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  1. #1
    Jeep Owner TheWeekendWagon's Avatar
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    Project Battle Born JK

    Hey everyone! Names Mike and I am coming to you from Las Vegas with my 2014 JKU Rubicon. I bought it brand new back in March 2014 and it has been my daily driver ever since with now over 70,000 happy miles on it. This was my first Jeep and I have fallen in love with the brand so much that I now have three! The other two are a 1990 Grand Wagoneer that I picked up as an impulse buy on a deal I could not pass up, and a 2018 Grand Cherokee as a daily for the wife. That's not what this thread is about though, this is the build thread for my JKU and I will start with a little background story if you don't mind the long read...

    As mentioned before, I purchased the JK new back in 2014 after a life of owning sports cars, muscle cars, etc. I love the outdoors and I love exciting driving so I have no idea why it took me so long to get a Jeep. I spent many years as a professional race driving coach for sports car circuit racing so when faced with this new challenge of learning off-road driving I thought about what I would tell my students that were first learning how to drive on track and that is to keep their car stock until their skill levels behind the wheel exceed what their car is capable of. The only modifications I would suggest to them would be ones that added only safety or reliability, not performance. That's the best and fastest way to learn in my opinion. So I applied the same principles to my Jeep and aside from one of those Terraflex spacer lift things that a buddy gave me my Jeep remained stock for years. Of course, it has only taken me years because, like most, I just don't get out there in the dirt often enough.

    In 2015 I decided to go to my first Jeep event which was EJS in Moab and that was epic. It was also an eye opener for what this platform is truly capable of. I only had one day to wheel before I had to get back to Vegas for work so Fins & Things was the only trail I did but I absolutely loved it. The only modifications I had done to my Jeep at that point were some EVO MFG skid plates as I wasn't 100% sure what I was getting myself into.

    Over the next year my Jeep remained un-touched aside from little stuff like a fire extinguisher setup, recovery gear, CB radio, etc. but finally toward the end of 2016 my stock tires were about ready for replacing. Not sure if anyone else has had this problem or not but a few of them were feathering pretty badly and although there was still a decent amount of tread left they were riding really rough due to the uneven wear.

    So when Black Friday sales came along I snagged the best deal I could on a set of 35" tires, which ended up being a set of 4 General Grabbers. I am not really a fan of the red lettering but for the desert terrain they had great reviews and the deal was great. As I am sure you know running 35s on stock suspension takes a little extra work so then commenced the fender and stock rock rail trimming. Because 35s are expensive I ran them on the stock wheels for a while and I knew that a stock rim with a 35 on the stock tire carrier with the stock rear bumper wouldn't work so as a temporary means to an end I just deleted the spare tire and stock carrier all together, made my own "tramp stamp" and called it a day. I really didn't like the way the new tires fit on the narrow stock rims nor did I like the idea of not having a spare tire so I didn't do any off roading for about a year just because I wasn't super confident in the Jeeps setup at that point.

    Finally in the summer of 2017 I got new wheels, 5 of them, and found a nice gently used spare tire on Craig's List, but still had no way to mount the spare to the car so it sat in my garage. Immediately upon putting the new wheels on I realized that the difference in backspacing caused a rubbing problem with the front bumper so that was next on the list and a luckily Smittybilt was phasing out their Gen 1 XRC stuff which I like the look of so I picked up an XRC front bumper for super cheap brand new. Then once I had the cash did the same for their rear XRC bumper and tire carrier which meant I could finally mount my spare back on the car and get back in the dirt!

    Then in November of 2017 we took the JK on a 3000 mile road trip through Nevada, Northern California, Oregon, and Washington which included some wheeling stops in Tillamook State Forest and Elbe Hills ORV. At this point I had been saving up for a 2.5" lift kit but I decided that since I was going to be wheeling in the mud in Oregon and Washington solo relying on the hope that there would be other people out there I should probably get a winch instead...so I did that.

    And that's basically where the project sits right now. The good news is, I have almost completed piecing together my 2.5" lift which will hopefully be done sometime in the next few months so I will finally have a proper setup to run 35s!

    Current Fun Parts List:
    - General Tire Grabber 35x12.5x17" Tires
    - Black Rhino Sprocket 17x 9.5" Wheels
    - Smittybilt XRC Gen 1 Front Bumper
    - Warn VR10-S Gen II Winch
    - Smittybilt XRC Gen 1 Rear Bumper and Tire Carrier
    - TeraFlex Leveling Kit (Soon to be replaced with a 2.5" lift)
    - EVO MFG Pro-Tek Skid Plates
    - Superchips Flash-Cal
    - Cobra 29 LX CB Radio

    Completed Trails List:
    - (NV) Potosi Pass
    - (NV) Telephone Canyon
    - (NV) Wheeler Pass
    - (OR) Hoodraiser
    - (OR) Hog's Back
    - (UT) Fins & Things
    - (WA) Alder Loop Trail

    Looking to add A LOT more trails to that list in 2018! Hopefully by the end of the year my JK will be taken off of daily driver duty as well which will allow my voice of reason (wife) to be a little more willing to try some harder trails!

    Photo from Tillamook State Forest in Oregon from our road trip a few months back!


    And another from Elbe Hills ORV in Washington from the same trip.


    Those are the most recent ones I have! I also have some videos up on YouTube if you guys want to see them. You can search "The Weekend Wagon"
    Jeeper Level: Noob
    3 Jeeps + A Datsun
    '14 JKU Rubicon /// '90 Grand Wagoneer /// '18 Grand Cherokee

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  3. #2
    Moderator Pthorpe84's Avatar
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    Hey how did you like the EJS? Nervous the first time out there? Its on my bucket list, but being such a different type of terrain I would be worried I would break something on every obstacle lol. Got any good pics?
    2015 JKU Hard Rock, No Lift, 37" Goodyear MTR-K, Metal Cloak Full Stinger Bumper, GenRight Fusion Rear Stubby Bumper, Poison Spyder Tire Carrier, Metal Cloak Rock Sliders, Warn Power Plant HD, Viair Constant Duty with Tank, 17" ATX Slabs, Evo Skid Plates, Cheap Chinese Lights, Factor 55 Flat Link, ApolloIntec Switch Pod, 48" Hi-Lift, Dynomax Exhaust, Custom Pin Stripping by Mother Nature

    https://www.instagram.com/4lotested/

  4. #3
    Jeep Owner TheWeekendWagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pthorpe84 View Post
    Hey how did you like the EJS? Nervous the first time out there? Its on my bucket list, but being such a different type of terrain I would be worried I would break something on every obstacle lol. Got any good pics?
    EJS was awesome! It was my first Jeep event and really the first real off-roading I had ever done so I was easily impressed. I had a bit of an upper hand though as one of my best friends is big into mountain biking so we got to stay with someone who lived there, had his own JK, and knew the trails like the back of his hand. I really only had one day up there unfortunately before I had to go back to Vegas for work so the only trail I did was Fins 'N' Things. Plus my JK was completely stock at the time. It wasn't a hard trail by any means but eye opening if you've never been out there. I highly recommend it as your first trail out there. There are a lot of steep ups and downs that really open your eyes to how much grip the slickrock has and why that place is so popular.

    The only thing I didn't like, and maybe it's because I had a second option, is that I signed up to do the organized run of Fins 'N' Things and the pace of it was SOOOO SLOW. They did a great job and all, but I ended up breaking out from the group with the local buddy I was staying with and we went on to do the rest of the trail at our own pace since he knew it intimately.

    Now that my Jeep is a little more built up, and I should have my lift done by then, I plan on going again this year and doing Hell's Revenge or another more difficult trail or two. My buddy moved though so I no longer have local guidance which means I will probably have to sign up for the organized run. Hopefully a harder trail equals less Jeeps, more experienced drivers, and a little quicker pace.

    This is the only photo I can find that I posted on social media. I lost all my photos a year or so ago unfortunately.

    Jeeper Level: Noob
    3 Jeeps + A Datsun
    '14 JKU Rubicon /// '90 Grand Wagoneer /// '18 Grand Cherokee

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  6. #4
    Jeep Owner TheWeekendWagon's Avatar
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    Totally forgot I made this thread by the way haha. There is a small update on the project. I installed some new Metalcloak adjustable bump stops to fix my tire rub issue on the 35s. Here's a little install video...

    https://youtu.be/qQivWFMbNOk

    If you're one of those people that prefers photos, sorry. I do mostly video.
    Jeeper Level: Noob
    3 Jeeps + A Datsun
    '14 JKU Rubicon /// '90 Grand Wagoneer /// '18 Grand Cherokee

  7. #5
    Jeep Owner TheWeekendWagon's Avatar
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    Does this seem odd to anyone?

    My JKU has just over 70,000 miles. I have had it since brand new. I have never had to change the front brake pads and there still looks like there is a TON of life left at that rate. It's weirding me out mostly because I just had to replace the rears. It doesn't make sense to me that the fronts would last so much longer (or this long in general) than the rears...especially on such a heavy vehicle. The braking doesn't feel abnormally terrible compared to other SUVs and I can definitely tell the fronts are at least working a little. Is this normal on the JK? The longer they last the more I think there's something wrong with the fronts.

    Here's a photo I snapped today...


    EDIT: Was asking around on other forums and apparently it's somewhat normal for the fronts to outlast the rears.
    Last edited by TheWeekendWagon; 01-14-2018 at 09:17 AM.
    Jeeper Level: Noob
    3 Jeeps + A Datsun
    '14 JKU Rubicon /// '90 Grand Wagoneer /// '18 Grand Cherokee

  8. #6
    Jeep Owner TheWeekendWagon's Avatar
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    Since there are no parts on hand waiting to be installed I decided to take the weekend and focus a little on the aesthetics of the Jeep. I decided to try out a new accent color to play with and I love it! I think it will look great against the desert backgrounds here in Vegas. Only problem is now I dislike those big red letters even more. I didn't like them to begin with but I like the tire itself and they were a screaming deal at the time. Don't like them on the inside of the tires either unfortunately. Seen that before and you can see so much of the inside of the tires on these big Jeeps that it looks kind of accidental in my opinion. Oh well, they will wear out one day...

    Last edited by TheWeekendWagon; 01-14-2018 at 09:25 AM.
    Jeeper Level: Noob
    3 Jeeps + A Datsun
    '14 JKU Rubicon /// '90 Grand Wagoneer /// '18 Grand Cherokee

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  10. #7
    Moderator Pthorpe84's Avatar
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    I love videos. And you have done a great job on them. Hopefully with in the next year we can get a ModernJeeper gathering/ride put together.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    2015 JKU Hard Rock, No Lift, 37" Goodyear MTR-K, Metal Cloak Full Stinger Bumper, GenRight Fusion Rear Stubby Bumper, Poison Spyder Tire Carrier, Metal Cloak Rock Sliders, Warn Power Plant HD, Viair Constant Duty with Tank, 17" ATX Slabs, Evo Skid Plates, Cheap Chinese Lights, Factor 55 Flat Link, ApolloIntec Switch Pod, 48" Hi-Lift, Dynomax Exhaust, Custom Pin Stripping by Mother Nature

    https://www.instagram.com/4lotested/

  11. #8
    Moderator Pthorpe84's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWeekendWagon View Post
    Does this seem odd to anyone?

    My JKU has just over 70,000 miles. I have had it since brand new. I have never had to change the front brake pads and there still looks like there is a TON of life left at that rate. It's weirding me out mostly because I just had to replace the rears. It doesn't make sense to me that the fronts would last so much longer (or this long in general) than the rears...especially on such a heavy vehicle. The braking doesn't feel abnormally terrible compared to other SUVs and I can definitely tell the fronts are at least working a little. Is this normal on the JK? The longer they last the more I think there's something wrong with the fronts.

    Here's a photo I snapped today...


    EDIT: Was asking around on other forums and apparently it's somewhat normal for the fronts to outlast the rears.
    As long as it stops and itís not grinding....I would say itís good to go. Glad to hear others said itís normal.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    2015 JKU Hard Rock, No Lift, 37" Goodyear MTR-K, Metal Cloak Full Stinger Bumper, GenRight Fusion Rear Stubby Bumper, Poison Spyder Tire Carrier, Metal Cloak Rock Sliders, Warn Power Plant HD, Viair Constant Duty with Tank, 17" ATX Slabs, Evo Skid Plates, Cheap Chinese Lights, Factor 55 Flat Link, ApolloIntec Switch Pod, 48" Hi-Lift, Dynomax Exhaust, Custom Pin Stripping by Mother Nature

    https://www.instagram.com/4lotested/

  12. #9
    Jeep Owner TheWeekendWagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pthorpe84 View Post
    I love videos. And you have done a great job on them. Hopefully with in the next year we can get a ModernJeeper gathering/ride put together.
    Thanks! I always thought it would be cool to do a national group ride. Like on the same day groups in every region or state or whatever would all go on a trail ride at the same time. Then you can use social media hashtags to do like a scavenger hunt or photo contest or something. For example "Post a photo of the toughest obstacle you're facing today using #modernjeepersrun2018" something like that so people from every region can participate in kind of a virtual group trail run.
    Jeeper Level: Noob
    3 Jeeps + A Datsun
    '14 JKU Rubicon /// '90 Grand Wagoneer /// '18 Grand Cherokee

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  14. #10
    Moderator Pthorpe84's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWeekendWagon View Post
    Thanks! I always thought it would be cool to do a national group ride. Like on the same day groups in every region or state or whatever would all go on a trail ride at the same time. Then you can use social media hashtags to do like a scavenger hunt or photo contest or something. For example "Post a photo of the toughest obstacle you're facing today using #modernjeepersrun2018" something like that so people from every region can participate in kind of a virtual group trail run.
    This is a great idea. The Topless for TaTaís rides would be a great time. I canít remember the weekend it is, but it seems like everyone hits the trails at the same time for one weekend for it.



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    2015 JKU Hard Rock, No Lift, 37" Goodyear MTR-K, Metal Cloak Full Stinger Bumper, GenRight Fusion Rear Stubby Bumper, Poison Spyder Tire Carrier, Metal Cloak Rock Sliders, Warn Power Plant HD, Viair Constant Duty with Tank, 17" ATX Slabs, Evo Skid Plates, Cheap Chinese Lights, Factor 55 Flat Link, ApolloIntec Switch Pod, 48" Hi-Lift, Dynomax Exhaust, Custom Pin Stripping by Mother Nature

    https://www.instagram.com/4lotested/

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