Building "ETOIMOS", a 2012 Jeep JKUR

#1
The below build thread has been composed and posted on a Jeep site over the last several years. Some of the wording and timing might be a little off, but I wanted to share the build here as well since I'm now gravitating to the Overland style of things....

When you live at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, there is no excuse for not getting up into them as often as you can. Sadly, for our family, many years went by when we just looked at the pretty mountains as we went about our daily lives. I'd take my Yukon Denali on a few "trails" before, but those were years apart and never amounted to anything.

In 2013 the wife and I decided that we need to take better advantage of living in Colorado. We kicked around the idea of picking up hiking as a hobby, but with two younger girls and 2 year old Little Guy, hiking as a family would be. difficult. One day driving around town the wife mentioned that she liked the looks of the newer four door Jeeps. Even before we had a Jeep, only the Wranglers were "Jeeps" to us.

I had already been admiring some of the Unlimited Jeeps that I saw around town, so that was all I needed to start researching. Little did she know that within a week I knew what I wanted in a Jeep to replace her Nissan Armada daily driver. A silver JKUR with color matched hard top, lifted with black rims.

Fast forward a couple of months and we were returning from the aquarium up in Denver with the Little Guy. He almost never took naps and had fallen asleep on drive home. of course just before we got home. So instead of heading to the house and waking him up, I said we should drive down to motor city and just have a look around. The third dealership we came to had a 2012 silver JKUR with color matched hardtop, lifted and rolling on black rims wrapped in 35s and 14k miles on it.

Sorry son, nap time is over!!

Being that the Little Guy was a huge car nut, he did not mind too much when we woke him up to look at the Jeep. He was even more excited to take if for a test drive! We were very surprised at how smooth and quite the ride was in that "off road beast" and liked it right away. The sales lady of course offered to let us take the Jeep home for the rest of the weekend, but we had been driving my car that day and wanted to trade the Armada in if we decided get it. So we passed on the offer. About 2 miles from home, the wife asked what I thought about driving the Armada back down and barrowing the Jeep for the rest of the weekend. Right then I knew it was over. or rather, that it had just begun.






That is how it looked that first weekend. It had a Rancho 4" lift, 35"

Duratrac tires, MB 17" wheels and the stock fenders and Rubi rails had been bed lined. It also had a Uniden CB inside a Tuffy Overhead console and the antenna was mounted on the center of the stock spare tire carrier. Over the course of the next three years as I learned more about Jeeps, we would learn that the previous owner had also installed aftermarket fixed lower control arms and 4.56 gears.

One of the first things the wife wanted in her new Jeep was some place to hold her phone. She loved the Jeep but was not crazy about it not having hands free calling like her Armada. Since this was not going to just be your average family Jeep (at least in my mind), a regular old cell phone holder would not do. Searching around I found the X Grip by Ram Mounts and the Vector Off Road Dock.






She also did not like the Overhead Console "crowding" her, so I had to pull that out and the CB along with it. Since the antenna was mounted up so high, it was always slapping into our garage door. So that had to be removed as well. Knowing we would want the CB for out on the trails, I picked up a Cobra 75WXST, a new red antenna and mounted it to the license plate housing via an UltraMount setup.

Around this same time I was able to find a good deal on some Rugged Ridge tail light guards.






This allowed us to have a longer antenna for better comms without it hitting the garage door. The smaller CB with only one quick disconnect cable also meant that I could put it in the Jeep only when we were running a trial (she did not want it in there all the time).

Next on the list of mods was something to make it easier for her and the kiddos to get in and out of it. The ACE Engineering rock sliders did the trick nicely. Of course I had to bed line them to match the fenders and Rubi rails.






Up to this point, we had really only run dirt road trails and always by ourselves. The wife was worried about us getting stuck someplace with the kids. With visions of starvation and bear mauling, she made the mistake of saying we had to have a wench and Hi Lift jack before doing any "real trails". Oh how I loved those words!

Since you can't just throw a wench and a Hi Lift in the back of the Jeep, I had to find a way to mount them. for our safety of course. To accomplish this, nothing short of steel front and rear bumpers would do. After much research and mind changing, I finally decided on the Warn M8000-S for the wench and JCR Crusader bumpers (bed lined to match everything else). And since safety was our goal, we just had to have a Factor 55 safety thimble to put on the synthetic wench line. I mean, she would not want my hand to get caught in the line and crushed would she???



 
#2
Now properly kitted for some real trails, it became apparent that with the top off, the sun would beat down on us pretty hard over the course of a day. That problem was solved with a Spyder Web Shade.




And to make it easier for me to remove the top by myself, a hoist was needed. I was able to find a very nice used Harken Hoist (200# model).




Another early edition to the Jeep was some slightly used TrekArmor seat covers so that the stockers would stay nice and fresh. Between kids and trails, without covers they would not stand a chance.









 
#3
With more and more trails being ran every summer, it was time to address airing down and back up while out there. For the first part of this operation I decided to go with Trailhead Deflators. They are small, simple to use and look the part.

When it comes to air in the tires, what goes out must go back in. After using a fellow Jeeper's air compressor and then a different Jeeper's CO2 system, I knew I wanted to go the CO2 route. But at the time, CO2 systems were very pricey and there were not a lot of options out there. After much research and dilemma about what to do, I remember that a buddy of mine had given me two NOS tanks back in our sports car days. I had a 5# and 10# bottle buried in storage some place. Now, they were polished and had the wrong valve in them, but the local gas supply store was able to sort out the latter for me. To this day they are still highly polished. One day they will get powder coated.

For a year or so I used an Autometer peak and hold pressure gauge to check the pressure when filling back up, but replaced that with an ABR pressure gauge. The ABR gauge allows you to check the air pressure without removing the hose from the tire. Just simply release the lever to stop the CO2 flow and check the pressure. I very much disliked the hard coiled air hoses, so I bought a decent hose from Lowes. It was great until the CO2 froze it, then it became as hard and stiff as the plastic coil type. This hose was eventually replaced with a nice Flexzilla hose. If you have not seen these, do yourself a favor and check them out! Best air hose I've ever had the pleasure to use. yes, it's a pleasure to use. I just wish they offered it in different colors. the fluorescent green just does not go with my Jeep. Lol




When we purchased the Vector Offroad Dock after just getting the Jeep, I had noticed their tailgate table and the following year the wife ordered me one for Father's Day. It took me about another two years to get around to installing it! I managed to load it up with some MOLLE bags. The left bag has a rather large first aid kit, the right bag has my air up/down gear in it.






One of the other things the previous owner was nice enough to install for us was Death Wobble! During the process of diagnosing and repairing this, we ended up with Synergy HD ball joints (this was the ultimate fix for our Death Wobble), a new Synergy Track Bar and a Teraflex Steering Stabilizer.




Another issue that came up was that the front drive shaft decided it no longer needed to contain it's grease, and destroyed it's seal and slung it everywhere under the Jeep. I local Jeeper gave me their stock drive shaft to use until I sorted out what the issue really was. It turns out that the previous owner had installed aftermarket lower control arms, but they were not adjustable ones. While it got the caster close, it was still a little on the extreme side. This prompted me to order a set of Synergy Adj. Upper Control Arms.


While we are not huge rock crawlers, this is a daily driver after all, many of the trails here in Colorado involve some rock crawling. I was not crazy about the oil pan and transmission lines not having any protection, so I looked to address this. A set of Rock Hard 4x4 oil and tranny skid plates would do the job nicely. Wanting to add some color to the Jeep, but not go to crazy, I decided that powder coating them a deeper red would be a nice touch underneath. It ties into the Rancho shock covers under there as well as the CB antenna. I plan on painting the break calipers red as well once summer gets here. I might have some other things under there powered coated in red too. I have to figure out what will be the right balance of color.

Not enough and it does not solidify the theme, too much and it's just, well, too much.




We would occasionally rub the tires on the stock fenders when stuffed at full flex, so I had been researching what options were out there for some flat fenders. I loved some of the metal fenders, but could never bring myself to pony up the cash for them. They sat towards the bottom of my to-do list since it was not a serious problem. Then a local friend of mine got into a very minor fender bender in his Jeep and put at tiny dent in one of his Bushwacker fenders. The insurance company insisted that it be replaced.

And since you can't order just one of their fenders, he got a complete set of new fenders. Instead of swapping out to all new fenders, he decided to just sale the new ones. He made me an offer I could not pass up, so Bushwacker flares is what I ended up with.






Towards the end of 2014 I traded my Acura in on a Cadillac SRX that was loaded with all the tech and creature comforts that the wife had been missing from her Armada over the last couple of years. The SRX became hers and I inherited the Jeep!

With the Jeep officially my personal daily drive, I was free to start doing and planning mods without the wife's approval for them being on "her" Jeep.

With most of the medium sized/priced mods already done, I initially staked my claim on the Jeep by coming up with a theme for it and putting some graphics on (something the wife likes, but never wanted on "her" Jeep).

Coming up with the right theme was not as easy as I thought it would be. I liked all the zombie themed Jeeps out there, but felt that they were kind of played out and did not think me doing another one would really stand out.

I'm a gun guy, but not a gun nut (I've got a .38 ultralight with laser grip from when I worked the biker circuit, a 7mm WinMag for reaching out and touching someone, a Glock 19 for everyday defense and an "AR-19" that I custom built to shoot 9mm and share magazines with the Glock, for those zombies I was talking about earlier ;) ). As a gun guy, the 2nd Amendment is important to me and while not quite a III%er, I do lean that way. at least in a covert manor. The Molon Labe themes do appealed to me, but again, there are lots of Jeeps out there with that theme and I don't always want to advertise my guns. Knowing that I at least wanted one Molon Labe decal on the Jeep, I started thinking down that rabbit hole.



King Leonidas was credited with saying the phrase Molon Labe and it is often written in the ancient Greek block lettering. This got me to thinking that view point was similar to the Hoplites of ancient Greek. Citizen (I'm actually a vet, severed in the USAF) warriors that did their normal jobs in society, but would answer the call to arms to defend their city-states and all of Greece when called upon. That mindset seemed to tie into the Jeep mindset. The silver color of my Jeep along with the steel bumpers and skid plates leant a kind of "armor" feel to it. Add in few red accents I've added to the Jeep and I came up with using a Corinthian helmet as my main logo/design.




With the foundations of the Spartan warrior theme settled on, it was time to really make the Jeep my own. Replacing the Rubicon decals on the hood was the first order of business, but I needed something to replace them with.

Again I wanted to try and tie my personality and mindset in with the general "Jeep'n" mind set. I'm not a Prepper, but I do like to be prepared as much as I can for whatever I can (without it taking over my life lol). So what I needed was a Greek word that would convey this. Asking an Italian friend of mine that speaks Greek and studies ancient Greece, it turns out they have a word for "being prepared" or "one who is prepared". That word (in ancient block lettering) is ETOIMOS.

 
#4
I'm not a big fan of putting company names and logos all over my Jeep, so I had to come up with some other ideas to solidify the Greek warrior them.

Then like a Spartan backhand, it hit me: a trail list! Finding a font that had a Greek look to it, but was still readable to us "Amuricans", I went about listing my favorite trails that we had done over the past 3 or so years. I also had the thought of using a combination of xiphos (the Greek short sword of the time) in sort of a Roman numeral style to mark the number of times we had ran a certain trail. I quickly realized that would lead to a lot of decal changing each year as there are several that we run all the time. Liking the idea of the sword numbers, but not the idea of constantly updating the decals, I decided to instead to use the swords to donate the trails high end rating as per TrailDamage.com




Adding all those decals had the Jeep looking like this.




Several years ago I purchased a 60w CO2 Laser Engraver/Cutter for a game accessory business that I had. I immediately started pondering what I might be able to use if for on the Jeep. I was not able to give any of the ideas much importance as I was just too busy with work I already had going with the laser (and my real career and family). Towards the end of 2015 things started to settle down enough that I could revisit the Jeep ideas. The first and foremost idea was a set of custom vent covers to pull the Jeep's theme inside. Making these made me realize that I could do the same thing to the shifter knobs.






From there I just started brain storming on different areas where I could customize both the interior and exterior of the Jeep. One of the first areas to draw my attention was the trail rated badge. I think there is a lot of room for customization for this part, from the simple design change below to completely changing what it looks like and how that area is used.




Another good area to apply my theme on that exterior was the fuel door. But first I needed a fuel door, so I installed a Rugged Ridge steel fuel door and then made a custom cover for that.






Next up was the door buttons and wheel center caps.






Moving back inside the Jeep, I add a custom grab handle cover.

 
#5
By removing the Rubicon decals from the hood at the start of all this theming, I was kind of bummed that nowhere else on the Jeep did it say that it was a Rubicon. Transferring the door button idea to the inside, I made these door latch tabs.




I have a few friends that also have Jeep related businesses and I like to support them when I can, so I made the below badges to put on my Jeep. It's a bonus that they look cool as well!

Seven Slot Battalion


JKU World



And just for fun I made these "eject" seat belt button covers.




I'm trying to find the right balance of keeping my theme both clean and intact while using my Jeep as a rolling catalog for the new products that I make. at some point I might have to pull some of these things off just to get back to the roots of the theme.

I wanted to do something to make the Jeep a little more aggressive/utilitarian looking without dropping a lot of cash. I got inspiration from another Jeep that was posted over on Wrangle Forums. It had some aftermarket half doors that had black paddle style latches and hinges.

I really liked the look of the black hinges, so I decide to try Plati-dipping for the first time. And since I was doing the door hinges, I thought I should just take care of those chrome key holes while I was at it.










As you can see, I pulled the hinge mounts off the Jeep as well. I probably could have left them on, but I thought I could do a better job with them off since this was my first time using Plasti-dip. Note to anyone that might be thinking about doing this, make sure to mark not only which mount comes from which door, but make some type of alignment marks as well. While both sets of fronts and both sets of back door mounts look identical, I had to play musical mounts to get the doors to actually fit correctly. It's also a big pain getting the mounts lined up so that the door actually seals correctly.

For some reason, Chrysler decided that the bolt holes on these mounts needed be highly adjustable, so they are elongated. This makes them really hard to get lined up just right to seal the door. I'm planning on having the hinges and mounts powder coated black for durability since I really like the look.

So this time I think I am going to make 2-3 marks on the body panel and mounts to help with alignment when putting them back on. Because the power coat will cover the marks on the mounts, I'll probably have to lightly file a grove on the mount to mark them.

 
#6
With the long drives to and from the trails, the kiddos needed a way to charge their devices, so I installed some USB charging ports in the back seat area.

I opted to install the Powerwerx Panel Mount Dual USB 4.2A Device Charger for 12/24V Systems. This one steps down the 12V from the battery to 5V that most devices need. It also has 2.1A per USB port, so two devices can be charging while being used.

The ports are kind of deep, so I had to mount them on the lower part of the B pillar. You could probably mount them in the back of the center console, but I did not feel like pulling that area apart to get into it. If I had to do this install again, I might install them there for a couple of reasons.

First, I think they could be mounted higher off the floor and being in the center, could be less prone to being kicked as the kids get in and out. The other reason is that with them installed into the B pillar, they sometimes interfere with the seatbelts retracting once you get out (the door closes on them from time to time). I'm going to see if I can address this last issue with some "cable management" inside the B pillar.

Here is the hole I cut for the port to fit into the B pillar. Powerwerx sells the correct size hole bit for these, but I just used one I had already and opened it up the last little bit with a Dremel tool.




For the wiring, I first tried to tap into the rear door window harness that is right there (easy access for pulling off the doors). Tapping into the ground wire there works great (just make sure you tap into the side that stays on the Jeep when you pull the doors off) and is the only real grounding place nearby. Unfortunately, you can't tap into the power line there. It interferes with the stock electrical system (CANBus I think) and does not deliver the correct power once tapped into. So you will have to run a dedicated power line to either an sPOD type product or directly to the battery (with an inline fuse). In this photo you can see where I pulled the window harness plug up through the seatbelt slot in the B pillar to make it a little easier to work in the confined space. You can also barely see where I taped up my ground connection with electrical tape (over shrink tubing).




Here is a split photo showing the charging ports open and closed (it's nice that they can be sealed to keep out water and dust on the trials when going doorless).




I'm a little concerned about the cords not holding up (my kids kill cords like crazy in just the house) in the Jeep with them getting kicked and such. So, I researched what is supposed to be the toughest cords out there, the http://www.amazon.com/Anker-PowerLine-Premium-Motorola-Smartphones/dp/B019Q4TJZC?ie=UTF8&psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00']Anker PowerLine + series[/url]. They have a double-braided nylon exterior, toughened Kevlar fiber core, and laser-welded connectors. If you can believe the marketing hype, they are supposed to be 10x stronger than standard cords. Like most cords, they only come in 1, 3, and 6 foot lengths. I got the 6 foot cords as the others would be too short... but the 6' ones are too long. At least I was able to weave them thru the MOLLE to take up some of the slack and keep it looking somewhat nice back there. When I ordered mine, they only came in red or gold (they now have grey and white as well). I really wanted black, but thought the red would stand out a lot more and maybe remind the kids not to kick and step on them (yeah right).

Besides, at least red is my accent color for the Jeep.



Note: These same cords have held up exceptionally well and we are still using the original cords I installed some 2+ years later.

This week I managed to do a little tuning with the ProCal...




On one of the harder trail runs, I ended up bending one of the stock sway bar links. While the motor still worked, I wanted to address it as it has been know to be finicky from time to time. I ended up replacing the sway bar links with JKS Quicker Disconnects. While I miss the ease of just pushing the button to disconnect my sway bar, never having to worry about it not connecting/disconnecting again is nice as well.




I personalized the inside a bit more yesterday with these interior door splash covers (the ones behind the Rubicon latch covers)...

 
#7
I got the sPOD installed over the weekend between the little guy's Bday and the wife's Bday. Still not sure how I managed to pull that one off!




My son also asked me if we could make the Jeep look cool to go to his Bday party in. He wanted the top off and the tube doors on, how could I deny him that??? So the HOPL1TE got a little taste of summer...




With the sPOD installed, I started working on upgrading my lighting. The first step was some custom headlights from HIDprojectors.com. I'll do a more in-depth install/review on these in the future, but here are some eye candy shots of them...

Red Devil Eye only


Red Devil Eye and red Halo


White Devil Eye and Red Halo



I also managed to install a par of LED flood lights to the front bumper. These give off a nice uniform light directly in front of the Jeep. I can also easily angle them to the sides to light up the area out to the sides of the front wheels. In this photo you can see where the floods are mounted as well as the front and rear Angel Eyes lit in white.



And here are some photos of the new headlights in action...





 
#8
I also replaced the stock fog lights with LEDs, I'll have to get some pics of those for you all.

I will be replacing the KC lights on the windshield with two pairs of LED cube lights in the next week. I still like the KC lights, but they are just out of place with everything else being LEDs now. All these lighting upgrades will really help out when I'm out taking night photos like those above.

I got my custom Cowling Covers installed this week...








I replaced the KC lights on the windshield with some LEDs. I went with a set of floods pointing off to the side and a set of spots pointing forward.







I also added some floods to the front bumper bar (seen in photos above about the headlights). While I'm not to impressed with the spot lights, I really like the floods a lot:




I'll be adding some more of those to the side and back when the Gobi rack goes on.

I also had to trim my pinch seam and cut down my Rubi Rails and ACE rock sliders...








The rear also got Synergy Upper and Lower adj control arms and the front got Uppers (lowers coming soon as it turns out)...

 
#9
I also gave the front axle some love this spring...

Artec gussets and Nitro sleeves








All of that was done to stuff some 37" Toyo Open Country R/Ts under it...








After the 37s went on, I had some slight rubbing issues in the rear...






I replaced the 2" Rancho bump extensions...



With some 2.75" Teraflex ones...

 
#10
I also had to install a set of upper and lower adjustable control arms to push the axle back so that it was centered in the wheel well. I went with Synergy again as I really like their stuff...




Pushing the axle back caused the rear springs to make contact on with the rear sway bar when compressed, so I had to add some Synergy spring wedges to correct some of the spring bow...




You can also see in those pictures some new Curry dual rate rear springs. I replaced the rear springs from the Rancho kit that came on the Jeep because they were sagging pretty bad on the passenger rear side. But, it looks like I'll be replacing these Curry springs very soon as well. When we load the back of the Jeep up, they just don't have enough spring rate to keep the ass end up :( And by the looks of these pics, I need to get under there and clean up and rattle can some spots on the axle and frame.

I also have some rubbing issue in the front with the 37x13.5 Open Countries. My current wheels have 4.5" of back spacing which everyone says should be enough to clear the frame on the inside rear of the tires, but that has not been the case for me. I thought this might be an issue when I put the tires on, so I had already ordered a set of Synergy wheel spacers...




That brought my total backspacing to 3" and I'm still rubbing. My next step will be to add some front lower adjustable control arms and see if I can push the axle forward some to solve this. I've already got adjustable arms in the other 3 locations, might as well make it a full set?

I had been thinking about upgrading my stock tie rod over the winter, but the last trail I ran decided to force my hand...



I replaced it with a Steers Smart Yeti unit...








After those photos were taken I rotated those clamps so that they are less prone to getting hit on the bolt ends.

The ball joints in the stock tie rod were not shot, so I've not really noticed much difference in the way it feels driving on the street. It might feel a little tighter, but for me it was not a "night and day" difference switching to the Yetti like some people experience.
 
#11
To prepare the Jeep for our recent Death Valley trip, I need to do some more Overland friendly mods to it...

I removed the 60 portion of the rear 60/40 bench seat to give more storage space inside the Jeep. My 7 year old son will still occupy the remaining seat. To make the area more useable, I built a platform to level it at with the back. I also wanted to raise the floor to allow me to store a full size shovel under it along with some other gear that I would not need very often. To do this I used 2x6s to build the frame.




I topped it with 1/4 ply and ran the cord for my Dometic FCX 50 fridge.




To clean it up I covered it with some black carpet from Amazon. I also just happened to find a large table on clearance at REI that slid perfectly into the long storage cavity on the right under the platform. I can also fit 2 of the 3 camp chairs in there with a little room left over. This required me to relocate the shovel (pics of that at a later time).




The fridge is going to ride right behind the front passenger seat so that my son can reach it while we are driving. I've got it secured on the left hand side via paracord and turnbuckle. I was still a little concerned about it wanting to slide around, so I built a little lip around it and covered that in carpet as well. There is not enough play in the tie down to allow it to go over the lip, so it is locked in place pretty good.




This last pic is just of the Jeep and trailer with the tents deployed to check that both of those were in working order and to put linins in them.

 
#13
Here is a look at how I loaded the back of the Jeep for the Death Valley trip.



We accessed the fridge from the passenger's side rear door the entire trip. It was not too bad, but I would have preferred it closer to the cook stove. How ever, with the trailer setup we had, I don't think it would have been better in the cargo area of the Jeep. The cargo area was a little boxed in when the tailgate was opened up. The better option would have been to move the table and stove to the side of the Jeep instead of the side of the trailer. The short propane hose prevented this since we did not want to unstrap the 40lb (which actually weighs 87lbs when full) propane tank and move it each time we made camp. I tried to find a longer hose before the trip but had no luck.

For daily driving and trial runs, the Pelican case is swapped out for another one (same size) that houses all of my recovery gear and extra tools.
 
#14
wicked build and rig man, can not wait to get mine lifted and 35s on!
Thanks man. I think I might actually go back down to 35s for overlanding. If I end up with an offroad trailer (highly likely at some point) I'll definitely drop back down so I can run the same set of tires and just have one spare. I'll still keep the 37s mounted and put those on for true wheeling though.