Tony G's '18 Firecracker JLUR DD/Crawler Journal

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tonygiotta

tonygiotta

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A couple of issues arose during the install of the Genesis JL Dual Battery Kit. First off, no matter how hard I tried and no matter what angle I pulled at, I could not get the factory battery tray to come out. It looked so easy in the video! I was super frustrated...

I did some digging in the engine compartment and wheel wells to figure out what exactly was causing my issue, and it turned out it was my coilovers! In order to get every last inch of travel out of the system that they could, EVO designed the bracket to occupy the little bit of space just in front of the auxiliary battery box. Apparently this space is what provides the wiggle room needed to get the factory tray out. I ended up having to cut my factory tray in half so that I could remove it. I probably could have just removed the fender and fender liner instead so I could drop the ESS battery box, but the tray was going in the trash anyway...

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So... did your keen observation skills catch issue number two? Take a little closer look...

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As I mentioned, EVO squeezed every last bit of travel that they could out of this kit. The coilover tower comes all the way up to the bottom of the battery tray support bracket (which is part of the body). I guess they took it up just a bit too high. I don't think there is any contact while the suspension is at rest, but due to the oblong shape of the shock eye, its radius effectively increases as the suspension cycles. I very carefully trimmed the bracket with my Dremel and found this:

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There was a pretty good chunk missing out of it, but I'm sure there's still plenty of meat left on the bone. I reached out to Andrew over at EVO again to give him a heads up about this, but my two emails with pictures documenting the problem went unanswered. I think he was deep into developing the Gladiator kits at this point in time. I also tried to get some feedback on the EVO coilover thread on a different forum, but ponytail was quick to jump on me and tell me I had somehow caused the damage myself by installing the Genesis kit... :lipssealed:

Hopefully this was addressed by EVO with a minor redesign at some point, but I'm not sure. Many people with this kit could have this damage and not even know it because you can't see it unless you remove your factory battery tray (or unless you remove your coilover for some reason). I think my trim job should prevent any future contact. I applied a little touch up paint, and carried on.

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tonygiotta

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With the rear bumper wrapped up and the dual battery installed, it was time to move on to the front bumper. I really didn't take a lot of pictures of the installation though. In fact, the only in progress picture I took was this one from back in post #58.

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I mounted a pair of Baja Designs Squadron SAE fogs with amber lenses in the front bumper. It can get pretty foggy here in the CA Central Valley, so it was important to me to be able to use these lights on the highway as legit fog lights, and not just another set of off-road lights. I sourced some pigtails that adapted the factory fog light harness connectors to Deutsch connectors, and then crimped and assembled my own Deutsch connectors on the lights themselves. I also did some custom wiring on my winch for the in-cab controls. I linked my in-cab winch control thread earlier, but here are a few pictures of what I did:

Posi-Taps on the control wires inside the winch, just behind the controller socket:

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Control wire routed through the contactor housing:

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And out the back of the winch:

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And yes, this all eventually got wrapped in the same braided loom I've been using elsewhere in the build:

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After test fitting my Warn Zeon 10-S on the Poison Spyder winch plate, I found that it fit, but that the tolerances were a little closer than I would have preferred. I was worried that the ends of the winch would rub a couple of spots on the plate when under load. I did a little clearancing, touched up the paint, and then bolted everything together. I also applied a strip of 3M Paint Protection Film to the bottom edge of my grille as the clearance was tight and the power cable would likely be rubbing on it a bit. I decided to go with the extra thick version of the Factor 55 Hawse Fairlead and the Factor 55 FlatLink MultiMount for my closed loop winching solution. I think it turned out pretty nice...

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Great build! Now that your in a few years on these KM3s, what’s your mileage on them and your thought on them till now? Wet weather performance?

Thanks!
 
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tonygiotta

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Great build! Now that your in a few years on these KM3s, what’s your mileage on them and your thought on them till now? Wet weather performance?

Thanks!
Two years, 20,000 miles and I'm still happy with them. Sadly, we've been in such a drought out here in CA that I can't really give you a meaningful report on wet weather performance. Tread life is looking good, wear has been pretty minimal. I've gotten 40-50K out of my previous KM and KM2 sets with a 5 tire rotation and I'm expecting about the same out of these. I had some minor chunking after running the Rubicon, but nothing crazy.

That being said, I'm trying to keep an open mind in regards to my next set of tires. I know I want 37 x 12.5's next time I need shoes. I've always gotten BFG's, but maybe this time I'll try something different. Not because there's anything wrong with these tires, but just to see what else is out there I guess. Hopefully something a little more true to size as my lift is really begging for some larger tires...
 
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tonygiotta

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I still had a few more wiring issues to tidy up for the front bumper. The new fog lights were wired to the factory fog light circuit, and the winch controls were wired up to my Voswitch module. This left me with the main power wiring for the winch and all the wiring for my planned bumper mounted light bar to address.

First off, the winch power. On my old XJ, I wired my winch through a Blue Sea Systems battery switch. I liked the added security it provided by allowing me to completely isolate the winch's power supply under the hood. However, I'd also been following a lot of winch installs involving the Warn Power Interrupt Kit and liked the convenience of being able to remotely kill power to the winch from the cab. I wasn't really impressed with the components of the Warn kit, so I searched for a better solution to make my own. After a considerable amount of research, I stumbled upon an offering from Blue Sea Systems that I hadn't seen before. Thanks yet again to the marine industry, Blue Sea has a line of Remote Battery Switches. I settled on the ML-RBS 7713 which is a 12V model that handles 500A continuous, 700A for 5 minutes, and has a cranking rating of up to 1100A for up to a minute. Yeah, that should handle my winch... lol

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The super cool thing about it is that it is essentially a power interrupt and a battery switch in one. There is a large yellow lever/knob on one end of the unit that allows you to manually control the switch.

In this position, the switch is locked open (OFF) and prevents the switch from being remotely activated:

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In this position, the switch is open, but can be controlled by the remote switch that you wire up to it:

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If for some reason your remote switch fails, but you still need to use your winch, you can press in the center of the lever which manually closes the switch (ON). Flip the lever back to the starting position, and the center pops out, re-opening the switch.

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It ain't cheap, but it is a quality unit that I have no doubt will function properly for many years to come. It is also a pretty convenient size/shape for mounting in the JL's cramped engine compartment.
 
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tonygiotta

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I decided the best spot to mount my RBS was on top of my fuse box lid. The hump in the middle of the lid prevented it from sitting flat however.

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I made this bracket for it out of some scrap aluminum. The notches help neatly route the power cables. The black wire coming out of the bottom is the control cable for the remote switch.

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I mounted it on some small risers that bolt through the fuse box lid. 90 degree terminals allowed me to tuck the cables back under the bracket, keeping them out of the way. The cables have enough slack that I can still remove the fuse box lid and place it on top of the battery or air filter housing while working inside the fuse box.

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I made a Deutsch connector for the control cable (so I can disconnect it when removing the fuse box lid) and then tied it into the wiring for my in-cab winch control's ground/safety circuit. This way, the winch gets power and the in-cab winch control's ground circuit gets completed, both with the flip of my in-cab winch power switch.

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tonygiotta

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My plans include the installation of a Baja Designs OnX6+ 20" light bar on my front bumper. I did my research ahead of time and called up the guys at Baja Designs to figure out exactly what wiring would be necessary to make it work. The 20" OnX6+ puts out just shy of 25,000 lumens and draws 16.6A so it was going to need some relatively heavy gauge wiring. It also has a High/Low output feature, and I wanted to tie it into my high beam circuit so I could quickly turn it on/off with my high beam switch when activated. This meant 3 wires needed to be routed to the front bumper. I used the same 3-conductor outdoor power cable that I used for my in-cab winch controls, just in a heavier gauge. Black wire to ground, white wire to power from the Voswitch module via a relay controlled by my high beam switch, and green wire to a secondary ground via a relay controlled by my Voswitch module. It was just a stubbed out cable tucked into my front bumper for over a year, but eventually looked like this once I got the proper Weatherpack connector.

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I added some labels to my relays and did my best to keep the wiring loomed and bundled up as neatly as possible.

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The other part of the equation here is the high beam cut-out. After researching the wiring diagrams for the JL, I decided the easiest place for me to tap into the high-beam circuit would be in the main driver side front end wiring harness running along the side of the engine compartment. I found a convenient place to tap in below my Voswitch module, spliced open the loom, tracked down the White w/ Green wire, and installed a Posi-tap.

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tonygiotta

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Well, that pretty much wraps it up for engine compartment wiring. I'll eventually add some under hood lighting, but haven't decided exactly how I want to do it. Here's an overview of the engine compartment. All the added wiring is loomed together and runs along the top of the firewall. While it's obvious that some extra equipment has been installed, I think my engine compartment still has a very clean and professional look to it.

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And a closer-up overview shot of the passenger side area.

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At this point, I had been driving around without any trim panels in my cargo area for at least a month now. It was time to bite the bullet and just drill some holes. As always, the goal was to make it functional while keeping it looking factory. With a camping crawler in mind, my plans for the cargo area called for a 12V outlet for my future fridge along with 3 switches. The switches would be for nighttime camp set up. One would be for manual control of my back-up lights (light up the campsite), one for the rock lights (downlighting for working in and around the Jeep), and one for my overhead lift gate light (camp kitchen area). I wanted them to light up (I'd be using them in the dark after all) and be accessible with the cargo area loaded.

After lots, and lots, and lots of careful measuring and planning, I decided on some latching pushbutton switches with LED indicator rings. I studied the wiring schematics and found that the LED rings could be wired so they were always on, on when the switch was ON, or on when the switch was OFF. Well... that didn't work for me. I wanted the rings to indicate ON, but I also wanted to be able to see them in the dark. Oh, and I didn't want them always on, because who wants a continuous glow coming from their cargo area? I decided I'd wire the LED rings to the dome light. This way they'd come on when I opened the tailgate, but would shut off while I was driving. So how to make them indicate ON without back feeding the dome light circuit? I figured it was doable with diodes. Sketch time. Drawing, erasing, re-drawing, erasing, and finally something that looked like this...

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After a bunch of cutting, splicing, crimping, and heat shrinking, the sketch comes to life and ends up looking something like this...

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I tapped into the dome light circuit. Would have preferred to tap at the base of the roll bar, but the dome light circuit runs up the passenger side and I needed it on the driver side.

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So where to fit the switches? I knew the JL logo rectangle was a popular and proven spot, but I needed room for 3 switches. There's a lot going on behind those trim panels and I needed room for the depth of the switches and their associated wiring harnesses. Also needed a relatively flat surface to mount the switches. Turns out that there's a flat spot on the panel that mostly matches up with the open space just below the seat belt pre-tensioner. I cut away some insulation, drilled some holes, and mounted the switches.

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All hooked up...

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and good to go!!!

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tonygiotta

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So what about the 12V outlet for the fridge you may ask? Not forgotten. Yes, there is a factory 12V outlet in the cargo area, but it's not ideal. First off, the wiring is pretty small considering how far away from the battery it is. While the fridge doesn't have a huge power draw, the undersized wiring causes voltage drop which can prematurely activate the fridge's built in battery protection system. Also, when plugged into the factory outlet, the fridge plug protrudes into the space I'd like the fridge to occupy.

I had already run a heavy gauge wire to supply the fuse panel in my taillight housing, so I just ran a slightly smaller wire from the panel into the cargo area. With all that capacity, I figured it would be a waste to install just a single 12V outlet. I decided to add a high output USB outlet to power any USB devices I might want to use in my cargo area. I bought a Blue Sea Systems 12V locking outlet and a matching Blue Sea Systems USB outlet and found a nice spot to shoehorn them into the trim panel just in front of the seat belt pre-tensioner. Spliced the heavy wire into two smaller ones and wired them up.

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A whole lot going on in that little void once everything is wired up.

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But looks pretty good all buttoned up if you ask me... :like:

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Really nice work Tony :like:


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The next piece of the puzzle was the Brawlee LED Rear Glass Lift Gate Dome Light Bar. It mounts inconspicuously along the edge of the bottom trim on the lift gate.

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They supply you with cable ties and adhesive anchors to route the cable along the glass, but I wanted a more factory look. I popped open the factory wire chase, notched it, and ran the cable inside it, alongside the wiring for the rear window wiper.

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The cable then continues through the braided loom that routes the factory wiring from the glass into the hardtop. Nice and clean, just the way I like it. :like:

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I fished it through the hardtop, which was actually much easier than I was expecting. I didn't want the remote receiver module knocking around inside the top so I taped it up with some fabric looming tape and zip tied it to the factory wiring harness.

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The Brawlee includes a plug to allow for hardtop removal which can be seen in this picture. My pushbutton switch controls the light, but I figured it would be a good idea to keep the remote handy just in case I want to dim the light. I used some industrial strength Velcro to attach it to the inside of the hardtop right next to the plug.

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This light bar puts out a ton of light and is great for working in the cargo area at night.

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Ground for the light bar (and grounds for all the other rear end wiring) were attached to the factory ground post hidden behind the rear trim panel. Also visible in this picture is all the loomed wiring I ran through the grommet into (and out of) the rear taillight housing.

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The only thing left to do now in order to complete this wiring project is the rock lights. Just like the back-up lights, they will be controllable from my Voswitch panel up front, or from one of the pushbutton switches in back. Rock lights however are not a huge priority for me and are going to be a project for another day.
 
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A little preview of the next install was seen in an earlier picture, but here come the details. I had a CB in my old XJ, but I was never happy with it. Range was horrible, antenna solutions were awkward, and there was never any traffic on the radio aside from the occasional crazies spouting whatever kind of BS they felt like talking about. I decided my new Jeep was going to get a new radio. Something functional, powerful, and useful for more than just chatting with others in my group while rolling down the trail. I got my Ham radio license (took both the Technician and General in the same sitting) and then set myself up with a nice mobile rig.

I chose the Kenwood TM-D710GA. Kenwood is a very prevalent brand in emergency services and therefore is something that I was both familiar and comfortable with. It got a lot of good reviews from various Ham forums and while I'm not a huge fan of the old-school amber/green display, I really liked that the radio functions are primarily controlled with the rotary knobs. Much easier than repeatedly tapping touchscreen buttons while bouncing down the trail. I also found APRS an interesting aspect of Ham radio, so the fact that the Kenwood has it built in was a deciding factor as well. Here's what's included:

The control panel:

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The radio:

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And the various accessories included with it:

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So in the above picture, the oval thing and the bat shaped thing are the supplied mounting plates for the control panel. There was no way in hell either of those were getting screwed or glued to my dash. I started searching for alternative mounting options and was stunned to find that there really wasn't anything commercially available aside from a bracket that allows you to mount the control panel to the front of the radio. I wasn't interested in mounting a bulky radio in plain sight (kinda defeats the purpose of having a separate control panel) so that was a non-starter too. I had really expected to find something similar to the many cell phone and tablet mounting options out there, but I came up empty handed. Not even a DIY thread...
 
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The control panel has 4 screw holes on the back of it, arranged in a trapezoidal shape. I'm not really sure what they're intended for. They don't match up to any of the industry standard mounting patterns, and the factory bracket actually clips (rather than screws) onto the back of the panel. These holes provide some options, but no solutions. (Though I see now, roughly a year later, there are a couple of 3D printed solutions that have come to market.)

I already have a pair of RAM balls on my Voswitch panel and I was eyeballing the wide variety of RAM compatible accessories made by Carolina Metal Masters. Figured this would be as good a route as any to explore. I bought the various 1" RAM ball mounting plates (round, square, and diamond) with the hopes that something would line up. As it turned out, the diamond plate was nearly a match for one of the pairs of holes! This was unexpected because the diamond mount is AMPS pattern compatible, but AMPS is a 4-hole pattern and the diamond's two holes are supposed to mount diagonally across it.

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Only problem now is that the screw holes are tiny (stamped 3x8 MAX if you look closely) and the holes in the RAM plate are relatively large. A quick trip to ACE hardware and I came up with this combination of parts.

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The shouldered spacers take up some of the slack inside the hole while allowing for the slight difference in spacing between the holes in the panel and the plate. The washers keep the screw heads from pulling through the spacers. The "8 MAX" indicates that the screws can be no longer than 8mm, otherwise you risk driving them into the circuitry inside the panel. Wanting them as secure as possible, I bought longer screws and then cut them down so there was exactly 8mm protruding out the back of the plate.

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All mounted up, solid as a rock!

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Couldn't have hoped for it to work out any better. In fact, I still prefer this over the 3D printed options I mentioned earlier. A lot cheaper too! :like:
 

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