[OB1375] 2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock - The Rube Goldberg Machine

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ovrlndr

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Hey Everyone,

I figured I'd start a build thread, even though I'm already well into my build. I figure it might help folks that are just starting out, and I know for a fact that I will learn a lot from all of you.

The rig is a 2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon Hard Rock (that's a mouthful), known to me as "Rube Goldberg" or just "Rube."

I haven't decided if I'm going to pickup where the build is currently and just list everything that is already on it, or make "retroactive" posts for each mod I've already done. If you guys would prefer one way or another, please let me know!

Cheers,
Jason
 
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r2fasani

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I vote for some retro highlights! I always like seeing the evolution as much as possible, but it can be a hassle to spend too much time overly documenting the past. Looking forward to seeing the rig!


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ovrlndr

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I've decided that I will kick things off with a list of vitals, then current mods, and finally planned future mods. Without further ado...

Vitals:
  • 2015 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon (Hard Rock edition)
  • 6-speed manual
  • Dana 44 housings front & rear with e-lockers front & rear, 4.10 gearing
  • Mopar premium soft top
Current Mods:
  • Mopar hood lock
  • JW Speaker 8700 Evolution J LED Headlights
    • Related mod: Mopar Horizontal Headlamp Adjustment Screws
  • Mopar soft top boot
  • Mopar cargo area slush mat
  • AEV Tire Carrier & Fuel Caddy
    • Originally added the TeraFlex HD Hinged Carrier & Adjustable Spare Tire Mounting Kit with the JK Third Brake Light Extension Mount Kit for HD Hinged Tire Carrier. It is a great kit, but I ultimately decided that it did not meet my needs as well as the AEV setup
  • Factor55 HitchLink 2.0 (Red)
  • Bolt 5/8" receiver lock
  • Synergy upper and lower inner C gussets
  • Synergy front lower control arm skids
  • Magnaflow Y-pipe (without loop delete)
  • Mopar 3-Piece Hard Top with Mopar headliners (premium soft top removed and stored)
  • Winch setup
    • Original Mopar winch mounting kit for Hard Rock front bumper
    • Warn 9.5CTI-S
    • Factor55 aluminum fairlead 1.0
    • Factor55 FlatLink (red)
      • Originally had the Factor55 ProLink (red)
    • Custom fabricated bumper trim piece behind fairlead from Curvilinear Components, LLC
  • MetalCloak Game-Changer RockSport Edition 3.5" Suspension Lift
  • AEV Pintlers (Color: Argent)
    • Related mod: Gorilla Spline Lug Nuts
    • Related mod: Rugged Ridge Wheel Locks
    • Related mod: Spidertrax 1.25" wheel spacers for WJ (WHS-006)* (needed at least 4.5" of backspacing, the Pintlers have 5.25", wheel spacers bring the backspacing to an effective 4")
    • * DO NOT attempt to install these wheel spacers on a JK / JKU without consulting Spidertrax first.
    • Might switch these out for the new AEV Borah beadlock, that have the exact backspacing I need
  • 35x12.50R17 BFGoodrich KO2
  • 21" AntennaMastsRus spring steel stubby antenna
  • Cobra 75 WX ST 40-Channel CB radio & 3' Firestik FireFly antenna
    • This was decommissioned when the AEV tire carrier was installed, and the Firestik antenna removed; need to remove CB handheld itself
  • Drake Off-Road RocKlaw hood latches
  • Moved EVAP canister skid over to avoid contact with rear drive shaft boot
  • JWM4x4 Gloss Black Mopar Lock Grille Insert
  • Riddler Differential Covers, front & rear
  • MetalCloak UnderCloak fully boat sided skid system
    • Trasharoo, "Expedition: Colorado" edition
    • Riddler Differential Covers, front and rear
  • MetalCloak rear seat support
  • GraBars, front & rear
  • ARB twin compressor
    • Related mod: MetalCloak under hood mounting bracket for ARB twin compressor
  • sPOD 8-switch SE (switch panel version)
  • BeoFeng BF-F8HP radio & accessories (works with HAM, FRS & GMRS)
  • Vector Off-road JKE-Dock with RAM mounts
Planned Future Mods:
  • Maximus-3 bumper hoop (Deciding between the Classic, and the X hoops - this is giving me fits)
  • Nemesis Industries fenders
  • Rearview Camera (Raxiom? Brandmotion? AEV? NavTV + Audiovox or other camera?)
  • Genesis Dual Battery Setup
  • Mopar LED Hard Rock bumper specific fog lights (p/n 82214785) - pending decision
  • ARB Fridge (37 vs 50 decision pending)
  • Stove
  • Fridge & stove slide
  • 20" single row light bar (Rigid probably, low profile front bumper mount)
  • Dynatrac ProRock 44 unlimited
  • 4.88 gearing
  • Dynatrac ProSteer ball joints
  • Dynatrac ProGrip brakes (front & rear)
  • Reid Racing knuckles
  • Fox 2.0 ATS steering stabilizer
  • SteerSmarts YETI XD tie rod & draglink
  • Drawer system of some kind
  • Driveshaft upgrades (leaning Adams)
  • Axleshaft upgrades (leaning RCV)
  • 37" BFGoodrich KO2
  • Hemi swap...? :)
  • Rhino Rack backbone system plus Pioneer Platform roof rack
  • Rooftop Tent... Tepui, James Baroud, ARB...
  • Awning... Foxwing?
 

ovrlndr

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Alright, since we had 1 vote (that accounted for 100% of votes cast - thanks @r2fasani ) for retroactive updates, I'm going to try to highlight some of the bigger mods I've done.

Before we go into that, here's a few pictures of Rube when he was just a pup. Oh, by the way, I name my vehicles. Some my find that weird, but people name boats and planes, so why not vehicles? Also, in case you're wondering, I use SmugMug for photo hosting (it's awesome).

Alright, enough babble... Time for some pictures!


Rube, me and Lana, my 2007 BMW 335i that I traded for Rube. She was a great car, but I've had a lot more fun with Rube. I was living in Atlanta at the time and drove down to Savannah to pick up Rube.

The dealership was the worst possible experience possible and I ended up spending 8 or 9 hours in negotiations (after having "pre-negotiated" everything over the phone). I was expecting to walk in, sign paperwork, and be on my merry way. WRONG. However, I ended up getting a better deal (and the dealer ended up giving me most of their hold back) because they screwed me around. Don't try to screw a guy that knows the car business. However, I ended up leaving at 9PM and having to drive through some torrential rains and extremely high winds almost the whole way back to Atlanta, as a storm was ravaging the entire East Coast.


A quick shot of Rube sitting pretty in the parking garage when I got him home.
 
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ovrlndr

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Alright, onto the mods! After driving home from the dealer through almost 3 hours of torrential rains, I quickly realized the stock lights were not only inadequate, but actually a safety hazard.

So, the first modification I made was to the headlights. I replaced the stockers with JW Speaker 8700 Evolution J LED headlights.

The lights are designed and built in the USA and carry a lifetime warranty. The build quality is excellent, the installation is easy and the light output is fantastic for this type of light. It's not quite the same as the light output from a true HID, like I had in my BMW, but it is definitely adequate.

The only thing I will mention for those wondering - if you live in an area with a lot of snow, road prep and freezing temperatures / ice storms, I would look into the heated version of the Truck-Lite, as LED headlights in general do not put out much heat at all and thus wet snow (like you see on the East Coast) is likely to stick to them. I would also recommend using a product like Plexus to coat the headlight at least a few times a month leading up to and during winter to make the lens shed liquid better, thus reducing the likelihood of ice or road prep buildup.

Here's a few shots of the lights themselves prior to install.





An easy plug & play install. I later circled back and installed the Mopar horizontal adjustment screws as well.








All buttoned up!

And yes, the paint color does change with the lighting!
 

toxicity_27

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Looking good! Can't wait to see everything else. Love my Hard Rock too! Nice to see another manual one as well.
 
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ovrlndr

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Thanks for following along! I appreciate it, and it will keep me motivated to update the thread!

I'm trying to keep the retroactive posts for the completed mods in chronological order. So, with that said, I think the next mod was the Mopar hood lock, to keep people out from under the hood as those headlights aren't cheap and I had other mods planned for under the hood (we'll get to those soon enough).

I didn't actually do the install of the hood lock, I had it done when I was having factory fluid levels checked (if you buy a new JK/JKU, I would recommend doing this, as many have noticed the fluid levels are very low from the factory - my transmission fluid was low, everything else was fine).

The boys at the dealer did it for me for free (I don't own a rivet gun and didn't want to buy one for installing a few rivets); they had never installed one so they used it for a "learning example." :)

I "supervised" the install because I had read the instructions and they hadn't, but it was a 5 minute install, just lining up the lock and riveting it in; pretty straightforward.

I don't have any pictures of the install, but here's a picture that shows the hood lock (taken when I was starting the install of another mod, but that's a story for another post).

 

ovrlndr

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Man, this community rocks. Thanks for the kind words everyone!

The next mod I made was another easy install - the MetalCloak Center Seat Support for the rear seat of the 4-doors.

After sitting on the center seat before and after, I can say this makes a huge difference. Without it, the center rear seat feels like you're sitting on a piece of foam that was placed on top of a 5 gallon bucket with no lid. With it, it feels like you're sitting on a proper seat. High quality, inexpensive, fantastic results. Gotta love it, right?

 

ovrlndr

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Another early mod was the Mopar boot for the factory soft top.

As you can see in the picture below, Baja Yellow looks good with the top dropped, but the top looks a mess even when you take the time to fold it back carefully...



Well, Mopar boot for the soft top to the rescue!



I'd guess most of the overland community that are using Jeeps as their platform are running hardtops, but if you're running a soft top and like to drop the top back on occasion, this is a great way to keep the top from flapping around. It also doubles as a way to store the top if you remove the soft top seasonally.
 
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r2fasani

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You just sold me on the Metalcloak seat support. I brought the whole family to Sacramento (area) today for my mom's bday party and I think my oldest noticed the seat sagging in the middle back there.

Looking forward to more of your mod highlights! JW headlights and fog lights are definitely on my list. Love the soft top too. I went hard top, but do my trails and trips with the top off.


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ovrlndr

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Well, @r2fasani , you can't go wrong with the seat support. MetalCloak's quality is outstanding.

Also, don't get too attached to the soft top on my build :sunglasses:
 

ovrlndr

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Another quick/easy mod I made early on was to ditch the tall factory antenna for something shorter. The intention here was to keep the antenna low, so that it did not get caught on low hanging foliage and "whip" back into the windshield.

The antenna I initially selected was made by AntennaX, as seen in the picture below. File this under "Mods I Regret."



The reason I was not happy with this mod is threefold. First, the antenna was perfectly round top to bottom, so there was not really a good place to get a small wrench on the thing and really tighten it down. Second, the antenna was completely rigid, and because it couldn't be tightened properly or flex with the vibrations of the Jeep while driving, which resulted in it constantly working itself loose. Super annoying. Lastly, I just thought it was ugly (wasn't really sure what to expect when I ordered it, as the product pictures weren't great).

I quickly replaced the AntennaX brand antenna with an "AntennaMastRus" spring steel antenna off of Amazon. It was cheaper and higher quality than the AntennaX brand. It was also spring steel, like the factory antenna, so it had a little flex to help deal with vibration. Here's a few pictures.


Side-by-side comparison: Antenna X vs AntennaMastRus


Much better aesthetic.


Spring steel FTW!


Also, a couple of purely "fun" cosmetic mods that I did the first time I did a full wash, wax and detail after buying the Jeep...

Removed all trace of the horrible dealership... Side note: It's a pet peeve when dealers put decals on vehicles - use a cheap plastic license plate frame, so we can rid our vehicles of your name / information fast!


(And yes, I used to live in Atlanta, before moving to Denver)

Replaced the "Wrangler Unlimited" decal on the sides with a custom "Hard Rock" decal (5 HP gain).


(The blue masking tape was used as a height guide)



Added a Green Bay Packers "G" (Green & Gold 'til I'm dead & cold!)


Gotta make the vehicle yours, ya know?

Okay, next post goes back to "real" mods...
 

ovrlndr

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The next mod is also one that I file under "Mods I Regret," but unlike the AntennaX where I just didn't like it at all from an aesthetic or design standpoint, this upcoming mod just ended up not meeting my needs. It's a GREAT product, and I was really happy with it, but it just did not function the way I needed it to out here in Colorado.

The mod? The TeraFlex HD Hinged Carrier with Adjustable Spare Mounting Kit and Third Brake Light Extension Mount Kit for HD Hinged Carrier... Hey, TeraFlex... maybe have a less technical guy name you products? That's a mouthful!

So, with this mod, you must remove the factory hinges, as the HD Hinged Carrier portion replaces them with a beefy forged aluminum piece that is powder coated for corrosion resistance. Speaking of corrosion and resistance thereto, Jeep doesn't paint under the factory hinges... so I did!

Step 1: Shim passenger side of the tailgate, remove factory hinges, clean up tailgate.


Step 2: Start masking off the area to be painted


Step 3: Mask some more!


Step 4: Primer! In this case, we used an epoxy primer to really seal things up but actually got the primer base color wrong - should have gone with something a little darker, but since the area was masked so well, I'm not really concerned as there was no overspray to speak of and everything painted would be covered by the TF carrier and by the stock hinges if I ever put them back on the Jeep (*dum, dum dum* foreshadowing)


Step 5: Lay down the color (forgot to take pictures of that, so moving right along...)
Step 6: Install your TF HD Hinged Carrier!


Looks great! A couple of things. I ran the HD Hinged Carrier portion of the super long and extremely detailed technical product name listed above with the stock carrier for a while (this is possible with the TF carrier). I installed the adjustable portion of the kit and the 3rd brake light extension after my lift and tires were on (shut up, Jason, you're giving everything away).

This mod will be revisited soon... Something more functional takes its place...
 

ovrlndr

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The next mod was in preparation for the lift and tires, and off-road driving.

Synergy upper and lower inner C gussets and front lower control arm skids, and a Magnaflow y-pipe (without loop delete, to keep the exhaust coming back from the cats close to the same length until they reach the "Y." Better in my opinion).

The JK Dana "44" is more like a Dana 44 pumpkin with Dana 30-esque tubes and 44 axle shafts and Dana 30 Cs... Not cool Jeep! Supposedly they are beefing up the 44s on the new Rubicon Recon for 2017. Also, whoever routed the exhaust around the driveshaft was drunk the day he was working on the design, and thus the driveshaft will make contact with the exhaust if a lift is put on the Jeep... So, where Jeep falls short, we make it right...

Rube on the operating table.


Fast forward a few hours, and... #WeldPorn


Look at all the clearance the brand new but still rusty (Jeep... grrr...) driveshaft has now that we've routed the exhaust the way it should have been done in the first place!!!


A few more mods and we'll be all set for lift and tires!
 
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toxicity_27

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I hated my Teraflex carrier. Started rusting the first winter I had it, and they were very difficult to deal with as far as customer service goes. Sold it and never looked back.
 
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ovrlndr

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I hated my Teraflex carrier. Started rusting the first winter I had it, and they were very difficult to deal with as far as customer service goes. Sold it and never looked back.
While I didn't have any corrosion issues with mine it's interesting that you did, especially considering TeraFlex touts a "1,000 hour extreme salt spray" test as part of product testing.

What did you replace yours with?

I wonder if yours was an earlier version than mine (I purchased late fall/early winter 2015), reason being, it just recently became an officially licensed (and re-branded) Mopar product, so I wonder if as a result of the preparation for that, they improved the corrosion resistance?

Mine was not without issue; the adjustable portion of the carrier pulled out from where I had originally set it after mounting the tire. This was an annoyance, but I didn't have any squeaks or rattles as a result (the tire did stay pre-loaded against the hinge, but not as tightly as I had set it during installation. Further, when I went to remove mine, despite using blue loctite as suggested in the TF instructions and torquing to spec, the bolts that held the pieces to the tailgate were loose when I removed it...

Also interesting about the customer service. I've heard of an instance where they replaced the adjustable portion of the carrier under warranty when the metal cracked due to metal fatigue resulting from improper installation (tire was not pre-loaded against the hinge). I exchanged emails with Dennis Wood about mounting another company's product to the carrier due to weight and design concerns and Dennis said regardless, they'd cover me under warranty if I had an issue.

Although, saying something and doing something are two different things...


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toxicity_27

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I had gotten mine in 2012 I believe. It wasn't long after they were introduced. I left it on until I traded my 2013 in on my current 2015. Will be doing the AEV carrier on this one. Though I am disappointed my front bumper is already rusting.
 
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ovrlndr

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I had gotten mine in 2012 I believe. It wasn't long after they were introduced. I left it on until I traded my 2013 in on my current 2015. Will be doing the AEV carrier on this one. Though I am disappointed my front bumper is already rusting.
Ah, gotcha. Bummer on the bumper. Which front bumper do you have? I have a feeling you'll be interested in a future post on this thread :-)


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