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Go Back JeepForum.com > Models > Jeep Grand Cherokee & Commander Forums > Grand Cherokee General Discussion > The Billzcat1 Build Thread

Nitro Gear Packages Now Available at Rockridge 4wdPoison Spyder JK LED Taillight Wiring HarnessZONE 4.25" combo lift for TJ available at Rockridge4w

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Unread 02-08-2013, 10:26 PM   #466
Fawkes
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billzcat1 View Post
A few updates!

We went out to Tahuya State Forest during the Super Bowl...



So glad to see someone with a winch mounted in their MiniMax!

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WJ Stand-Alone Shackle Tabs.
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Unread 02-11-2013, 10:52 PM   #467
billzcat1
Chicken in a Turkey Suit
2003 WJ 
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Redmond, WA
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Ha, yeah the Rover is a beast! It's had its share of issues but it has never left anyone stranded. It drives completely differently than the WJ. So much smoother! It's on OME 3", NATO 6mm steelies with Discoverer ST-Cs. Those are RoverTym bumpers with a Warn 9.5Ti. Should be able to bounce it off most anything without concern although he does need some additional skids. The suspension, bumpers, and winch are worth more than he paid for the whole thing.
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Unread 02-11-2013, 11:51 PM   #468
billzcat1
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2003 WJ 
 
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Location: Redmond, WA
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And another update that was a long time coming...

A few months back, I had mentioned in a thread that if I had it to do over, I'd buy the Fawkes MiniMax since the additional shackle mounts add a ton more utility to the front (over the Warn front receiver). My plan was to weld on 3/4" shackle tabs to the Warn to get the function I wanted. You can compare to the original Warn install on Page 1 of this thread. Hard to believe it's been 2 years since I installed that beast!

Kris Fox (of www.fawkesfab.com) contacted me with a deal - trade a MiniMax "blem" unit for the Warn. We finally worked out all the details and I got the MiniMax. I should also point out that this deal came about BEFORE I was a moderator of the forum. I wanted to put that right out there because I didn't want anyone thinking there was some sort of impropriety on Kris's part. This was a great thing for both of us - I got the functionality I wanted and he gets a copy of his largest competitor's product to stack his up against.

I did the install on a Thursday night and everything went off 'without a hitch'!

My thoughts:
1) The packaging is quite clever. You won't believe how well-packed it is and how much goodies he can fit into one slender box.
2) It is much thicker and heavier than the Warn it replaced. I would estimate + 15lbs over the Warn
3) The 3" cross bar is quite stout
4) The wrinkle-coat powder-coating is extremely tough. So was the Warn, although that was smooth.
5) The shackle tabs are welded through the tube. The frame rails would have to rip out before the shackle mounts failed.
6) The trimming required is more extensive than the Warn. In a way, that's a good thing. The winch is considerably easier to install with the lower 7-slats removed and the overall install looks even cleaner than the Warn.
7) Both products completely block airflow to the lower section of the radiator. This has proven a non-issue for me since I installed the Warn.
8) The Warn hitch installs with 4 7/16" Grade 5 bolts. The MiniMax installs with 6 1/2" Grade 8 bolts. There are an additional 8 1/2" Grade 8 bolts securing the cross bar. The hardware is all of exceptional quality and is all US-made.
9) The MiniMax is compatible with the OEM front skid plate. The Warn is not. This has a number of benefits: better protection, drastically reduced wind noise, and theoretically better fuel economy. The difference in wind noise with the front skid plate reinstalled was a notable difference and one that pays dividends every single day.
10) The 2" receiver is larger than the Warn, measuring 2.0625". It is supplied directly from Curt Manufacturing. At first, I thought it might result in rattling or bouncing of the winch in the receiver. In practice driving and wheeling, I found is has not rattled a single time.
11) The modular design allows a future upgrade path which is very enticing. There are a number of ways that you could easily expand this setup.

Here are some pics of the install:

MiniMax cross tube versus Warn 61768:


The three holes you must enlarge to mount the MiniMax. I recommend a Unibit and a powerful corded drill. It will take a lot of torque to turn a square hole into a round one. A right angle drill is recommended in the instructions but I found a half-inch chuck Milwaukee does just fine if you don't mind a slightly-oblong hole on the rear mounts.


With everything installed:


Another angle. Look, there's a skid plate in there again!


Bumper on!


Bumper on, showing the trim job. I trimmed more than I planned but it still looks good.


Sticks out just a little more than the Warn did. Changing to a Hawse fairlead will make up the difference. In speaking with Kris, this additional clearance is intentional to allow more clearance for various bull bars and/or brush guards which may otherwise interfere. There's no guarantee of perfect fitment with every combo but this should be a good start.


Picked up some 7/8" pin 3/4" shackles and hit the trail. (sorry for the repost)


If you have any questions on the install, please let me know! I am very happy with this product and am looking forward to many happy years with it.
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Unread 03-03-2013, 10:47 PM   #469
billzcat1
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2003 WJ 
 
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Not much new here. Hadn't driven my Jeep in 2 weeks, started right up. Those battery draw issues are still gone. Can't complain about that.

We had a bit of decent weather so I started up on my wheel project. I have a set of Silverblade #4s that I got from another member for free in exchange for helping him install a "Billzcat lift". They were incredibly filthy but in good shape under the dirt. One of them suffered some finish damage from a leaky axle seal so the clear was peeling on all 7 spokes. Here's the thing... I don't really like the Silverblade #4. BUT, if you imagine it in black, you get a style remarkably similar to the classic Soft 8. So I cleaned them with concentrated dish soap and a scrubby sponge first. That took care of 95% of the baked in brake dust and they were looking pretty good. But the backsides were still badly stained from embedded brake dust. That was about 6 months ago! They've been holding down a corner of the garage ever since.

So today I started stripping them. I went with the classic angle-grinder + wire wheel approach. Then my cup brush exploded and I took a load of wire shrapnel to the face. So I went and bought another. And a face shield. Safety goggles were not enough. With the new cup brush it went a lot faster, got the barrels cleaned up and the faces nicely etched for paint to stick to. The clearcoat on the face of these wheels is EXTREMELY thick and durable - it takes a lot of brushing to make it through. That wasn't my intent though, I just wanted to rough it up for the paint to adhere better. My experience with painting is that if the base is really hard to remove, it is going to be a decent base for the paint. So if it survives a wire wheel, it will hold paint just fine. This stripping step made a huge dusty mess in the garage, so I washed down the wheels (again) and parked them back in the corner to dry.

Pretty exciting stuff, I know.
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Unread 03-03-2013, 10:56 PM   #470
krnkimchi702
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hey, i heard tahuya got changed up pretty big. did you notice any difference?
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Unread 03-05-2013, 02:17 PM   #471
billzcat1
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There was one new rocky hill climb (similar to Yellow Jacket, way over my head) and a few more rocks scattered here and there. Some of the trouble areas have been filled in, others are more eroded. There are a LOT of unauthorized trails and bypasses cropping up though. Very disappointing.

All in all it's pretty much the same though.
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Unread 03-05-2013, 03:25 PM   #472
krnkimchi702
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good to see your jeep doing well. i just wish there were places closer to seattle than tahuya
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Unread 03-21-2013, 11:05 PM   #473
billzcat1
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Well, I'm not really thrilled with how the wheels look after stripping. The clearcoat was soft in places and gouged and in others it was rock hard. The faces are never going to be smooth again. I think I might have more or less ruined a good set of wheels.

Good news is that I have a line on a set of 5 Moabs for $200. Now that the 2013 Rubicon is out with a different wheel style, the Moabs seem to have taken a nose dive in value. There are like 4 sets of wheels on craigslist under $300. Probably going to pick those up this weekend. The beads on my Rogue Chromes are getting so bad I have to fill the front tires every 2 weeks.

Also picked up all a complete set of PS hoses and a new PS cooler. New O-rings for the pump. Hopefully I can get it dialed in with no more leaking. Everything else is new and the IR thermometer seemed to think that 90% of the cooler wasn't flowing fluid. My current theory is that the cooler is mostly blocked (probably with rubber from inside the hoses) and the fluid overheats. It doesn't leak when cold. It doesn't leak when running. It doesn't leak when hot. It leaks between the pump and the reservoir after it's hot and is shut off.

It's been kind of annoying. Hopefully it digests this giant cash enema and starts holding in its fluid!

Also bought 4 Moog tie rod ends. Might as well while I'm tightening things up; mine are OEM and a little loose. No death wobble or anything. Just feels loose, especially after driving my VW most of the time. I have "planned unemployment" (contract at Microsoft is up) in 6 weeks and my goal is to have the Jeep FIXED before the break so I can enjoy my time off with the Jeep camping, wheeling, and going places!

More updates to follow.
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Unread 03-21-2013, 11:31 PM   #474
compcrasher86
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Love the way the jk moabs look on WJs, wish I had held off for a set myself. Hopefully that price plummet hits over here too. Ill be excited to see if you get some, and now you have a proper excuse!
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Unread 03-22-2013, 07:33 AM   #475
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billzcat1 View Post
Good news is that I have a line on a set of 5 Moabs for $200.
I always liked the look of Moabs as well. For quite a while, I wanted to get a set myself but have since changed my mind - I like having less backspacing and wouldn't mind getting away from wheel spacers. I like the look but also appreciate the benefit of the lesser backspacing keeping the body off close obstacles (running sideways near an embankment). I'm mainly just curious if you prefer the 6" BS or if it would benefit you more to save up a couple extra bucks for a set of new 4.5" BS aluminum rims.

Just picking your brain! The Moabs do look awesome and $200 is hard to pass up on for 5!

Quote:
Originally Posted by billzcat1 View Post
It's been kind of annoying. Hopefully it digests this giant cash enema and starts holding in its fluid!
You are a master at wordsmithing!

Quote:
Originally Posted by billzcat1 View Post
...my goal is to have the Jeep FIXED before the break so I can enjoy my time off with the Jeep camping, wheeling, and going places!
That sounds wonderful! I'll look forward to the pictures!

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His: 2004 WJ - OME HD 'Kolak' Lift - Build Thread
His: 1979 J-10 - 3" on 33s - Build Thread
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Originally Posted by tommyooooooh View Post
But ChrisHager makes me want to poor water on a burning bucket of gasoline now just out of curiosity.
Quote:
Originally Posted by billzcat1 View Post
The latest lift kit from Rough Country? :D
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeeples View Post
Your symptoms sounds just like what it does when it's not doing what it should because of how it is.
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Unread 03-22-2013, 10:12 AM   #476
billzcat1
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Well, Moabs are kind of "played out". I was sort of looking forward to the black SilverBlade #4s but then I had to go and ruin em. I'll have 2 full sets of Jeep wheels to recycle though, should recoup about $100 in scrap aluminum. Maybe more, these Jeep wheels aren't light.

I would like to have wheel spacers in there. I used to make them for people so I'm pretty well versed on what's what with wheel spacers. But the truth of the matter is that while I'd really like to fill out the fenders more, spending an extra $200 (whether in spacers or in wheels) for the style isn't the highest priority. There's more that the WJ needs before that would happen and I'm also putting money aside to buy a house. Can I afford it? Yes. Do I want to afford it? No. Likewise on larger tires. I want them and I can afford them, but the WJ goes everywhere I ask it to and I have plenty of tread depth. So should I drop a G on tires? Probably not. I'll have to wear out these ones first, and that's going to take a while.

Trust me though, my eyes keep straying over to the 6" long arm lifts and 33s... must not order. Wife will kill me!
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Unread 03-22-2013, 10:20 AM   #477
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That makes sense. I forgot you used to make the wheel spacers. The only thing I don't like about mine is having to remove them to get my tires balanced - kind of a pain!

I totally understand the cash portion of it! I'm not going anywhere on the WJ height or tire wise until my current ones wear off, which hopefully won't be for a year or two more.

6" long arms and 33s? Why not save 3k and cut the fenders?

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His: 2004 WJ - OME HD 'Kolak' Lift - Build Thread
His: 1979 J-10 - 3" on 33s - Build Thread
Hers: 2000 TJ

ChrisHager's 'Grilled' Thread

WJ Torque Specs

Quote:
Originally Posted by tommyooooooh View Post
But ChrisHager makes me want to poor water on a burning bucket of gasoline now just out of curiosity.
Quote:
Originally Posted by billzcat1 View Post
The latest lift kit from Rough Country? :D
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeeples View Post
Your symptoms sounds just like what it does when it's not doing what it should because of how it is.
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Unread 03-22-2013, 10:44 AM   #478
billzcat1
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Wheel travel. I played on some rocks last month. Found it quite fun but also found myself woefully under-built for it. 4" is only an inch taller from where I'm at and clearance is already a major concern. But in the Grand scheme of things I still enjoy my WJ very much as it is.
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Unread 03-24-2013, 09:55 PM   #479
billzcat1
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Well, I went and picked up those Rubicon wheels. Set of 5 for $200. One has a 2" scratch and they were just a little dirty. I was planning on having Discount Tire mount them up (most everything I do is through Discount) but they obviously didn't want to do the job. They massively overbid the job, it was $172+ tax, I'd be at almost $200 out the door.

Now, there are 3 tire stores within 2 miles of my house. I stopped off at Firestone. I hate Firestone. Every time I've gone there, I have had problems with the service and/or pricing. Of course, like a dummy I still go back for alignments and such. So I went in just to see how much it would be and they came back with a very reasonable price. They billed it as a "winter tire changeover" 4 dismounts, 4 mounts, valve stems and a balance. $99 for 4. Since I had 5, they went with $120 + tax, I was out the door for $132.xx to change over the 5 wheels. New stems, backside wheel weights, properly torqued, I am shocked to say this but I am happy with the service I got from Firestone. They didn't even try to sell me things I didn't need - one of my biggest complaints with Firestone in the past. "Yeah you need your diffs, transfer case, and transmission serviced" "No I don't, I did it myself a month ago". That's how things usually go.

Anyway, I am happy with Firestone for the moment. I'm especially happy with the deal I got on the wheels and the look now with the Moabs installed. It was a long time coming and it boosts my satisfaction with the WJ even more.

No pics at this time. Jeep is dirty and I spent all weekend on the go and/or doing yardwork. Even the wife likes the new wheels. She says "Looks good. They say Jeep on them!". Then an hour later... "what are all these withdrawals from the account for?"
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Unread 03-25-2013, 01:12 AM   #480
compcrasher86
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I don't typically like places like Firestone for the exact reasons you described but the one up here was able to dismount, patch, remount, and balance one of the old crappy tires on my Sahara rims for under $20 out the door. They did however try and sell me one new tire for $400 for my full time 4x4 vehicle and told me my 10k old brakes needed doing because they were squeaking a bit, which I kindly rejected. I got another 5k out of those tires before I deemed them unsafe level tread and even still that tire holds air fine so their patch held and was well worth $20. I did consider them when looking at the lifetime allignment deals we shall see.
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98 XJ Sport | i6 | AW4 | 231 | Stone White | Agate Leather

SOLD 01 WJ Ltd | i6 | QT2 | Moog HD steering | Tow Package | Boston Acoustics Audio | RB1 | Lou's Catback | Stone White |

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