Hydrobrute is driven to adventure!

driventoadventure

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LRR
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Employed Gainfully
I can distinctly remember when I was a child, when I would see a meteor (AKA shooting/falling star) - my wish would be to some day own a Jeep. As I grew older and became mechanically knowledgeable, I further refined that ongoing dream to be that I wanted a diesel-powered jeep. As a few life-changes happened over the last year and a half I could finally justify getting a fun car, instead of something that was just as fuel efficient and cheap (due to long commutes in lots of traffic) as possible. That's when I found that Jeep was now providing a diesel in the Wrangle, and even if it is a four-door, I knew that I was going to do anything to make that happen.

So, without further adieu, I present to you Hydrobrute!
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For my job, I travel a lot (think elite status on two different airlines and with three different hotel chains.) Because of this I have had many extended test-drives of JLs thanks to National carrying them until the COVID-19 pandemic. For that reason, in May I took a 10 minute test-drive and from there I knew that I was going to wind up in a JLURD. After a couple months of planning, I custom-ordered exactly what I wanted in August. In October, it arrived while I was on a trip and after landing in Denver at 2:30 and getting home at 4, I rushed over to the dealer to pick it up.

Next day, I took it out on a simple trail, as just a spur of the moment thing.
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I mainly plan to take it on as many trails as I can and record the whole trail in VR - YouTube link to come shortly once I play around with time compression etc and start posting. I also plan on towing either a higher-end tent trailer or one of the micro travel trailers whose weight is towable by the jeep.

Mods Installed:

Mods planned:
  • Wiring winch cutoff to a solenoid instead of manual disconnect.
  • Headliners TBD. Will also put a metal plate in the top to mag-mount my VR camera.
  • Coverking Topliner - will paint the inside of the hard top black first.
  • Topsey Hinge Hoist Brackets.
  • Mopar 2" lift - Currently revisiting original plan and might change to TeraFlex 3.5" SST.
  • Synergy track bars front and rear.
  • Synergy Steering reinforcement.
  • 35" or 37" Tires and Possibly XD Wheels - the wheels are TBD when tires are purchased, based on weight more than anything.
  • I am making active venting (and potentially cooling) from the Rubicon vents (will be available eventually).
  • Onboard air.
  • Dual Battery pack - possibly Genesis if they will ever get back to me on some questions...
  • Shaved fenders.
  • Slim DRL/Turn lights similar to the Rugged Ridge ones.
  • Metal fender liners.
  • Outdoor Adventures tailgate table.

Possibly more?
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driventoadventure

driventoadventure

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LRR
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Northern Colorado
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21 JLURD (On Order), Telluride, F350
Occupation
Employed Gainfully
Rear Bumper Mod:

Rugged Ridge HD Rear Bumper.

Installed this afternoon, took about 3.5 hours total, with the biggest time consumer being going to the hardware store to get nuts for the towing kit, and removing the parking sensors from the plastic bumper.

I removed the plastic bumper, and found (as expected) that if you have the plastic bumper, there is a bracket that interferes with aftermarket bumpers.
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Unlike others, I didn't want to cut this, because I want to retain everything so I can put it back to stock if I need to for any reason. The solution - this bracket only utilized the outside two nuts to hold it on. I removed those two bolts - the driver side was hard because of the DEF tank. Luckily I had a 18mm Craftsman ratcheting box wrench that made it less difficult.
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Once off, I got some M12-1.50 nylock nuts and washers. and put those on.
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After that, I took apart the plastic bumper to get at the parking sensors. A shortcut that I highly suggest, is to use a drill with a 7mm socket bit, since there are 36 screws (and six clips similar to the ones holding on the fender flares) that you have to remove to take it apart.
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Once the parking sensors were installed, I made sure that the wiring was nicely run on the bumper. I wish that RR would have had some provision for cable management, they could have welded on like 6 small nuts that someone could use with screw-eye zip ties or similar, but I made do, again keeping the harness in factory restore-able condition.
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After that, it is a matter of mounting the 8 bolts that hold it down. I wish I had put some glue on the nut plate for the passenger-side bottom bolts, maybe someday I will do that to keep it in place if I ever remove the bumper for any reason. Also, as always use thread locker. If you use Loctite, do not use Red 271 !!! I see many threads where people tell you to use this - it is a permanent bond that will require heating it with a torch to remove the bolts. Don't do it! Use Blue 242, that will lock it and from much professional experience I can guarantee that it will hold.

Anyway, the new rear bumper looks great and I expect will serve me well on the trails.
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I did reinstall the bottom splash guards from the OEM plastic bumper, I kind of like them looking almost like mud flaps.
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Although I might revisit that or install actual mud flaps after I install metal wheel wells.

Hope that some of this info actually helps someone - I now have to figure out why two of my sensors think something is at the closeness limit...

(Edit 1) I rotated the passenger side sensors 180° and that seemed to help a little for my rear sensor issues, but didn't solve the problem.
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driventoadventure

driventoadventure

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LRR
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Employed Gainfully
Front Bumper Mod:

Rugged Ridge Arcus front bumper.
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The day after installing my rear bumper, I installed the Arcus front bumper. This took me considerably more time - about 5 hours, despite being an easier install. The reason it too me more time is I hem-hawed for a couple hours on what to do with my winch.

Removing the front bumper was easier than the rear for two reasons - one because it didn't have the bracket that the rear plastic bumper had, and two because taking apart the plastic bumper to get at the fog light wiring harness is much quicker and easier than taking apart the rear plastic bumper.

The fog lights are removeable with the 8 bolts circled in blue. I personally would have opted to get a new wiring harness if I hadn't been quoted a 25 day lead time when I remembered to look at ordering it, but taking apart the bumper to get at the OE harness is only 8 pop-up trim buttons and 24x 7mm screws (circled in yellow). Like with the rear, just use a drill with a 7mm bit, because that makes it super quick. You do not need to remove the metal support or recovery hooks as others suggest - it just makes it about 5% harder because you have to slip the plastic cover over the hooks.

front plastic bumper screw locations.png
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Once off, the clips are easy to remove with the same trim removal tool you will need to get off the bumper anyway.

Installing the winch tray was harder because the brackets on mine weren't bent enough and were wider than the frame opening. This is approximately 1/8" thick metal, so I had to use pry bar to pinch it against the frame enough to hit it into place with a rubber mallet. (Sorry, didn't have a fourth hand to take pictures.)

Once the plate was installed and I tried to install my Badlands Apex 12000# winch, I found a MAJOR problem that hindsight found has been mentioned a lot. I had originally planned on a SmittyBuilt, but was able to get the Apex for $512, as well as have heard a LOT of very good raves about the badlands, so I "Omaha'ed" over to the badlands without proper planning. After a couple hours of hem-hawing, I decided that the easiest thing to do (even versus returning it) was just to drill a hole in the case on the side. Apparently this is common to do? I removed the control board with 4x T30 (only took pctures of the wiring and have included them for reference, sorry for not getting the rest of the modification process) screws and used a 5/8" socket to mock up the approximate hole size and location. I then center-marked that location, and used a 1/4" bit to drill a location hole. I then used a 1/2" bit to widen the hole and then a step drill bit to widen the hole to approximately 3/4" (If you do this, err on the side of smaller, just get to the step down and ream it until the cable and its protection just barely fit through). The metal seems to be sintered, so this was a VERY easy process... The pictures below will show the wiring in case it helps, the problem with clearance and the solution I implemented.
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(You can see it is VERY tight on the body. Long term I expect there to be rubbing damage to the plastic bezel on the bottom of the grille.)
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You can see the <3/4" hole is about as perfect a fit as one can expect. I still expect to surround it with some black silicone or RTV to ensure minimal water intrusion. The original exit hole I covered with consecutive layers of electrical tape. I highly suggest Scotch 88 because it is thicker and in my experience, adheres better even when exposed to rain and the elements.

Instructions will come soon on replacing the (included) manual battery disconnect with a solenoid wired to my aux switches - after I get and test my chosen solenoid.
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It's really nice to be able to rest the hood on the windshield when doing work in the engine bay. I just used a moving blanket to protect the paint...

After the winch was mounted, wired and tested, installing the bumper was easy but decidedly inconvenient. If you have no help (I had difficulty tearing my boy away from AoE4 since it was release weekend) then I suggest removing the top brackets for the overrider and using zip ties to hold on the tow hooks and inner nut plate. You have to remove the top brackets to get the bumper to arch over the tow hooks...
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(Trust me, I tried with those brackets installed, I am glad I didn't experience how much those hooks hurt when they land on sandaled feet...)

As an aside - those tow hooks are absolute units. They are approximately 2/3rds of the entire packages weight.

Once on, you will need a T55 bit (I had a T55 socket bit thankfully) for the front bolts. RR didn't include a torque spec, so based on bolt size I torqued them to 57 lb-ft. I will let you know if I get a spec from RR.

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I found that the LED fog lights did not require any aiming or modification to provide proper illumination.

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I did reinstall the protecting plate for now - I will install the RR front skid plate this winter...

Below is a pic of what the front camera shows with the over-rider bar etc showing that they don't really obstruct the view much. Forgive the black censored area - the tandem/4th space of my garage is very messy.
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Overall, I really like this bumper. It is inconvenient but still easy to install, and does a really good job of getting out of the way without totally jeopardizing protection.
 
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mikem20

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Nice build plans and already good looking Jeep! 👍🏻 I hope to get a small TT someday as well. GL on the build.
 

Sargeoverland

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Question about your front bumper. I have a 20” light bar. Does it have space to mount the bar on the bar in between the bar and the winch?
 

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driventoadventure

driventoadventure

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Question about your front bumper. I have a 20” light bar. Does it have space to mount the bar on the bar in between the bar and the winch?
Yes it does, however I am not sure a 20" would fit width-wise. I will post some pictures with dimensions on Friday when I get home from my current business trip.
 
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driventoadventure

driventoadventure

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LRR
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Northern Colorado
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21 JLURD (On Order), Telluride, F350
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Employed Gainfully
Thank you kindly
Okay, so below are the measurements of the area between the grille and the over-rider bar. It looks like a 20" light bar will actually fit width wise.
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