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Unread 10-10-2009, 02:48 AM   #1
mrbodywork
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JK Unlimited Rubicon Expedition Build

Fellow Jeep Aficionados,

I want to thank all the posters and contributors for their invaluable insight over the last year. I lurked on this board for 6 months before we purchased our 09 JK. Once we bought our beast, this forum has given us the inspiration to create our own expedition vehicle. Our goal over the next 8 months is to create a vehicle capable of taking us from Key West to Alaska, across the back roads, mountain passes, ghost towns and out of the way corners of our awesome country.

We have started with what must believe to be the most capable factory off road vehicle built today, the Jeep JK Unlimited Rubicon. So far we have added a 3.5 inch AEV Nth Degree Lift with a high steer kit and 35 inch Toyo Mud Terrains running on KMC Rockstars. To maximize articulation and to allow the addition of 37ís in the future, we mounted full width Xenon Flat Fenders. Up front we have upgraded the armor with a Rugged Ridge engine skid and bumper with a prerunner bar.

Over the next month Iíll be adding a Gobi Roof Rack with KC Daylighters up top. Our bumper will be sporting a warn winch and a pair of driving lights and fog lights. I will be upgrading the electric system to a HO alternator (looking for suggestions) and a dual yellow top battery set up. I plan on adding an inverter on board for necessary electronics.

I havenít yet decided on what swing away tire/rear bumper combo weíll be going with. Iíll be switching to 5.13 gears early next year . The driveshafts are factory and will most likely be upgraded shortly before we leave in May 2010. Iíll also be adding additional underbelly armor for the transmission and fuel tank and a snorkel to keep her breathing across the fords.

Iím looking for suggestions to maximize the jeeps livability and survivability over the course of our 5,000 mile trek. Most of our time will be spent camping. Iím considering several roof mounted tent options and an awning. My check list is 4 pages long and growing daily. Despite my research Iím sure Iím over looking many aspects so Iíd like to hear from individuals who have embarked on similar adventures and their lessons learned.

We are open to suggestions on sites to see and route planning. This will be an unforgettable 5 month tour of our nationís awesome natural resources. Weíll be documenting our travels and Iíll be posting our preparations before we leave and our experiences on the trail.

Iíve attached a couple pics that best display our jeepís best assets.

Thank You in Advance,
Bill and Irene




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Unread 10-10-2009, 03:09 AM   #2
waterboarder
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrbodywork View Post
Our goal over the next 8 months is to create a vehicle capable of taking us from Key West to Alaska
That shouldn't take much. I rode my 250cc scooter from Alaska to Key West and back (via Mexico and Quebec) a few years ago. Now - if you could build something that could make that trip without using any roads - THAT would be quite a vehicle (:

Quote:
We have started with what must believe to be the most capable factory off road vehicle built today, the Jeep JK Unlimited Rubicon. So far we have added a 3.5 inch AEV Nth Degree Lift with a high steer kit and 35 inch Toyo Mud Terrains running on KMC Rockstars. To maximize articulation and to allow the addition of 37’s in the future, we mounted full width Xenon Flat Fenders. Up front we have upgraded the armor with a Rugged Ridge engine skid and bumper with a prerunner bar.
None of this stuff is necessary to drive from Florida to Alaska.

Quote:
I’m looking for suggestions to maximize the jeeps livability and survivability over the course of our 5,000 mile trek.
I'm recommending some method of taking a hot shower.

Quote:
Despite my research I’m sure I’m over looking many aspects so I’d like to hear from individuals who have embarked on similar adventures and their lessons learned.
I've driven into or out of Alaska maybe 10 times - twice via scooter. I think I could help you out if you have some SPECIFIC questions. One thing I would HIGHLY recommend is that you forego any kind of roof-rack based solution in favour of a trailer solution - for cargo, sleeping arrangements, or whatever.

Quote:
I’ve attached a couple pics that best display our jeep’s best assets.
Nice Jeep.
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Unread 10-10-2009, 06:17 AM   #3
Grant211
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ok, the pic got my attention... more pics please. lol


great looking headlights
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Unread 10-10-2009, 06:23 AM   #4
tcass
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nice jeep....great color. i see it goes well with pink and blue

cass
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Unread 10-10-2009, 06:26 AM   #5
bchboy1206
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Nice set up man I cant wait to see the results. I just cant wait until I can get a JK and make it like yours.... I plan on having one by my 50th post so I can post pics..
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Unread 10-10-2009, 09:14 AM   #6
BRICKTOP2
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Are you going to be staying at hotels? If not, an offroad trailer set up would be a great idea. You can make one yourself, or look at several different companies out there who are building them. You can get them made to match your rig.

Here are a few things that come to mind:


ARB recovery gear
ARB tire repair kit
AEV jack base (unless you want to use a block of wood or you have a hi lift jack) Your factory jack won't cut it with 37s.
ARB/ Engel fridge (spendy, but light years ahead of the cheap fridges)
Storage nets everywhere, you're going to need them if you don't go with a trailer
Powertank air system or onboard compressor
Roof tent (if no trailer or hotels)

And if you're going to be wheeling hard enough to need additional skid plates, you're probably going to want to consider either removing the center cap things from the wheels or going with some different wheels. Those things will get crushed in no time.

Sounds like a great trip. Have a blast!
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Unread 10-10-2009, 09:28 AM   #7
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Nice jeep. Only thing I'm not a fan of are the Rockstar wheels.
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Unread 10-10-2009, 12:45 PM   #8
mrbodywork
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Thanks for the replys. Let me clearify, the goal of this trip is not to take the easy route. I could stay on the main roads or jump onto a ferry to avoid a lot of the outback hassles headed to Alaska etc., instead we plan on taking the road less traveled. Ever since my first jeep I was the guy who was always late because there was some hint of an old farm road, gravel pit or just something that not everyone has done or been to, that I had to go check out. Back in New England where I grew up there were tons of old abandoned farm roads or logging trails that no longer went anywhere.

I'm not looking to create a rock eating machine instead, a capable rig that will take us everywhere we want to go. I'd like to take on 5 great treks across America, heading to Alaska would be the first. I know lots of people are opposed to roof racks and prefer trailers. My goal will be to carry our 2 person Kayak, paddleboards etc. I don't think a trailer would work with the Kayak.

As for the wheels, sure- love em or hate em, we think they look great and perform adequate. I'm not concerned about scratches, **** happens. Yes, the center caps would be crushed in any real wheeling so they come off in 2 minutes with a cordless. For the big trip a have a set of Crager 8's that we'll be mounting.

Bricktop- I've got all the gear you recomend with the exception of the roof tent which I'm still researching (looking for feedback) and the Fridge. We'll be camping mostly. Solar showers are a must!

Bill
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Unread 10-10-2009, 01:19 PM   #9
waterboarder
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrbodywork View Post
I could stay on the main roads or jump onto a ferry to avoid a lot of the outback hassles headed to Alaska etc.,
There isn't any outback between Florida and Alaska (:

Quote:
instead we plan on taking the road less traveled.
Even that road is generally paved (:

Quote:
My goal will be to carry our 2 person Kayak, paddleboards etc. I don't think a trailer would work with the Kayak.
Well, a couple of points here. You COULD make a trailer work with the kayak (with the right trailer and rigging) - but you could also put the kayak on a roof rack and everything else in a trailer.

I've made the following cross-country trips:
1993: Virginia to Alaska (via Texas) [Trooper]
1995: Alaska to Nova Scotia (via Missouri) [Trooper w/rack]
1995: Nova Scotia to Alaska (via Virginia) [Trooper w/rack]
2001: Alaska to Florida to Quebec (via Mexico) [scooter]
2001: Quebec to Alaska [scooter]
2007: Virginia to Alaska (winter) [Jeep]

I've also driven to the Arctic Ocean twice (once in the middle of winter), and made some other extended road trips (through Alaska and Canada). So, I've got some experience in this area. I can tell you that even if you put your kayak on a rack, there are advantages to using a trailer, ESPECIALLY if you are using your soft top. The trailer gives you cargo security, ease of access and organization, the ability to "leave your stuff behind" and go somewhere without carrying it all with you, the ability to carry more, easier dropping of the soft top, ability to USE the soft top, and so forth. My bottom line is that given a trip like you plan to make, I wouldn't do it without the trailer. You clearly have the money for a trailer of some kind, so that's not an issue. If nothing else, I'd have the trailer for carrying my gas, water, a second spare, fluids, and so forth. If you take a trailer, you will not regret it.

How much time do you plan to take for this trip each way?

Good luck!
wb
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Unread 10-10-2009, 01:22 PM   #10
McKBrew
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If you are heading up to Alaska recommend getting one of these books. I haven't done the drive myself, but several family members have. I'm planning on doing a WA to AK trip in a few years with my sons.
The MILEPOST: Alaska Travel Guide and Trip Planner
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Unread 10-10-2009, 01:29 PM   #11
waterboarder
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Originally Posted by McKBrew View Post
If you are heading up to Alaska recommend getting one of these books. I haven't done the drive myself, but several family members have. I'm planning on doing a WA to AK trip in a few years with my sons.
The MILEPOST: Alaska Travel Guide and Trip Planner
I was just about to comment on The Milepost - but my recommendation is to NOT GET SUCKERED into buying one. It is one overrated piece of crap. It is mostly advertisements. They also don't cover a lot of things, because they really only cover businesses and commercial places that advertise with them. Save your money. Better to research on the Internet and print out what you need.
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Unread 10-10-2009, 04:33 PM   #12
luigi0523
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Depending on your trek routing there is lotsa outback to be explored in the Western and Rocky Mountain states. You could easily do 1000 miles of Jeep trails and dirt roads. You could spend days or even weeks in Colorado alone, exploring the backcountry. Although, the best time for extensive offroad travel in Colorado would be July - Sept. as many of the high mountain passes done melt out until then.
We've done many Jeep expeditions in Colorado and Utah. If you would like more info on what's out here, PM me.
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Unread 10-10-2009, 04:54 PM   #13
McKBrew
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Originally Posted by waterboarder View Post
I was just about to comment on The Milepost - but my recommendation is to NOT GET SUCKERED into buying one. It is one overrated piece of crap. It is mostly advertisements. They also don't cover a lot of things, because they really only cover businesses and commercial places that advertise with them. Save your money. Better to research on the Internet and print out what you need.
I stand corrected then. Years ago they were pretty decent with pretty much mile by mile information and different routes. Must have became more commercialized.
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Unread 10-10-2009, 04:58 PM   #14
mrbodywork
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Waterboarder,

The trip will leave the second week of May. I plan on a 3 month round trip. Looking to be in Alaska for about a month. Have friends in Fairbanks and a couple other people I plan to look up while there. Want to spend some time photographing in Denali.

The trip route is flexible. Need to be in Colorado at some point and will use some of the time to hit a few of the Ghost Town trails that have always appealed to me. The way back from Alaska will be down the west coast to San Fran to visit a few scattered friends and enjoy a few grapes. We'd like to include the Tahoe area.

10 years ago we went cross country for 5 months in an RV, deciding what we were going to do and where we wanted to settle. After seeing the country we decided Key West would work for a while. We are now ready for a change and we'll use this trip in the same way to figure out what we want to do. We've created a list of interesting places, off the beaten path, we'd like to see if they were for us.

I considered a trailer and you mentioned a few of the obvious reasons to go that way. We haven't ruled it out but we will definitely include the rack as a photography/observation platform, kayak carrier, etc.

I smile at the thought of crossing the country on a scooter. That's as basic a travel as it gets. Been up and down the east coast in motorcycles and cars but my scooter experiences have been limited to the island here.

I admire your adventuresome spirit. I've got tons of friends with boats who plan the big trip but never go. I always say just drop the lines and go. Plan your expedition and go.
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Unread 10-10-2009, 05:34 PM   #15
waterboarder
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Originally Posted by McKBrew View Post
I stand corrected then. Years ago they were pretty decent with pretty much mile by mile information and different routes. Must have became more commercialized.
Well, they do have mile by mile info and routes - but it really isn't anything unique - you can get the info anywhere. What the book mostly has is advertisements.

Quote:
The trip will leave the second week of May. I plan on a 3 month round trip.
OK - so you'll get here just in time for the mosquitos (:

I'd love to make that trip in 3 months. Be aware it will go faster than it seems like it should. For example - my January 2007 trip from Virginia to Anchorage took 7 days of hard driving (for example, Washington D.C. to Davenport, IA in the first day). At a more reasonable pace, it would take 2 weeks. So - coming from Florida - figure 2 weeks as an absolute minimum for really not doing much more than driving the most direct route, stopping for the night at a reasonable hour (say, 4pm), starting at a reasonable hour (no earlier than 9am) and doing stuff around the area where you stop for the night. That leaves you 2 weeks to "pad" it with special out of the way routes, or with time to do more interesting things, stay in the same area for a few nights, etc.

I'd recommend taking a direct-ish route on the way up - so that would be to Colorado and then north up through Montana, Edmonton and the Alaska Highway. On the way back, take the AK Highway to the Cassier and then go south from there, and come down into Washington. From there, you can hit whatever part of the SW U.S. you want. This also minimizes "backtracking" to the extent possible.

Quote:
Looking to be in Alaska for about a month. Have friends in Fairbanks and a couple other people I plan to look up while there. Want to spend some time photographing in Denali.
OK - well, keep in mind that you can't drive into Denali very far. You'll have to take the crappy bus into the park - and that really sucks. The campgrounds you want to stay in there don't allow campfires either - so keep that in mind. You'll need warm stuff plus some kind of hot cooking capability that you can bring in with backpacks. You can drive as far as Teklanika if you stay for a minimum of 3 days - and if you can get a reservation. Book as soon as you can, it fills up fast. But even that is well outside the main part of the park - it's maybe another 60 miles from there to the end of the road.

Quote:
The trip route is flexible. Need to be in Colorado at some point and will use some of the time to hit a few of the Ghost Town trails that have always appealed to me. he way back from Alaska will be down the west coast to San Fran to visit a few scattered friends and enjoy a few grapes. We'd like to include the Tahoe area.
OK - so you have a plan. See above comments about Cassier highway (which I think is better than the ALCAN anyway).

Quote:
10 years ago we went cross country for 5 months in an RV, deciding what we were going to do and where we wanted to settle. After seeing the country we decided Key West would work for a while.
I wish I could live in KW and be a dive bum (:

Quote:
I smile at the thought of crossing the country on a scooter.
TWICE (:

Quote:
That's as basic a travel as it gets. Been up and down the east coast in motorcycles and cars but my scooter experiences have been limited to the island here.
Yeah, went from Alaska to Washington, did the USA Four Corners Tour (dipping into Mexico for a bit), and I was in far Northern Quebec on my way to Labrador when I broke down 300 miles from anywhere. That kinda sucked.

Quote:
I always say just drop the lines and go. Plan your expedition and go.
I tell people that "some day" is not on the calender (:

Good luck!
wb

p.s.: and glad you didn't take my attempts to humour with you as negative. Bully for you (:
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