"Joyride" Hydro JLUSA Build Thread

rcadden

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Picked up my 2021 Sahara Altitude from Gupton Motors this weekend.

Here are the factory options:

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (4DR) Sahara Altitude
2.0L I4 w/ 8-speed auto
2.72:1 SELEC-TRAC Full Time AWD system
8.4" Radio and Premium Audio Group
Advanced Safety Group
Anti-Spin Differential Rear Axle
Cold Weather Group
Remote Proximity Keyless Entry
Safety Group
Trailer Tow and HD Electrical Group

20210717_082850.jpg


This is my first Jeep, and will primarily be my daily driver, but I also plan to take it out on some trails, road trips, and other off-road adventures. Won't be doing any hard-core wheeling initially, but it definitely won't be a Mall Crawler.

It currently sits ~1 in lower than my previous truck ('07 GMC Sierra on 3 in RC lift), which is great - I plan to just throw some Rubicon take-off springs and a leveling kit on it and call it a day until my factory tires need to be replaced.

Mods Tracking:
PLANNED FIRST 6 MONTHS MODS:
1. Bestop Sunrider - had planned to get this from the dealer but shipping delayed it, so I'll pick it up separately.
2. Weathertech floormats (front, back, cargo)
3. Rubicon springs
4. Teraflex leveling kit
5. DV8 modular front bumper and matching rear bumper
6. N-Fab Nerf steps (for the wifey)
7. Misc. aesthetic mods (hinge covers, stubby antenna, etc)

LONG TERM PLANS:
1. The body-color hard top came with the Altitude package, but I think Hydro looks best with a black top, so I'll probably get it vinyl-wrapped within a year.
2. I'd like to go to 35s eventually, but it's a big $$ to do the necessary lift, tires, spare carrier, suspension adjustments/regear, etc.
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rcadden

rcadden

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First mods came in from Amazon last night!

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Clearly, the first thing that had to go was the antenna. This one is a few inches shorter than I thought it would be, but I still like it.

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Next up is some organization in that teeny-tiny console. Also not sure I'm going to keep this one - it *barely* fits my phone plugged in. But the light-hole is nice, and it's deep enough (takes up ~half of the height)

20210721_165441.jpg


After driving from Nashville back to Texas, I definitely needed a dead pedal. This is the Hooke one - SUPER easy to install and adjust. However, it came with *zero* instructions. Just 3 metal pieces in the box with a handful of nuts and bolts. Had to google to figure out how to assemble/install

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Last for this batch was a set of black plastic door handle inserts. Admittedly, I haven't actually "installed" these, as I need to clean the spots and prepare the area, etc. But you can set them in to get an idea of how they'll look. I think I like them.

Without:
20210721_165631.jpg


With:
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I also got a roll of 3M PPF, but am waiting to use it.

Arriving in the next few days is:
1. Weathertech mats (front, back, cargo)
2. Sunrider (Black Twill)
3. Uconnect screen protector
4. Brawlee LED Light Bar for the Rear Glass
5. Rugged Ridge entry guards
6. Black Hinge Covers

Getting the cheap(ish) cosmetic stuff knocked out this month. August is bumpers and possibly a small lift/budget boost.
 
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rcadden

rcadden

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Picked up the full set of Weathertech last night. I'm pleased with the front, unsure about the back, and mostly pleased with the cargo mat.

Front Passenger:
20210723_184820.jpg


Front Driver:
20210723_184840.jpg


Rear. I don't like that it only covers up to the edge of the seat. Would prefer it go all the way back. I may be returning these for the SmartLiners that go all the way back:
20210723_184855.jpg


Cargo. This fits well with great coverage, but the lip along the tailgate doesn't go *under* the tailgate when you close it. It gets crunched up against it. I've put some weights on it to try to "train" it down, so I may give it a week or two and see if that helps.
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rcadden

rcadden

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Put on the Rugged Ridge door steps today, along with removing the Wrangler sticker. Sticker peeled right off, easy peasy.

I know there's issues with the seal on the RR, but I don't plan to ford water anytime soon, so will just keep an eye on them otherwise. They ARE very heavy-duty, ~2-3mm thick, which I actually like. Plus the great protection.

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I did get the hinge covers in, but when I went to plasti-dip them, realized I was short one of the smaller bottom pieces, so I need to contact the seller.

Additionally, I realized that this kit didn't include hood hinge covers or tailgate hinge covers, so I may try to find those separately.

I also had an issue installing the handle inserts shown previously - the tape on them isn't great and they're *slightly* bowed, so they didn't stick cleanly. Going to grab some legit 3M tape and replace it all, then try again cause I really love how they look.
 
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rcadden

rcadden

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Thread title changed - my Jeep has officially been named "Joyride". Hood sticker will be ordered shortly.

Photoshop'd vision below:

Photoshop_2021-07-26_08-38-46.jpg
 
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rcadden

rcadden

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Back from our first beach trip, FINALLY had a chance to put on/setup some recent goodies.

Hinge Covers - I Plasti-Dipped these before we left, but didn't have a chance for them to dry/cure before we left, so I had to wait all weekend. I did 4 coats, waiting 30 minutes between each coat.
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I think they look amazing, but I'm not sure how I feel about the bolt heads showing through. Will have to give it a little while but I love the way it looks otherwise. I have the matching hood hinge covers and spare tire hinge covers in my Amazon list, but not happy with how much more they cost than the door hinges (esp for less pieces).

Also got some other goodies that don't necessarily need "installation", primarily in prep for my first offroad park excursion this weekend.

20210802_180634.jpg


Harbor Freight moving blanket (2x) - $4 ea.
Gear America Recovery Kit - $145. Includes the basics, made in U.S.A., and everything feels pretty high quality. Great reviews, too.
Midland Handheld Radios (2-pack) - $70

I went with the Midlands because I'm not ready for a full permanent install just yet, and for the price, the two-pack will be handy for other family adventures.
 
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rcadden

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I had posted about these earlier - black plastic door handle inserts. They look great, and as you can see in the pic below, the one for the tailgate fits really well. Unfortunately, the ones for the doors don't fit as well - they're slightly concave, and the cheap tape (not 3M, but similar) isn't strong enough to hold both the top and the bottom flat against the door panel.

My plan is to buy a roll of legit 3M tape and replace all the cheap stuff, then try again.

UPDATE: I decided to just return these. They were $25 for the set, and I'd have to spend another~$25 on 3M tape + adhesion promoter. I'd rather spend the $50 from my budget on other things vs fighting with these.

BEFORE:
20210802_150952.jpg


AFTER:
20210802_151334.jpg
 
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rcadden

rcadden

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One of my top mods was the Brawlee LED bar for the hard top back window. I was even excited to discover that they had launched an RGB version for only $5 more. No brainer, IMO.

The Brawlee arrived with two methods to power it, which I was quite pleased with. You can wire it directly into the dome lights, or you can wire it up to be plugged into the 12v outlet in the cargo area, and as a bonus, you can actually easily switch between the two, which is pretty cool.

There are two options for running the wire:
  1. Using supplied 3M clips. The install instructions show this pretty clearly, and the included clips are even color-matched to the section of the hard top they should be attached to, which I thought was a nice touch.
  2. Routing through the existing trim. The install instructions mention this and walk you through which pieces to remove, but I found them slightly incomplete and went to YouTube instead. You'll definitely want a Trim Removal Kit for this - I grabbed one at Harbor Freight.
UPDATE 8/14: When I swapped hard tops, I had to re-install the light and wiring in the hard top, so I took a bit more time and did it even more cleanly to use the existing ports, without having to go underneath the weatherstripping. To do this, you need to first disconnect your hard top wiper fluid/wiring on the bottom right. Then pop the housing for this hole out (it's just a few clips). Now at the center-top of the hard top, pop that hole housing out (again, just clips). WITHOUT the Bluetooth/IrDA bit attached, run the 4-pronged end of the wiring through the center-top hole housing. You'll need to pop the wiring harness/plug out for a sec, but once you get the 4-prong end through, you can clip it back and the wire fits nicely.

Now, feed the wire through the hard top to the right and down, and reach in through the wiper connections hole to catch the end. Pull it through enough so that the slack is similar to the slack for the wiper connections at the center-top, and then put this hole-housing back on and reconnect everything.

Otherwise, proceed with the directions below. The result is a much cleaner installation and it keeps all of your connections in that same port in the back of the hard top.

So without further ado....the photos.

The bar sticks with 3M tape along the bottom of the window, on a little shelf. There is a plastic half-tube along the edge - pop that off at the visible clips to route the wire in. I cut a small notch on one piece with my dremel to allow the wire to easily fit through.
20210802_174403.jpg


Then leave a length of wire spanning the hinge, similar length to the wiring that's already there for the windshield wiper:
20210802_174410.jpg


From here, you kind of have two options. You could do a hybrid model and use the white clips on the inside of your hardtop, or you can pull the weatherstripping off and cram the wire into that, and then push it back on. This is what I did, and it *looks* fine, but it's also noticeably different from the other side. You can see the wire slipping into the stripping here:
20210802_174421.jpg


It then just follows the outline and comes out pretty cleanly at the bottom.
20210802_174438.jpg


From there you'll attach the Bluetooth/IR dongle, which also has a lead for the power connection. I routed this part of the cord through the plastic casing on the sport bar, as per the instructions. You can see here that the plug comes out of the "back" of the seatbelt bit:
20210802_174521.jpg


Then you just splice into the dome light wires. I did it pretty tight, and zip-tied the spare cord up here to keep things tidy:
20210802_174542.jpg


The part that wasn't clear in the instructions is that you're not running the wire THROUGH the sport bar (i.e. inside the metal). Rather, you're routing the wire inside of the PLASTIC CASING of the sport bar (it comes off in a few pieces, some of which you merely loosen vs totally remove).

The result is super clean, and with the plug positioned where it is, you could easily unplug the dome light and instead switch to the 12v, if you wanted it to stay on indefinitely, for instance.

It also comes with a little basic IR remote with a few color presets/options, and a QR code to scan for an app to use your phone via BT. I haven't done this yet.

I'll try to shoot a short video to show the different modes. All in all, though, this kit was fantastic. Once I figured out *where* to put the wire, it was pretty easy. No modifications needed to your rig (unless you choose to like I did).

UPDATE: Here's the video.

 
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Love your build Certainly a Joyride for Shut Ins!
 
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rcadden

rcadden

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FINALLY got the mod I've been waiting for since I ordered the Jeep - my Sunrider.

A bit of backstory - I drove my first Jeep in 2019, on a weekend trip to Breckenridge, it was our rental. Cruising around, I thought "You know, this is actually kind of nice"

Fast forward through COVID to March 2021, AA ran a 1-day sale on flights to Hawaii - we paid $200 EACH for 4 of us to fly non-stop on American to Hawaii from Dallas. Duh. Rented a Jeep on purpose, because what else do you drive in Hawaii?

LOVED it, but HATED the Freedom Panels. They're so incredibly poorly designed - they only really fit in the cargo area ONE way, and that way takes up nearly the whole damn cargo area. Hassle. So I started researching and came across the Bestop Sunrider. $900, but would allow me to just leave the Freedom Panels at home. Duh.

So here we go. The box arrived at like, 11a, and I had to work till 4p, plus take my youngest to tennis lessons, but I managed to get it installed *just* before we had to leave.

20210804_111256.jpg


Install was pretty easy - I laid a Harbor Freight moving blanket across the top of the hardtop, just behind the "opening", and set the big assembly on it. Rather than follow the printed instructions, I installed the bars onto the Jeep first, and THEN attached the assembly to that (the way they do it in the ExtremeTerrain video). Took a bit of figuring out, but it all nestled snugly.

20210805_075513.jpg


Definitely my favorite mod to date, from a functionality standpoint. It's *so* easy to open/close, and seems to have about the same wind noise on the freeway as the freedom panels had. Good riddance to those things.
 
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rcadden

rcadden

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Last of the August mods just arrived - VIAIR 400P. Headed to the off-road park for the first time this weekend and wanted to be prepared.

Next up will be bumpers/suspension, but not till Sept (wifey asked me to pace myself lol).

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rcadden

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Not really part of the "build" process, but I *did* finally get to take Joyride out to the local offroad park (Northwest OHV in Bridgeport, TX, where I also checked in for my first badge!) to see how well a basically stock Sahara handles the terrain.

My intention was to stick with greens and blues, but I joined up with a group from our local Jeep club and we wound up on some reds and even blacks. While there was a bit of scraping here and there, my stock Sahara actually handled most of this with ease. Whether that speaks more to the capability of my Jeep or to the "easiness" of the trails is up to you, but I had an absolute blast and have now re-assessed the priority of a lift + 35s. Currently trying to scrounge up an extra ~$1K to add to my budget so I can get that done in ~October, lol.

Here are some pics/vids:

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rcadden

rcadden

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Here's the big one - when I was shopping originally, I *really* wanted the black plastic top. I just think Hydro Blue looks so much better with lots of black around it. However, the Sahara Altitude package includes the body color hardtop, which is also normally a ~$1,000 upgrade from the factory, so I just figured it would grow on me.

On a whim, I threw up a post in the B/S/T group of my local Jeep club, offering to swap my Hydro Blue hard top with someone's '21 Black Plastic hard top (plus they'd have to throw in some $$$). Lots of discussion, and I finally got a bite!

Met up with the guy last night - he's a salesman at a local Jeep dealership - and did the swap. Bonus: his top already had the headliner installed AND he had darker tint on the hard top, so I came out $500 richer and got some tint out of the deal.

And now Joyride has the top it* was meant to have. I'm so happy with this.

20210814_104949.jpg


*We haven't really decided if Joyride is a boy or a girl. So for now it's an it.
 
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