Diesel Build - 2020 Sting-Gray JLURD

Themistocles

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Ordered my JLURD the end of December '19 from Peterson's in Nampa Idaho...Kent Shurtleff their online sales guy was wonderful to work with and provided the best price I could find in the country. Finally was able to go pick it up the last week of June (thanks COVID). Now it is home and starting the build process.

This was the taken a few days after I got home, still bone stock.


The following pictures show stock starting point and the stock height measurements.

More to follow. Tires and wheels next, then rock rails, then front and rear bumper.... will see where it goes from there.

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First step in the build was to install 35 x 12.50 Toyo Open Country ATIIs on Method 701 wheels.

I am a big Toyo fan, I have run the MTs and ATs on my Cummins Ram for years. I have also raced with them on a race Ram 2500 diesel about 10-12 years ago in the Baja and BitD series. They are tough, hook up well in lots of different terrain, wear very well, and are amazingly quiet.

I wanted to go with the MTs but this is my daily driver and I have quite a commute, so reason prevailed. Also, I have had my Ram with ATs out in some fairly intense off-road environments and they have yet to let me down, so figured it wasn't that much of a compromise.

I went with the Method 701s aluminums to save weight and a bit of money. I have been running Welds on my truck and they have done well for me. Beadlocks were tempting, as were steels, and fully forged aluminum. However, having run all over through the desert, mountains, snow, mud, and rocks with my truck for the last 17 years...and done it all on Weld aluminums and Toyos, I figured I would avoid the weight of beadlocks and steels and the incredible cost of fully forged aluminums and go with what I was familiar with. I recognize this will limit my ability to air way down in the future, will see if I come to regret this decision.

Only a couple pics, changing tires is pretty straight forward. What I have is for comparison. It shows the stock 33' Rubicon tire and wheel on the back and the new 35' Toyo on the front.

Take-offs sold in 3-days.

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Themistocles

Themistocles

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While waiting impatiently to be able to go pick up my jeep I did a bunch of looking for rock rails. Compared to finding stuff for my Ram, finding quality parts for the Jeep presents an embarrassment of riches. There were lots of great rock rails out there.

For me they had to meet a few criteria. First they had to be tough, proven, frame mounted rails. Then...and only second by a touch, they had to be functional as steps. As my daily driver, my wife and kids will be in and out of this vehicle very frequently. I have spent many years enduring complaints regarding how hard my Ram is to get into (no steps)...so I promised to make this one a little more friendly. Finally, they needed to look decent and at least generally fit the overall look I am going for on the vehicle. Through really aesthetics don't carry that much weight compared to the other two categories.

I spent lots of online time reading reviews and looking at the specs for pretty much all the top frame mounted rock rails out there; I ended up with Roam. The last edition of these Roam rails had experienced some problems with rust. However the new model seems to have overcome those problems.

The install was fairly easy. I pulled off the OEM Rubicon body mounted rails (haven't sold yet), put the jeep up on low stands and did the job myself. If you are looking to install the Roam rails there is a wonderful thread on the JL Forum with detailed instructions as well as comments by other folks who have installed these. The forum instructions and comments were absolutely spot on. The only issue I had was that I didn't pay attention to how close I got the rail to the bottom of my passenger side front fender. The result was it touched and squeaked the first time I drove it. I loosened up the bolts and re-adjusted for about 1/2" space, 5 minutes and problem solved.

I have yet to hook up the lights. I am waiting for my front and rear bumper and Rigid 10" LED bar to go on and them I am going to do all electrical at one time.

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Themistocles

Themistocles

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With the new 35" tires my computer needed to be recalibrated. I considered taking it in to the dealer, but that felt much like just throwing $125 down a hole. So I decided to do it myself.

I looked at the FlashCal, the AEV Procal, and the Z Automotive Tazer JL Mini. I really liked the FlashCal ... but their website did not indicate that it worked with the diesel. I called them and they confirmed the FlashCal is currently not compatible with the diesel. So, it was down to the ProCal and the Tazer.

After a bit of consideration I decided to go with the Tazer JL Mini. While it was more expensive than the AEV device, it was also much more feature rich. I called Z Automotive to confirm that the Taxer JL Mini would work with the diesel, they confirmed it would. I ordered and it arrived yesterday.

The install sounds easy, just reach under the dash unclip two wire harnesses and plug them into the Tazer. The directions make it sound easy, the videos show some guy easily reaching up and just unclipping...no problems. The reality was a bit different. To easily unclip the harnesses you need to be a professional contortionist, with hands the size of a teenage girl's, and fingers as strong as a lifelong freeclimber's.

Enjoying none of those qualities myself, it was not a quick and easy job. However after a few bloody knuckles, lots of swearing, and some creative uses of a long screwdriver and a vice grip needle-nose...all of which are, I am sure, not recommended, I was able to unclip both harnesses and get them plugged in to the Tazer.

Once plugged in the directions and videos are accurate, it is clear, easy, and quick. I measured my tires with a level, the height installed was just a hair over 34". I set the tire size to 34.07 which was the closest setting I could find. It was either that or 33.98".

Went for a drive afterwards and the Jeep had picked back up the snap it seemed to have lost with the install of the 35". Overall very happy.

The one gripe I have is the inability to turn off the damn door chime. There are times, many times, that I want my Acc or Engine on and the door open. I know the door is opened, I opened it. I also know the Acc are on or the Engine is on...I turned them on. I do not need a constant chime to remind me every 1/2 second. If one can turn off the seatbelt chime (I did not, that is a reminder I appreciate) why on god's green earth can't you turn off the door chime? I will be providing that feedback to Z Automotive.

Ok with that short rant out of the way...I really like the Tazer, good purchase.
 
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Themistocles

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The next big decision I have is suspension. Having looked at suspensions for the last 7 months I am still not sure. I like Roam, but am not ready for a full long-arm coilover conversion at the moment. I also don't really want to gain 4" on 35" tires...would look odd IMHO. For a vehicle that will be used to commute 100 miles round trip at least a few times a week, but then go out wheeling on weekends and holidays, 2-3 inches seems to be the sweet spot. Of all the mid-arm 2-3 inch suspensions out there the Metalcloak Game Changer 2.5" is my favorite.

I also like the RK x-factor, and a few of the Evo suspensions (though damn they are expensive). But here is the sticking point. Metalcloak is not making diesel specific springs. They are using their standard springs. I have gone back and forth with Metalcloak, and just had a great discussion with them today. According to MC their current lifts were designed for a 3.6L Rubi with armor. That means (assuming 300lbs of armor) a 4700+ lbs vehicle. The diesel Rubi weighs in at about 4850 lbs (400 lbs heavier than a 3.6L Rubi) bone stock. Furthermore, from what they said, the 400 extra pounds the diesel carries is amazingly evenly balanced (not 300 of it up front like was expecting). So what they said is that their 2.5" actually gives a lighter 2.0 or 3.6 Sport 3 - 3.25", maybe even a bit more, and from the installs they have done will end up giving my stock JLURD just about exactly 2.5". Their logic makes perfect sense.

However, I still have a bit of a reservation. The remaining problem I see is that they didn't take a stock Rubi as the design model for a reason...practically nobody seriously wheels a stock vehicle. You put on bumpers and a winch and some extra recovery gear, heavier tires and wheels (unsprung weight I know...but still have to control compression and rebound damping) and rock rails, and skid plates, some tools ... a big cooler, and the wife and kids. AND by the time you are done with that, even if you are careful and make good decisions and spend money for gear that is designed to reduce as much weight as possible, without sacrificing strength, you still end up with a vehicle that is not far from its OEM recommend max load of 850lbs when you are out on the trail (400-450 of that being 2 adults and 2 kids). So I have to plan for my JLURD weighing in at say 5500 lbs on the trail. And now the springs designed for a 4700 lbs vehicle seem to not make as much sense.

So, still up in the air about this one...suggestions appreciated here. Am I looking at this wrong?
 
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Themistocles

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My crash course on spring rates continues.

I heard back from Rock Krawler. They do have diesel specific springs and said "The top rate is 175 the middle rate is 230. You will ride 2” before the transition at ride height." Also they said the diesel rear spring rate is the same as the 3.6 Rubi...so 175 as well (at ride height).

---------------------------------
By comparison (from a previous RK post in a different thread):

Model - Stock SR/RK SR

JLU Sport - 114/121 Front 171/174 Rear
JLU Rubicon - 123/128 Front 172/176 Rear
Mopar 2" Coils Lift - 131/133 Front 180/182 Rear

Our (RK) 2.5" Coil Spring Rates are as follows in the ride zone

137.5 Front at Ride Height
175 Rear at Ride Height
3.5" Coils are already coming in so we will give you those too
140 Front at Ride Height
----------------------------------

The following is from a post by RubiRob back in 2018:

JLU Sport : 117 / 172
JLU Rubi : 125 / 174
Mopar lift : 132 / 181
Synergy : 120 / 175
Teraflex : 140
RK 2.5 : 137 / 175
RK 3.5 : 140 / 185

------------------------------------

My take away here is that the RK Diesel SR was substantially higher than I expected. I guessed it would be in the 150 range. Meaning, either RK created a super stiff set-up for the diesel, comparatively way stiffer then any of their other builds (I doubt this) or the folks saying that 125 - 140 rates will be fine are probably missing the boat.

I would get a difference like one company marketing a softer set-up (evo) and saying hey...for ride we think 160 or so is better...and another (RK) saying well we think 175 is better for a loaded trail vehicle... That kind of variance gives different folks choice in how they use their vehicles and the kind of ride they prefer. But, the difference between 175 and say an assumed MC rate of 135 or so, are big enough that, IMHO if one works the other doesn't.

As much as I wanted an MC suspension, I am heavily leaning toward a RK.
 
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Themistocles

Themistocles

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I had a little free time today, so I figured I would work on the Roam front and rear bumpers that have been sitting in my garage for the last 3 months.

I started with the rear, no instructions for that one (thanks ROAM), though in truth probably none needed, the install should have been really easy.

I started with removing the rear stock bumper. Many good Youtube videos out there, I found the Fishbone one to be the best and easiest to follow. It took me about one hour from the time I started laying the tools out to the time the rear bumper was fully removed. The process is very straight forward and the only reason it took that long was it was hot and I was chatting on texts at the same time as pulling off the bumper. Overall very easy.

It was then time to install the Roam bumper. Again...no directions and nothing found on the forum or Youtube, and of course no instructions on the Roam site. However, it does not involve more than sliding the bumper over the mounts and reinstalling the factory bolts.

That is easy if you do not have the factory tow package installed. The Roam bumper comes with a receiver hitch, but the tow package is not just the receiver hitch it includes the plug-ins and mounts for trailer lighting. The Roam Bumper does not fit the factory trailer wiring mount. (see pictures). So there were a few options. It was an option to remove the factory tow wiring mount and relocate it. I didn't really want to do this, because it is exactly where it is supposed to be. It was an option to pull off the mount and re-install it in the same location on the bumper itself. This was tempting, but if I were to catch my bumper on something and bend it, I would tear out of the trailer wiring. The final option I saw was to modify the Roam bumper to fit around the trailer wiring mount. This was the option I picked.

So, I measured and cut out a rectangle from the driver's side of the bumper, continuing the cutout that was already in place to clear the hitch. It took about 15 minutes with cutting wheel on a die grinder. With that done, the bumper slide into place perfectly and was mounted in about 10 minutes.

As soon as it was mounted I noted that it look like is sat a bit higher than the factory bumper ... which overall is a good thing. Except it also sits higher at the rear tire. I have a 35 on Method 701s (4.5 backspacing) mounted on the factory tire mount. The Roam bumper does not allow the rear door to close with the tire mounted. So, I have now ordered a Rugged Ridge door reinforcement and tire mount to lift the tire up a bit, but in the interim I am going to have to take my rear tire off. It would have been nice for Roam to provide this warning so that I could have had the mount installed before I put on the bumper.

Overall the Pioneer aluminum bumper looks great, is very light, yet fairly thick aluminum, so should be plenty strong. Yet there are a few things that would have made it much better. First, it should have come with the cut-out for the factory trailer wiring mount. It should have clearly and upfront indicated that it will not fit 35s, and it should have had the very slight modification need to maintain the factory driver's side frame mounted tow hook. Had these three things been done the bumper would be a homerun. As it is, good...but could be better.
Roam Rear Bumper 1.jpg

Will install rear facing LEDs (come with the bumper) at a later date.

Roam Rear Bumber Cut.jpg
Arrows show where the original Roam Bumper had some issues. The most significant was the location on the left of the picture. The existing cut out may have barely cleared the first two arrowed locations....but the cut out did not extend far enough to clear the far left arrow location. Simply no way to mount the bumper without some type of modification.

Roam Rear Bumber Tire.jpg


Close...but close doesn't count in closing doors. This is with 35s.
 
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Themistocles

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Well front bumper is done. No significant issues, took about 90 minutes. The Roam instructions were just barely good enough to be interpretable. I think Roam sent a selection of every fastener they had in inventory...which was a touch confusing but I would rather have too many than too few.
The only minor issue I ran into was the four bolts that attach the winch plate to the frame on the vertical side panels seemed to be too small. The holes in the winch plate were too big for the washers provided...and the provided bolts were floating inside large holes. So I sourced 4 of the OEM bolts used to mount the bumper to the frame. They were much more robust and fit that application perfectly. Otherwise install was smooth.

Before the install...stock front bumper

Stock Front Bumper.jpg


Everything pulled off and ready to start installing Roam bumper
Front Bumper Off.jpg


A couple shots of a the final product
Front Bumper Done 1.jpg
Front Bumper Done 2.jpg
 
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Themistocles

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Spent the afternoon putting on a Rugged Ridge Spartacus Hinge Reinforcement and Tire Carrier from Morris 4x4. Very happy with it. The install was smooth. The YouTube video from Extreme Terrain was exceptionally helpful...I followed that step by step and everything went very smoothly. There were no surprises at all, about 3 hours start to finish and that includes a trip to Home Depot to get a T55 Torx socket.

The RR Tire Carrier is quite adjustable. I also lifts the tire substantially. You can see from the pictures the added clearance it gave me. It is also much more solid than the OEM mount. With the 35s on the OEM mount there was substantial wiggle and though solidly mounted when tugged on, it would flex and move. So I assume it was doing the same when I drove it. I get almost no flex from this mount, even with substantial force applied. Very happy...good day's project.

Everything installed ready to put the spare on.

Hinge Reinforcement & Tire Carrier.jpg


With The Tire Mounted - Note the clearance between the bottom of the tire and the bumper.
With Tire Mounted.jpg


This shows the clearance between door and tire. I purposely canted it forward just a touch.
Clearance Tire to Door.jpg
 
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Themistocles

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Based on my measurement pictures from my fully stock vehicle I have gotten a couple requests for post 35s, and pre-suspension lift measurements. I am going to forgo the photos and just put in the measurements...photos available on request if anyone wants verification.

Stock JLURD (w/Falken Wildpeaks):
Ground to Top of Front Fender Well: 40"
Ground to Top of Rear Fender Well: 39.5"
Ground to Lowest Point on Stock Front Bumper: 21"
Ground to Lowest Point on Stock Rear Bumper: 21"
Ground to Top of Roof: 71.9"

Post 35" Toyo ATIIs @ 40psi (Stock Suspension)
Ground to Top of Front Fender Well: 40.75"
Ground to Top of Rear Fender Well: 40.5"
Ground to Lowest Point on Roam Pioneer Front Bumper: 19.5"
Ground to Lowest Point of Roam Pioneer Rear Bumper: 21.5"
Ground to Top of Roof: 72.625"

I am not thrilled that I added .75 with the tires and lost 1.5" clearance on the front bumper. The Pioneer is a touch chunky, and that is the lowest hanging point by a good bit, but still, didn't expect the Pioneer to sit 2.25" lower than the stock bumper...If I had known that I am not sure I would have gone with it.

Also if anyone is wondering, the Roam Pioneer's are Aluminum. The central winch plate and D-Ring mounts are steel. Overall weight is higher than the stock but even with all the steel parts I could pick up the front bumper with one hand. The rear bumper was not substantially heavier than the stock plastic. The Roam Rock Rails are heavy. I didn't weigh them, but I would put them at something like 125 - 150 lbs total. I also have added the 35s...spare is about 30lbs heavier than stock. So overall I would say that I have added something like 200 - 225lbs of weight overall, generally evenly balanced front to rear. With a spring rate of say 160 (guessing don't know factory spring rate for diesels) that added weight might result in .25" of compression.
 
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rickinAZ

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Here's a naive question from a soon-to-be JL owner: How is it that Jeep lists (https://www.jeep.com/wrangler/specs.html) the "exterior body height" as 73.6"? And..presumably that's for a Sport that is 1" shorter than a Rubicon and 2" shorter than a JLURD. For sure your bumpers contributed to this, but mine will have OEM steel bumpers, so it will be lower still.

BTW, thanks for posting this info!
 
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Themistocles

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20200802_110018.jpg


Not sure. It may be the soft top versus the hard top, it does seem to be a bit higher with the braces. But really, i dont know the answer to your question. You can see that i used a level to make sure i was straight out. Jeep was on flat ground. I may have been off by a tenth or two, but that is what it measured.
 
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Themistocles

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Here's a naive question from a soon-to-be JL owner: How is it that Jeep lists (https://www.jeep.com/wrangler/specs.html) the "exterior body height" as 73.6"? And..presumably that's for a Sport that is 1" shorter than a Rubicon and 2" shorter than a JLURD. For sure your bumpers contributed to this, but mine will have OEM steel bumpers, so it will be lower still.

BTW, thanks for posting this info!
So, i just looked it up. From the Wrangler Forum, the soft top is 2.5 to 3.0 inches taller than the hard top.

So add about 3" to my measurement for a soft top JLURD.
 
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Themistocles

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Easiest install so far. I took @ExpeditionBuilds (Rubi Recon) recommendation and installed a pair of Quadratec flashlight mounts (driver and passenger side). I put in 3 D-Cell LED Maglites. Overall took about 10 minutes. Most of that time was spent getting the reflective tape to line up on the flashlights (I have found reflective tape on my flashlights helps me find them when one of my kids puts them down and walks away.)

My one and only, very mild gripe, about these is that when the flashlight snaps into place it is not impossible to pinch fingers between the light and seat rail. I suspect one or both of my kids will learn that lesson the hard way.

They were very easy to install, hold the light extremely securely, and seem durable enough. Happy with the purchase.

Flashlight Mount 1.jpg


Flashlight Mount 2.jpg
 
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Themistocles

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Well after a bit of a break on Jeep part purchases I have a couple more to add. I have been trying to figure out the best option for carrying my 1911 while driving. Short trips with it in my concealed carry holster are fine, but on longer trips it gets uncomfortable, and is hard to access when seated. So, I have been trying to figure out a clean, secure (as in won't bounce out), and easily accessible mount.

After a bunch of looking I saw a comment about Gibson's Leatherworks on the JL Forum. I checked it out, talked to the owner a bit, and finally decided to go with one of their hard mounted holster. I also added a matching pouch to the passenger side for miscellaneous stuff.

Pouch ready to mount.
GLW Pouch.jpg


Holster Ready to Mount
GLW Holster.jpg


Pulled off bolt cover on passenger side - ready to remove the factory bolt and install the pouch.
GLW Passenger Mount Location.jpg


Pouch mounted on passenger side.
GLW Pouch Mounted.jpg


Holster Mounted
GLW Holster Mounted.jpg


Top view looking at both of them installed
GLW Pair Installed.jpg


Holster with 1911 in
GLW Holster full.jpg


Overall I very much like this pair. The craftmanship is spectacular, clearly hand made, custom pieces. The holster holds my 1911 securely and holstering/drawing is fast and easy The pistol is totally out of the way when driving and I see no reasonable way I would more than brush it with my leg. Nearly perfect. My one critique (and Gibson does mention this), with the pistol in it is difficult to move the seat more than 50% forward. I am 6tf tall and like to sit fairly close to the pedals and steering wheel. The result is that I position the seat at about the 50% mark, which is doable, but does crowd the pistol just a touch. If I were making this I would move the pistol 1/2 an inch forward toward the mounting bolt and cant the pistol 5 - 10 degrees back. This would, I think, solve the only critique I have. However, it is a small critique...and does not change my happiness with this holster.

The pouch I am a bit less happy with and not sure if I would recommend. The pouch itself is bigger than I thought it would be. It extends out into the passenger leg space noticeably and does frequently rub against the passenger's legs. I think this is going to annoy my wife, and will likely mean I will have to pull it off find a different use for it. Also the bolt attachment is very secure but does not lock the pouch down from rotating. There is the single bolt mount along with a clip. See below picture.

GLW Backside of Pouch.jpg


However, even clipped on and with the bolt cranked down as tight as I am comfortable going, the pouch still spins enough to disconnect the clip. This is going to get annoying as well. I suspect that if my wife doesn't nix the mount altogether, I am going to have to figure out a better way to secure it. My recommendation to Gibson would be make the pouch about 1 inch thinner (it really needs to carry a cell phone, keys, and sunglasses...it could lose an inch of thickness and still carry any/all those things well.) Also, I would recommend Gibson sew on a patch of velcro on the back of the pouch, and then use the bolt, clip, and velcro to secure the pouch. I think this would do it.

So overall...would I recommend the holster? YES...very big YES. It is nearly perfect. Would I recommend the pouch? Maybe...but I think it could use a bit more R&D.
 
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