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"Oki": 4x4tographer's 2018 Jeep JLUR

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Holiday upgrade!



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@Yodamom and I took a brief "after work / pre-Christmas" trip out to see the Anderson Mill in the San Domingo Wash just outside of Wickenburg today. Was joined by @Trail Toy and the kids for a nice afternoon!


If you've never checked it out - try it! An out & back style trail, you can knock it out in about 2 to 2.5 hours round trip and makes for a great little trip with a lot of mines, scenery, and history.






Edited by 4x4tographer
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Anderson Mill is a very cool little adventure. We got chased out of there by a very angry swarm of bees once...


nicolas cage bees GIF

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@Yodamom surprised me with a full set of Rock Hard 4x4 LCA skids under the tree for Christmas🎄. 100% all-American beef to help protect my low-hanging brackets. The photos don’t really do them justice, they are substantial. There’s really no other word for them. They’re noticeably thicker than the LCA bracket material itself.




A few shots of the chewed-up front and rear LCA brackets.





The install was a breeze with a single bolt to pop out and replace. Rock Hard provides some of the thickest washers/shims I’ve ever seen to help center the skid plate around the factor curves of the LCA brackets.


Shot of the rear driver LCA at the axle (photo from the side): 



Shot of the rear driver LCA skid (photo from the rear):



Here’s the front driver LCA bracket at the axle (photo from the front):



Front driver skid (shot from the rear):




Ran into a slight problem with the front passenger LCA bracket at the axle where it butts up against my Metalcloak Front Axle Disconnect skid plate. There’s a little competition for space over the pictured hex bolt. To get it to work the only real choice I see is to grind down the LCA skid on one of the corners a little.






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7 minutes ago, theksmith said:

Grinding Fox Tv GIF by The Grinder

like a boss GIF

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So I’ve been interested in joining in on some of the overnight trips some of you guys do, but I’m too big of a wuss to sleep in a tent on the ground. 😆 After reading @theksmith excellent sleeping platform build thread I decided to try to adapt one to my existing drawer system that I built for my JLU.


KSmith’s build thread is highly detailed, and my engineering prowess is pretty rudimentary. My version of the sleeping platform is definitely a bit of a hack job with some room for improvement, but here’s where I’ve landed.


I really liked KSmith’s removable verticals supports, so I did my best to mimic it. :) Using similar “lift off hinges”, I ran into a little snag where I didn’t have enough room (vertically) on the back of my drawer system to install 2 hinges per side. I opted to go with just 1 per side (they’re fairly beefy) and added a strip of plywood next to each hinge as a sort of support. The thought is that the plywood strips will support the bulk of the weight along this edge. 




Here’s a mock-up of the 2 boards that make up the sleeping area. A contour gauge and a jigsaw helped to shape the board around the center console arm rest.




Some t-nuts and hinges went in to make the platform collapsable. I looked at using a piano hinge for a perfect “fold flat” for storage, but the hinges I found at the local store seems pretty flimsy to me, made of brass. I went for some beefy gate hinges, but realized the error of my ways when I went to fold it flat and the bolt heads at the hinge got in the way. They fold down to about 5 degrees from perfectly flat.


I’d really like to get them to fold perfectly flat, so I’m going to have to go the piano hinge route and some low profile bolts or screws with flat/tapered heads.


Here’s a photo of the platform “folded”. I won’t be able to hit a trail with it like those as it’ll vibrate it self apart, so I’ll stuff a blanket into the void or something.




And here is the platform fully unfolded.




All in all, its pretty sturdy. To help keep it from moving around (side-to-side) when shifting weight, I added 2 additional “lift off hinges” to the back-edge of the platform and the leading edge of the drawer system. The platform will slide and “lock” into position, preventing any side-to-side tipping when I’m moving about trying to get comfy.


Here’s a view from the other side. I really liked KSmith’s idea of leaving the driver side seat available to sit in, change your pants on, whatever! It also makes it a hell of a lot easier to get onto the platform as opposed to trying to climb in from the passenger side. I felt like I was 20 years older trying to navigate myself in and out from that side. :D 




And here’s a view from the tailgate. 




I suppose I might be a little tall (which is funny to say at 5’10”) but my toes and head touch the tailgate and passenger seat. Something I’ll have to get used to. All-in-all, I’m happy with the width of the sleeping area and I don’t feel too cramped laying on it.


Best of all, the entire platform just snaps in and out in about 30 seconds. So it’s a breeze to install it on the fly.


For the moment I’m going to leave it all unpainted until I’m happy with it, but I’ll eventually hit it with some bedliner rattle cans like I did with the drawer/deck. Overall the coating is holding up pretty well since I built it about a year ago, so I have a few areas to touch up from some abuse.


Now to find a sleeping pad and a decent sleeping bag! Looking forward to trying this new system out on the next trip!

Edited by 4x4tographer
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I did another thing today. Installed my new Midland GMRS radio! Even worse than that though..... I tore out my entire CB system!


I think I’ve used it a handful of times the last year, and generally the rx/tx is hot garbage. The range is also questionable, and it literally took me 2 years to get the SWR to an acceptable level. With more and more moving to GMRS, it just makes a lot of sense to me. With JJUSA ditching CB, I’m guessing that will just speed up the transition.


Between my cheap-o Baofeng ham handheld unit and the new GMRS, I feel like I’m still covered in spite of the lack of CB.


So what did I get? 


Radio: MXT275

Antennas: MXTA25 3dB gain “ghost antenna” and a longer traditional MXTA26 6dB gain antenna


Here’s a pic from before the install! This really gives you a good impression of the size of the equipment. Also pictured is the shorty mag-mount antenna that ships with the MXT275 radio.




I went with the MXT275 for a few reasons:


1 - It’s small and compact, with all of the controls on the hand-held mic

2 - The power is in the mid-range of the MicroMobile line up with 15 watts of available power.

3 - The price point was pretty fair to me, balancing power and features.

4 - Dual speakers. Both the hand-held mic AND the “guts” of the radio have speakers. You’re able to turn on the ability for both speakers to output simultaneously, making it a little easier to hear of the noise on the trail. This was a big bonus for me as I can be a little hard of hearing to begin with.


I went a little crazy on antennas and now have 3. I went with a MXTA25 “ghost” antenna for my day to day drives and to allow me to park in my garage without having to disconnect a longer antenna. I picked up the longer MXTA26 for our trail rides to maximize my rx/tx range.


Here’s what they look like installed:


MXTA26 - This antenna is 32” tall and has a pretty robust spring base. It’s fairly flexible, especially when compared to my 2’ Firestik from my CB set up.



MXTA25 - note the 3” Rigid Industries light cube behind it for size reference.



Worth noting - the install was A BREEZE. No need to ground anything, no need to worry about SWR tuning, no need to fret over the order of components on the antenna mount to make sure you’ve done it right. It was brainless, and I really appreciate being catered to. :D


The bottom of the NMO mount/connector had a small insulating rubber ring pre-installed in a channel to make sure everything is grounded correctly with out the need to think. HOWEVER, in my particular application, the rubber ring was binding up when tightening it down to my Diode Dynamics cowl mounts. The rubber was catching the slots cuts into the mounts. I got around this by cutting a square of plastic and drilling a 5/8th hole into it for the mount to go through.


Next up is the radio.



Maybe it’s my impression of my CB and cheap-o Baofeng, but this unit is luxury by comparison in terms of build quality. The mic has a certain heft to it, feels solid and substantial, is substantial in the hand, and all of the buttons have a satisfying “click” to their key presses letting you know that you did actually press a button.


That was NOT what I was expecting. I was expecting cheap, lightweight, and fragile. Instead, I got a hand-held tank for a microphone.


Now, I WILL say that the mic is large. Probably due to all of the controls, screen, and related electronics. That said, those with smallish hands might find this unit to be a bit cumbersome to use.


As for the install, since the “guts” of the unit are in a smaller external box, the possibilities are limitless. The mic has a very generous length of cable on it, letting you install the box under a seat, in a foot well, or inside of the dashboard itself.


Since the box has its own speaker, and I know I’ll want to use the dual-speaker mode, I opted to install it where I had my CB. The below is a photo of the install bracket (which is quick-release, by the way) mated up to my overhead molle panel over the center console.




Here it is with the “guts box” snapped into place. Speaking of which, the build quality is shown here too. The box is stamped metal, and feels substantial with no odd panel gaps or rattles.


There are literally 2 ports on it. Coax, mic, and a USB (for firmware updates). That’s it.




That’s it for my first impressions of my new MTX275. I’ll post a follow up once I get to use it, program it, and play with it! I hope this post helps anyone that is curious about this particular model.

Edited by 4x4tographer
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I am not a fan of sleeping on the ground for the critters to get me either. 🤣 On the camping trip to Signal(My first camping adventure) I got my hands on a Wellax self inflating pad. Kris has a nice one too, a little more dollars  than mine though. I put an "egg crate" style foam pad from Wal-Mart under that for extra cushion.  It was pretty comfortable to be honest. I am 6' 2" and fit back there at an angle and slept good, not the best nights sleep but not the worst. I do not recall what style sleeping bag I have but it's a Coleman. It is  heavy and warm. I bought it when I was driving truck a long time ago and it always kept me warm.  I also borrowed Kris's passenger seta/foyer idea.  I am going to get some cheap window shades and cut them to fit the windows down the side primarily to block out more light in the morning. Secondly I would hate to wake up and see Jason Voorhees or Freddy Kruger staring  at me. 😱😜




Edited by shellback91
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great job on the sleep platform!


does the JL passenger seat not lean forward any further to give you a couple more inches of headroom?


one idea for you - grab the correct size countersink drill bit from Home Depot, and use it to bevel the screw holes in the hinges so you can use flat-head screws. that should allow the gate hinges to fold almost completely flat... you may still want thin spacers on the opposite edge of the platform (the same thickness as the whole hinge itself) so the folded over section of wood can rest on the spacers.


awesome use of your holiday vacation ;) - looking forward to you coming on some overnights with us now!



Edited by theksmith
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