Project Bloody Knuckles - 2012 JKUR -
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post #1 of 8 Old 04-24-2012, 12:31 PM Thread Starter
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Project Bloody Knuckles - 2012 JKUR

First a little history...

This is not my first Jeep. I had a 2006 LJR that I built as a rock crawler, which also served as my daily driver. I won't go into all the details, but it had a 4" TeraFlex Long Arm LCG Lift, ridding on 35" GY Wrangler MTR Kevlar's. It had all the usual goodies you would see on any rig built to be a rock crawler. I had many great adventures in that rig, including a run on the Rubicon in July of 2009. It was a rock crawling machine. It never met an obstacle it couldn’t negotiate. The TeraFlex lift performed flawlessly. But it was a less then desirable vehicle to drive as a daily driver. There were many other modifications made to that Jeep, resulting in poor on street ride quality, and none of them were reversible. I a change. The current JK's were unattractive with their underpowered engine. I looked at other vehicles, but couldn't come to terms with buying an off road vehicle with IFS. Then a friend sent me a link to an article on the new 2012 JK's. With the new more powerful engine the JK was now a viable option and thus the seed was planted. Over the next few weeks I started forming a plan, and it snowballed from there.

So on Monday, January 30th I ordered my 2012 JKUR. Which arrived a little over two months later on Wednesday, April 4th. During that agonizing two month wait I put together a plan for my build...

The lift...

Comfort was the overriding factor in any decision. I wanted this vehicle to be a pleasure to drive everyday. One that I would enjoy driving on long road trips and trail runs. My other expensive hobby is photography, and I have longed to take trips to destinations such as Yosemite and Mono Lake, just to take pictures. I never did before, because my previous jeep was so uncomfortable. I also wanted this Jeep to be able to play well in the desert and on some medium rock trails, when the desire arose. To keep the ride comfortable, I decided on a mild lift. I wanted just enough to fit 35" tires. It was going to be either a budget boost or a small coil lift, as I wanted to keep as much of the OEM suspension as possible. I searched threads endlessly, on here as well as other forums. I looked at many different lifts, from many different manufacturers. I ended up choosing the TeraFlex 2.5" Coil Lift. I made that decision for a couple reasons...

• I had a past good experience with their products.

• Everyone else who has this lift had nothing but good things to say about it.

• They are one of the most commonly recommended manufacturers.
(On all of the lift recommendation threads I have read, TeraFlex almost always appeared in the top three. Even Dave at Northridge 4x4 recommended them)

• The kit is a complete bolt on kit.
(Yes, some of the other kits out there are more complete, and include items like track bars and control arms, but these were not inline with my plan of keeping as much of the OEM suspension as possible.)

• It is easy to install, and could be installed by me, in my garage, in less than a day.
(I don't weld, I don't have an extensive set of tools, and I don't have the experience to install the more complicated lifts. I had to have the lift on my previous Jeep installed by a professional.)

My previous Jeep was a rock crawler, so it was never very fun to drive in desert conditions, like washboard roads, or through whoops. My maximum speed in that environment was about 15 mph. But here in California, that type of driving is just as common, if not more common, than hardcore rock trails. I wanted to be able to bomb the desert stuff as well, so I also chose to purchase their 2.5" SpeedBump Kit as well. Although this kit does require some modification from the stock JK, it's minor, and can still be done by me, in my garage.

The 2.5" Coil Lift can be purchased with Teraflex shocks, but I wanted something with a little more high speed dampening. I looked at some of the other shocks that TeraFlex had to offer, but couldn't come to a decision. I liked the Fox and Elka shocks they have. They put a lot of work into tuning those shocks for their kits, but the sizing just wasn't quite right for the 2.5 inch lift. The ones they have available are for 2.5" to 4" of lift. That would have been too long. Unless I wanted to install some limiting straps, I needed to find a shock that was designed to play nice with a 2.5" lift. I looked over on, and low and behold, found a set of four TeraFlex Elka shocks that were for a 2.5" lift only. A quick call to Dave at northridge4x4 and to TeraFlex confirmed that these shocks were designed specifically for a 2.5" lift. Dave had only the one set left in stock! Apparently they were older stock that TeraFlex used to offer, but had discontinued. So it pays to look around, you never know what you might find, and I hate compromising.

I had quite a few phone conversations with the tech reps over at TeraFlex, They were very helpful, I discussed my plans, and what my goals were. I told them my plans include front and rear bumpers, a swing out tire carrier and a winch. They suggested I add a 1/2" coil spacer to the front to compensate for the weight of the front bumper and winch. They also said I would need to address the exhaust. Even a lift of only 2.5 inches will cause the front drive line to rub on the exhaust at full flex. They suggested I install their exhaust spacer kit. There are other options, of various cost, and I looked at those as well. But in the end, I decided that the cost of their exhaust spacer kit was so minimal, that I might as well give it a try first, and if it doesn't work out, I could always try one of the other options down the road.

I also want to give a shout out to Dave at northridge4x4, for putting up with my numerous questions. He helped me quite a bit during my decision making process. He is a valuable resource, for both information and parts.

The install...

I wanted to document everything this time around, which is something I didn't do with my previous jeep. I never took any measurements pre or post lift, so I never really knew what my net gain was. So a few weeks ago I took some measurements and pictures of my new stock JK.

This is a shot of the measuring device placed next to the Jeep in the first measurement position. It's simply a wooden yardstick screwed to a block of 2x4. (Yes very hightech!)

I measured the bumper height at all 4 corners.

Drivers Front...

Passengers Front...

Passengers Rear...

Drivers Rear...

It may be hard to tell from the pictures, but the measurements were roughly 27" at the front on both sides, and 28.5" at the rear on both sides. So the factory rake is 1.5 inches, that's more than I expected. I had read reports that stated it was 1 inch. It's possible that the removal of my hard Top resulted in the 1/2 inch increase in rake.

By the time all of the parts arrived, I had clocked exactly 495 miles on the new JK. Just enough to get a feel for it's stock ride, for comparisons sake. I enlisted the help of a friend for the lift install, which is always a plus. We started at approximately 3:00 in the afternoon on a Friday. I had my iPad in the garage, so we could watch the TeraFlex YouTube install videos if need be (Or if we needed a laugh, some of them are hilarious). We followed the install instructions to the tee.

The exhaust spacer kit was easy to install and went in without any problems.

The teardown of the rear went smoothly...

Here's a shot of my buddy nick, hard at work, while I screw around with the camera...

The new TeraFlex rear Tracbar bracket bolted on...

The only difficulty I had was with one of the bolts for the shock on the frame end. I just couldn't get the threads started. It took me about 5 minutes of cursing to get it started. Other than that it was cake. We took our time, had fun with it, (Round Table pizza delivery for dinner) and double checked our work. We finished the rear around 7:30, and called it quits for the night.

Saturday morning I met up with my buddy nick at Coco's for breakfast (I had pancakes) and then back to my garage to finish the install. We got started around 9:00am. The teardown of the front end went by very quickly. The procedure was still fresh in our minds from the night before.

After the teardown, the first order of business was making the cut on the downtube for the new SpeedBump. I have to admit, this was by far the scariest part of the whole install. Just the idea of hacking up a brand new JK had me sweating. After all, once you start, there's no going back. I marked off the downtube with blue tape, as per the instructions. You can see it here in this shot...

I had some trouble getting the tape to line up straight all the way around. It is critical that this cut be perfectly straight. The cut end of the downtube needs to mate perfectly with the lip on the SpeedBump, so that any load is evenly distributed. After a few minutes of fiddling, I managed to get it perfect.

The moment of truth...

I used a Sawzall to make my cut, although a die grinder with a cutoff wheel can be used as well. I took my time, stopping several times to check that my cut was perfectly straight. The Sawzall produced a nice clean, straight cut. I cleaned up the cut with a file, and installed the SpeedBump as per the rest of the instructions.

We continued with the lift install and everything went smooth, until my friend nick tried to install the shock on the passenger side. The engineers at Jeep must have concluded that no one would ever have to replace that particular shock because they made access to the top of the shock nearly impossible. There is a battery / fuse and relay tray that blocks access to the top of the spring perch where you fasten the top of the shock. We spent a few minutes mulling it over, and decided to pull the inner plastic fender liner to see if that would grant us access. It did help some but it was still very tight. It took Nick a few minutes with a wrench to get it tightened down. (later on, I read a thread where people described cutting the offending tray to get access, we didn't have to.) After that everything went fine, and we had it all bolted back together by 2:00 in the afternoon.

A couple of things to note...

The stock front brake lines are fixed to the axle with a bracket, which we unbolted from the axle. Unfortunately the stock bracket is bent around the brake line, and cannot be removed easily. Since the 2.5" lift kit does not come with brake lines, or a drop bracket for the front brake lines, we decided to just let the lines droop, between the coil and the shock, but left like this, the stock bracket on the brake line clinks against the coil and the shock, and can even get pinched between the coils during driving. I didn't like that one bit, so after some searching on this forum, I came across a post, where the OP said he had carefully cut / scored the brackets using a Dremel. Allowing him to bend them apart, and remove them from the brake lines. I ended up doing that the next day, taking care not to cut into the brake line while doing so. Now the brake lines are free to move during flex, and should be plenty long enough. I do however, see a set of steel braided lines in the not to distant future.

The stock axle breather tubes, both front and rear, need to be lengthened, but that's a simple task, and cheap to do.

Wrenching on a brand new Jeep is heaven, when compared to one that's been beat to death on the trail. It was so clean, I didn't even have to wear gloves to keep the dirt, grease, and grime off!

Here is an after shot, ain't she perty?

and a few of the completed lift, Speedbumps, and shocks, installed...

Sexy Time!

Beautiful, isn't it?

Next, I took my post lift measurements and pictures...

Drivers Front...

Passengers Front...

Passengers Rear...

Drivers Rear...

Again, it may be hard to tell from the pictures, but the measurements were roughly 30.5" at the drivers front, 30.25" passengers front, and 30" at the rear on both sides. I can't account for the .25" discrepancy between the two front corners. You might be tempted to think "full gas tank", but there was actually less gas in the tank in the post lift pictures. There are so many variables when taking measurements this way, that a .25" variance isn't worth getting bent over.

So what is my net gain in lift? Well, let's see...
The fronts went from 27" to 30.5" and 30.25", that's a 3.5" and 3.25" gain. I'm just going to call it 3.5" total in the front. Remember the fronts also had the additional 1/2 inch spacers installed. The rears went from 28.5" to 30", a gain of 1.5".

To sum it up, I would have to say that this lift gave me a true 2.5 inches in the front, and maybe even a little extra, and removed the factory rake of 1.5 inches.

I've been driving it for a few days now, and so far it's been beautiful. It's everything I was hoping for. Around town city driving is great. On the freeway, I had it up to 80 mph with no shimmies, shakes, wobbles, vibes, or noises. There is a slight exhaust rattle during acceleration from a dead stop, but it only lasts about a second. I'm confident that with a little adjustment of the exhaust it can be eliminated. I still need to install a few more goodies (sliders, engine/oil pan skids) before I take it off road.

Last edited by socal_rubi; 04-30-2012 at 01:08 PM.
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post #2 of 8 Old 04-24-2012, 01:57 PM Thread Starter
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Tuffy 2011+ JK Security Deck Enclosure

I purchased my new JKUR with dual tops. I like being able to use the hard top when I have passengers that aren't comfortable riding in a vehicle with a soft top, but I prefer to run around with the soft top on, and the windows out. It does however, pose a problem with security. I looked at several options, read a lot of opinions, on this forum and others, spoke to Dave over at northridge4x4, and decided on the Tuffy JK Security Deck Enclosure.

Here are my pro's and con's after install, and a couple of weeks using it...

Install was a breeze. It took me about 1 hour.

It's definitely a tough product. I have no doubt it will last a long time.

The top deck and rear partition can be removed in a matter of minutes without removing the mounting brackets.

It looks very nice, fit and finish are great.

It does the job it's supposed to do. Keep dirty rotten bastards from stealing my stuff.

They changed the design from the previous versions. The mounting brackets now bolt to the top of the tub, through the holes used to attach the hard top. That means when I want to run my hard top I will have to unbolt the entire unit, not just remove the top deck and rear partition. It's not a huge problem though, it's only 4 torx bolts.

I didn't like the idea of bolting a steel bracket straight onto the top of the tub, and scratching up the paint on my brand new Jeep. So I used some foam tool box liner, cut it to fit, and placed that between the bracket and my tub. It would be nice if they offered something along those lines with the kit. It wouldn't add any cost to the product.

That also means it's easier to break into. All one would have to do is remove 4 torx bolts, and the whole unit could be removed. Tuffy did include a security option for this, which requires drilling a hole through the wheel well on the tub, and bolting one of the brackets on each side to the tub. I didn't do this because honestly, how many people run around with a set of torx bits and a socket wrench on them, really?

The subwoofer is now enclosed in a steel box, although I knew this was going to happen before I bought it, and I haven't noticed a huge change in the quality of sound.

Well, that's it, there's not much to it, it's a steel box designed to keep your stuff from getting swiped, and it does the job. Here are a few pictures of the unit installed...

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post #3 of 8 Old 04-24-2012, 04:17 PM
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2012 JK Wrangler 
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glad to be following this thread. great info on the lift install. needed some of that as i hope to install mine on my own.
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post #4 of 8 Old 04-24-2012, 04:25 PM
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looks awesome!
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post #5 of 8 Old 04-25-2012, 11:25 AM
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Nothing like working on a new clean Jeep. You have a great looking JK and it should be perfect for what you are wanting to do with it.

Now: '15 JKU Rubi
In the past: 05 WK, 02 WJ, 11 JKU
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post #6 of 8 Old 05-02-2012, 01:52 PM Thread Starter
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Tire Install

The next logical step after getting the lift installed, was getting some bigger shoes. I had experience with a few different tires on my 06LJ, some good and some bad...

The first set of tires I had were the stockers, of course, but they weren't on long enough for me to form an opinion. I replaced those with a set of BFG AT 315/75/R16. That was an all around solid tire. It came in just a tad shy of being a true 35".

Here are my pro's and con's for that tire...

They balanced well. I don't recall the exact amount of weights they took, but they weren't much.

They wore evenly. I never had any problems, but I rotated regularly.

They lasted about 30,000 miles. After that, they were played out for rock crawling. They still had about 10,000 more miles left in them for street use, but I bought new ones anyway.

They were relatively quite on the street.

They drove nicely on the street. Those tires wouldn't break loose even going through a puddle of water, at full throttle, while turning right.

They performed well in the dirt and on the rocks. I liked them aired down to about 9 psi. At that pressure, they wrapped nicely around rocks.

The sidewalls were tough as nails.

They chunked badly along the outer and inner edges. The rocks took their toll on them.

There wasn't very much in the way of sidewall tread.

They were horrible in the mud and snow. But hey, they're an AT, they're not meant to.

They just don't look very nice. I liked to use the term "vanilla" when describing their looks.

My next tire, was the new at the time, Goodyear MTR w/Kevlar. I had heard, and read good things about this tire, and decided to give them a try. Big mistake!

My pro's and con's for this tire...

The only good thing I have to say about that tire is it performed well on rocks and in the dirt.

They were horrible to balance. I had to have them balanced 3 times to get them right. I even tried beads, but those didn't work. I don't remember the amounts, but it was a lot. Two of them were in the teens.

They needed to be run at 40 psi. They were beginning to cup at 32 psi, where I ran my BFG's. They also had a horrible shake to them at anything less than 40 psi. Hell, even at 40 there was still shaking in the front end, but it was tolerable, sort of. This of course, made them horrible to run on the street. It felt like I was rolling on 4 concrete wheels.

They slid all over the place on the street. Anytime I drove through water while turning, I had to be careful not to get sideways.

That brings us to the present. I knew I wanted 35" tires, but from my past experience, one good, one bad, I felt like I was in Las Vegas playing roulette, with 50/50 odds of getting a good tire this time out. So I did the only thing I could do...I read reviews, and asked people about their tires. I went back and forth, like a child trying to decide between chocolate or vanilla ice-cream. At one point I was considering buying another set of BFG AT's, but I really wanted a more aggressive looking tire.

Then my friend told me about his recent purchase of Nitto Trail Grapplers. He loves them. He said they are very quiet on the street, balance well, are almost a true 35", and have received great reviews from people who own them. So I went to his place and went for a ride in his rig. I'll say this for them, they are very quiet. They only required a small amount of weight to balance, and one didn't even take any weight at all. He hasn't had them long enough to see how well they wear, or how they are lasting though. He also mentioned that they are made by Toyo. He said the tolerances on Toyo's are very tight, and that I could expect the same from the Nitto's.

I did some research of my own, on here, as well as elsewhere, and read good things about them. At the end of the day, I'm still in the same situation though, I'm taking a chance by going with a tire I've never owned. I decided to get them. I shopped around, found a local shop with a good price, and bought me a set of five. They were installed Saturday.

I have them installed on the factory wheels, so I'm running a set of Spidertrax 1.5" spacers...

I used a AEV Procal to set my tire size, and tested the accuracy with my Garmin GPS. At 70 mph, my speedo is off by 1 mph. I did, of course, take a hit in acceleration, but not as much as I thought I would. The 2012 Auto Tranny gear chart, shows that 35's, with my 4.10's should put my RPM's right in the green zone, a little less than 2300 RPM's.

So how did that play out in the real world? I can say it's right on the money. At 70 mph my RPM's were right at 2300. It felt better to drive as well. With 32's the tranny seemed to hunt a little at times, and had some anomalous downshifting behavior. Now with the 35's the shifting is rock solid, and the downshifting anomalies have disappeared.

I also, as part of my document everything approach, took measurements before and after, to see exactly how much lift I gained. The measurements were taken at the lowest point under the the bottom of the differentials. Here are the before and after pictures...


Front Diff...

Rear Diff...


Front Diff...

Rear Diff...

Again it may be hard to tell from the pictures, but the before measurements are approx. 9.75 inches, and the afters are approx. 11 inches. So I gained about 1.25 inches. I was hoping for a little more. Theoretically I should have netted 1.5 inches, but that's the problem with theories, they look good on paper, but the outcome is usually different in real life.

So far I'm pleased with my purchase. They are very quiet. They handle nicely. There are no wobbles or vibrations, no wandering or pulling, even at 80 mph on the freeway. I'm also quite pleased with the way they look on my Jeep...

They are currently set at 37 psi, which is what the stockers were set at. I plan on performing a chalk test later this week, to get them dialed in. I would like to bring the PSI down a tad, if I can, to make the ride a little softer. We'll see how it goes.

With the tires installed, I now have a pretty good idea how my finished rig is going ride compared to stock. The stock ride was very comfy, but was also very squishy. It had a lot of body roll going around corners, and over bumps at hwy speed it was kind of squirrely. Now, with the lift and tires, it feels solid. It feels much more planted. I have a better feel for the road. The same bumps on the hwy do not produce that uneasy, squirrely feeling, and I can drive into a corner with much less body roll than before. It is a stiffer, less cushy ride, but it is still 100% better than I had with my 06LJ.

So far my plan has worked out just like I wanted it to.
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post #7 of 8 Old 05-08-2012, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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Mopar Gas Door...

Something I never did with my LJ, was install cosmetic mods. I never saw any point to it. It was a trail rig, and was covered with trail stripes and dirt.

But since I get to do everything over again, I thought I'd add some refinements this time.

This mod was easy, and took me about 15 minutes to do...

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post #8 of 8 Old 05-08-2012, 01:13 PM Thread Starter
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Mopar Entry Guards

This is one mod that is both cosmetic, and functional, and at only $29.95, cheap as well. I wish I had done this on my LJ. The entry sills were beat to death by the time I sold it.

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