Jeep My Overland Project, the RME JKU

Greg

Wanderlusting
Admin
#1
I'm fortunate enough to have a chance to build a JKU and my plan is to put together a vehicle that will fit my needs perfectly. I have a few attributes that will outline what I'm focusing on with the final product, all modifications will be done with these ideas in mind.

  • Factory Reliability, for minimal issues when traveling far into the back country.
  • Freeway Friendly, comfortable and drivable for those long roadtrips to reach new places.
  • Excellent Suspension, capable of carrying us and our gear while running long distances over rough trails.
  • Highly Capable for those very difficult trail situations.
  • Simple, Clean and Quality mods that serve a purpose.

Many of you are familiar with how I've used my vehicles in the past, most of my trips are either day or weekend trips over the San Juan mountains of Colorado, the amazing Red Rock deserts of Utah and sometimes beyond... like week-long adventures exploring the dirt tracks and remote offroad trails of Baja, Mexico. I'll be building this JKU to take me to those places in comfort and with the knowledge that this Jeep will make it thru without issue. It won't be a 'rock crawler' by any means, but living so close to Moab it will probably spend some time on the trails in the area.

I'm starting with a 2012 Jeep JKU Rubicon with an automatic trans, hardtop, 38k miles and a few mods from the first owner, which include a 2.5" TeraFlex Budget Boost lift using stock springs and shocks. Of course being a Rubicon it had front & rear diff locks, a 4 to 1 transfer case, 4.10 ring & pinion gears and an electric disconnect anti-sway bar. It's a pretty good base to build from!

I bought it from a dealer in SLC who bought it at auction and after doing my research, came to find out that since new this was actually a rental Jeep at Canyonlands Jeep Rental in Moab! :eek: Now any sane person would probably walk away, but I was interested. I know how I'd drive a rental Jeep and knowing it was used (and abused) in Moab for the first 37k miles of it's life was pretty unnerving. Moab trails can be brutal on vehicles, let alone someone who doesn't own it or care for it like a persona vehicle. A good friend stopped by to check it out and we noted that the undercarrige and skid plates were all scraped up and dented... even the crossmembers are pretty beat up. On top of that, both lower control arms are BENT on the passenger side! :eek: This Jeep looks most other Jeeps would look like after 150k miles with weekend offroad use. There is no doubt that it has been used often offroad.

After talking about the condition, history and needs of the Jeep we settled on a fair price and I went into it knowing that it was going to need a good deal of work getting it in top shape again. In my mind, it's going to need all new suspension, steering, ball joints, etc, etc. I wouldn't doubt that even the front axle is no longer perfectly straight, so there may be an upgraded Tera 44 front axle housing in the future.

My basic build plan will include the following, with other supporting mods to come over time;



I'm a big believer in supporting the local businesses and people in the local 4WD community and am going to do my best to keep my purchases local. I will also probably toss on a few RME 4x4 stickers to promote the forum in our travels. ;)
 

Greg

Wanderlusting
Admin
#2
Shortly after finalizing the purchase of the Jeep (at Riverton Chevy) we drove over to see our friends at Teraflex. Joe was working and gave us a great tour of their new location in West Jordan... it's impressive! Lots of space for their massive inventory, show room area, shipping and manufacturing departments. If you haven't seen their new location, you ought to check it out! We meet up with Vinny and along with Joe's help we talked about what my needs were from the Jeep and they put together a great suspension option for us. We added a few other neat products and a couple of TeraFlex bumpers and carefully loaded it all into the back of the Jeep!




I wanted to get a baseline with the Jeep 'stock' and see how it worked offroad. I headed out to a local canyon with a truck scale nearby and took some pics.

First thing I did was weight the JKU as is... I did have a CO2 tank and a bag full of recovery gear, but it looks like it's sitting at 4,680 pounds.







Next up was an offroad test in Cameo, up Coal Canyon. The JKU actually works very well cruising down a dirt road at speed, the linked coil suspension seems pretty supple in the mild roads... until you bottom it out! It hits hard! I was actually pretty impressed with the ride quality that the stock mid-length control arms provide. Then I dropped into the rocky canyon bottom, dropped it into 4 Low and started playing in the rocks. I have to say, the electric sway-bar disconnect is pretty damn nice... push a button and go! Then I had to play with the lockers and big rocks... again, the wheel travel and performance of a 'stock' JKU is pretty amazing! I wasn't even aired down and it was capable enough to go anywhere I wanted. I had to get a few poser shots and called it good... very happy with the performance of the Rubicon!








 

Kiel

Formerly WJ ZUK
#3
pretty sure I found which one it was and what it sold for at auction if you are curious? Tan leather?
 

BLACK04WJ

Active Member
Location
Price, Utah
#6
Excited to see how this turns out! I've been considering a JK for my wife and I love the white 4 doors.
i saw you at teraflex actually... I work in the weld shop :)
 

Greg

Wanderlusting
Admin
#7
Looking forward to what is sure to be a sweet build.
Thanks Brian, I'm excited about the Jeep now... really looking forward to the outcome!


Excited to see how this turns out! I've been considering a JK for my wife and I love the white 4 doors.
i saw you at teraflex actually... I work in the weld shop :)
Really, awesome? Your welds look great, we spent a little time in there checking out the axle building... looks like fun!
 

Greg

Wanderlusting
Admin
#9
Excited to watch this build. Being a Toyota guy I envy certain aspects of the JKU. I have even dreamed up my own build sheet for one. The thing that makes me want a JKU the most is how clean flippacs look on them.
http://store.adventuretrailers.com/products/JK-Habitat-.html
I hear ya, I've been driving Toyota's for the last several years. It's tough to switch brands (again)! I don't have any intention of adding a flip or pop-up camper to the JKU, but it's a neat option! I wouldn't mind to have another RTT or possibly a teardrop trailer for easier trips, but we'll see.

Have you seen the products from Ursa Minor? - http://www.ursaminorvehicles.com/jeep.htm
 

Greg

Wanderlusting
Admin
#10
I started removing the stock front bumper and installing the TeraFlex Explorer front bumper, it's been a pretty simple task but the inner nuts are a bit of a PITA to get to and tighten! And my old Warn XD9000 doesn't look very presentable on the bumper... it's seen some time on the front of a couple rigs and looks pretty weathered. I may have to list it for sale and replace it with a newer Warn Zeon winch for a cleaner look.
 

Greg

Wanderlusting
Admin
#13
Factory bumpers are gone and the new TeraFlex bumpers are in place! They looks great, I think they'll be a valuable improvement in strength, offer stronger recovery points, a winch mount and better approach & departure angles. I'm going to hold off on the winch, see if my old Warn will sell so I can put a new Zeon on.










Also ran into a herd of Big Horn Sheep while I was driving thru the Colorado National Monument. :cool: It was amazing how easily they scaled the rock cliffs!