antenna:
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And then to remove the front license plate frame and the side wings off the front bumper:
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Next was to remove the tire carrier and add the Teraflex Alpha adjustable tire carrier. This probably wasn't absolutely necessary for the size wheel/tire I was choosing, but I intend to spend a bunch of miles on bumpy mountain trails and wanted the spare tire to be as close to the tailgate as possible and as supported as I could get it. Some may say this is overkill but with the amount of weight i intend to have on the tailgate, I feel more comfortable knowing it is appropriately supported:
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Then came the appointment that afternoon to install the new wheels and tires. This was a gamble for me, I really wasn't sure how the bronze wheels were going to look on the green Jeep with red accenting. Thankfully, I'm very happy with how it turned out. I'm sure the aesthetic isn't for everyone, but I enjoy it and I think the dirtier the Jeep gets, the better the combination will look. These are 17"x8.5" Method NV's in bronze with 0 offset/4.75" BS and 35x12.50R17E LT Goodyear Duratrac's. I wanted the load range E Duratracs for the sidewall toughness and larger size vs the 315/70R17 they offer in a C or D range. And Duratracs are the only tire I would consider because I flat LOVE how they perform in snow and ice. On my JKR, I went up and down some stuff that nobody had any business in without needing to chain up just by airing down my Duratracs and letting them work. GREAT snow and ice tires:
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Took the Jeep home, adjusted the Alpha tire carrier, and mounted the spare tire. The tire sits against the stock tire bumpers (I had ordered some Energy Suspension extended bumpers just in case but returned them to Amazon when I found they weren't needed) and, on the middle height setting, sits just about 1/2 inch above the stock steel rear bumper. A perfect fit and WOW does the spare tire sit so much lower on the JL than the JK! I can actually still use my rear view mirror with a 35" spare, incredible!
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Took a little driving around to familiarize myself with the feel of the Jeep with the new wheels and tires (which didn't feel much different than the stock KO2's aside from being slightly harsher due to the load range E) and to dial in the speedometer with the Tazer Lite. The 34.41" tire setting has me under 0.5mph off at 75mph, which is close enough for me. I also adjusted the TPMS threshold down to 20psi while I was in there, then disconnected the batteries (both) for 30 minutes and performed the top gear relearn procedure to prevent the "ESS disabled" code from throwing. Speaking of ESS, the ESS is turned off at startup now, thanks also to the Tazer Lite. And that wrapped it up for Day 1 of ownership.
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Day 2:
Before it got too hot (which is an oxymoron in Houston, TX in August), I wanted to knock out some of the interior changes. First was the dash. I honestly wasn't as put off by the red Rubicon dash on the first day of ownership as I thought I'd be, but it still is just a little too much red for my taste. So I decided to swap out for the black leather w/red stitching (Mopar part # 6AC261R3AD-6AC241R3AA) dash panels in their place. Following some guides on YouTube, the removal was super easy and straightforward. The hardest part of doing this by yourself is getting the airbag released from the old passenger side dash panel. You really need 3 hands for this, but I managed to coax it out with a couple trim removal tools to pry the clips apart enough to allow myself to slide the airbag out one-handed. It also would've been easier if I wasn't drenched in sweat at 8:30am. Houston weather is not for me. Everything else on the dash panels went super smooth and, while I was up there, I went ahead and installed the '67 Designs single driver's side mount with MagMount base for my cell phone:
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Then came time for my window tint appointment. I went with a highly rated shop in Houston, TX called Royz Window Tint and they did a phenomenal job. I had both front windows coated with a LLumar Ceramic film at 25% to match the rear privacy glass with a front windshield eyebrow to match. I chose the LLumar film because it carries a nationwide warranty so, if I have any issues with the tint down the road, there are a couple LLumar dealers in Montana and Idaho that I can have warranty work done at:
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Now you may notice the eyebrow looks a little low. These are all computer cut pieces nowadays, and this was the size eyebrow the computer kicked out for a 2020 Jeep Wrangler. I drove it around for about 30 minutes and, while it looks cool from the outside, the cutoff line was DIRECTLY in my field of vision while driving, so I was constantly either ducking my head down or straining it upward to see above or below the cut line. This just wasn't going to work, so I drove back to Royz and they recut me an eyebrow and replaced it in about 15 minutes with one about 1-1/2" shorter, which doesn't look as cool from the outside but is far less intrusive while driving. I should note I'm 6'0" and generally sit fairly straight up and down (from a lifetime of driving pickup trucks I guess) so my head line is in the upper third of the windshield. If you are fairly short or sit fairly low or laid back in the Jeep, the old eyebrow might not have bothered you.
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And that was it for Day 2. I had some other appointments to attend to so that was all the time I had for the Jeep for Wednesday. Day 3 was a busier Jeep day, however.

Parts list:
- Floormats (not pictured): https://www.weathertech.com/jeep/20...floorliner-digitalfit/?OrderItemId=2109901327
- Canvasback cargo liner: https://www.canvasback.com/index.php/jeep-wrangler-jl-4-dr-cargo-liners.html
- Antenna: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MT1H5DH/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
- Teraflex Alpha tire carrier: https://www.northridge4x4.com/part/...stable-spare-tire-mounting-kit-for-5x5-wheels
- Method NV Bronze 17x8.5 0 offset: https://www.tirerack.com/wheels/WheelCloseUpServlet?autoMake=Jeep&autoModel=Wrangler+Unlimited&autoYear=2020&autoModClar=Rubicon&target=runWheelSearch&wheelMake=Method&wheelModel=MR305+NV&wheelFinish=Bronze+w/Black+Lip
- Goodyear Duratrac 35x12.50R17E: https://www.tirerack.com/tires/tire...25QR7WDT&vehicleSearch=false&fromCompare1=yes
- Z Automotive Tazer Lite (not pictured): https://www.northridge4x4.com/part/...azer-lite-z-automotive-programming-tazer-lite
- Mopar black w/red stitching dash panels: https://www.mopargenuineparts.com/sku/6ac261r3ad-6ac241r3aa.html
- '67 Designs phone mount: https://www.67d.com/collections/jl-...nt-driver-edition-pack?variant=20845518979175
- Royz Window Tint: https://royzwindowtint.com
 
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BroncoHound

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Part 2 - the early mods, part 2
Day 3 began pretty rough; it was HOT outside right out of the gate. But, work had to be done and I was bound and determined to enjoy myself despite Houston, Texas trying its damndest to prevent me from doing so. How I cannot wait for my Montana summer evenings. Soon enough. For now, work to be done.

Day 3:
The first project of the day was the winch install along with all its related periphery. For this Jeep I went with a Warn VR EVO series 10S. I know there have been some questions as to whether Warn reliability is what it used to be and whether the cheaper options on the market are as good or better than Warn, but I've never had a Warn winch let me down and, since I do much of my traveling by myself, there's alot to be said about that level of comfort with a brand. However, I decided after owning a Zeon 10S on my JKR, that I really didn't use a winch enough to really justify a top of the line model. The "standard duty" rating of the VR EVO 10S is much more fitting with my intended use case, I believe, and was $500 cheaper than a Zeon.

Along with the winch and associated Warn winch mounting plate for the JL steel bumper, I also bought a Warn low front bull bar hoop to protect the top of the winch, a Warn Epic winch hook, a Maximus-3 fairlead, a Maximus-3 winch hook plate, a Maximus-3 license plate bracket, Maximus-3 filler plates, and Lamin-X amber fog light lens covers.

First off, the bumper had to come off the Jeep. Easy peasy:
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Next, I decided to knock out the fog light covers. One thing I've noticed on several vehicles with LED fog lights is that they reflect light off the snow pretty badly at night, and my aging eyes are getting more sensitive to the glare. But, before I dropped $400 on fancy replacement amber LED fog lights, I thought I'd try the $11 lens cover option. I'll have to wait until the first few snowfalls this winter to provide feedback on these lens covers, but even if they suck it was a low-cost experiment.
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I went ahead and mounted the bull bar while I was messing with the bumper, then moved on to mounting the winch plate and winch. One thing to note here was the synthetic line came pre-wound on the drum this time, which was a pleasant surprise. Every Warn winch I've ordered before I've had to wind the drum myself, and by far the worst part of the whole installation is always getting the base of the winch line seated properly with the drum key inside the drum. I ordered the winch through Northridge, so not sure if it was something they did prior to shipping but whoever wound it up certainly gets my appreciation!

After installing the winch, I reinstalled the bumper and added all the external jewelry (fairlead, hook plate, filler plates, license plate bracket).
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One thing I should have done differently here was install the fairlead and hook plate on the bumper before mounting it back on the Jeep. The clearance behind the bumper with the winch in place is pretty tight and it would've been much easier to thread the nuts and tighten everything down with the bumper still on the bench in the garage. It still wasn't difficult at all, just a minor annoyance that could've been avoided.

Next was to wire the winch to the battery and then tension the line. For this I used my pickup (in Reverse, parking brake on, wheels chocked) as my mounting point and winched the Jeep up the driveway. This went really smooth; I only had to let down and make one directional adjustment to ensure the winch line wound up properly:
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Now was time to take some measurements and, as I suspected, the added weight of the winch plate and winch (~200lbs total) dropped the front end by a little over an inch so that it was now almost 1-1/2" lower than the rear. So it was time to add some Teraflex coil spring spacers to the front. I've used these before to even out coil sprung vehicles side to side and front to rear and they work great. For this setup, I decided to run 2x 0.5" spacers on each side. Since the spring spacers always seem to give me a little less overall height than they claim, I figured with 1" added to each side I'd wind up between 3/4-7/8" increased front end height which will make the Jeep almost perfectly level when the rear end sags from camping gear loadout. Also while I was under the Jeep, I installed the extended Mopar LCA's to boost the caster a bit. I couldn't tell much of a difference, to be honest, but that may be because the extra LCA length probably put the caster right back close to where it was before the spring spacer install. I haven't measured the caster to find out, but it drives fine. As I mentioned before, I'm still not 100% sold on electronic steering so I may be a bit overly critical of the steering. It's certainly not as heavy and neutral as my pickup is or my JKR was, but it isn't the death trap I've seen others claim on these forums.

Before leveling pucks and control arms:
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After leveling pucks (1" on each side) and control arms:
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The end result was 7/8" gained on the front end and just under 1/2" differential rear to front which should be perfect when weight gets added to the rear.

Last project for day 3 was the Springtail Solutions tailgate table and mounting my first aid kits (1 for me in the OD green pouch, 1 that is dog-specific in the black pouch). This was another super easy install of a great product, another that I also previously had on my JK:
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By this point it was 10:30pm and I was badly sunburnt and dehydrated (even though I'd drank nearly 2-1/2 gallons of water throughout the day) so the final step would have to wait until the morning.

Day 4:
There was only 1 thing left to do (from the parts that had arrived) and that was install the Hotheads Headliners. This was something I had always meant to install on my JKR but had never gotten around to and it was one of the first things I ordered for the JLUR. After the first couple days of driving around, however, I almost returned them. The JL is so much quieter and seemingly better insulated than the JK was that they almost feel redundant. But, I decided to go ahead and install them anyway since I already had them in and you can't have too quiet or insulated a cabin (especially when that cabin in your home while camping in the NW in winter). I ordered the original Hotheads kit, along with the sound assassin strips and the side window pieces.

Now I know Hotheads says that these things are best installed with the top on the Jeep, but after the level of dehydration from the day before and the fact it was already 85degF at 6:30am the next morning, I dreaded the idea of working inside the Jeep for an hour or more and just couldn't see why it wouldn't be easier to do it with the top on the ground. Plus I wanted to see if removing the hard top of a 4-door Jeep was doable by 1x 40 year old guy with multiple back surgeries. As it turns out, if the 40yr old guy with the back surgeries is having a fairly intelligent morning, he can get the top off by himself with some mechanical assistance. If said 40yr old guy with back surgeries would've decided to pursue the knucklehead route that he usually does and just tried to pick the top up and walk it off like he did with his JK 2-door top, it would've ended in catastrophe both for the Jeep and the bad back dude. Thankfully, intelligence prevailed and the Jeep was nice and topless for a breakfast run with a friend I hadn't seen since I'd left for the Australia assignment:
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After breakfast, the buddy of mine graciously stuck around to help me put the top back on the Jeep after the hotheads install. Took like 30 seconds. Sometimes it's nice to have people, I'll admit.
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And that's it for the first round of mods. There are still a few things that were a part of my initial order that are still inbound: an ARB dual compressor with a M.O.R.E. mount on the driver's side tub, some MOPAR sill guards which I didn't realize I would need until I picked up the Jeep, and a black steering wheel bezel to replace the shiny plastic one that glares in my eyes and reflects off the windshield.

In closing for mod day(s), I had to run some errands and came out of Home Depot to this fella parked in front of me. Green Jeeps just seek each other out, I suppose. It's a magnetic connection.
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Parts list:
- Warn winch: https://www.northridge4x4.com/part/...103253-warn-vr-evo10-s-winch-w-synthetic-rope
- Warn winch plate: https://www.northridge4x4.com/part/front-bumper-accessories/101255-warn-oe-rubicon-winch-carrier
- Warn bumper hoop: https://www.northridge4x4.com/part/front-bumper-accessories/102355-warn-low-grille-guard-tube-kit
- Warn winch hook: https://www.northridge4x4.com/part/hooks/92090-warn-hook-kit-3-8in
- Maximus-3 fairlead: https://maximus-3.com/home/max-glide-fairleads-performance-fairleads-grey
- Maximus-3 winch hook plate: https://maximus-3.com/jl-bumper-accessories-/jl-winch-hook-anchor#/
- Maximus-3 license plate bracket: https://maximus-3.com/home/jl-stealth-front-license-plate-bracket-frame
- Maximus-3 filler plates: https://maximus-3.com/home/jl-filler-trim-plates-standard
- Lamin-X amber fog light lens covers: https://lamin-x.com/jeep-wrangler-jl-18-fog-light-covers.html?utm_campaign=End User Order Completed (Laqfk4)&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Order Confirmation&_ke=eyJrbF9lbWFpbCI6ICJidWRhcm5vbGRAZ21haWwuY29tIiwgImtsX2NvbXBhbnlfaWQiOiAiS1dKNFlRIn0=
- Teraflex 0.5" front spacers: https://www.northridge4x4.com/part/coil-spacers/1155110-teraflex-0-5in-front-spacer-load-level-kit
- Teraflex 0.5" front and rear spacers (NOTE: I didn't use the rear spacers but I wanted to have them on hand in case the camping loadout causes too much sag in the rear): https://www.northridge4x4.com/part/...ex-0-5in-spacer-load-level-kit-front-and-rear
- Mopar 0.25" longer front lower control arms (x2): https://www.mopargenuineparts.com/sku/68322798aa.html
- Springtail Solutions tailgate table: http://store.springtailsolutions.com/JL-Rear-Door-Folding-TrayMOLLE-Panel_p_73.html
- Hotheads Headliners: https://hotheadheadliners.com/colle...door-hard-top-headliner?variant=6189671612454
 
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BroncoHound

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Part 3 - going to pick up Bear
Now that the Jeep was about ready, I needed to get the copilot approval. If Bear didn't like the Jeep, she would have to go (though I was certain this wouldn't be the case). Bear had been staying with my close friend and his family for the year I had been overseas, and I frankly couldn't wait to see him and show him our new ride. So, Friday evening I drove up to east Texas and spent the weekend with my friends and had a chance to introduce Bear to his chariot. Over the weekend we took the top off again and took a topless drive to the lake for a little relaxation. Everyone involved had a blast, which made me very, very happy.
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The Jeep looks pretty good next to my buddies old FJ Cruiser. It certainly looks more appealing than the FJ, though that isn't saying much I suppose haha.
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And after a too-quick visit with my friends, Bear and I had to trek back to Houston. I think he's pretty okay with his new situation:
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And a gratuitous shot of the Jeep under a construction bridge, because it looked cool:
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BroncoHound

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Part 4 - maiden voyage prep
Not much yet to add here yet. Bear and I will be taking the Jeep on her maiden voyage next weekend. We'll be road tripping up to Montana to take care of some grown-up life things, spend some time with friends, and get some time in the Montana summer. We will also be driving the Magruder Corridor as a shakedown run of sorts for the new Jeep, before heading to the Shasta mountains in Northern California to spend some time on a piece of property I own in the mountains out there.

One little piece to the prep puzzle was test fitting the RSE spare tire mount and the 2 Rotopax fuel cans along with the Trasharoo. I was a little concerned the 3-gallon Rotopax cans would make contact on the passenger side unless they were way up high on the spare tire, but they allow full opening of the tailgate with no interference.
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I would've preferred the cans a bit lower on the spare, but any lower and there would've been clearance issues on the passenger side and getting to the handle on the driver's side would've become a pain as well. So this'll work.
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Parts list:
- RSE spare tire plates: https://www.northridge4x4.com/part/...102s-rock-slide-engineering-ez-rack-basic-kit
- Rotopax Deluxe pack mounts (x2): https://www.northridge4x4.com/part/fuel-tanks/rx-dlx-pm-roto-pax-deluxe-pack-mount
- Rotopax 3gal fuel cans (x2): https://www.northridge4x4.com/part/uncategorized/rx-3g-roto-pax-3-gallon-gas-pack
- Trasharoo: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B004RGSGKO/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1
 
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SilentSkut

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Fantastic write-up and build!
 

Bluepencil99

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That is an epic build, and clearly Bear approved....Safe travels and enjoy that beautiful rig!!! Cant wait to see more...
 

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Oustanding documentation and well written! Cheers and ride on. Looking forward for more to come. You'll love looking back at those pictures in the years to come. Making Memories
 

Strommen95

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Nice Jeep and dog. Making me wish mine was a little more photo happy, haha.
 

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Digging it!! Really love that color!! Stoked to see as the build continues!! :rock:
 
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Thanks for the kind words and well wishes! We should be heading out for our little northern adventure today, if I can get my body moving. The last couple days of working in the Houston August heat have taken a toll. But, there are a few more prep updates:

Part 4 - maiden voyage prep (cont'd)
So I started doing some organizational/gear stowage work a couple nights ago and came to realize the 4-door really has a TON more interior store space than a 2-door Jeep. And, playing the tetris game with a new vehicle is always fun.
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I left the camp table (green roll) strapped to the cross bar for a couple days of running errands around town and, while perfectly secure, I just didn't like seeing it in the rearview mirror where it was so decided to move it down off there. I did leave the axe secured up there though, which is nice and out of sight yet fairly handy when needed.

I don't know why I still bring my 15-year old Coleman 40degF sleeping bag (the large stuff sack on the drivers side roll bar) when my 5-year old REI 25degF (smaller stuff sack behind it) is more well suited and much smaller and lighter, but for some reason I can't bring myself to ever leave it at the house. And, since I'm a hammock camper who drives into a bunch of places, I love having my little air pad for my hammock and don't mind the added bulk in my day pack if I'm camping away from the vehicle (which I might spend 1-2 nights doing this next trip).

Now we needed to start thinking about vehicle recovery/repair/service stowage. I love how the little cargo cubby is essentially lockable now in that the lid can't be raised when the tailgate is closed. Pretty good little morsel of engineering there. In the cubby I have my 4-way lug wrench (collapsable and stowed with the jack), a basic tool bag, tire plug kit, jumper cables, e-tool and saw, and a few ratchet straps and a cable lock for my cooler when stowed outside the vehicle (for when roadside parked and sleeping in the Jeep).
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For recovery gear, I initially thought to use the same .50cal ammo can I've been using for years in the back of my pickup but I'm already bringing one .50cal ammo can for dry food storage (one of the best "bear boxes" around, IMO) and, along with a large cooler, the second ammo can was going to start getting a bit bulkier than I wanted in the rear of the Jeep. So, I transferred my recovery gear to a 40L duffel bag that I bought from Backcountry.com last year. I initially bought the bag to take for work trips when in Australia because the charter flights I took for work there had pretty stringent luggage weight limitations and I wanted a smaller duffel. But, I wound up using a smaller collapsable Kathmandu bag for my traveling after I got my hands on this one from Backcountry and realized how stout it was. It really is a well built and tough little bag; it easily stores all my recovery gear and, being soft sided, opens up more storing possibilities for me over the ammo can.
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As mentioned, I am bringing one of my ammo cans for dry food storage though.
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And, the Mopar door sills came in, so I threw those on a couple nights ago as well. I was surprised how that little touch makes a visual difference when the doors are open and also makes me feel less shitty about dragging my feet a bit getting in and out of the Jeep.
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Something that doesn't typically get talked about much among the "overlanding" topics is fitness. I'm on the mend from a back surgery late last year (L5S1 disc replacement, my second), and am just starting to get back to a point where I can start exercising again. Before my back problems, I used to be in pretty good shape and have always enjoyed getting creative with my workouts but one of the perks of car camping is being able to take more gear with you, so for this trip I loaded up my PowerBlocks with 60lbs each of plates as well as my TRX straps. To keep the weight balance right, I decided to store these in the passenger footwell for travel, along with my day hiking bags.
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Ismor

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Last project for day 3 was the Springtail Solutions tailgate table and mounting my first aid kits (1 for me in the OD green pouch, 1 that is dog-specific in the black pouch).
I enjoyed the blend of eloquent writing and practical advice. Two questions

1. What first aid kits are you using?
2. Can you post links to the gear for "vehicle recovery/repair/service stowage"? I saw somethings i didn't recognize.

Keep up the good work!
 
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Part 5 - OBA install
The M.O.R.E. bracket and ARB dual compressor arrived Tuesday evening, so I spent the last couple evenings getting it prepped and installed.

First off, a note: if you're considering the M.O.R.E. bracket, one thing to think about is that the wiring harness supplied with the compressor won't be anywhere near long enough. And, heavy gauge wire is expensive. I bought 2x 20ft runs of 10AWG outdoor/chemical resistant red wire and 1x 20ft run of 8AWG outdoor/chemical resistant black wire and that was right at $110. Add in the battery terminals, looming, heat shrink, larger sized butt connectors, etc (because I don't work with larger gauge wire much, I didn't have a supply of this in my electrical box already) and it was another $60. So that's $170 added to the cost of the system that wouldn't necessarily have been incurred (at least, to the same extent) with an underhood mount or similar.

So why did I choose the M.O.R.E. bracket over the other options? Well I didn't much care for the underhood mount I saw that required the smaller windshield washer bottle mount, and the mount behind the driver's fender liner didn't appeal to me either, for the reasons that have already been discussed ad nauseam on these forums (heat, air contamination).

The install didn't start off great. While installing the little spacer, the stud sheared right off the body. I have to think it was a Friday afternoon tack weld, because I wasn't applying hardly any torque at all when it sheared. Oh well, it's not really necessary for the install so I moved on.
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Another little issue I ran into was mounting the rear bracket to the front. There isn't much clearance for the lower bolts and, as it turns out, the welded on nuts for the M.O.R.E. bracket weren't perfectly straight when they were tacked on so it made starting the bolts pretty difficult. So I took the whole thing apart and tightened them down with just the bolts to straighten out the nuts to the bracket. Then everything lined up better and allowed me to mount the compressor.
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Now for the wiring harness, I decided to forego the ARB switch included with the bracket (and will cut the switch tab off the bracket when I get back from this trip) and use one of the factory AUX switches. So, from the harness all I needed was the main harness with the power and ground wires as well as the purple switch power wire from the secondary harness. I tore the harnesses down and rebuilt them with the connectors and wires I needed. Then I made a 20ft long run and loomed the entire thing, and kept the fuses for the power leads to splice once I got it routed to the battery. I brought this stuff inside because holy crap it was hot outside.
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Then it was time to route the cabling. I followed the Jeep Generation video on YouTube for routing, so decided to just use the drain plug on the driver's side (rather than the passenger side one) and run it over the gas tank and across to the passenger side frame rail. Then I zip tied it to the existing wire loom there and ran it to the driver's side front fender and up behind the fuse box, the same as in the YouTube video. I tapped the switched wire for AUX 3 and finished it up then aired the tires from 34psi to 50psi in a jiffy. I'm going to run a high psi for the first couple days of highway driving so as to maximize highway fuel economy.
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Parts list:
M.O.R.E. bracket w/compressor bundle: https://mountainoffroad.com/collect...8-and-arb-ckmta12-twin-air-compressor-jl-2018

YouTube video (for reference):
 
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I enjoyed the blend of eloquent writing and practical advice. Two questions

1. What first aid kits are you using?
2. Can you post links to the gear for "vehicle recovery/repair/service stowage"? I saw somethings i didn't recognize.

Keep up the good work!
Thanks for the kind words!

1. The "pet" first aid kit is one I picked up at REI that I've swapped a couple things out for (as things expire) and the second is a first aid kit that came with the pouch that, again, I've swapped some stuff out for and added a couple packages of quick-clot.
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2. There is a tree-saver, a bubba rope, a recovery strap, and a snatch block. Here are a few links:

Tree saver: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0010DY4J4/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Recovery strap: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B002SAJOD4/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Snatch block: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0010E5RAI/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Bubba rope: https://smile.amazon.com/Bubba-Rope...d=1&keywords=bubba+rope&qid=1597504504&sr=8-7
 

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