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Author: Subject: JT Rubicon build for camping and the trail
Ken Cooke
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[*] posted on 11-18-2019 at 09:26 PM
JT Rubicon build for camping and the trail


Over the summer, I picked up a new 2020 Gladiator Rubicon at Ontario Jeep. I kept the 2003 TJ Rubicon for the Baja runs and weekend trips for less expensive insurance and to not attract so much attention. Driving around in a Gladiator attracts more attention than I am used to, but that is another story. To set the Gladiator up for off road use and the eventual trip to Baja, I looked at the obvious areas that need to be addressed and will build accordingly.

San Diego during Veterans Day weekend 2019 with friend Renay and her built JK



Starting with; the Suspension - the stock Rubicon suspension is differentiated from the Sport and Overland suspensions by a quartet of lightly valved Fox shocks that encourage a bouncing ride that tends to oscillate the more weight is placed over the front/rear axles. While not a problem on smooth interstate freeways, rough stretches of highway or rutted dirt roads would not inspire any sort of confidence as the front and/or rear end would porpoise under load.



Enter the 4.5” Skyjacker long travel suspension with M95 monotube shocks. While I have read both pros and cons regarding this shock absorber, I plan to use this suspension to its’ limits as I have my TJ Rubicon for the past 16 years. If the seals blow out due to long stretches of rough dirt road and washboard, I will report about it here. As I see it, the Gladiator is just getting used as it was designed. If a set of $2,000 EVO-spec King shocks are needed, then I’ll make the upgrade. Otherwise, I’ll stick with the M95’s.



Tires - While I currently run the Falken AT3W tire with stellar results, I want a slightly larger, more aggressive tire that won’t necessarily increase the decibels. The Falken AT3W in the 35” size completely clawed its’ way up the steep sections of the “Mission Impossible” trail while keeping the noise levels low enough to hold a conversation or talk on the 2 meter radio along Hwy 1. In the running are the Milestar Patagonia (offered in a 38x13.5r17 size), the Falken AT3W (offered in a 37x12.5r17 size), and the BFGoodrich KM3 (offered in a 37x13.5r17 size). The KM3 offers the best traction followed by the Patagonia and the AT3W as a close third. In terms of price, the Patagonia only costs $260 while the AT3W and KM3 cost about $100 more per tire. Longevity is secondary to trail performance, so the KM3 and the Patagonia will probably duke it out in that department.



Wheels - I like the classic look of the Quadratec Baja Xtreme II wheel. Add a real OMF beadlock ring and some rock domes and it will perform as well as the more flashy contemporaries for less money.



Steering - Hands down - Steer Smarts’ XD Yeti Tie Rod, Drag Link and Track Bar/Panhard Bar will get the nod. I can’t wait to bolt this equipment up and see how well it works.



Rear storage - JCR MOLLE racks will bolt to the inside of the pickup bed and will hold my Hi-Lift, Shovel, Fire Extinguisher and ROTOPAX gas containers. I will opt for the MOLLE racks that bolt inside of the bed sides rather than the ubiquitous overlanding racks that recently have become the de rigueur method of ‘wheeling and camping in the desert.

Programming - Tazer JL or mini Tazer JL will likely get the nod.
Driveshaft - Adams or an EVO-spec unit since the Skyjacker long travel kit requires this upgrade.

Gears - Yukon - most likely 4.88 to keep the 8th gear at hwy speeds.

Axleshafs - likely the RCV with FAD delete.

Bumper - I sourced a Smittybilt stubby for only $240 this weekend.



Winch - WARN

On board Air - ViAir or ARB

Over the next year, I hope to have this Gladiator built 70-80% So, let the build process begin!:bounce:
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mtgoat666
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[*] posted on 11-18-2019 at 09:53 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Ken Cooke  
Driving around in a Gladiator attracts more attention than I am used to, but that is another story

San Diego during Veterans Day weekend 2019 with friend Renay and her built JK



You would attract less attention if you did not park at red-painted curbs!




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ehall
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[*] posted on 11-19-2019 at 04:25 AM


I had trouble finding the Patagonia. All backordered. Went with coopers. Working great.
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Ken Cooke
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[*] posted on 11-19-2019 at 01:55 PM


Quote: Originally posted by ehall  
I had trouble finding the Patagonia. All backordered. Went with coopers. Working great.


Walmart.com has them in stock usually. The 37's are hard to find, but the 38's should be no problem.
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Ken Cooke
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[*] posted on 11-25-2019 at 12:02 PM
Build list


4.5” EVO Enforcer Overland
https://www.northridge4x4.com/part/4-5in-lifts/3063s1-evo-ma...

Fox 4.5-6” Rear 2.0 Shocks
https://www.northridge4x4.com/part/shocks/985-24-222-fox-per...

Fox 4.5-6” Front 2.0 IFP Shocks
https://www.northridge4x4.com/part/shocks/985-24-181-fox-per...

Computer
Tazer JL Mini
https://www.morris4x4center.com/z-automotive-tazer-jl-jt-min...

Steering
Yeti Drag link
https://steersmarts.com/collections/featured-products/produc...

Yeti XD Track Bar
https://steersmarts.com/collections/all-of-our-products/prod...

Yeti Track Bar bracket
https://steersmarts.com/collections/brackets/products/yeti-x...

Yeti XD Tie Rod (Rubicon)
https://steersmarts.com/collections/featured-products/produc...


Wheels
Baja Extreme II

https://www.quadratec.com/p/quadratec/baja-extreme-ii-wheel-...

Tires
Milestar Patagonia 38’s
https://www.walmart.com/ip/38X13-50R17LT-119Q-C-6-BW-MILESTA...

Driveshaft
https://www.northridge4x4.com/part/front-driveshafts/jt-1350...



Control arms

Rear lowers
https://www.northridge4x4.com/part/control-arms/3082b-evo-ma...

Rear uppers
https://www.northridge4x4.com/part/control-arms/3081b-evo-ma...

Front uppers
https://www.northridge4x4.com/part/control-arms/3081b-evo-ma...


Rear trackbar
https://metalcloak.com/jt-gladiator-rear-durotrak-track-bar....

Rock sliders
https://www.shrockworks.com/JJT-SL-pr-16305.html

Winch
???

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Ken Cooke
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[*] posted on 11-25-2019 at 02:13 PM


Quote: Originally posted by David K  
What I loved about my Toyota Tacoma Off-Road TRD is that I could take it from the showroom right to Baja, four wheeling without spending a dime on mods. I took it to Mission Santa María at age 6 months. Oh, what a feeling! The rear bumper got twisted just before reaching the mission on one of the steep gullies. Your huge 38" tires should give you enough clearance to avoid that. I was running 31" BFGs at the time.

Mods are great, however... and later I would improve the suspension, the tires, and the differential breather... oh, and add some lights!


If you look at Mission Impossible, it's really not a hard trail. Guys with 31" tires on their XJ Cherokee's do fine on that trail. I'm building for the Pioneer Trail near Gonzaga Bay or the bigger rocks in Big Bear. Right after buying the Gladiator, I did a side by side comparison with the Tacoma and I noticed the Gladiator has more interior space, the windshield isn't close to my face as the Tacoma's. The clearance is better - although the departure and breakover on the Tacoma's is better. I could have left everything alone and stuck with stock, but that's not as much fun.
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Ken Cooke
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[*] posted on 11-25-2019 at 02:49 PM


Quote: Originally posted by David K  
Yes! Not much fun, indeed!
Remember it was you who called it Mission Impossible on your shirts. It is a great rough, low range & lockers or traction control road that goes to an interesting site. More than just a tough road... a road that goes back in time! Same thing with the Pole Line Road.


You didn't read what I wrote:

"stock isn't much fun."

"Mission Impossible isn't a hard trail"

I thoroughly enjoyed running Mission Impossible after a day-long rainstorm the day before. But, as Paul W and Rich T pointed out, The Pioneer Trail is, "The hardest of them all" with the Powerline trail being the toughest, but guaranteeing body damage. I even misjudged the Pioneer Trail when making this t-shirt.

[img][/img]

I think you are so busy on this forum, that you don't spend enough time digesting what you read. Quality over quantity is a good thing.:light:
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wessongroup
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[*] posted on 11-25-2019 at 03:14 PM


Nice ride .. only problem I'd hate to get a ding or scratch on the beautiful paint job :):)
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Ken Cooke
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[*] posted on 11-25-2019 at 04:19 PM


Quote: Originally posted by wessongroup  
Nice ride .. only problem I'd hate to get a ding or scratch on the beautiful paint job :):)

In terms of automotive beauty, it really is comparable to the Defender 110 with it's similar lines and wheelbase.
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mtgoat666
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[*] posted on 11-25-2019 at 04:40 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Ken Cooke  
Quote: Originally posted by wessongroup  
Nice ride .. only problem I'd hate to get a ding or scratch on the beautiful paint job :):)

In terms of automotive beauty, it really is comparable to the Defender 110 with it's similar lines and wheelbase.


First time I have ever seen word beauty associated with Chrysler or Rover :lol:




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[*] posted on 11-25-2019 at 04:47 PM


Nice Jeep Ken, let me know when you are ready to break it in, we have a trip planned in January.
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[*] posted on 11-25-2019 at 06:27 PM


Ken, Nice package
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[*] posted on 11-25-2019 at 06:28 PM


Ken, Have you found an off road navigation device yet. GPS/tablet?

[Edited on 11-26-2019 by PaulW]
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[*] posted on 11-25-2019 at 07:11 PM


Ken you got a great ride bravo and a looker
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[*] posted on 11-25-2019 at 08:07 PM


I will be following this built, I'm waiting for the diesel model to come out! Probably sell my scrambler on 37's with 1 ton axles to help fund the build? I'm between going with 35's or 37's, just not sure yet? Keep the pictures coming.. Any shirts left over from last years run?
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Ken Cooke
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[*] posted on 11-26-2019 at 07:45 AM


Quote: Originally posted by advrider  
I will be following this built, I'm waiting for the diesel model to come out! Probably sell my scrambler on 37's with 1 ton axles to help fund the build? I'm between going with 35's or 37's, just not sure yet? Keep the pictures coming.. Any shirts left over from last years run?


"PACKAGE PROTECTION" - No need to sell your Scrambler. The Gladiator Rubicon - with it's Rubicon-specific, highlined fenders is engineered or "PACKAGE PROTECTED" to run 35" tires from the factory. The fender wells are large enough that 37's will fit, although 37's WITHOUT A SUSPENSION LIFT rub the inner fender liners when off road.

If you buy the 8speed automatic (such as I have), a programmer such as the TAZER MINI JL or the PROCAL will adjust your shift points and speedometer. I ordered my TAZER JL MINI from Morris 4x4 in Pompano Beach, FL.
Price of the TAZER JL MINI is $325.

Budget lift: DAYSTAR has a coil spacer lift that includes extended front lower control arms and extensions to retain your factory FOX RACING SHOCKS. The kit costs about $400 and allows you to run the factory 33" Falken AT3Ws or Wildpeak MTs, or you can adequately run a 35" tire as no lift is needed for the modest upsize in tire, or with steering modifications, a 37" tire. No rear trackbar modifications are needed! Just upgrade front steering such as your tie rod, track bar and drag link as the OEM is not engineered to control 37" tires.

Steering: AKULA told me about Steer Smarts and their YETI track bar. I ordered their track bar, drag link and tie rod along with a bracket to tie everything together. I paid $1,400 for the entire setup.

Brakes: the rear brakes are out of a RAM 1500. The Gladiator stops on a dime. No need for a BIG BRAKE kit on
37's/38's. If you go to 40's, you're really better off running DYNATRAC Pro-Rock 60/80s or FUSION 60/80s. Expect to pay $15,000 on the complete FUSION axle kit with 2½ ton steering.

Wheels: the Gladiator runs the same 5 on 5 bolt pattern as the '07-'18 JK and '18-current JL although not all aftermarket wheels fit.

Axles: the Gladiator Rubicon and Sport S with Max Tow features a special wide track axle housing with 4.10 gear ratio that works all the way up to 40" tires. No so with the street-oriented Overland model. So, your larger tires are going to fit the Rubicon and Max Tow models whereas the Overland will likely not fit, and could hit.

An advertisement showed what $10,000 in Gladiator modifications would look like as the MOPAR team added a Sunbonnet, winch, fancy lights and rock doors and a 2" MOPAR suspension lift/37" tires. For about ⅔s of that, you can build/self-install your own hand-picked parts to really make yours an off-road beast. The only problem I foresee with the Diesel is that you will need to wait for the aftermarket to catch up with the the added weight of your front end. Axle housings, ball joints, and heavy duty front coil springs will all need to be compatible with the Diesel Gladiators heavier frontend. Add that to the light rearend of the truck and you will see a need to stick with EVO Manufacturing for your lift kit, as forward rake is already an issue with many suspension lift manufacturers' kits - not so much with the EVO suspension.

I plan on adding a winch and lights to the front end of my Gladiator, so a quality suspension coil is mandatory versus the cheap coils that settle and lean forward over time.

I will look at my t-shirt supply, but they run small and all of my XL and 2XL sizes have sold out.


[Edited on 11-26-2019 by Ken Cooke]
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Ken Cooke
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[*] posted on 11-26-2019 at 07:55 AM


Quote: Originally posted by PaulW  
Ken, Have you found an off road navigation device yet. GPS/tablet?

[Edited on 11-26-2019 by PaulW]


My Gladiator comes with it's own GPS system, although I am unsure if it is proprietary and will not share out tracks and coordinates. I will let you know as I peruse this system a little further. For now, I have my Google 3XL running Google Earth and the free (and excellent) GEO TRACKER app.

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Ken Cooke
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[*] posted on 11-26-2019 at 07:59 AM


Quote: Originally posted by rich t  
Nice Jeep Ken, let me know when you are ready to break it in, we have a trip planned in January.


I plan on having acquired all of my parts after January 1st and will begin the installation process at that time. Thanks for the invitation!
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[*] posted on 11-26-2019 at 10:51 AM


It looks like a lot of room and a lot of potential fun. Shell Island with its "bottomless" sand (as Neal Johns called it) awaits sand testing. If Elizabeth and I can join you there, it will be fun as it has been almost 10 years since we last camped with you and Mrs. but now that she speaks English, it will be nicer for the two ladies to communicate without our help!







Shell Island is our "Happy Place"!
Let's go back in July 2020!

[Edited on 11-27-2019 by David K]




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[*] posted on 11-26-2019 at 02:10 PM


Ken, are you doing the EVO lift as a kit or making your own with parts they make? I see you listed a lift but also have the arms listed? Do you know if a 35 will fit the stock spare location under the jeep?
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