My Overland Project, the RME JKU

JP775

New member
Jeep Overland Build

Hi Greg. I'm new to the forum world as well as to the Jeep world. I recently purchased a 2012 JKU Sport. I didn't know what I was doing and now realize I should have bought the Rubicon. Anyways, I see myself doing more of the overlanding than the rock crawling. I have read your thread and find it really informative. I too will be installing the TeraFlex 3", but not sure which way to go, either the kit you got or the 8 arm 3". I intend on overlanding with a small trailer (M-416 style). I am limited due to the Dana 30 front I have. Any advice?
 

HRPINDC

Adventurer
Dude, you must have extra large underwear. That takes big balls to drill that many holes in your new rig. Nice job and great Jeep.
 

Greg@RME

Adventurer
Hi Greg. I'm new to the forum world as well as to the Jeep world. I recently purchased a 2012 JKU Sport. I didn't know what I was doing and now realize I should have bought the Rubicon. Anyways, I see myself doing more of the overlanding than the rock crawling. I have read your thread and find it really informative. I too will be installing the TeraFlex 3", but not sure which way to go, either the kit you got or the 8 arm 3". I intend on overlanding with a small trailer (M-416 style). I am limited due to the Dana 30 front I have. Any advice?
Glad it's helpful!

I wouldn't worry about not getting a Rubicon, it was the easy way for me to get good gearing and lockers, but I paid for it. Build what you have and don't look back! With a Sport, you probably have axle gears that are pretty high, geared for the freeway... 3.21's or something? What size tire will you be running? If you're planning 35's to fit the 3" lift, I suggest re-gearing it to 4.56's (or even 4.88's since you mention towing a trailer) and at the same time you could add an ARB locker in the rear. A rear locker should get you thru most stuff if you're not rock crawling and be there when you get somewhere that the trail is questionable, but you still need to get thru. If you haven't owned a locked 4x4 before, you'll be amazed what a vehicle with a rear locker and decent tires can do.

The Outback Suspension system I got rides very firm unloaded, but once the Jeep is loaded with gear it smooths out and doesn't loose any height. The things I really like about the Outback Suspension is that it's a complete engineered suspension, including their Speed Bumps, limiting straps and springs that are built for lots of weight. All together it works very well.

The Dana 30 isn't the end of the world, I'd highly suggest adding a axle tube sleeve kit with knuckle gussets. The stock Jeep front axles tend to bend axle tubes and knuckles with bigger tires and offroad use. Adding a set of aftermarket ball joints would be wise with larger tires, too. If you those 3 things that and left the front diff open, as long as you're not pushing it hard in the rocks, getting stupid with the throttle, etc... then the Dana 30 should survive just fine IMO. If you'd rather not worry about adding all those parts, you could always get a Tera 30 front axle housing and swap your diff & gears, axles and brakes into it and never have to worry about bending anything. I think their housings are just over $2k.... I'll probably do a Tera 44 for my JKU down the road, just to ease my mind.


Dude, you must have extra large underwear. That takes big balls to drill that many holes in your new rig. Nice job and great Jeep.
Who wears underwear? :Wow1: Just kidding... funny way to put it. Yeah, drilling 20 holes in a newer Jeep was pretty unnerving, but I felt confident about it... and everything went as it should have, so that was a relief! Thanks for the compliment!
 

Greg@RME

Adventurer
The build has progressed a little more and the Jeep has seen quite a bit more trail time the last few weekends. One of the trips had us slogging thru a 4x4 trail that was more ATV route, with a lot of slow going due to stream crossings, mud holes and way too many rocks. There were a few different moments where I thought we may have to winch out, but the KO2 tires fought for traction and we kept moving. This was on the Grand Mesa, above Grand Junction. With all the mud I was able to see how the addition of mud flaps and the Teraflex rock sliders kept mud/dirt off the sides of the JK and I'm happy to say that about 75% of dirt was kept off the Jeep!




Before moving forward with the roof rack install, I pulled the top off the Jeep for the first time... :ugh: Not sure why I waited so long, it's a blast to cruise around topless in a Jeep! I almost forgot how much fun it was... next time I'll ditch the doors too. :D






A couple weeks ago I started a thread on RME about JKU Roof Rack options and settled on the Front Runner Slimline II. The install took several hours, but in the end I was extremely impressed with the design quality of the rack. It's an amazing piece of gear that will easily carry anything I'll ever need. I decided to rig up a hoist to lift and lower the roof rack and hard top, to help with the install and make removing those items easier. My come-along ended up having a shorter cable than planned, eventually I'm going to use something like a small electric winch/hoist. Here's how the rack came together and the install went.










And pics of the rack from the trail, Black Bear Pass last weekend... they're not the best photo's of the rack itself, but it's what I've got for now. I had the Pull Pal on the roof rack, inside of a gun case. It was secure and nice to have outside the Jeep!



 

Greg@RME

Adventurer
Over the weekend I added a bike carrier to the rack, really love how the slats in the FrontRunner Slimline II make it so easy to add items to the rack itself. All you do is drop in a bolt with the head down and the slats are built to hold the bolt head so you can put a nut on the threaded part, facing up. I used a simple bike axle clamp up front and fabbed up a rear tire tie down out of some shallow C-channel and a Yakima loop. I don't like how tight the loop is and didn't plan to use the valve stem as the tie down point, but it's easier than pulling that rubber Yakima loop tight. I'll change it, soon as I figure out a better version.

I bought some steel to build a kayak carrier too, I'll get to that one of these days.

















And since we talked about the roof rack to roll bar mounts, here's some detailed pics of those. I had to cut the Hot Heads liners out around where those brackets needed to sit flat against the hard top... that was another unnerving operation!







 

RickM

Observer
Love the jeep and love the roof rack.

A word of caution though. I an not sure I would put any pressure at all on that valve stem on the bike. I have seen them sheer off pretty easily.
 

Comanche Scott

Expedition Leader
Really digging this build!

OK, I am now "officially envious"! :beer:
.
*You're building an awesome Jeep
*You own the best brand of dirt bike on the planet (fastest, smoothest, easiest bike I ever raced off road was the KTM 250SX 2stroke version)
*And you have a righteous mountain bike (what bike is that?)
.
You are like my super hero! :bowdown:

In all seriousness though, the Jeep is coming along awesome. Nice to see the trail pics. :friday:
 

Greg@RME

Adventurer
Love the jeep and love the roof rack.

A word of caution though. I an not sure I would put any pressure at all on that valve stem on the bike. I have seen them sheer off pretty easily.
Thanks Rick!

I hear ya on the valve stem, I unloaded the bike to take it to the shop and when I put it back on the rack, I couldn't feed the Yakima rubber chain strap back thru itself to secure the rear wheel. I was in a hurry and saw the valve stem there and gave it a go. I now have a better solution in place which doesn't involve the valve stem.


OK, I am now "officially envious"! :beer:
.
*You're building an awesome Jeep
*You own the best brand of dirt bike on the planet (fastest, smoothest, easiest bike I ever raced off road was the KTM 250SX 2stroke version)
*And you have a righteous mountain bike (what bike is that?)
.
You are like my super hero! :bowdown:

In all seriousness though, the Jeep is coming along awesome. Nice to see the trail pics. :friday:
:bigok:

Appreciate it Scott! I have had a few KTM's, including a '08 300 XC which I loved, but let go... I'm now down to just 1 bike, a KTM 990 Adventure. I do want another 300, but need to pay the Jeep off first. The mtn bike is a Rocky Mountain Slayer, it's several years old. I used to ride all the time, but life took me away from riding bikes. I'm trying to get back into it, so I can get in better shape and use it to help me get even better on the motorcycles.
 

Greg@RME

Adventurer
Do you find any heat issues out in the desert with the winch mounted that high?
I haven't noticed any problems with airflow and running hot after mounting the winch. If you think about it, you're not going to have a lot of air flow until you're running 25-30 MPH and until then, the electric fan takes over for low-speed air flow and the winch isn't really hindering air flow, since air is being pulled thru from behind the radiator. At least that's how it works in my head.

The Jeep gets warm when crawling slowly and I'm working the engine hard, but it did that before the winch was installed so from what I can tell, nothing really changed. Also, I don't think the gauge is terribly accurate as far as reading different temps... having an actual numbered measurement would go a long ways, which at this point I don't have that option. I would like to add a Superchips Trail Dash down the road, so I can better monitor how hard the engine is working.
 

Greg@RME

Adventurer
Last weekend I took the JKU to Moab for some fun trails and had some carnage... http://www.rme4x4.com/showthread.php?109369-Moab-with-a-Hickey

The track bar mount on the axle end tore off, which is a common weakness. Matter of fact, the whole front axle is a common factory weak point on the JK. The axle tubes are small and thin, the knuckles have been known to bend, control arm mounts tear off and even the center section will allow the entire axle to bend if pushed too hard. I was looking at a new aftermarket track bar mount and was thinking I'd sleeve the axle, gusset the knuckle and beef up the control arm mounts, but this was all happening sooner than planned. We have a upcoming Baja trip in November and the last thing I wanted was a serious front axle failure while in the middle of the Baja Mexico desert. A decision was made that would simplify the potential troubles and add some serious beef to the front end. I was planning on upgrading the front axle housing down the road, but due to the track bar bracket failure I had to get serious about fixing the front axle sooner than planned!




After a short call to the helpful guys at TeraFlex in West Jordan, Utah on Monday a Tera 44 HD was on the way, with a set of TeraFlex HD Ball joints! 2 days later I had one sexy axle in hand! This axle is a thing of beauty, the welds are amazing, the power coat finish looks show-quality and the beefy diff cover all make for an axle that I don't want to get dirty! The Tera44 is a direct bolt in for the JKU Rubicon, making the use of the factory locker. It features massive 3.25" axle tubes, compared to the factory 2.5" tubes. The axle brackets are all 1/4" thick, which is way thicker than the wimpy stock parts... and of course the knuckles on the Tera44 are massive! There are a lot of other improvements with the Tera44 and it will add a lot of value and peace of mind to the JKU when its being pushed thru the whoops in Baja!














We're headed out of town in 2 days, otherwise I'd be tearing the stock front axle out of the Jeep right now!
 

Greg@RME

Adventurer
It's taken me awhile to get around to the Tera 44 install, we went on vacation and I've spend some time out of town for work. I also had some parts supply issues, apparently nobody in Grand Junction stocks front u-joints for a Rubicon 44! I ordered a pair of Alloy USA joints, after finding that one of my factory joints was loose. Next up was pressing in the TeraFlex HD ball joints.... that was a fun! I set them in the freezer for a couple days before the install and they went in a little easier.






I started by removing the stock front axle and disassembling it, then hauling the Tera 44 housing, the stock carrier & gears down to Barney Brothers 4x4 shop here in Grand Junction for the gear install. I was really thinking about doing the gears myself, but with an upcoming Baja trip I wanted it done right without question, by professionals.






I took the grinder and wire wheel to the stock knuckles, to remove dirt and rust and prep for some paint, then started moving forward with the install. There was a lot to it, but I took my time and checked off the assembly as it progressed.












And then it was time for a test!














Driving it with the new axle is night & day, the front-end just feels... 'tight'! I'm sure the stock ball joints had seen better days and the track bar hole on the axle was pretty wallowed out. With the thicker axle brackets and the HD ball joints, the front end makes it feel like a new/different vehicle!
 
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