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2006 TJ Sport (Redheaded Mistress): After 10 Years (And the Next 10)

9179 Views 36 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  grogie
Current List of Modifications:
  • Metalcloak duroflex aluminum control arms
  • OME HD springs (with front 3/4" spacer)
  • Front and Rear Detroit TrueTracs
  • Currie AntiRock
  • JKS track bars
  • JB Conversion Super Short SYE, Spicer CV rear driveshaft with rear Dana 44
  • Bilstein 5100 shocks
  • BDS steering stabilizer
  • Drop-Kick Slyders (Linex coated), Bad Apple diff guards, oil pan skid, Rusty's radiator skid
  • Savvy aluminum front bumper (painted)
  • WARN M8000 with controller under the hood, wireless remote, Vicking synthetic winch line, and MaxTrax
  • Derale 20561 transmission cooler
  • AtoZ rear bumper with built in tow receiver
  • Prodigy P2 brake controller with Mopar 7-way wiring harness
  • Savvy Black Magic brakes
  • Rubicon model flares (1" wider than stock, and painted)
  • Custom built expedition trailer with a Tepui roof top tent
  • 285/75 (33") MT/Rs (previously 32")
  • 16x8" Mickey Thompson Classic IIIs (previously 15x8" Eagle alloy wheels)
  • KC headlights, KC foglights, and an AEV rear third brake light.
  • Crown OPDA
  • Rear Tembo Tusk slide on a false floor
  • 42SS Snomaster fridge/freezer
  • National Luna Split Charge System for dual battery charging and monitoring.
  • Two Odyssey Xtreme AGM Batteries
  • Sucking gas bumper sticker. ;)
At the time of this posting, my Jeep is now 10 years old so I thought I'd create a build thread as its evolved a lot (and slowly) over the years. Right now I think it's what I want for the next 10 years. After that, the Jeep will probably go to 35" tires and become a towed Jeep. But we'll see?

Well buying it new, I first had to get the Jeep paid off before I could justify to the better half on spending more money on it to for one lift it. First of all, I like the look of a stock Jeep and from the beginning I had the idea to build a Jeep that I could comfortably and safety drive 70 mph across multiple states, camp, drive some awesome Jeep trails, and then drive it back home. I was also aware of trailers that guys were either buying or building and towing behind their 4x4s, which I also had that idea in my head such as a small, lightweight popup for camping. But I knew that I had to first get the Jeep setup to pull a trailer...

I grew up out west and did a lot of camping. As a teenager, campsites usually consisted of finding a hunter's campsite along an old log road. My dad use to carry a chainsaw to clear fallen trees if needed, so our campsites were remote. Later I use to borrow a girlfriend's dad's lifted Jeep CJ for camping, which was a beast to drive. It was tipsy and had bad brakes, but I loved driving it to find out where Jeep trails went? That lead to me test drive a new Wrangler YJ. I knew I wanted to own a Wrangler someday.

Fast forward, it was finally time to buy my own new Jeep. After I got my wife boozed up over dinner and took her for a test drive of a 2005 TJ, I immediately wrote a $500 check to order my 2006 TJ Sport. Well the Jeep arrived home ten years ago this month on Nov. 11th, 2005 and it's been a love affair with what my wife calls the redheaded mistress :kiss:.

Options at the time included a rear Dana 44 and with the rare option having ABS. I drove it straight from the dealer to a tire shop and traded in the stock tires for a nicer set of A/T Revos. The next morning:

Right away I decided that I was going to drive it to Colorado the following summer so I ordered and installed an oil pan and transmission skid plate. (Okay, it's not exactly heavy duty, but its worked as right away with a stock Jeep, it was getting rubbed on.)

I also installed Mopar's iPod Kit. This was before about anyone else had iPod integration, so this was pretty cool to have! I had a thread here on JF about it which at the time had a lot of views. (2019 Update: Added the Wi-Mi Wireless Bluetooth Car Adaptor that my iPhone connects to.)

On my way to Colorado for that first trip, I stopped at a family owned auto-body shop and installed a set of Rubicon rocker panels for some rocker protection.

On that trip for one I drove it to the top of Imogene Pass. I was rather impressed with where a stock Jeep could drive to. It was this trail that was the first time that I had to use the four-wheel low to climb a step section at 11k feet elevation.

Following that trip, I had to have the stock radiator replaced as it must have received damage as the bottom was fairly out in the open, so I added a Rusty's radiator skid plate to protect it. Since then, no more radiator problems.

Next and thanks to a Christmas present, I installed a hard top lift in my garage and the following summer was the first time the top came off. This was a memorable day being that a Jeep's top just has to eventually come off! Also at this time, I had removed the stock flares and replaced them with Rubicon flares. I also had these flares painted black and clear coated by the family shop (which I like the look of!).

My next purchase were Drop Kick Slyders by Detours, that bolt onto the Jeep's frame. They came powder coated, so I sprayed them with a bedliner and then additional coat of black paint. Originally I saw these advertised to go along with the stock Rubicon rocker panels.

Fast forward a few more years. The Jeep was just a year away from being paid off. So while attending a 4x4 jamboree I bought new polished aluminum alloy wheels for an eventual lift and new tires. These are made in the USA built wheels by American Eagle. They're like moving mirrors, and can be kept polished or they still shine when dirty. Since then I have minimally kept them polished, and they may get replaced when I need new tires again?

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That's a great idea, and nice execution. As far as your lid opening the wrong way, how tough would it be to move the slider to the opposite side of the bed? Jeff
^Thanks! It's been a fun project, and most useful.

I was actually going to put the slide on the other side, but I then went with putting it behind the passenger. On our trips, my trailer is usually attached, so we tend to stand on the handle side of the tailgate since the trailer's tongue is in the center. This also leaves our access to our personal gear easier to grab being behind the driver's seat. Access to the cooler is still good enough, but as said, more than likely I'll move up to a fridge, which the one I want opens on a short side.
That's an inspired build! Clean lines and only adding things you actually need. Not that beer is a need per se. :)

The trailer looks like it could use an electric motor to push you along when you run out of gas.
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First, I recently removed the Drop Kick Slyders, and had them coated with Linex. For those of you that have looked at my trailer thread, I really like Linex! About nothing sticks to it and its held up great. As far as the slyders, they had been powder coated, and then I had applied a spray on bed liner, and then a top black spraypaint. Over the last 8 years, they held up okay, but have gotten chipped, scratched and had a couple of rust spots start up. They do a decent job at catching mud, rocks, etc., from the front tires over ending up on the side of the Jeep, plus my wife uses them as a step. I realize that they drop down and eat clearance, but they're really well built, and being originally designed for stock TJ Rubicon rockers, they do their job.

As far as the Linex, I did not have a good experience with the shop that sprayed my trailer, so I found another shop for these, and they look great!! I should have done this from the start, but back then I didn't know about Linex.

I'll install them back on soon, as they just bolt around the frame with clamps.

Next! Now that I have the rear slide, I wasn't for sure that I was going to buy a fridge/freezer, however thanks to a bonus from work, I went ahead and ordered the Snomaster 42SS. It happened to show up this afternoon, and wow... to think... no more ice! I'm use to having a 50 qt. cooler which was always at least half full of ice (and water) and this is equivalent to about a 43 qt. cooler.

Last weekend, I went by where I store my trailer and pulled out the trailer's Bluetop battery box. I honestly didn't use the battery that much. We'd usually charge our iPhones, etc., in the Jeep while on the road, and at night, it was either a campfire or go to bed, so what did I really need the battery for? So, I've added a 12-volt connector to the battery for the fridge, which will for now get strapped down in the back of my Jeep. The battery does have an isolator on it, so I'll run wiring to it so that it can charge while on the road. At this moment, the fridge is running off of the battery as I'm interested to know how long this 50 amp battery will power the fridge?

I'll do a review of the Snomaster later, but overall, very cool! The first two comments that I've received about the fridge were, first from my wife, "Yeah, those $2.50 bags of ice really add up. Totally worth the $1k." And from my neighbor who just returned from a muzzle loader competition shoot, "Glamping is it?" :rofl:
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Today I rehung that back rack over the Snomaster. The rack hung down too low for the fridge, so I removed the front side arms, shortened them by two inches and drilled new holes. Now the fridge just barely clears the rack by a finger! The rack is really nice having for lose stuff, like jackets, etc., so I still wanted to have it.

For an update on the Snomaster... I ran it off the 50 amp Bluetop battery for 25 hours, and it took the battery from 12.6v to 11.4v. Of course, I realize that battery usage will depend on a lot of factors, but that should certainly work to power the fridge overnight while camping.

And I celebrated a successful weekend with an ice cold Yuengling from the Snomaster! :cheers2:

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Although I already had an isolator on the auxiliary (Bluetop) battery that I put in the back of my Jeep, I still needed to hook it up to the main battery, and I also decided to upgrade to National Luma's split charger kit, which includes another dual-battery isolator and a controller/monitor. This kit comes with everything most guys need, however with having a winch as I do, the instructions recommend to upgrade to larger battery cable, which I used 1/0 AWG 0 gauge.

The instructions indicate that the isolator is typically installed under the hood. I have a Diehard Platinum battery, but without making a serious modification, the only place I could find to mount the isolator was behind the battery, but then to get access to it in the future, I'd have to remove the heavy *** Group 31 battery.

So, I ended up putting the isolator in the battery box with the auxiliary battery. Which seems to me, like it is a better place so it is not subjected to engine heat, water and dirt/mud. As far as the auxiliary battery, I have it well secured in front of the Snomaster fridge as it fits right behind the passenger seat. The battery cables run through the firewall, and along the side of the tub, all neatly tied down.

The kit's manual is located here: Manual 2015.pdf
More info:

The only down fall is that the isolator's solenoid, along with the controller does continue to draw power when the vehicle is turned off. However, the controller itself can be turned off. This can be an issue for vehicles that are parked more often than not, however in my case, I'm already managing power as I'm keeping my Snomaster plugged into to AC power when my Jeep is parked in my garage as I'm using it as a "garage fridge" for ice cold beverages. :D If my Jeep sits long enough, I'll either hook up a battery tender or unhook the main.

As far as using the split charger, it works great! I originally did the install two weekends ago and have been using it, but today I did a little refinement and in better tying down the cables and redoing several connections.

So, after my Jeep starts, after several minutes, the isolator opens and allows power to flow to the auxiliary battery to charge it. In this picture, this shows the controller when my Jeep is not running and the condition of both batteries. The monitor also has an alarm that sounds should either battery fall into the red zone. Also, if the main battery were to die, the auxiliary can be used as the start battery.

In this picture, the controller shows both batteries charging with the vehicle running.

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Love the shine on the Jeep! do you mind telling me what this Zaino stuff is? I keep reading about it, is it simply a certain brand of Wax, lol?
Using Zaino

Love the sine on the Jeep! do you mind telling me what this Zaino stuff is? I keep reading about it, is it simply a certain brand of Wax, lol?
Hi! Zaino's polishes are actually polymer sealants, not wax. They last longer, and are easier to apply and buff, minus the multiple step process, but I typically only apply it every other year as my TJ is garage kept, and I don't run it through commercial car washes that use harsh soaps. For a daily driver, I'd go through the process once a year.

The process is that after you wash with something like Dawn (which removes wax and oils), you then use their Z18 clay bar, which removes containments on the clear coat, then you use two polishes (Z5 and then Z2), and then finally the Z6 gloss enhancer. They also sell a mild soap that you use for all future washing (Dawn is only used before the clay bar process). They sell a kit HERE that I'd recommend and you'll get four uses out of the clay bar and polishes (the Z7 soap is concentrated, but depends on how often you wash to how much you'll get out of the bottle). I don't use the Flash cure in the kit, but you can either get it or order the other products without it for a little less money. I'd also recommend to also buy a couple of their applicators (pads) and a set of their really nice towels, which all totals about $115.

With taking your time and allowing each coat of the Z5 and Z2 polishes to dry for an hour before buffing each, I'd allow 4-5 hours total.

Honestly, the 12-year-old paint on my TJ, and the wife's KJ, look great and I'd say shine more then they did when we bought them. I also find that bug, road tar and mud just wash off the paint easier. Hope that helps, and be sure to look at the pictures on the Zaino website! It's okay to drive a shiny Jeep. :D
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New Batteries, Wheels and Tires

Just last Wednesday evening, I ordered two new Odyssey AGM batteries (group 34) from Quadratec, which showed up yesterday. I had a DieHard P2 (group 31) as my starter, and a Bluetop as my auxiliary battery, which were both showing age. With an upcoming trip to Overland Expo East next month and that I'll be living out of the my SnoMaster fridge for the event, I decided to get these new batteries. They're identical, except that one (on left) has extra auxiliary terminals, which is what my fridge hooks up to. Also, this battery has more amp hours over the Bluetop.

Also, about a month ago, I had my friends at Sunfire Off-Road install new MT/Rs, which I stepped up a size to 285/75 (33") on Mickey Thompson Classic III 16x8 wheels. I debated trying another tire, but I've been happy and knew what to expect, so I went again with MT/Rs.

As far the new wheels, I again wanted polished aluminum over black. I'm not a fan of red Jeeps with too much black. I'll have to take care of these better then my previous set of wheels. What I had, Eagle alloys, were made in the USA, the polishing was excellent, but unfortunately are no longer made. The Mickey's are made in China, and the polishing is subpar. As far as backspacing, the Mickey's, being 16x8" have more (4.5" vs. 3.25"), so they're more tucked in, which I do like! I'll have to put more effort into keeping these wheels polished. :D

And I washed the Jeep today for pics:

LATER: Camping at 2018 Overland Expo East where the fields turned to mud, mud, and then more mud. (See, she does get dirty.)

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Nothing new here as far as the build, but I recently returned from the latest trip that was just over 4,000 miles. It started out that I was invited as a reader for FourWheeler magazine's first Overland Adventure through Arizona, along with attending Expo West with other readers, their staff, and sponsors. I have a trip review here with photos, but I thought I'd add a few to this thread as well.

I do have also say that my favorite Jeep mod for travel is the fridge! We spent 16 days living out of the Jeep, and we always had cold water and adult beverages, with no ice required! The fridge also makes for a handy shelf for making sandwiches. :D

Camping at Alstrom Point, Utah (above Lake Powell). This is why I built my Jeep.

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Wow, 16 day 4000 mile trip in a TJ?!? Sounds like an epic trip! Even more impressive that you're willing to drive a TJ from Indy all the way down to the South West while pulling a trailer. I love my TJ but not sure I would enjoy all that highway mileage behind its wheel!
Wow, 16 day 4000 mile trip in a TJ?!? Sounds like an epic trip! Even more impressive that you're willing to drive a TJ from Indy all the way down to the South West while pulling a trailer. I love my TJ but not sure I would enjoy all that highway mileage behind its wheel!
It was epic, and just what I built the Jeep to do! Honestly, the Jeep drives great. It's very stable and the trailer tows perfectly, so much so that my wife helps drive. We keep the mph to 70 on the highway, but it could do 80 (just don't need to push it!). Off-road, the trailer with having leaf springs and shocks, it follows right along.

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Made the June 2020 cover of FourWheeler magazine.

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She's having her Sweet 16! :cheers:

She was built November 2005. I picked her (as a build to order) November 10, 2005. 16 years ago she was just a tub and a bunch of parts waiting for her first drive down on the Toledo assembly line.

Yesterday I did a clay bar and polish. Today I took her for a nice drive through the Indiana countryside, before parking her for the winter. She has on her just 64,466 miles, and I have had the best and most memorable road trips with this Jeep. :thumbsup:

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Very cool to read through the evolution of your Jeep .
Made the June 2020 cover of FourWheeler magazine.

When did you get an old Blazer?

Seriously, that's pretty cool.
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A couple of improvements for 2022:

1) I redid the auxiliary battery box that powers my Snomaster fridge. Used a larger Group 31 box and mounted the National Luna battery isolator on the side, and I also installed a switch on the negative wire. When stitched off (as pictured bottom left corner), it turns off the isolator so it's not draining the batteries by monitoring them while my TJ is in storage.

2) Installed a negative cut off on the main battery, again for while my TJ is in storage. (I had been manually disconnecting the main battery.) As you can see the contraption barely fit!

3) The fun part! Drove 3700 miles for a Jeep/camping trip. Drove as far as Moab to run the Rim Rocker trail west to east to Montrose, CO (about 170 miles ... fun!), along with other trails in southwestern Colorado. After mpg was 13.75!

4) Had the suspension leveled. In part the right rear spring had settled, along with the TJ's known passenger side lean.

Now leveled!

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