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"Oki": 4x4tographer's 2018 Jeep JLUR

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Posted (edited)

Upgrade weekend ahead of the Rubicon trip later this year. Replaced the rear factory rear axle shafts with some chromoly shafts from Dana Spicer.


Part numbers:


The shafts came fully pressed together - bearings, race, and included new preinstalled wheel studs. 




Overall the install was "easy" once I got past a stuck rotor on the driver side. Had to use some PB blaster and some heat to remove the retention bolt, and then had quite a bit of trouble getting the rotors off. I'd read that sometimes the emergency brake drum shoes can make it more difficult to remove the rotor, so I loosed the brakes a bit with the adjuster in each rear e-brake housing. More PB Blaster, more heat, and some gentle hits from a rubber mallet eventually got it off. The passenger side was a lot easier. I probably spent about an hour on the drivers side - the passenger side was a lot easier to remove.


I was a little surprised by the amount of corrosion on the inside of the rotor and the mounting surface of the axle shafts. Especially considering we're in AZ and the Jeep rarely sees water. Cleaned it up the best I could with a wire wheel.


Here's a shot before the clean up.




Removing the shafts was a breeze with the help of an axle-puller / slide-hammer.






Here's a comparison shot between the cleaned up OE shaft and the new Dana.





Another comparison - new on the left, factory shaft on the right





The factory shafts are in great shape and will make for some nice spares. No signs of twisting.




Shaft install went off without a hitch - got the new one through the axle seal and the rest was like clockwork. Here's one of the cleaned up rotors. I added some anti-seize to the retention bolt to help with getting it removed next time. 


I've read that you can add copper anti-seize to the mounting surfaces to prevent future issues - I couldn't find any locally, so I'll order some online.





A quick test drive and everything seems to be in order! I did notice that my e-brake isn't as "strong" as it was prior - I'd adjusted them back to where I thought they started - but apparently  not enough. I'll have to pull the drums/calipers again and adjust them a little tighter.


Hoping these new shafts should have more strength to handle my new 37 tires and reduce the risk of a break on the Rubicon 🙂



Edited by 4x4tographer
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Posted (edited)

70,750 miles.


Completed two more "hardening" projects on the Jeep ahead of the Rubicon trip later this year. Upgraded all of my suspension fasteners with a nice kit from Grimm OffRoad and beefed up my front lower control arms with a pair of skid plates from MetalCloak. 


The Grimm fastener upgrade has taken me a few weeks to complete, since it's been so darn hot out. I knocked out the rear suspension two weeks ago and wrapped up the front today. 




The kit is VERY complete and includes all new zinc plated hardware, shouldered bolts (as opposed to the fully-threaded OEM fasteners), and came in grade 10.9 - so they're plenty strong. The kit includes hardware for all 8 control arms, all 4 shocks (lower bolts only) and both the front and rear trackbars. Grimm's instructions are some of the best I've seen - Metalcloak could learn a thing or two from the - highly detailed and came with torque values (which a lot of companies are too scared to provide).


One of the things I like about the kit is that the bolt and nuts are both the same size. The OEM fasteners require two different sized sockets which is a pain sometimes. The new fasteners are now in 19mm, 22mm, and 24mm across the entire suspension. 


The torque values are also higher than factory for the most part. The front LCAs get torqued down to 215 ft/lbs as opposed to the factory 190ft/lbs.


Bonus - keeping the OEM hardware for some spares - will be nice to have some extras around for peace of mind on the trail. I'll pack 1 of each type just in case. 


I also picked up some "tamper proof" Viz-Torque thread lock marker paint. In the past I've just used a grease marker, but this new stuff hardens into almost a resin. You use it to mark your bolts - if any of them shift, the mark will "crack" to indicate something moved. A flathead screw driver scrapes it right off. 




I also picked up some front lower control arm skid plates from MetalCloak. I already had some skids from Rock Hard 4x4 which were STOUT, but the passenger side skid was never compatible with the skid plate I installed on the FAD, shortly after I bought the Jeep. 


The new skids have a special cutout for the FAD. They also seem to allow for more clearance with a generous cutout for the control arm to fully flex. 




Despite the fact that the skids are compatible with the FAD skid, Metalcloak is shipping a shouldered Grade 8 bolt that is WAY too long - I had to trim about 1 to 1 1/4 inches off of the bolt to get it to play nice with the FAD skid. In the future I might try to find some grade 10.9 hardware for it. 


I'm glad the LCA skid plays nice with their own FAD skid, but if they'd tried to install the two together on their test mules they would have seem this pretty glaring issue (though odds are they're running a FAD delete or some other hardcore axles on their shop Jeeps).


30 seconds with a grinder and a cut-off wheel and the bolt fit like a glove. This photo was before I torqued everything down. 




I wasn't 100% sure on the torque for these. MetalCloak is notorious for not providing torque values. I looked up a few charts for a 0.625-18 fine thread zinc plated bolt and found some conflicting information. I landed on 190ft/lbs and added some blue loc-tite. (I used thread locker on all of the suspension bolts). Worth mentioning that the new bolts from MetalCloak are 15/16ths (super close to 24mm). 




Here's a parting shot of the new skids. 




Edited by 4x4tographer
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Ryan, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”  I’m using your idea to run a more robust DC feed for my fridge and two Jackery power units/inverters.

I used a Blue Sea fuse panel  mounted on the back of the drawer boxes and a Mega Fuse in the engine bay to protect the Blue Sea. 
I wired individual circuits for each device with the correct plugs.  (The Jackery units have different inputs connections based size.) 




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Recently took the plunge and picked up a storage shelf for the rear of the Jeep. Been wanting one for a long time, and the upcoming Rubicon trip was the perfect excuse to make questionable financial decisions. 😄




I went with the MASS Cargo Shelf from American Adventure Labs, based in Utah. Not the cheapest option out there - I'm pretty happy that I did. The quality, fit, and finish are about as good as I've ever seen in an aftermarket solution. I selected their option to powercoat just the steel components and leave the aluminum naked. This saved about $80 on powder coat (and the time it takes) and it also matches my stainless steel Trailgater tailgate table in terms of aesthetics. 


Key decision-making points for me were the ability to adjust the height of the shelf and the flexibility to secure cargo a variety of ways. The shelf literally doubles my storage capacity - I normally have a bunch of junk sitting on the floorboards behind the front seats. 


Since I sleep in my Jeep on our trips, I needed to be sure I had enough leg room to avoid triggering my claustrophobia and restless leg syndrome. In all - I have 13 inches of room between the deck and the bottom of the shelf, which is about as good as I can get. 


From ordering to delivery, I had to wait about 2 weeks - which is pretty good considering these are made to order. 


Here's a shot of me assembling it on the kitchen table. The main platform is nice, thick aluminum. The black metal strips are powder coated steel supports to added strength. These strips go around the entire perimeter of the shelf.






As I mentioned - the fit and finish was fantastic. Every hole lined up perfectly. All supports slid right into position with no fuss and a satisfying "clunk".




Here's a shot of one of the side panels. You can install it "up" or "down". If you install it in the down position, you can gain an extra couple of inches of mounting height, which is what I did for maximum clearance and leg room for my sleeping platform. 




Here's what that looks like when installed. 




Here are the thick steel mounting arms that bolt right in to the OEM soft top threaded welded nuts in the C-pillar on the sportbar. 




The platform is covered in a number of mounting positions that are L-Track compatible and work with the cargo tie-downs I already have. 




In addition to the shelf, I picked up a mount specifically designed by AAL for Dometic's new water jug system. Like the shelf, these mounts are also aluminum and come with a nice thick track and buckle. The mounting plate is pre-drilled with holes for mounting to any surface. 




However - this was the frustrating part of the install for me. I, wrongly, assumed the pre-drilled holes would mate up with the mounting locations on the shelf. However, that wasn't the case. 




AAL sells these clever MASS mount points that bolt into the L-Track holes and provide you with a threaded plate you can bolt directly into (below). However, as you can see above, none of these locations will work with the Dometic jug mount. At most, you can use 1. This requires you to drill holes into your new (expensive) shelf - which I wasn't terribly happy about. 




After messing with it in the garage for about 30 minutes, playing with different position for the mount and water jug, I finally made a discovery. The shelf came with a fore and aft railing for the cargo shelf. The mounting holes for the railing were perfectly aligned with the holes in the water jug mounting plate!


Removing the railing gave me access to these holes - and, frankly, makes it easier to load and unload cargo from the shelf - so I removed it from the rear of the shelf. This means I only had to drill 2 new holes instead of 3-4. 




Here's a shot of one of the mounts installed and the Dometic jug strapped in.





The height of the shelf is "1 click down" from the maximum height. This leaves me about 3" of clearance to the roof from the top of the jugs. This allows me just enough room to load in the jug and strap them down. When out on the trail, there is enough room for me to snap in the water hose for my Dometic faucet into the top of the jug for a quick water connection without needing to remove the jugs. 




Here's a shot of the shelf from the interior of the Jeep looking rear. It's just above the rear setbacks - and from the driver's rear view mirror you can't even really see the shelf - with full unobstructed visibility out the back window. 




Here's one last shot with the rear seat folded down - showcasing a different perspective on the available legroom. 




One last parting shot from when I was in the throes of install.... BONUS - my Frontrunner Wolfpack cargo box (plus extended lid) fits with 1/2 inch to spare! If I pack right, I won't need to leave the box sitting out on the ground anymore while I'm sleeping!



Edited by 4x4tographer
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looks great Ryan! a rear shelf adds a ton of storage - and an extra place to set stuff while cooking back there or just taking things out of the fridge, etc.

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