Chocolate Thunder’s Most Excellent Build Thread!

Chocolate Thunder

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Jeremy
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2019 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
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So I’ve been a gear head forever and done builds but never really documented them in detail. This is my first Jeep. So I’ve decided to do just that this go round.

I don’t have nearly the deep technical knowledge of some of the many OG Jeepers here in this forum, so it’s not intended to be a repository of expert knowledge. This is a journal for myself as well as to possibly inspire others with ideas or maybe just entertain. Enjoy.

Also, right now I just happened to be watching Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure for the first time in 25 years, hence the title. Lol.


Window sticker
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This is it as I walked up to the dealership.
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First time freedom panels off. 67 degrees in January in Texas.
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Throwing caution to the wind and driving like Mario Andretti during break in. I’m a crazy man!!!
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First 4LO full flex!
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Delivered to me with 16 miles on the odometer. Road trip from Houston to New Orleans for Saints playoff game on second day. 800 miles in the first 36 hours of ownership. Who Dat!!!
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1/19/2019 1,086 miles
Today in installed my first “real” mod. Added the Fox steering stabilizer PN 985-24-173. Easy swap out, took maybe 10 or 15 minutes. Skill level 2 of 10 required. 2 18mm bolts to remove, replace the part, reinstall the bolts, torque to 59 ft/lbs. Easy peasy. I’ll see if the steering feels different/better on a 350 mile highway drive later this afternoon

Note: I don't suffer from any of the really bad steering problems many 2018 have faced, this was a planned change whether the steering was bad or not. More steering mods to come later.

Before
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After
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I also put in another minor mod that I had sitting around waiting for Rubi to get here. GPCA tie down anchors. Tooless easy to grip handles to fastener the hard top as well as D plates that serve as multi-purpose anchors. Relatively inexpensive, fast and easy to install.

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Chocolate Thunder

Chocolate Thunder

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Jeremy
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1/26/2019 1786 miles
Today I installed my Dynatrac EnduroSport 2” lift along with 1/2” TeraFlex spacers in front and SteerSmarts Yeti XD front track bar. Both seem to be extremely well made. The lift install wasn’t too bad working by myself without a lift, except for a couple of things. I somehow managed to misplace the key for the locking lugs after I got the front end completed, but before installing the rear. Vanished. So I managed to install the rear coils, shocks, sway bar links, and bump stop extensions without removing the rear wheels. When all was said and done, this lift was just what I wanted. Improved steering, ride, handling. I guess you can have it all. I didn’t recenter the steering wheel right away, it was off by about 30 degrees. This triggered a fault in the electronic stability control causing a dash indicator light and message. It went away after centering the wheel which was pretty easy and quick. The SteerSmarts track bar is a behemoth. The shorter end forging by itself weighs as much as the entire OEM track bar. More to come...

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2/3/2019 2084 miles
I got my Rusty’s winch plate and Smittybilt X20 10K comp winch installed today. I started yesterday and completed this evening. Other than both products having less than stellar install instructions it didn’t go too badly. Lost a tiny M4 lock nut so I had to run down to the hardware store. I finished up in the dark this evening. It gave me something to do rather than watch the Super Bowl which I skipped as a diehard Saints fan.

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2/11/2019 2789 miles
Well, I attacked the RockHard 4x4 rock slider install today and it went perfectly. Very straightforward. Actually relatively easy. The Demon Bolt didn’t snap, I didn’t have difficulty getting the body mount bolts at all. I used a pneumatic impact gun on the 2 rear bolts on each side. Came right out as if they didn’t have any Loctite. The front ones I loosened up a few turns with the impact gun then used a 24” breaker bar. Only once or twice did they feel a little tight while removing them this way. I reversed and tightened them up about a turn or two, then backed them out again. Out they came. Putting the sliders on didn’t give me any issues except for the front pinch seam hole needed to be bored out slightly on the driver side. Then they went right on and I put all the fasteners on (new grade 8 hardware provided with the sliders) with blue Loctite and torqued then down.

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2/15/2019 2826 miles
I installed the longer OEM lower control arms from the Mopar 2” lift. They’re about a 1/2” or so longer so they increase camber a little bit after my 2” Dynatrac lift. I haven’t gotten it on an alignment rack to check it yet, but I can feel a little more resistance in the steering (a good thing). It already tracks straight with no wandering or bump steer so far.

I ran into one small problem at the very end of installing them. When replacing the nut that holds on the line bracket, I managed to snap the stud off. I guess it was weak or defective because it snapped right off when I hardly applied any torque to tighten it. I used a temporary fix of a Velcro strap to hold the bracket in place until I can get a replacement arm.

UPDATE: 2/19/2019 allmoparparts.com, a forum sponsor, didn’t consider this to be a defect, but the result of bad installation. That hurts. But they offered a discount and free shipping on a replacement part. It’s not expensive so I decided that this isn’t the hill I want to die on. I’ll swap it out using my very best installation skill this time and hope I don’t screw it up. :giggle:

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Addendum 9/3/2019: I’d lost this but and couldn’t find it anywhere when the replacement arm arrived. I installed the arm without it. Well I found the nut, extracted the broken off stud, and put it back on tonight.


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3/2/2019 3326 miles
I got my new tires and wheels mounted, balanced, and installed today. Upgrade Rubicon wheels and 35” tires (Milestar Patagonia M/T 315/70/R17, load range D). After airing them down to 33 psi from the 43-46 that Discount Tire inflated them to I took a short test ride. Anybody that says that they ride and drive as good as the OEM BFG tires is high or has an agenda. IMO they don’t. Now, they’re not bad. At all. And my opinions are based on only 30 mikes of driving. Also, I went from a 33 to a 35. However on direct comparison to the tires they replaced, they don’t handle as well or ride as smooth and they’re louder. If comfort, refinement, and quiet are what you want stick to the BFG KO2s. Time will tell if they get better in those areas. But they are NOT bad. Just different. After all, they are a hybrid M/T not an A/T. I’ll follow up with opinions after more road time, and possibly off road time.

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3/16/2019 - Update on the Milestars
After some break in and playing around with the pressures, I like them better than before. I still prefer the OEM BFG though, but not by a wide margin. The main issues are that the BFG are quieter on road and handle better. I never took them off-roading except for one short beach excursion that didn’t put them through much. I took the Milestars off road last weekend in easy to moderate trails and a little mud. I couldn’t get them to break traction in the easy stuff. Barely needed 4WD at all. I will keep them but might go back to BFG KO2 on the next set. The Milestar Patagonia are an excellent value and a good to very good tire IMO.

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3/24/2019 4638 miles
I finally had a chance to finish installing my Hotheads headliners. Fairly straightforward except some body contortion to get them pressed securely in place. They look great. It gives the top a much more finished, refined look if you’re into that sort of thing.

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I also got some Trim-lok rubber tubing installed in the fender/body crack. It looks almost like it’s oem, at least on Ocean Blue. There were so many oak leaves and catkins it there it’s unbelievable. I picked/blew/vacuumed them all out and cleaned up the pollen and dust with some detailed and a microfiber cloth. Then just pushed it in evenly.

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And I also put my GPCA grab handles in this week after having them for some time.

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3/30/2019 4852 miles
I took the Jeep out to @rustyshakelford shop, BnL Jeep Shop, way out in the sticks north of Houston. A long ride from where I live but well worth the trip to have Brett do some work with the utmost care and attention to detail. I had the SteerSmarts tie rod and steering stabilizer bracket installed, along with an alignment. Even with a few hiccups he was able to get the work done and get us on our way to a Texas Hill Country wildflower cruise. Thanks Brett.

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4/9/2019 5197 miles
Today my @TeraFlex spare tire relocation bracket arrived from @Northridge4x4. It’s extremely well designed and built. I had the time so I got it installed today. The install is pretty easy. It places the 315/70/17 tire in a much better position than the OEM bracket. Before it was too close to the rear window and interferes with the windshield wiper. I had to hold it up each time I closed the gate for fear of damage. Now it clears. The anti vibration bumpers were badly squished. With this bracket I can adjust fore/aft position infinitely so the tire makes just enough contact to be securely held and braced. At 33 PSI with studs in the center hole the tire clears the bumper by just a couple of millimeters. The third brake light solution is great too, it removes the “halo” that stood above the tire increasing rear visibility quite a bit. After 1 day I love it.

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4/24/2019 5993 miles
Today my Teraflex front control arm sport bracket kit arrived and I got it installed. I don’t like that they hang lower at the rear connection point of the front LCAs. I DO like what they accomplish - improve the steering (tighter, heavier), reduce body roll in corners considerably, and reduce braking nosedive/acceleration squat. I haven’t checked alignment but obviously the caster is increased. I’ll try to get a measurement soon. It was 5.4 L / 5.8 R before installing them.

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7/27/2019 9964 miles
I got some backing and filler plates for my OEM stubby bumper and the space around my winch. Not a tight fit on the backing plates (didn’t expect them to be), but they’re better than nothing and will keep mud and splashes from reaching the fog light wiring. Overall I’m happy with them.

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8/2/2019 10003 miles
Installed Dominion Offroad’s Hi-Lift jack mount and my “sassy” (my wife’s description, not mine) blue 48” Hi-Lift jack. Very simple install. I’ll test drive it later to see if it rattles. It can be installed easily without removing the hard top. I used my table saw to trim the plastic snap in cover pieces

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9/2/2019 10879 miles
I’ve seen a couple of members color match the speaker grille surrounds and I thought it looked great so I tried it myself. I removed the grilles of the dash, roll bar, and subwoofer speakers. I prepped them by a light scuff sanding and cleaned with denatured alcohol followed by tack cloth wipe down. 2-3 coats of adhesion promoter (clear primer), 4-5 coats of color, 3-4 coats of gloss clear coat.

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9/13/2019 11628 miles
I bought a couple of pairs of Infinity Reference REF3022cfx 3.5” speakers for the dash locations and the roll bar. I purchased the wrong wiring harness at first, the correct one for these speakers is Metra 72-7902. Installation requires slight trimming of the mounting tabs in order to fit in the factory space. I found it useful to drop the windshield and have easy access to the location. It was easier than having to use a stubby screwdriver in the cramped dash space against the windshield.

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Chocolate Thunder

Chocolate Thunder

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10/12/2919 13,893 miles

I had a chance to get a little work done today in magnificent weather. I started installing my ARB twin compressor under the passenger seat using the Innovative JK bracket. Other than a few hiccups from working in tight spaces with big hands it was pretty straightforward. Got the wife to actually help me in a useful way getting her smaller hands under the seat track. Got it mounted and all of the plumbing put in. Next up is wiring it up to power.

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5/3/2020 19,843 miles

Its been a while. I put on Mopar roof cargo rack. Still undecided on what basket to attach. This is intended for a long road trip with lots of family later this fall, but those plans are up in the air now.

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Bilymac

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Looking forward to see what you do.
 

blnewt

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Congrats on that Rubicon, very nice & what a first trip to break it in! Saints have been on a roll, see how it goes next week. Rooting for the Rams but the Dome is a tough place for road teams.

Look forward to your plans, nice start for sure!
 

UKCATS

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Nice!
 

Sean L

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Awesome! Good to see you're finally among the owners. :like:
 

Highonlyfe

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Beautiful.

Enjoy it and look forward to your updates.

Have fun
 

Rdmitch

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So I’ve been a gear head forever and done builds but never really documented them in detail. This is my first Jeep. So I’ve decided to do just that this go round.

I don’t have nearly the deep technical knowledge of some of the many OG Jeepers here in this forum, so it’s not intended to be a repository of expert knowledge. This is a journal for myself as well as to possibly inspire others with ideas or maybe just entertain. Enjoy.

Also, right now I just happened to be watching Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure for the first time in 25 years, hence the title. Lol.


Window sticker
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This is it as I walked up to the dealership.
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First time freedom panels off. 67 degrees in January in Texas.
44953AFC-C498-4617-8B2C-5CE7945C0537.jpeg



Throwing caution to the wind and driving like Mario Andretti during break in. I’m a crazy man!!!
153C736C-6EE7-4A1C-B956-87F4FDA6B0F7.jpeg




First 4LO full flex!
0EFCB61C-D101-4D49-8BD9-C0DD08A130C7.jpeg




Delivered to me with 16 miles on the odometer. Road trip from Houston to New Orleans for Saints playoff game on second day. 800 miles in the first 36 hours of ownership. Who Dat!!!
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That’s a beautiful rubi.
 

Gemball2018

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Where did you get the tool less bolts for the hard top?

How is the steering with the stabilizer? Any free play in the steering wheel.

Great looking ride
 
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Chocolate Thunder

Chocolate Thunder

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2019 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
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Where did you get the tool less bolts for the hard top?

How is the steering with the stabilizer? Any free play in the steering wheel.

Great looking ride
Thanks.

https://www.gpca.us/ for the hard top fasteners. They’re great quality.

I don’t have any free play before or after. No wobble or loose steering. I drove about 300 miles today and steering seems like it could be a little better but not vastly different. It’s very difficult to judge it honestly because it was extremely windy today so I was working hard to keep it going straight.
 
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