New Shoes at 4WP

After spending a few months rolling with a used set of 35s, I decided it’s the right size for my June trip to Moab>Rubicon. They were mud terrain which made them super gripping off road, but were loud and not great on the road.

I saved up a few months and finally plunked down on a new set of wheels and tires. I love BF Goodrich KO2 tires, my OEM wheels still have them. They’re awesome on and off road. Though not great in mud, they get the job done. Picked up five of them at 4WP in Carlisle (35×12.50×17).

For wheels I went with basic alloy. Pro Comp Series 7069 wheels (17×9) with Pro Comp 8 spline keyed lug nuts. I’m not into bling, these wheels look nice and low key. Matte black.

I saved 24 pounds of rotating weight per wheel which is huge. They are quiet, where the old ones sounded like an Abrams M1 tank! They’re also better gas mileage wise, 3 mpg from the trip back from from the shop. Not to mention instant *and* mail in rebates saved me about $40 per tire.

Next will be re-gearing, from 4.10 to 4.56.

Fridge, Slider, & Compressor

I finally finished mounting the Dometic CFX3 35 fridge, and the Dometic Fridge Slider. I took my time in deciding what bolts and washers to use, to get the most secure setup. Since it all sits on 3/8″ plywood, I wanted to get the biggest washers possible underneath, to spread the stress.

Turns out I went overboard as usual, so its definitely not budging when I hit Moab and Rubicon. 🙂 The slider itself is secured to the plywood twin drawers top by 8 stainless steel bolts. The fridge is bolted to the slider by 4 black stainless steel bolts, this is optional if you use straps to secure using the handles.

I bought two 96″ Angled L-Tracks, I ended up using 2/3 of one, so I have 1 1/3 of the 2 L-Tracks left over. I tried hacksawing the strips, but got a rude reminder of how horrible hacksaws are. I ended up getting a Milwaukee Hackzall, which uses the same batteries as my impact driver and impact wrench. It made the cuts so much easier. I had to take a Dremel 4300 to the ends to make them smooth.

I had to experiement with different sized counter sunk stainless steel machine screws to get the strongest size while making sure the screw heads were sunken. Its really important for the O ring studs to slide smoothly. I like how it turned out. Strong and easy on the eyes. I might put a piece of the L-Track along the rear outer wall of the twin storage drawers, to help secure stuff behind the driver and front passenger seats.

I finally got the compressor wired up. Two 10 AWG positive lines (each with 40 AMP inline fuses), and a single 8 AWG ground wire. I made sure the wires were exactly the right size, and I used solder seal so the connections are solid and waterproof. I covered the wires with split wire loom tubing for protection.

This is one wiring job that has to be perfect. I learned a lot about how to create durable wiring harnesses for high power applications. I decided to run the wire from under the passenger seat, and under the carpet and through the A pillar on the passenger side, and secured to the big 3 battery terminal extensions.

Now for the moment of trugh. Was this all worth the time and effort. The ARB Twin Compressor (CKMTP12 converted to a CKMTA12) combined with a MoorFlate took 4 minutes to bring my four 35×12.50×17 tires up from 15 LBS to 36 LBS! Wow! No more getting back to the camp ground after dark.

Airing down is still a bit of a PITA. I used to use Staun Automatic Tire Deflators (made of brass), but they didn’t seem very accurate. Not to mention they take so damned long. So for airing down I use the ARB E-Z Deflator that was recommended to me by the folks at Cumberland Crawlerz.

Now I need to start planning how and where to store the Dometic PLB40 battery and the GoPower 150W Pure Sine Wave Inverter, since power management is so important.

Rugged Ridge Fender Flare Redux

After contacting Rugged Ridge’s parent company OMIX-ADA, to alert them of the fender issues, they sent me a replacement set of Daylight Running Lights (DRLs) for their Rugged Ridge 11640.51 Max-Terrain Fender Flares for 18-21 Jeep Wrangler JL.

Today I carved out some time to replace the DRLs, only to find they sent me the same exact part numbers. Geez, man, really? I went to Home Depot to get some dielectric grease, to hopefully glase over the spot where the wires come into the body.

I also got instructions this time, which explains how to deal with the relay and wires. I don’t think the relay and wires will corrode anymore, since the heat shrink encapsulates the relay and wires, and I used a ton of electric tape to fend off any water getting in.

I took the opportunity to replace the crappy plastic clips that FCA decided was a good idea, or a way to cut corners on fender mounts. American Adventure Lab (AAL) makes the perfect solution, easy to install, and they even strengthen the fender flares. Brilliant design, highly recommended.

Ever since I installed my wheel well liners, I lost the ability to use my JKS Quicker Disconnects’ upper mounts, so today I upgraded my JKS sway bar links. I replaced the upper threaded posts with stainless steel quick release posts. I also replaced the red grease caps after greasing them up. Good as new.

I was grungy after the DRLs were done, so I decided to finally respool my winch cable. I did so using my body weight, probably would have been better to use a tree. The cable is neat again, ready for Moab/Rubicon in June. 🙂

Speaking Of The Dirtworx

I always wanted a rear bumper that spreads the weight of the tire carrier across both ends of the bumper. This just makes sense to me. Its physics. Its math. I felt so close to nirvana when I ordered a Dirtworx custom rear bumper and tire carrier a few months ago. With a lead time of two weeks, I finally got the bumper more than two months later. I took it to a local powder coating shop, then I had a shop handle the install.

I got a call from the shop. The bumper doesn’t fit, the mount brackets are inches off. Apparently Dirtworx fabricated the bumper for a JK and not a JL. I spoke with Dirtworx and they offered to pay a local shop to fix it, or I could ship it back and they’d cover the cost of shipping. I wasn’t willing to risk any more issues, especially since I was already in the hole for more than $500 in powder coating and shop costs.

I decided to ship it back and get refunded. Dirtworx admitted they don’t do a lot of JL work, and so they assumed the JK and JL models had the same rear bumper mount spacing. Mistakes happen. What I expected was for them to split the cost of powder coating and shop time, since it was their mistake. Dirtworx took the position “we sent you the wrong part”. Um. Nope. Sorry. Dirtworx was negligent.

I hesitated over whether to leave the glowing blog posts up, or to take them down. I took them down today. I also didn’t want to “out” Dirtworx for their negligence, but a friend convinced me to alert the community, so the same thing doesn’t happen to the next guy.

So here we are. I’ve had a couple months to decide what to do. I decided to let the Jeep community know what happened, so they can decide whether they want to do business with a company like Dirtworx. They were highly recommended to me, and now those who recommended them are as off put as I am about how they handled their mistake.

If you own an older Jeep, I suppose the risk level would be acceptable. Since Dirtworx admitted to me they hardly do any JL work. If you look at their site, they seem to (continue to) think JK and JL models share the same specs. Sorry but they don’t. Given their mistake, you’d think they’d have learned, and updated their site. They haven’t, which helped me make the decision to post about this.

I’ve wrestled with the idea of reporting them to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), still haven’t decided whether to do that. I have a full paper trail where they admit they made an assumption, and how they felt their mistake is not their problem. Basically “tough”. I’ll decide at some point whether to further escalate this issue to the BBB.

Hope this posts helps prospective customers decide. Integrity is a thing. So is ethics.

</rant>

Putting My Drawers On

I’ve been waiting for the weather to get better, so I could finally put in a few hours and install my IronMan4x4 twin drawers and Dometic CFX3 35 fridge. A few months of calculating, measuring, and planning. Today was the day that I dove in and got it done.

I love the American Adventure Lab (AAL) platform, I was able to schlep stuff and tie things down so easily. Love the L-Track design! I knew I’d end up bolting the twin drawers onto it, but I decided not to remove the platform, even though I could have. The twin drawers offer two floating cross members that I could have lined up to the cargo floor holes. But I wanted the ability to strap stuff down to the exposed edges of the platform.

Based on some calls I made to both AAL and IronMan4x4, I bought some M10-1.5 x 25mm stainless steel bolts and some steel M10-1.5 nutserts. These were needed to bolt the IronMan4x4 twin drawers onto the AAL platform.

Once the 8 nutserts were installed, I reinstalled the AAL platform. This time I took the advice of some Cumberland Crawlerz buddies. Stainless steel bolts and steel nutserts require some anti-seize so I won’t need to use a blowtorch to disassemble after the June trip! Using an impact wrench set to medium, the reinstall of the AAL platform went smoothly.

I started removing the twin drawers from their frame. Then positioning the frame onto the AAL platform, and marking where I needed to drill the 8 holes. I then removed the AAL plate, and used a 1/8″ bit to start the hole, then a 1/4″, then a 3/8″. Eight holes later I installed the nutserts using a threaded rivet tool. Man it was so easy! I wish I knew about these kinds of solutions, so many opportunities lost!

I bolted the twin drawer cross members in eight spots. That bad boy isn’t going to come loose. Then I slid the twin drawers into the frame, and reinstalled the drawer stops. Given the limited space on left and right sides of the twin drawers, I came to the gunfight properly equipped with a right angle racheting screwdriver. Confirmed the drawers don’t hit the tailgate frame lock (1/2″ clearance) or the tailgate joint arm (1/2″ clearance there too!).

There are a couple inches room on the left/right sides of the twin drawers, Not sure what I’m going to do with that space yet. There’s plenty of space between the twin drawers and the tailgate. 3/4″ on the left, and 2″ on the right.

The next step was to install the two carpeted plywood lids. I installed the one on the right, and snugged it down. Then I installed the one on the left, but I didn’t tighten the screws, since I need to calculate/mark the spots where I need to bolt the fridge slider. I planned to use M6 bolts and 1″ washers, this way the carpeted plywood lids would not suffer stress cracks. That went a lot smoother than planned!

I had a choice to make regarding securing the fridge to the fridge slider. The fridge slider came with four bolts to attach the fridge permanently to the slide. I didn’t want to go that route, since there may be times when I spend more than a night in a camp spot. If so, I’d want to move the fridge to a table. So the alternate option made more sense, use the four straps that came with the slider to tie down both handles on both ends. Very secure, but easy to unmount when needed.

Throughout these past weeks of planning, I kept in mind that my stove would sit on the tailgate table, so the fridge would be mounted on the left side of the twin drawers, and that while I’m cooking, the right drawer would not open. So I have to be careful what I put into the drawers. Kitchen stuff in the left drawer, and tools/recovery gear in the right drawer.

I went with twin drawers, as opposed to two stacked drawers, so I could avoid having to put stuff on the fridge. I realized tonight once the drawers and fridge were installed, that there’s plenty of space for my Expedition 134 storage box, the tent, sleeping bag, a Pelican 1535 for storing my clothing, the Dometic PLB40 battery, and more. Since I ruled out the roof rack (at least until 2022), I plan to secure some stuff behind the seats as well.

Speaking of seats, of course the rear bench seat got removed the day I drove the Jeep home from the dealer. 🙂 One of the concerns I had when I ordered the twin drawers, was whether I’d be able to move the seat all the way back and recline. As it turned out, both seats go all the way back, and they recline enough for naps. When the seats are in their normal position, I’m able to store the tent, sleeping bag and mattress behind the driver or passenger seat.