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SonoranWander's 2018 JLUR

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Posted (edited)

So in October I originally planned to take Shelley's old 2015 JKUR and build from there after she got her JLUR 4xe. However by early November and after some thought and a bit of scouring the intertubes, I found and decided to swap out for a 2018 JLUR instead. I mean the build cost from stock for either vehicle would be about the same. Might as well get a newer, lower milage vehicle that is also on the same general platform as the other two.


I can also get hung up on the smallest details sometimes and the one major annoyance with the JKs I have is the low position AC vents. I like to keep my phone up high (dash top level) so I can see and make map adjustments, or whatever while still having the trail (and vehicles!) ahead in my direct view. And also use the phone as a driver's view dash camera. In the Arizona heat, this means cooking you phone to the point of emergency shutoff quite regularly and shortening the life of your phone battery. I like that the JL moves the vents to the top of the dash. It helps with the phone and my dedicated mapping tablet I like to keep to the right of the radio head and other gadgets like a Garmin inReach.


The JL front/dash setup is also nice in that it has a natural place to mount a (ham) radio head unit on the driver's A-pillar grab handle. More on the techy stuff later.






In order to justify swapping out to a JL, I had a minimum feature list and nice to have feature list.

Minimum feature list:

  • 4-door Rubicon (JLUR) in stock form. I wanted to make my own bad decisions, not deal with someone else's.
  • Automatic Transmission
  • Hard Top
  • Premium Audio
  • LED lighting (full, not just headlights) 
  • Steel bumper group
  • Heavy Duty towing group (brings in auxiliary switches)
  • Rearview Camera
  • Basic safety group (helps with insurance premiums)
  • Leather interior
  • Not white, black, nor any flat, or fluorescent color like gecko.


Nice to haves that I got:

  • Color matched top
  • Color matched fenders flares
  • Never been off pavement. The skid plates were so clean you could eat off them. See also the comment above about buying someone else's bad decisions.
  • Very low milage, less than 18k
  • Some factory warranty left. 1yr from date of purchase, unlimited milage, factory warranty in this case.


Nice to haves that I did not get:

  • Advanced safety group (adaptive cruise control is really nice)
  • Factory reinforced tail gate
  • Tire fill alert (not available on the early 2018 builds)
  • Trail view camera
  • Proximity door locks
  • Dual top group (I do want a soft top, but have to have a hard top).

I already had a build plan in my head for what I wanted. It would have been the same for the JK or JL.


The general hit the ground running plan (regardless of JK or JL) consisted of:

  • 3.5" Rock Krawer x-Factor lift
  • 37x12.5r17 Mickey Thompson Baja Boss M/T on Method 701 17x9 rims
  • Regearing
  • Adjustable shocks (Falcons)
  • Steering flip (tie rod, stabilizer)
  • 7075 aluminum steering linkage (tie rod, drag link)
  • Heavy duty differential covers
  • Trussed and gusseted front axle (no sleeving!)
  • Big brake kit
  • RCV front axle shafts
  • High angle drive shafts
  • Warn 10s Zeon winch
  • Reinforced tailgate
  • Techy stuff, mounts, comms, maps, etc...


Everything necessary to make this JLUR as or more capable as the 2008 JKUR it effectively replaced.


This is a bit of a back dated post, but I will break the pictures and descriptions up as it was done.

Edited by SonoranWanderer
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Congrats on the ride man! Looking forward to watching your build unfold

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Posted (edited)

Having stated the initial build plan above, the next obvious step was to acquire parts and deal with installation. Let me ask you, have you tried to get, high demand automotive components in the middle of a pandemic with major supply chain issues? One of the things I learned quickly in October while formulating my plan was that nobody online had a full RK 3.5" x-factor kit in stock. Northridge 4x4 had MOST of the components, but not all. Only local (generic term, not AZ specific) shops that thought and planned ahead (and/or knew how to substitute certain less distinctive components of a lift) had the immediate ability install such a kit. 


I first ran headlong into the supply chain disaster when in early 2021 I broke and had to replace the front axle on my 2008 JKUR. Later, last year, when deciding if I wanted to build up the 2015 JKUR, I discovered that any stereo head unit that I would buy (yes I am super picky) was not in stock and was not anticipated to be in stock within the next six months, due to the (computer) chip shortage. I've also been following along with friends and people online in their adventure to find that part they need to finish their build.


So with that in mind, to the local shops I turned. Doetsch was one of those shops that planned ahead. They ware able to get all the major suspension and drivetrain parts I wanted save one, the RCV axle shafts keeping the FAD (FAD-delete versions are available but see above comment about being super picky). I had a specific part in mind and that specific part is well, non-existent, and backordered from the manufacturer 3+ months. I decided to have them do most everything that has anything to do with the suspension or driveline in one fell swoop. Patience is not my specialty and and lack the time to drive all over town day in and day out to chase down stuff and get things done.


"Most everything" included:




















You might notice the ham dual band antenna in the pictures, but at this time, it is only antenna on a Rugged Radios mount (from Amazon) and the antenna lead going into the cabin.

Edited by SonoranWanderer
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Did a little Black Friday shopping and got a set of aluminum LoD Armor Lite sliders at a really deep discount at the new TrailRecon store along with the slider steel skid plates and a set of quick detach drop steps directly from LoD. TrailRecon did not have the steel plates and steps in stock, nor were their prices on those two components any better than the manufacturer's or anyone else. I like the design because I need a step for Shelley, and occasionally for other family. And being manual (single winged bolt from behind), there is nothing to fail. Plus this setup is super light, frame mounted and hold the weight of the vehicle very well. I have the same setup on my Gladiator Mojave.


Removed the Rubicon Rock rails




LoD does the best job at telling you what hardware you should have and making sure you know which part os which to-scale outlines




Passenger side mounts installed




The rear bolt on the rear mount requires drilling and tapping the frame. Notice the bolt head is a bit larger.




Passenger side rail installed




Driver side rail installed




Quick detach drop step. You can add one for the rear door too if you like. I do not bother normally although I have an extra set just in case I have company and they need a step up.




Steel skid plate attached to the slider




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After all the lift work and even after Doetsch kindly replaced the steering stabilizer while doing the 500 mile gear service, the JL's steering was sloppy, to put it politely. So the week after Christmas I took the JLUR back into the dealer (Bill Luke) for warranty (TSB actually) replacement of the steering gear and (TSB) steering software update. It did very much help.


Old aluminum steering gearbox




New steel steering gearbox



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Black friday sales?? Sounds more like you sold both kidneys, your liver and a lung! Sounds like it'll be bullet proof by the time you're done!


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Something I skipped is "mod" #1: Phone/tech holder(s). I am a big fan of 67 Designs. I really like their Series 55 rail for the JL/JT. Notice how the phone will sit right in front of the top half of the AC vent. You can buy as many mount balls as you want to mount devices. There are other good center dash mount solutions, but this setup can hold the most arms. I am also a fan of Carolina Metal Masters. CMM may be expensive for some, but no one else is making the various grab handle mounts they make.


The mic holder in this picture came from Bullet Point Mounting Solutions since I was already ordering some arms from them.  If you look at the bottom picture from my Mojave, that mic clip came from JeepUniq (a member of this forum too). I like JeepUniq's holder better, it's smaller and tighter looking. Both work equally great though.






CMM Glove box grab handle mount (1")




CMM A-Pillar 1" grab handle mount. Worth noting it can work on the bottom as pictured, or the top of the handle, and the same mount works on the passenger or driver side. CMM now also offer the ball in 20mm 67D compatible size too. But 67D is now also selling RAM 1" adapters, so you can mix and match to your heart's content. I happen to have a lot of RAM Mount "B" arms and accessories so I keep ordering the 1" balls.




I am creating the same setup and layout I have in my Gladiator Mojave. That upside of having a common platform across vehicles.



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Posted (edited)

Let's talk communications. (See what I did there?) I am licensed for both HAM and GMRS. GMRS is becoming the standard for off-road caravan communication. Compared to CB, GMRS offers FM transmission using UHF frequencies. UHF FM is audio is cleaner, even in bad reception conditions, than HF (High Frequency) AM communications. Yes CB is, in theory, getting FM transmission mode, but it is still outdated and very limited in line-of-sight range as compared to. And everyone has to get a new radio (when and if they come out). While HAM defaults to FM and GMRS just is FM transmission, HAM can win over GMRS for audio quality if you have a set of compatible digital HAM radios (Yaesu C4FM or Motorola DMR, standards are not inter-compatible).


HAM also has an advantage over GMRS in having far more frequency range to play in. That translates into a higher likelihood of getting a communications "channel" all to yourselves. When all members of the caravan a licensed HAMs, I prefer to use that over GMRS. Lastly HAM is also allowed to use a LOT more power although most high power HAM mobiles can only push 50w, which is the maximum limit for high channel GMRS so take that for what it's worth.


While GMRS just recently got approved for digital transmissions for automated location transmission, HAM has always been able to do this. The standard across  the HAM world is APRS over VHF. If you are within range of a digipeater connected to the internet, You can get location tracking using https://aprs.fi. APRS can also be transmitted point to point (car to car) including GPS coordinates. I prefer to use Yaesu and when you have all members using Yaesu dual-band radios, you can go into Group Monitor mode. I use this with @CAVU2 for our travels. This keeps a compass up on my HAM head unit screen with his most recent coordinates, direction relative to my travel, and approximate distance. It "just works" (TM).


A "Group Monitor" like feature is coming for GMRS, but don't expect a commercial solution for another year or two. Everyone will require a new radio and there is no guarantee that the solution(s) will be inter-brand compatible. Garmin has a Group Ride Radio proprietary solution available today starting at $800 per unit/vehicle running on the VHF MURS frequencies.


But in one sense, all of this is irrelevant. I pulled the Yaesu FTM-400 ham radio out of my old 2008 JKUR before selling it and obviously I'm reusing it in the JLUR. I had a CB in the '08, but I opted to let it go with the Jeep, and I am not bothering with CB in any of my vehicles going forward. If I need a CB for something like EJS (they still require CB), I'll use a handheld with an external antenna. Or maybe I'll toss a mobile CB on the floor. I have one of each (I think) in my garage cabinets of wonderful junk.


My FTM-400 has had the MARS-CAP mod performed. I also have a significant number of handheld HAM and GMRS radios.


It's late (for me), so I'll detail the actual installation of the FTM-400 in another post.

Edited by SonoranWanderer
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