2003 Grand Cherokee Laredo

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JimBill

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Anti-Sway Bars - Continued

The WJ claim to fame is the factory ride quality and off road flex. The factory did a great job of balancing on and off road (with an unusual leaning to favoring off road flex). My WJ was purchased with a 2 1/2 inch budget boost and the textbook 1" rear sway bar installed. This is a very common setup.

Since purchase I have completed the lift 'package" with correct length front disconnects, correct length rear end links, bumpstop extensions, correct length shocks, and an adjustable track bar. Also throw in the washer fluid bottle relocation and fog light elimination for additional tire clearance in the front. The suspension system is now working a lot better than when I purchased the vehicle, but there is still a bit of imbalance that presents in a few driving conditions.

Performance Observations:
Paved road manners- all around pretty decent loaded or unloaded.
Gravel/dirt roads- Understeer, severe understeer braking or accelerating on a curve.
Trail- All around pretty decent with full load out, a little stiff in the rear when day running with no load.
Front bar disconnected- awesome flex in the front, rear follows terrain more than flexing. Great over mild and moderate chop, unbalanced in very uneven surfaces. The front just flexes incredibly well and the back is adequate, but leaves a lot on the table.

Of all the parts in the suspension, Anti-Sway bars are a great tuning tool in dialing in the suspension to what you want out of it. To address the imbalance and free up the rear axle flex a bit, I swapped the rear bar with a junkyard sourced 9/16" sway bar with predictable results

Performance Observations:
Paved road manners- all around comfortable grocery getter and highway cruiser. So much smoother on the pot holed country roads. But It wallows a bit at speed and on windy roads, it will not be happy with a full load out.
Gravel/dirt roads- understeer has disappeared. Very compliant and more predictable on trail marbles or washboard with a little added speed.
Trail- TBD, but the ramp test shows improved flex. (EDIT: See post below)
Front bar disconnected- ramp test predicts a much more neutral front to back balance. The rear does not influence body position nearly as much, so the flex "load" is shared front to back much better.

Almost there, but not quite! Understeer is mostly gone, ride is smoother on chop and around town, flex is much more neutral. But full load out is gonna result in a wallowing pig. Time to dig a little deeper.

A little internet searching showed the WJ had 2 different front sway bars. A 1-3/16 " hollow (99-late 03) and a 1-1/4 solid (late 03 -04). The solid bar is stronger. My WJ has the weaker hollow front bar, and likely the 1" rear bar would be a better balance if I added the stronger solid front sway bar. But the solid front with a 1" rear bar would be on the stiff side of what I want, especially with the front disconnected. I'll stay with the hollow front bar.

So the 1" rear is a little tight, the 9/16 bar a little loose. I am on the hunt for a 3/4 inch rear bar. I swore I found one yesterday, but now all I can find is a 7/8 inch Hellwig. So not sure if the ideal rear bar exists. I'll cruise around with the 9/16" and enjoy the smooth ride, and switch to the 1" when I am on a full load out high mile adventure (like central Oregon next month...….). If I happen to run into a 3/4 inch bar between then and now, I'll pull the trigger right when I see it!

Hmm, the new Flex Connect front end links mated to an 04 solid front bar may be a perfect front system (head slap)...…….. To Be Continued
 
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JimBill

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July 11th went to Hollister Hills OHV park. A friend with his fairly new to him XTerra wanted to go get his rig dirty for the first time and see how it acts. It's close to home and only 5 bucks, why not! It was crowded with side by sides, dusty as hell, and 97 degrees. It was a great test of the cooling system, and on a heat soaked and long uphill trail in 4 low, it held to 210-215. A little hotter than I like but it held. Turning off the AC it would drop to about 200.

With the front disconnected the little stock rear sway bar might as well have not been there, flex was fantastic. I couldn't get my friend to do it but I ran the tunnel trail downhill (my usual) and for the first time uphill. It was very dug out but the WJ had no problems. Only one time I had to back up half a foot and turn the front wheels slightly, that was it. The rear VariLok worked pretty well so there is some life left. And have plans to get a hold of a front VariLok, and then it will be point and shoot.

There is one area on the front bumper plastic wheelwell end the tire tread was pulling at when turning just right at front suspension tuck. Just one spot on both sides. All I need to do is heat it up with a heat gun and round it a little so the tread does not catch, and I will be good to go with this current setup. (When I upsize tires later it will be a new game for sure).

On a higher trail I did slide the passenger rocker panel over a rock, but the cladding took it. But a good reminder to start planning for rock sliders.


Jeep tunnel uphill.PNG
 
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tjZ06

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Anti-Sway Bars - Continued

The WJ claim to fame is the factory ride quality and off road flex. The factory did a great job of balancing on and off road (with an unusual leaning to favoring off road flex). My WJ was purchased with a 2 1/2 inch budget boost and the textbook 1" rear sway bar installed. This is a very common setup.

Since purchase I have completed the lift 'package" with correct length front disconnects, correct length rear end links, bumpstop extensions, correct length shocks, and an adjustable track bar. Also throw in the washer fluid bottle relocation and fog light elimination for additional tire clearance in the front. The suspension system is now working a lot better than when I purchased the vehicle, but there is still a bit of imbalance that presents in a few driving conditions.

Performance Observations:
Paved road manners- all around pretty decent loaded or unloaded.
Gravel/dirt roads- Understeer, severe understeer braking or accelerating on a curve.
Trail- All around pretty decent with full load out, a little stiff in the rear when day running with no load.
Front bar disconnected- awesome flex in the front, rear follows terrain more than flexing. Great over mild and moderate chop, unbalanced in very uneven surfaces. The front just flexes incredibly well and the back is adequate, but leaves a lot on the table.

Of all the parts in the suspension, Anti-Sway bars are a great tuning tool in dialing in the suspension to what you want out of it. To address the imbalance and free up the rear axle flex a bit, I swapped the rear bar with a junkyard sourced 9/16" sway bar with predictable results

Performance Observations:
Paved road manners- all around comfortable grocery getter and highway cruiser. So much smoother on the pot holed country roads. But It wallows a bit at speed and on windy roads, it will not be happy with a full load out.
Gravel/dirt roads- understeer has disappeared. Very compliant and more predictable on trail marbles or washboard with a little added speed.
Trail- TBD, but the ramp test shows improved flex.
Front bar disconnected- ramp test predicts a much more neutral front to back balance. The rear does not influence body position nearly as much, so the flex "load" is shared front to back much better.

Almost there, but not quite! Understeer is mostly gone, ride is smoother on chop and around town, flex is much more neutral. But full load out is gonna result in a wallowing pig. Time to dig a little deeper.

A little internet searching showed the WJ had 2 different front sway bars. A 1-3/16 " hollow (99-late 03) and a 1-1/4 solid (late 03 -04). The solid bar is stronger. My WJ has the weaker hollow front bar, and likely the 1" rear bar would be a better balance if I added the stronger solid front sway bar. But the solid front with a 1" rear bar would be on the stiff side of what I want, especially with the front disconnected. I'll stay with the hollow front bar.

So the 1" rear is a little tight, the 9/16 bar a little loose. I am on the hunt for a 3/4 inch rear bar. I swore I found one yesterday, but now all I can find is a 7/8 inch Hellwig. So not sure if the ideal rear bar exists. I'll cruise around with the 9/16" and enjoy the smooth ride, and switch to the 1" when I am on a full load out high mile adventure (like central Oregon next month...….). If I happen to run into a 3/4 inch bar between then and now, I'll pull the trigger right when I see it!

Hmm, the new Flex Connect front end links mated to an 04 solid front bar may be a perfect front system (head slap)...…….. To Be Continued
What a great write-up! I couldn't agree more about the WJ's inherent strengths, or "claim to fame" being that amazing balance between on-road performance (smooth ride, yet somehow sporty on solid axles) and some serious off-road capability (flex) in stock form. It's nice to see somebody "finish out" the typical budget boost properly with all those parts you listed. I obviously go way too overboard, so even the "first version" of my WJ build was a front long-arm and what some might consider sort of "serious" or "in depth." As such, it was hard for me to explain to friends just how capable a truly budget WJ build can be. I think you've hit the nail on the head in that respect.

However, as you pointed out there is still fine-tuning to be done in the sway bars to get it *just right*. As you folks may have guessed, before I went to the dirt-life, I was into fast cars. I had a fully-built, NASA/SCCA '02 Z06 that I raced for years. You don't often hear people talking about suspension tuning, especially swaybars, and the impact it has on over/under-steer in the dirt world, but it was *everything* in the AutoX/Road Course paradigm.

One thing I found surprising is that you saw *less* understeer after reducing the rear bar diameter. That's sort of counter-intutive, and goes against the typical rules of thumb I'm used to. Of course, my rules of thumb don't come from a world of solid/solid front/rear axles stuff. Before the Z06 I had a '99 Z/28 I also AutoXed, so I am familiar with IFS/solid and then IFS/IRS in the 'vette, but I've never thought about handing-tuning on solid/solid in the same ways.

One thought: is there room on the "arm" of the current 9/16" bar to drill another set of mounting holes for the end-link? If you can shorten the lever-arm of the swaybar, it'd tighten it up a bit. Could be a "free" way to achieve what you're after. I wonder how late my '03 is, since my swaybar is coming off and my buddy getting the suspension has a 04, he doesn't need mine...


July 11th went to Hollister Hills OHV park. A friend with his fairly new to him XTerra wanted to go get his rig dirty for the first time and see how it acts. It's close to home and only 5 bucks, why not! It was crowded with side by sides, dusty as hell, and 97 degrees. It was a great test of the cooling system, and on a heat soaked and long uphill trail in 4 low, it held to 210-215. A little hotter than I like but it held. Turning off the AC it would drop to about 200.

With the front disconnected the little stock rear sway bar might as well have not been there, flex was fantastic. I couldn't get my friend to do it but I ran the tunnel trail downhill (my usual) and for the first time uphill. It was very dug out but the WJ had no problems. Only one time I had to back up half a foot and turn the front wheels slightly, that was it. The rear VariLok worked pretty well so there is some life left. And have plans to get a hold of a front VariLok, and then it will be point and shoot.

There is one area on the front bumper plastic wheelwell end the tire tread was pulling at when turning just right at front suspension tuck. Just one spot on both sides. All I need to do is heat it up with a heat gun and round it a little so the tread does not catch, and I will be good to go with this current setup. (When I upsize tires later it will be a new game for sure).

On a higher trail I did slide the passenger rocker panel over a rock, but the cladding took it. But a good reminder to start planning for rock sliders.


View attachment 162804
I really need to get down to Hollister once I get mine back. That's where I grew up wheeling with friends (they had rigs, I did not) but I haven't been there in approaching two decades. It sounds/looks like the WJ performed wonderfully though. I'd say 215 for a long, slow, uphill in 97 ambient in 4LO with the AC on is more than acceptable - and that flex is what I was talking about when I said you had a well-dialed "budget" boost setup. I really don't think there's another rig that will flex that hard and work that well with just a 2" budget boost, while also being such a great street rig. Even the almighty XJ will be more limited with the leaf springs in the rear, a TJ/LJ isn't nearly as good on-road, and anything JK or newer is just a totally different price-point.

Good stuff!

-TJ
 

JimBill

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One thing I found surprising is that you saw *less* understeer after reducing the rear bar diameter. That's sort of counter-intutive, and goes against the typical rules of thumb I'm used to.
I really need to get down to Hollister once I get mine back.
-TJ
Them Duke boys of my youth must have had an influence. I grew up driving an el Camino with a 4.11 posi with plenty of time on dirt roads having fun redneck drifting. I am used to using the gas and brakes to move the back end around as I want it. Especially on dirt/gravel over hard pan. Good fun. The first time I took a WJ (stock 04 Loredo 4.0) on a frequently driven dirt county road, I lit it up and played. To my shock it reacted completely opposite to what I expected.

On the first dogleg where I really pushed it, I nearly took out a barbed wire fence line and narrowly missed a very big oak tree. The WJ acted opposite of my old muscle cars, Silverados, and even the Tahoe on the loose stuff. Where I wanted to brake, I'd have to gas, where I wanted to gas, I'd have to tap the brakes. I had to switch it up quick, go against instinct, and find what worked in that short moment! For whatever reason on this vehicle I just have to ignore expectations and be resigned to letting it tell me what it wants. My current 03 acts exactly the same as the stock height 04, so it is likely a peculiarity of the platform with a stock based suspension.

Unfortunately no 3/4" rear bar exists. The Doorman catalogue has a typo and the rear bar offered is just stock diameter. So I will live with the stock rear bar for now as it really makes it feel all 4 wheels are planted. In the future I want to try the solid front bar with the flex connects, and start the tuning loop again. There is no way to drill another hole on the 9/16 bar, unless I heated it up and blacksmithed a wide enough spot.

I've proven to myself a short arm budget boost lift can be an incredible performer with minimal trimming if tire size is kept to 30.5 ish (245/75-16 or 265/70-16). This combo is about as far as a fully stock based setup can be taken with the tires fitting in the wheel wells and the spare fitting in the factory well. But my heart is still set on a long arm front with 3" springs, and 32s. With life happening, I'm not sure if I can get there while the WJ still has life left. Time will tell.

Come on down to Hollister Hills to test. The little obstacle course can be used for all the suspension checks and then go from there. I don't know the park well, but I'm learning it over time.
 
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JimBill

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A little follow up to the cooling mod. Yesterday after work I verified correct flow of the transmission fluid through the cooler system.

Using a thermocouple and Fluke meter I measured the temperature of both the transmission cooler hard lines during the warm up process (note to self, buy a dang point and shoot laser temp gun).
Consistently the top line was hotter, indicating it is the supply line. This is the line that attaches near the top of the transmission housing.
I then verified the external trans cooler and radiator tank cooler were connected for proper flow direction. With 50/50 odds, I was happy to verify correct connection of the soft lines between the engine area and radiator area.

So what do I see as the correct flow path? When using both the radiator tank cooler and an external cooler, flow should be through the external cooler first and then through the radiator cooler. When warming up, the cool transmission fluid passes through the external cooler and then is heated up by the radiator water temp in the radiator tank. Engine and transmission warm up together and settle at normal operating temps. When the transmission is stressed and heats up, the external cooler cools the fluid first and then the radiator tank cooler will either add heat back (if overcool such as during warm up or sub-zero weather) or continue to cool if the trans fluid is still hotter than the radiator coolant.

Granted the disadvantage to this system is with extreme engine or transmission temperatures, heat can be added to the trans fluid or radiator, depending on which is hotter. Under extreme conditions chances are my 4.7 has other problems so I am not concerned. And hopefully I have the sense to back off the abuse before the extreme is reached.

Running the transmission fluid flow through the radiator first and then to the external cooler second results in the potential of adding to the radiator cooling burden and returning overcooled transmission fluid, causing an imbalance in the cooling system harmony.

The next level to all this nonsense would be to use only a remote cooler with a temp controlled fan (and ignore all contact with the radiator/engine coolant). That would be overkill for this stock based rig but does have a place in specialty built vehicles, dedicated tow vehicles, and the like.

Temperature Check.PNG
 
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JimBill

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Copied my post from "Tips and Tricks" thread:

The headliner cargo nets caught my eye. Great idea for keeping jackets, pillows, fishing rods, or whatever light stuff from getting buried in the car. A great grab and go and use of dead space.
A popular vendor makes good stuff, and even better if they have one to exact fit your vehicle. But, I am too cheap to pay the price ($$$.$$) to make my best guess at a universal one to fit my not as popular rig.
I found a UTV cargo net for 29.99 on Amazon, and a pair of D ring swivels at the local hardware store and improvised on the cheap. Actual net dimensions are 24.5 inches x 26.5 inches. Great for small to mid size rigs. Rear is mounted to factory cargo hooks with draw tight buckles, and front is hard tied to the D rings mounted where the factory coat hanger hooks were.
Easily reversible if I want to remove it. Sits high and tight, I do not see it in the rear view mirror.

Edit 7/27/20: Front mounting point is located such that the rear passenger headroom is impacted. Kids and short folks, no problem. This rig almost never has rear seated passengers, and I will likely completely delete the rear seats in the future. Also, I have a bag of swiveling D rings if anyone needs a pair. They barely fit into the coat hanger mounting pocket and barely fit the coat hanger screw. I lucked out I my choices. This exact net is getting more expensive and harder to find, good luck! I

cargo net.JPG

Cargo net installed.jpg

Cargo net fishing pole.jpg
 
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billiardspintail

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Copied my post from "Tips and Tricks" thread:

The headliner cargo nets caught my eye. Great idea for keeping jackets, pillows, fishing rods, or whatever light stuff from getting buried in the car. A great grab and go and use of dead space.
A popular vendor makes good stuff, and even better if they have one to exact fit your vehicle. But, I am too cheap to pay the price ($$$.$$) to make my best guess at a universal one to fit my not as popular rig.
I found a UTV cargo net for 29.99 on Amazon, and a pair of D ring swivels at the local hardware store and improvised on the cheap. Actual net dimensions are 24.5 inches x 26.5 inches. Great for small to mid size rigs. Rear is mounted to factory cargo hooks with draw tight buckles, and front is hard tied to the D rings mounted where the factory coat hanger hooks were.
Easily reversible if I want to remove it. Sits high and tight, I do not see it in the rear view mirror.

View attachment 164540

View attachment 164541

View attachment 164542
Damn, that looks clean. Now I'm thinking about doing that in my Wagoneer.
 

tjZ06

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I like that a LOT, I might have to copy you. Once I have the 35" mounted out back rearward visibility will be pretty much zero anyway, so having pillows, jackets, etc. up there won't change that.
 

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I like that a LOT, I might have to copy you. Once I have the 35" mounted out back rearward visibility will be pretty much zero anyway, so having pillows, jackets, etc. up there won't change that.
I'll let you know how it goes on the Oregon trip next month. This is not a stretch net, so it will be interesting what stays put when I hit a 50 mile washboard. I think jackets and crap like that will be just fine.
 

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Oregon Prep #1 (Fri PM, Saturday)

Prep for the Eastern Oregon back country trip later this month continues. We will be covering a lot of remote miles on choppy dirt roads, and extra gas and water will be require. I have wanted a KOR rooftop tire rack for some time, and decided I would like to incorporate it for this trip, freeing up the spare tire well for storing water and vehicle fluids. I like having a modular type setups so I can configure best for the trip demands. Friday the KOP rack came in, and Friday night made pads for the mounts and figured out the tire mounting method I wanted. Saturday I put it all together. With the tire mount forward and my gas can bin towards the back it was a good fit.

Well, I like the tire up there. But even at a 30.5 inch tire, in my physical state I could not put it up there or remove it without imparting further strain to my back and hips. It is just too much awkward weight to throw around. And certainly if I was incapacitated there is no way Yvonne could pull the tire off on her own. I can't imagine manhandling a 35" tire from the roof these days. 20 years ago, no problem....

I still want to use the rack in the future if I physically get back up to snuff. But I had to change plans so it was removed and my roof rack installed. It will have to do and I hope the cross bar plastic ends hold up to the load.

P_20200731_194234.jpg P_20200731_194813.jpg

P_20200731_204444.jpg P_20200801_183007.jpg

P_20200801_163555.jpg P_20200801_191413.jpg

You folks with the big tires, IMHO a swing out rear bumper setup is the way to go!!!
 
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MrWilsonWJ

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Prep for the Eastern Oregon back country trip later this month continues. We will be covering a lot of remote miles on choppy dirt roads, and extra gas and water will be require. I have wanted a KOR rooftop tire rack for some time, and decided I would like to incorporate it for this trip, freeing up the spare tire well for storing water and vehicle fluids. I like having a modular type setups so I can configure best for the trip demands. Friday the KOP rack came in, and Friday night made pads for the mounts and figured out the tire mounting method I wanted. Saturday I put it all together. With the tire mount forward and my gas can bin towards the back it was a good fit.

Well, I like the tire up there. But even at a 30.5 inch tire, in my physical state I could not put it up there or remove it without imparting further strain to my back and hips. It is just too much awkward weight to throw around. And certainly if I was incapacitated there is no way Yvonne could pull the tire off on her own. I can't imagine manhandling a 35" tire from the roof these days. 20 years ago, no problem....

I still want to use the rack in the future if I physically get back up to snuff. But I had to change plans so it was removed and my roof rack installed. It will have to do and I hope the cross bar plastic ends hold up to the load.

View attachment 165643 View attachment 165644

View attachment 165645 View attachment 165646

View attachment 165647 View attachment 165648

You folks with the big tires, IMHO a swing out rear bumper setup is the way to go!!!
Having the new swing out tire carrier and basket for the water jug was a big plus on my last trip. I'll try to get some kind of write up together on mine in the next couple days. If you like it and can weld, it worked pretty good.
 
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tjZ06

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I dig the little inserts you made to mount things as low as possible to the stock rails. I still have my half-length cheap-o roof basket to put on the WJ. I'm hoping to have it "hang" as low down close to the roof as possible (with say 1" clearance to keep from damaging the roof as the rack flexes under weight). Extra fuel is still one of the big things I have to figure out. My XeroFab swing-out tire carrier is coming along, I should ask him about fuel/water storage options.

-TJ
 

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Oregon Prep #2-

Roof rack is back on. I have been offered the loan of a 1/4 ton Jeep trailer for the trip, so on the fence if I will load the roof at all. But it takes 5 minutes to remove so TBD.
With either the roof load or the trailer, I will be loaded down hard with 7+ days of supplies for 2. So swapped out the stock sway bar for the 1" bar. The roads will be mild so I don't need the flex, and will need the control for the many highway miles.

On this trip shade will be at a premium. I'm not up for a permanent mounted awning, but found the SmittyBuilt unit shown below. Just enough shade to matter, quick setup, and light. And the price was aok.
With either the stock roof bars or the rack on, I can quickly set this up on the back or either side. Trim straps and add carabineers and it was good to go.

This one was a win!

shade.PNG

Shade.jpg

Also now that I have the case, poles, stakes, lines, etc, I can make a tarp any shape I like later in the future. And best off, Yvonne will have no problem deploying this on her own if I am busy setting up the tent or what have you.
 

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Oregon Pep #3 (Sunday)

3rd day of triple digit temps, but powered through it. I will rest up while sitting in front of a computer for 50 hours over the workweek.

I have found that placing my vehicle support gear low in the passenger footwells works well and is a very neutral place to have the weight. With the lower rear seats removed, the Tool roll, Tool/Parts bag, SafeJack bag, and Air Compressor/Tire Repair bags fit nicely. Tow strap fits under the passenger front seat. But it has always been a pain in the rear to strap the bags down. (When I was 19 I was a passenger in a 65 Ranchero that flipped and barrel rolled with a 5 gallon bucket full of tools behind the seat. Lesson learned, I tie down crap that could kill me in an accident). A mix of attaching to the front seat frame or rear seat pins sort of worked.

I have had a set of D rings waiting for install for a while now. Once everything was located and checked for clearance on the floor pan, I finally located and installed the D rings for easy tie down.
Using a 308 shell casing, I heated it up and melted nice holes in the carpet, then drilled the floor pan. The holes were deburred and fresh bare metal painted. Then the rings were installed, with fender washers and nylock nuts, and then spray painted for corrosion protection. Cut off heavy steel hooks from the straps and substituted good carabiners, and set it up so I can release tension from either side and quickly remove a bag of whatever I need.

I installed a D ring on the transmission tunnel. Be very careful in placement if you do this, as the padding is thick (had to use spacers for support) and the E-Brake cables come together under there. Stay center to passenger side.

Also, the stock jack crank rods are easy to remove, and a boys sized axe fits nicely, along with an entrenching tool on the other side. also a spare serpentine and my code reader ride there as well. I just spread a towel over them to protect the leather seat and fold it down.

P_20200802_111307.jpg P_20200802_194714.jpg P_20200802_194645.jpg
 
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JimBill

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Having the new swing out tire carrier and basket for the water jug was a big plus on my last trip. I'll try to get some kind of write up together on mine in the next couple days. If you like it and can weld, it worked pretty good.
I have just enough welding experience to be very dangerous and unfortunatley only limited fab tools available. But my ace in the hole is I have a friend who is a very good welder and has professional level equipment.
So much to get to first, just unlikely to make one of my own design. With a pattern and pre-cut parts, it is doable. But now not only can I logically see this is the best solution, but also my body is confirming it.
 

MrWilsonWJ

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I have just enough welding experience to be very dangerous and unfortunatley only limited fab tools available. But my ace in the hole is I have a friend who is a very good welder and has professional level equipment.
So much to get to first, just unlikely to make one of my own design. With a pattern and pre-cut parts, it is doable. But now not only can I logically see this is the best solution, but also my body is confirming it.
I would have to pull it apart and take the bumper skin off, but if you would like I can get you measurements and some better pictures of how I built the mount. I just looked through what I took when building it and I didn't take much. But if you are wanting to build something similar before your trip I can get that for you in the next few days. Here is a link to the hinge kit I bought.
 

JimBill

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I would have to pull it apart and take the bumper skin off, but if you would like I can get you measurements and some better pictures of how I built the mount. I just looked through what I took when building it and I didn't take much. But if you are wanting to build something similar before your trip I can get that for you in the next few days. Here is a link to the hinge kit I bought.

Thanks for the quick info. Unfortunately with work and nursing a physical injury there would be no way I can punch something out like this in the next few weeks. Thanks for the hinge kit info. Yes I would appreciate the information on what you put together, but please at your complete convenience (like the next time you have to take the skin off for some other reason). It will be a serious bit of time before I can take a serious look and decide to get thios done. But I do believe a swing out is the end game for the spare tire storage.
 

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I dig the little inserts you made to mount things as low as possible to the stock rails. I still have my half-length cheap-o roof basket to put on the WJ. I'm hoping to have it "hang" as low down close to the roof as possible (with say 1" clearance to keep from damaging the roof as the rack flexes under weight). Extra fuel is still one of the big things I have to figure out. My XeroFab swing-out tire carrier is coming along, I should ask him about fuel/water storage options.

-TJ
Bear in mind clearance for the sunroof when tilted up in the vent position. Currently my setup is about 1" from the highest point on the arch of the roofline, and I cannot fully open the sunroof. However if you keep the short rack, never mind!
Eventually I will make cross bars and custom hard mounts, and bolt everything solild. it will raise it about 2 inches but I will gain peace of mind.
I think flex in the system ultimately is the killer, especially any side to side movement when you are rocking back and forth like a boat. It is on the list for a winter project- I need to tighten up my XY table, get the DROs working, and spend some quality time on the mini mill.
Alternatively, my nephew has a full sized ROLA rack that is IMO the perfect fit for a WJ and sits low and tight with the mount system provided. I will ask about which model it is next time I see him.
 

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Bear in mind clearance for the sunroof when tilted up in the vent position. Currently my setup is about 1" from the highest point on the arch of the roofline, and I cannot fully open the sunroof. However if you keep the short rack, never mind!
Eventually I will make cross bars and custom hard mounts, and bolt everything solild. it will raise it about 2 inches but I will gain peace of mind.
I think flex in the system ultimately is the killer, especially any side to side movement when you are rocking back and forth like a boat. It is on the list for a winter project- I need to tighten up my XY table, get the DROs working, and spend some quality time on the mini mill.
Alternatively, my nephew has a full sized ROLA rack that is IMO the perfect fit for a WJ and sits low and tight with the mount system provided. I will ask about which model it is next time I see him.
The smaller rack I got should fit fully behind the sunroof: (I got it for ~$130 on an open-box sale).

-TJ
 

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Just completed a trip to Eastern Oregon. The trip was an 8 day softroading excursion hoping to do a defined route. There were a lot of issues that forced us to adjust the trip on the fly, but that's part of the fun. This post is about load out and gross vehicle weight.

I was going to take the Tahoe, but ended up taking the WJ and a borrowed Canadian 1/4 ton military trailer. We had a full load out for 8 days (food and all), and expected to put in some serious miles and time between fuel and supply stops. So I had the usual tent, air mattress, sleeping bags, tools, mess kit, 12 volt fridge, privacy shelter, loo, and so on. But also had 7.5 gallons fuel, 10 gallons water, and a 850 pound trailer.

I knew form experience I would be pushing max vehicle weight, therefor the need for the trailer (well mostly for the bulk, but yeah). My WJ has a max of 5500 pounds, and it works out to about 1000 pounds of payload. Let's say I am an over large person, and me and my passenger take up half that. That gives us 500 or so pounds to work with.

Somewhere near Burns Oregon I stopped at an unmanned scale. The WJ weighed 5400 pounds and the trailer weighted 950 pounds. So the WJ was near max with us, our load, and the tongue weight of the trailer. The trailer, minus tongue weight, only burdened about a hundred pounds extra. So ignoring fitting 10 pounds of potatoes in a 5 pound bag, without the trailer we would have been at max vehicle weight.

Bear in mind my WJ is a stock based rig so far, with no rock sliders, steel bumpers, winch, or heavy rims/tires. Although I find the WJ fun to drive grocery getting, incredible on the trails, and otherwise a great vehicle, it does not have enough payload capacity to be an expedition vehicle. And if you are adding armor and other fun stuff, it is a better rock crawling toy and weekender than expedition vehicle. My Tahoe would have been a much better fit for this run (but it is sidelined waiting a front end rebuild).

Load Out.jpg