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"