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MoparToYou 07-24-2010 01:07 PM

My 2010 Rubicon
I thought I would share with you all what I have done with my little 2 door Rubicon.

When the JK first came out I had a 2004 TJ that was very well equipped. It had Currie axles, 4.88 gears, Detroit lockers, 6" suspension lift with long arms and coilover shocks, and 37" tires. It was my fifth TJ, and it worked very well off road, although it was not the most pleasant vehicle in the world to drive on road. I have always been able to build great off road performing Jeeps, but when I look back over the years, and analyse why I sell them, it is because I get tired of their lack of power and poor handling on road. I wanted to focus more on performance and handling if I bought a new vehicle, and less on pure capability. I didn't want another vehicle that followed the "bigger is better" philosophy, with 37" or bigger tires. I wanted a vehicle that would be great to drive every day, but still be capable enough to make it through most anything I might encounter while exploring the backcountry.

I looked around at every vehicle I could think of, trying to find the best base vehicle to set up for back country exploring. I looked at Toyota FJ Cruiser's, Toyota Tacoma's, Ford Ranger's, Chevy Colorado's, and even a Land Rover. The Jeep JK has a few minor shortcomings, but all of its shortcomings can be addressed, unlike the shortcomings of the other vehicles. The Rubicon was the best choice for me.

The two main flaws with the JK Wrangler are: 1) Pretty much the whole front axle was under engineered; the tubes are weak and can bend or even break, the c-gussets bend, and the axle shafts break easier than they should. The axle shafts themselves are strong, but the axle u-joints have a half circle style c-clip that keeps the u-joint cap on. The half circle clips tend to come off, which lets the cap come off the joint, then the joint binds in the axle and breaks the ears off the axle shaft. 2) The steering box is also under engineered, and even a stock JK can break the sector shaft.

Here is what I did to make my Rubicon work a little better.

Teraflex Elite LCG 2.5" long arm suspension
Dynatrac Pro Rock 44 front axle w/ Motive Gear chromolly shafts
5.38 gears
Tom Woods driveshafts
35" Goodyear MT/Rs
Rock Hard 4x4 Parts front bumper w/ Warn M8000
Expedition One rear bumper

By purchasing the chromolly axle shafts I now have the stock axle shafts that can be used for spares if I ever have an axle shaft problem on the trail. I have also obtained an OEM steering box and power steering pump from a friend that upgraded his JK's steering with a PSC hydraulic ram assist, so I have spare parts for the steering.

Here is a photo after welding on the new brackets for the long arm suspension.

New JB Conversions spring perch used on rear axle.

Checking the contact pattern on the new 5.38 gears.

Completed rear axle / suspension.

Completed front axle / suspension.

And here is the finish product.

The work was done by Impulse Off Road, in St. George, UT. I've only put 500 miles on the Jeep so far, with 100 miles being off road miles, but so far I'm very happy. This is the best driving Jeep I've ever owned, and it is still very capable.

Thanks for reading.

Kenbo-Slice 07-24-2010 01:12 PM

Damn, that is a clean, practical and overall good looking Jeep you have there. Nice job.

allibaster 07-24-2010 02:30 PM

Thank you very much for sharing your experiences. Great read, and great JK!

fan45acp 07-24-2010 02:45 PM

Really NICE....:wave:

BeerGut 07-24-2010 04:30 PM

Cool - I would like to see bigger tires though

Warlord2 07-24-2010 06:17 PM

Thank god someone still is staying with the 2 door. I cant wait tell I can get some RCV axles, the stock spare would be nice to have...

Nice looking rig, why the long arm with only 2.5" lift though? looks like they would make good rock grabbers:confused:

MoparToYou 07-24-2010 08:16 PM

Yes, I stayed with the two door. It took me three years to finally buy a JK, because every time I would go to a dealership with thoughts of buying one, I would go there thinking I wanted a four door. I would test drive a four door, and come away from the test drive so underwhelmed that I could not bring myself to buy one. The four door is just too big and heavy for these little 3.8 engines. Acceleration is too sluggish, and climbing a mountain grade is downright painful. Finally I test drove a two door, and to my surprise it felt just like most other Jeeps I've owned, only better. It was much more peppy, sporty, and better handling. I came back from test driving the auto trans sport JK and told the dealer to locate me a Rubi with leather. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I went with the long arm suspension for improved ride quality and improved handling. A friend had access to several different brands of suspensions for JKs, for a magazine article he was writing. He tried several combinations of springs, control arms, shocks, and came up with the best ride quality from Teraflex 2.5" springs, Elka shocks, and JKS control arms. I test drove his Jeep with that set up, and then test drove it again after he put Teraflex long arms on it, with the same 2.5" springs and Elka shocks. Just changing to the long arms made a substantial improvement in how well it drove. So that is what I decided to go with. I didn't want a Jeep just for rock crawling, with great big tires. These 3.8 engines don't have enough power to turn the bigger tires well anyway. This Jeep is for backcountry exploring, where I will typically cover a hundred miles or more of backroads in a day. I want it to be capable enough to cross obstacles I may come upon, but I don't intend to go find a stream bed somewhere and spend all day going 1/4 mile in the bottom of a stream.

That spring experiment my friend conducted was interesting though. There are a lot of suspensions out there that really don't work all that well, and some are pretty bad. Some of them even cause the ESP to continually go off, just driving around town.

Warlord2 07-24-2010 08:30 PM

WOW, I would of never known that a long arm would make that much difference being at only 2.5" of lift. Im working on a baja style jeep wich is kinda what your talking about but for desert runs. Sounds like a long arm system might be in the future for me. I was hoping to get by with just stock arm mount sense I already have all the adj control arms and am upgrading to coilovers soon. I wish I had that kind of access to lift kits!:cool: So you tested a few different shocks I take it and Elka were your favorites? Just wondering, I want to start with coilovers up front and getting really good springs and shocks for the rear tell funds let me buy more coilovers, the rear mount is what is really expensive for them unless I make my own...

When I tested the 4 door I had the same problem as you did, just gutless and heavy. I went with the 6 speed 2 door but even the auto was much more peppy then any of the 4 doors. Really is the only thing I really hate about the JK's is the retarded 3.8l engine...

MoparToYou 07-24-2010 09:30 PM

Yes, the long arm suspension was significantly better. And my friend liked the Elka shocks the best, but I actually liked Icon 2.5 reservoir shocks better than the Elka shocks, so I went with Icon shocks on my Jeep. The Icon shocks are a little more firm than the Elka shocks, but are super super well controlled.

jonnytc 07-24-2010 10:13 PM

Your jeep looks amazing. Congrats and thanks for sharing!!!


LuckRider 07-24-2010 10:16 PM

:drool: Needs bigger meat though.

Lastshot 07-24-2010 10:24 PM

I would only go with bigger tires if you did the equiv of a highline, or high clearance fenders. The 2.5 long arm on 35"s looks very clean, almost sleeper to the untrained eye (meaning everybody but jeepforum members:laugh:)

In short, Sweet:thumbsup:

MoparToYou 07-25-2010 07:03 AM

I would only go with bigger tires if I had a hundred more horsepower under the hood. The goal was to make this Jeep fun to drive, and I think I succeeded. Bigger tires = a real dog in the performance dept., which gets old in a real big hurry. Been there, done that, with the last Jeep.

Dadstoys 07-25-2010 07:40 AM

Its perfect imo for what you use it for. Congrats on a great looking rig.:thumbsup:

saceone 07-25-2010 08:22 AM

very neat setup

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