My build, My Story

west tex

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I like the way you removed the decals. Looks clean. đź‘Ť
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Levin_tom

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So thats where we are today.

In the spirit of bringing things full-circle, this Jeep has awoken my more primitive camping instincts. I intend to take a few shorter jaunts and would love to do some dispersed camping.

My gear-acquisition syndrome of course is drawn to the roof top tents. My hangup with that right now is the roof rack. I lean towards the rhino rack b/c it's more removable, but I dont like how the mounts remain. The Maximus looks better with it's mounts, but looks like a PITA to take off when I want to. Im curious to see the ARB mounting solution to their newer rack (I havent seen that yet). I might eventually get over the desire to want the rack to be removable.

In the meantime I may snag a gazelle tent as a cheaper, but not cheap, solution as I see how much I do the camping thing. Im really drawn to the winter camping idea though. I havent found a hot tent option I really like yet (a gazelle tent with a stove jack would be perfect).

Here are my future mod thoughts, in no particular order:

Exterior/Appearance:
Rear bumper - probably LOD
AAL fender lights - this may be the next mod. I love the look.
I'd like a soft-top. removal and storage is an issue. the TLP solves it, but I cant justify that one quite yet.

Protection:
At least dif skids.

Interior:
Tailgate table. Probably outback adventures.

Camping:
tent story above
some sort of portable water/shower solution
Keep going man! The build is coming along nice. Lots of similarities with mine. I have the Metalcloak 2.5 GC with 35s KO2. I went with with the Rhino Rack. Really satisfied with the quality and looks of it. I will mount the ARB RTT this week. I can see what you’re saying about the mounts remaining. I don’t plan on taking the roof out so for me it wasn’t a problem. Good luck with the rest! Will be waiting for updates.

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xaugievike

xaugievike

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Wheels and tires!

Had a bit of a snag here, another retailer just couldn't get the wheels I had ordered due to backorder after north of a month (I get it....nobody's fault, just a sign of the times). Huge shout out to Matt @Discount Tire for hooking me up and working with my local shop to get the Pro Comp 69's and the 315 KO2's. Love it! Now I feel like it's my Jeep.
new wheelstires.jpeg
poke.jpeg
wheelstires2.jpeg
 

nyvisual

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At last. The Mods.

My wife is short. really short. So I thought I'd help her with a better step into the Jeep. Seriously. It was for her, not me.

I kept coming back to LOD. I looked at a lot of bars/steps. LOD just does it for me. So the first real mod to the Jeep was a set of signature sliders. Had no trouble getting around the body mounts, install took 30 minutes.

Getting the damn things out of the box took an hour! Serious credit to LOD on their packaging.
rock rails 1.jpeg
rock rails 2.jpeg
rock rails 3.jpeg
What size impact and socket needed for that install?
 
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xaugievike

xaugievike

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What size impact and socket needed for that install?
Oh man, I dont remember off the top of my head. no crazy sizes that required a trip beyond what I had. there was a mix of metric and standard also.
 
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xaugievike

xaugievike

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Returning to some more positive programming after running into a gremlin this week. I wont rehash all that in this thread. A link to that issue is here if reference is needed in the future. The worst part of that ordeal was the freaking minivan loaner I had to putter around in for a week. A piece of me died every time I got in that thing.

So I got back around to putting on the Teraflex alpha HD tire carrier.

I was on the fence about this modification. Some said it was needed with any aftermarket wheel combo mostly so that the spare would fit tightly against the tailgate (without home center furniture parts to make it so). Others said it was not needed. I bought it for insurance b/c I didnt want to find I needed it after the fact given the delays I've had getting parts for the last few months. Im glad I got it - here's why.

So the new wheels and tires fit the stock carrier just fine and were held tightly to the tailgate as well. However, I find the T-Flex carrier a worthwhile mod to consider anyway. first of all the camera relocation does restore a view through the video that is clear of the edges of the wheel and tire. Beyond that, the brake light relocation is, I think, the most important improvement for a couple of reasons. A close following vehicle, with the stock light location, may definitely have an impeded view of that 3rd light. both the new height of the jeep along with the width of the new wheel definitely can take that light out of view from behind. More importantly, to me, is how much visual room is restored by removing that light from it's stock location for me. I feel I have a clearer view behind me now even with the larger tire back there. I didnt really notice how much room the brake light assembly occupied until it wasnt there any more.

Here's the assembly post-install....and obviously the recent weather has already done what it does. I hate winter.

One more thing to add. the camera relocation required a 1.5mm hex driver that I had to order. I have a pretty good selection of tools and bits, but that 1.5mm was something I didnt have. Worth remembering if you're doing this mod. I had to order the tool off of amazon that was delivered next day.

TFlex Alpha Carrier.jpg
 

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xaugievike

xaugievike

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The lure of the soft top…

Earlier this spring, when decent weather would grace us, I found myself noticing soft tops more. Not sure why, it didn’t affect me as much last year during my first summer with the Jeep. Popping the freedom panels off on nice days seemed sufficient. But man those soft tops looked nice. Just flip it back, or flip it down…just so easy.

But I was afraid that if I got one, I wouldn’t like it as much. Something about the "security" of the hard top when parked outside, especially with any kind of gear in it. Something about maybe not opening it up as much as I thought it would. Even a bit of still being smitten with wanting a rack and RTT system for camping Im not sure I'd do much of yet. I also was hung up on a hard top removal option. I later got even more hung up on that when I had my wife and daughter "help" me remove the hard top on a nice stretch of days….had to call in the buddy brigade to rescue that fiasco…

So I decided I'd sort of passively keep on eye on the classifieds here, along with other cesspools….I mean resale sites.

I was sort of indifferent on style. Initially I was all about the fastback trek tops. Missed out on a couple that maybe were good buys. Passed on a few. Got hung up on the ultra vs. the 'normal' trek top. Saw a few that required long drives to retrieve that I debated seriously. Even missed out on a couple of great deals on some TLP's that would have helped solve my hard top removal problem.

Then one night, actually it was the night we had just got home from a great 10 day vacation, I just happened to browse my usual haunts not long after a local-ish guy had posted a 1 year old SuperTop Ultra. Price was higher (though fair), but it spent most of it's year in a garage b/c he preferred the hard top, or so he said. I consider myself fortunate as the seller turned out to be a standup guy who even followed up with me post-purchase to make sure everything was good. Got some cleaner and protectant on it and darn if it doesn’t like brand new.

So far I love it. Last week I took the scenic route to our getaway. Doing a stretch in sun-rider mode, stopped part way to pop the windows out and do the rest of the drive fully collapsed. I think my favorite mode is safari. I feel like the wind noise is less and I still get the open air feeling, without the sun beating on me.

I'm very surprised by how quiet it is when running all buttoned up. I honestly don’t notice much difference in ambient noise as compared to the hard top. It hasn’t rained on me yet, the only water testing I've done is washing it. So far so good on that front. The performance of the chemical guys protectant I used (I know other brands probably work as just as well) is kind of amazing to see water just roll off the fabric like it does now.

Now to tackle the hard top lifting and storage issue….stay tuned…

Soft Top.jpg


Soft top 2.jpg
 
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xaugievike

xaugievike

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Building my camping setup - Roof Rack Install:

This post will give away where my camping setup is heading, as I will chronicle this past weekend's rack install.

I chose the Maximus-3 long rack system. I thought their solution was was a bit sleeker with the mounts being sort of hidden from plain view. I also like the lower profile. The way the mounts, particular the rear-most ones attached to the sport bar also make more sense in my head…Obviously there's plenty of real-world users out there that have had success with other products too. One thing to know - Maximus' directions use metric measurements in millimeters. I ordered a metric tape measure and a metal ruler in metric as well.

The rhino platform.

Pretty easy and straight forward to put together. The torque tool that Rhino includes is a nice touch. I apparently ended up with the new rack design from Rhino, Im not really sure what that means, other than it has a different edge profile compared to past platforms. The platform is a stout piece and heavier than I expected. I spent lots of time confirming I had things square, and I did with almost no adjustment necessary beyond simple assembly. The Maximus feet attach to the rack as a final assembly step. It's pretty straight forward and they do provide measurements for fitment to their mounts, but you will need to find center and locate the first foot to get going. I again, spent lots of time measuring and remeasuring to check for square.

The Maximus mounts

Now the work starts.

The first thing you have to do is remove the soundbar. Most of it is straight forward. For me the hardest part was the dome light. Now it's a standard clip, no big deal, but mine was stuck and required a lot of force. I thought I missed a screw or something, but it just required muscle. One thing I'd change is that the Maximus directions save the satellite antenna relocation for last. I would do it first, once the soundbar is off.

The drilling.

The first hole is the hardest. Yes, it takes a leap of faith, and more measurements. I recommend saving the beer until these steps are done.

The way this system works pre-supposes you diligently located the feet on the rhino platform during that portion of the assembly. When you move to the mounts themselves, the directions have you measure the two rear-most holes of those feet. This is where my install ground to a halt.

My directions were dated November of 2021. So pretty recent. The text of my directions and associated picture showed two different measurements for where that hold is located off the rear hard top joint line. Annoying right? Folks with older directions had numbers that matched the diagram in my directions. However, since I had the new rack, I had to push pause to get some clarity. Of course…this was on Sunday.

Fortunately, whoever monitors M-3 social media almost immediately responded to a contact I made on social media and got me the number I needed to use. So I was able to resume install.

GO SLOW here. Measure approximately 300 times, drill once. I got my landmarks to line up, and from there you use the holes in the feet themselves to mark out your drilling points. And, if you didn’t before, check a few dozen more times. I mocked up the forward most mounts and relied on some feel to confirm that things would work. Drill baby drill.

Everything ended up dropping right into place. There is some adjustment to the M-3 mounts, I really didn’t need any. I did have to lift the rack on and off the Jeep several times by myself and this would certainly be easier with another set of hands. But with that said it was pretty easy to do by myself in the garage over a couple of days. Im several pounds past my last session in the weightroom, but I got it done.

Impressions. So far.

That thing is as solid as a rock. I have supreme confidence in the platform as a base for my camping plans. The satellite relocation was easy and reception is just fine. There is a noticeable increase in wind noise in the cab, particularly if you are driving into the wind. It's not awful. It is definitely noticeable.

I didn’t take a ton of pictures of this install b/c I was trying to move and get it done along with a painting project from the honey-do list.

The fun part comes next….stay tuned.

m3 1.jpg


m3 2.jpg


rackon.jpg


RR edge.jpg
 
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xaugievike

xaugievike

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I went the RTT route

After much (like seriously…way too much) deliberation I decided on going with an RTT. Specifically, I went with the Roofnest Falcon.

RTTs don’t make much sense to me even still. They are big money for something that isn't necessarily built much better than a good ground tent. My leaning was a shiftpod, preferably mini, but their delay on that product due to the obvious circumstances kept my clock ticking and kept me looking around. I thought about jumping to their regular model, but the prospect of clearing 12' (or more) of space seemed annoying. So did stowing it for transport since im not going any seat delete routes or anything. I wanted to probe this thought more though, and that's where you all came in via my "your thoughts" post. Thank you to those that posted their experiences and opinions there.

One thing that kept me coming back to the RTT route was my intended season(s) of use. I have a summer getaway already. I want this to be more for adventure. Overnighters. Maybe a race track or two. But primarily this will be a shoulder-season setup. I also want to do some winter camping…I've been mesmerized watching some folks on the YouTube's camp in the 4th season. One thing I kept thinking about was that my use season will correlate with sloppy ground conditions and being up off of that seems more appealing.

So which tent? I ruled soft-shell tents out early. Like I said, my primary use will be shoulder seasons and the wind here is likely to be a major thing and the (alleged) ability to point the hard shell into the wind would help. Plus, some reading indicates that the thicker material of the tent I chose may help too. The other downside is setup time. When Im camping I make a point to not be in a rush, but to be blunt those soft tents look like a pain. So hardshell tents took the lead and I quickly gravitated towards the iKamper…their marketing was effective.

I was one hot second from clicking "buy" on the iKamper. I was going to go with the Skycamp Mini and I'm sure I would have been totally satisfied with that choice. This may be trivial, but my pause came when I was about to push that "buy" button and when I changed the cover to their flat-black option, it added $300.

$300! That really turned me off. I kept looking.

It was about that moment that a well-timed YouTube video came across my screen for Roofnest. I looked further into it and ultimately settled on the Falcon. Not that the iKamper is particularly difficult, but I liked the fast, nearly instant setup of the wedge-style tent. I'm going to be solo most of the time I use this, and it just doesn’t get any easier. It's also plenty of space for just me. I also like the aluminum frame. Something about having metal out there appeals to me more than a plastic shell - though I'm sure those work just fine. The ability to attach stuff to the Falcon channel tracks is a bonus. I also like the thinner profile of the Falcon…particularly for storing it.

So now I'm building up my kit. A down blanket is en-route. I need a better sleeping bag for sure. If I'm serious about winter camping I'll want to get serious about heat too, so I'm eyeballing a diesel heater option. I'll of course update as that all develops. I probably need to confront the sanitary end of things too. It never ends.

Falcon2.jpg


Falcon3.jpg


Falcon4.jpg
 
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