My Overland Project, the RME JKU - JKowners.com : Jeep Wrangler JK Forum
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post #1 of 72 Old 05-16-2015, 08:16 AM Thread Starter
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My Overland Project, the RME JKU

I'm fortunate enough to have a chance to build a JKU and my plan is to put together a vehicle that will fit my needs perfectly. I have a few attributes that will outline what I'm focusing on with the final product, all modifications will be done with these ideas in mind. For those that don't know me, I run a Utah-based 4x4 forum (RME4x4.com) and will also be using the JKU to promote my forum.
  • Factory Reliability, for minimal issues when traveling far into the back country.
  • Freeway Friendly, comfortable and drivable for those long roadtrips to reach new places.
  • Excellent Suspension, capable of carrying us and our gear while running long distances over rough trails.
  • Highly Capable for those very difficult trail situations.
  • Simple, Clean and Quality mods that serve a purpose.

Most of my trips are usually local day or weekend trips... the San Juan mountains of Colorado, the amazing Red Rock deserts of Utah and sometimes beyond... like week-long adventures exploring the dirt tracks and remote offroad trails of Baja, Mexico. I'll be building this JKU to take me to those places in comfort and with the knowledge that this Jeep will make it thru without issue. It won't be a 'rock crawler' by any means, but living so close to Moab it will probably spend some time on the trails in the area.

I'm starting with a 2012 Jeep JKU Rubicon with an automatic trans, hardtop, 38k miles and a few mods from the first owner, which include a 2.5" TeraFlex Budget Boost lift using stock springs and shocks. Of course being a Rubicon it had front & rear diff locks, a 4 to 1 transfer case, 4.10 ring & pinion gears and an electric disconnect anti-sway bar. It's a pretty good base to build from!

I bought it from a dealer in SLC who bought it at auction and after doing my research, came to find out that since new this was actually a rental Jeep at Canyonlands Jeep Rental in Moab! Now any sane person would probably walk away, but I was interested... I'm a sucker for a project. I know how I'd drive a rental Jeep and knowing it was used (and abused) in Moab for the first 37k miles of it's life was pretty unnerving. Moab trails can be brutal on vehicles, let alone someone who doesn't own it or care for it like a personal vehicle. A good friend stopped by to check it out and we noted that the undercarrige and skid plates were all scraped up and dented... even the crossmembers are pretty beat up. On top of that, both lower control arms are BENT on the passenger side! :Wow1: This Jeep looks most other Jeeps would look like after 150k miles with weekend offroad use. There is no doubt that it has been used often offroad.

After talking about the condition, history and needs of the Jeep we settled on a fair price and I went into it knowing that it was going to need a good deal of work getting it in top shape again. In my mind, it's going to need all new suspension, steering, ball joints, etc, etc. I wouldn't doubt that even the front axle is no longer perfectly straight, so there may be an upgraded front axle housing in the future.

My basic build plan will include the following, with other supporting mods to come over time;


I'm a big believer in supporting the local businesses and people in the local 4WD community and am going to do my best to keep my purchases local.

Shortly after finalizing the purchase of the Jeep (at Riverton Chevy) we drove over to see our friends at Teraflex. Joe was working and gave us a great tour of their new location in West Jordan... it's impressive! Lots of space for their massive inventory, show room area, shipping and manufacturing departments. If you haven't seen their new location, you ought to check it out! We meet up with Vinny and along with Joe's help we talked about what my needs were from the Jeep and they put together a great suspension option for us based on our needs. We added a few other neat products and a couple of TeraFlex bumpers and carefully loaded it all into the back of the Jeep!




I wanted to get a baseline with the Jeep 'stock' and see how it worked offroad. I headed out to a local canyon with a truck scale nearby and took some pics.

First thing I did was weight the JKU as is... I did have a CO2 tank and a bag full of recovery gear, but it looks like it's sitting at 4,680 pounds.







Next up was an offroad test in Cameo, up Coal Canyon. The JKU actually works very well cruising down a dirt road at speed, the linked coil suspension seems pretty supple in the mild roads... until you bottom it out! It hits hard! I was actually pretty impressed with the ride quality that the stock mid-length control arms of the JKU provide. I dropped into the rocky canyon bottom, dropped it into 4 Low and started playing in the rocks. I have to say, the electric sway-bar disconnect is pretty damn nice... push a button and go! Then I had to play with the lockers and big rocks... again, the wheel travel and performance of a 'stock' JKU is pretty amazing! I wasn't even aired down and it was capable enough to go anywhere I wanted. I had to get a few poser shots and called it good... very happy with the performance of the Rubicon!








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post #2 of 72 Old 05-16-2015, 08:17 AM Thread Starter
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Factory bumpers are gone and the new TeraFlex bumpers are in place! They looks great, I think they'll be a valuable improvement in strength, offer stronger recovery points, a winch mount and better approach & departure angles. I'm going to hold off on the winch, see if my rusty, old Warn XD9000 will sell so I can put a new Zeon 8 on.










Also ran into a herd of Big Horn Sheep while I was driving thru the Colorado National Monument. It was amazing how easily they scaled the rock cliffs!





post #3 of 72 Old 05-18-2015, 06:13 PM Thread Starter
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And now the fun begins!!









It's been a LONG day, but the front end is 90% together! The TeraFlex Monster HD Forged Front Adjustable Trackbar... it's name is well deserved, it's about 3x the weight of the factory part! That should help keep death wobble away and allow for a good deal of tuning to work with the new 3" lift. Speaking of lift, the Outback Suspension springs are seriously beefy, seems like they'll be a great upgrade for a JK that's set up to carry a heavy load.. they're obviously much larger and thicker than the stock springs.

REALLY digging the limiting straps that were included, they'll save the shocks from getting destroyed when the suspension gets too light. After getting everything set up, I'm impressed with how much up & down travel the JUKR will have, the guys at TeraFlex have done their homework and put together a killer option for an engineered suspension system.





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post #4 of 72 Old 05-18-2015, 07:12 PM Thread Starter
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Shortly after buttoning up the suspension install, my wheels arrived from Quadratec. I decided on the Rubicon Xtreme in Black, they're 17" wheels with 4.75" BS and 9" wide... I like how they look like a factory wheel, but a bit wider and better backspacing... and the $150 price seemed very fair. I loaded the wheels up and headed down to the local Discount Tire for a set of 35x12.5x17 BFGoodrich KO2 AT's. I'm very happy with the combo, looks great and the tires roll very smooth on the road.






Next up was to install the TeraFlex Heavy Duty Hinged Tire Carrier. The carrier itself is made from cast aluminum and you'd think that sounds pretty light... but it's far from that. It's very well built with strength in all the right places. I was curious about the weight so loaded it on the scale... looks like the carrier itself weighs 23#'s! This thing is BEEFY! The removal of the stock carrier and install of the TeraFlex HD Tire Carrier was pretty straight forward. I also added their Accessory Mount for my RotoPax 2 gallon tank and CB antenna.











post #5 of 72 Old 05-18-2015, 07:22 PM Thread Starter
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Since the JKU now had a great suspension and larger tires, I decided it was time for a real test and probably the most difficult challenge it'll see. We live 90 min from Moab, so we loaded up for a daytrip to run the Rubicon thru it's paces. I aired down to 15 PSI and we hit the dirt. We first headed to Dome Plateau and ran the part of the trail... I wanted to take it easy and see how it worked, then test out the suspension on the fast dirt roads. Next up we headed over to Hells Revenge and even ran the optional Hells Gate! After playing on Hells Revenge we headed over to the Moab Rim. It's been years since I've been up the Rim and my wife never has... the JKU walked right up everything!


Here's some pics from the day...





















post #6 of 72 Old 05-22-2015, 02:34 PM
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Props!

Greg... You have a good looking Jeep. Love the direction you are headed. Happy Jeeping!

"The love of Money is the root of all Evil"


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post #7 of 72 Old 05-22-2015, 04:08 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tcollins1213 View Post
Greg... You have a good looking Jeep. Love the direction you are headed. Happy Jeeping!
Thanks for saying so! I'm very happy with the way it's coming together, seems like the final product is greater than the sum of it's parts!

There is still more to come, smaller stuff for now... then once I recover from the initial build, perhaps a roof rack and RTT.
post #8 of 72 Old 05-23-2015, 09:31 AM
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You should gusset your C's. Nice Jeep.
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post #9 of 72 Old 05-23-2015, 10:27 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Robnoxious1 View Post
You should gusset your C's. Nice Jeep.
If it's not too late already...

If the axle housing is still straight, I'll sleeve the tubes as well. There may be an upgraded housing in the future for my JKU.
post #10 of 72 Old 05-23-2015, 03:32 PM
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Nice overland build. I noticed you said you were considering a Zeon 8. I would recommend the Zeon 10 instead. Your finished product will probably be closer to 6k than 5, so 1.5 x rig wt. = ~ 9K. Especially if you get that overland rig loaded up, you'll appreciate the extra capacity of the 10k winch over the 8. Just my .02.

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post #11 of 72 Old 05-23-2015, 03:52 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by UnlimiDozer View Post
Nice overland build. I noticed you said you were considering a Zeon 8. I would recommend the Zeon 10 instead. Your finished product will probably be closer to 6k than 5, so 1.5 x rig wt. = ~ 9K. Especially if you get that overland rig loaded up, you'll appreciate the extra capacity of the 10k winch over the 8. Just my .02.
Thanks for the input, I do appreciate it! I was thinking no more than 1000#'s beyond where I started (4,600) so a total of 5,600#'s x 1.5 = 8,400 #'s.

The extra capacity of a 10k winch would be nice, but I already have the Zeon 8 in my possession at this point. I think it'll do the job... if not, I've got a couple snatch blocks.
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Looking very nice
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post #13 of 72 Old 05-23-2015, 04:33 PM
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Thanks for the input, I do appreciate it! I was thinking no more than 1000#'s beyond where I started (4,600) so a total of 5,600#'s x 1.5 = 8,400 #'s.

The extra capacity of a 10k winch would be nice, but I already have the Zeon 8 in my possession at this point. I think it'll do the job... if not, I've got a couple snatch blocks.
Lol, yes, possession is 9/10 of design criteria. I have an 8k Smittybilt on mine right now because . . . you guessed it . . . I already had it. It will get upgraded to a Zeon 10 one of these days. Again, nice build.

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post #14 of 72 Old 05-23-2015, 08:16 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by deblas View Post
Looking very nice
Thanks!


Quote:
Originally Posted by UnlimiDozer View Post
Lol, yes, possession is 9/10 of design criteria. I have an 8k Smittybilt on mine right now because . . . you guessed it . . . I already had it. It will get upgraded to a Zeon 10 one of these days. Again, nice build.
No doubt! I think it'll do, time will tell. And thanks, I've been having fun with the build and the Jeep. Headed to the San Juans to play in the snow tomorrow... without the winch mounted up yet.
post #15 of 72 Old 07-12-2015, 09:59 AM Thread Starter
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It's been a little while since I had any time to work on the JKU, but I finally had a chance to get some very needed upgrades done! My next step was improving lighting, most everyone knows the factory Wrangler's lights are lacking in a big way. I decided on a pair of heated Truck-Lite LED headlights and Rigid Dually D2's in place of the fog lights. I got my lights from John Williams at Impulse Off Road, he knows his Jeeps very well and has been building them for a long time. John was great to work with, I gave him the part numbers I wanted and he got them on the way for a good price.

I added a yellow lens cover to my Dually D2's, but after testing them with and without the yellow cover, I decided to leave them off. It was pretty easy to install the headlights, the Dually's took more effort as I had to remove the bumper and solder in the new light plugs.










Some before and after pics, taken in the same location and same time of night. The new LED headlights are a good improvement over the stock lights, but the Dually D2's really brighten up the road and fill in the dark parts. I'm hoping that with these upgrades I won't need any additional lighting for offroad use, don't need any more objects blocking the grill and radiator.

Factory headlights and fog lights, low beams on, fog lights on;



Truck-Lite LED's, Dually D2's, low beams;




Once all that was done, I could now install and wire up the Warn Zeon 8! I added the Master Pull synthetic rope and fairlead after removing the stock steel cable.




And how it all came together, on the trail...


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['12 JKUR | Automatic | 3" TeraFlex Outback Suspension, Alpine long arms, Falcon shocks | 35" BFG KO2's | Warn Zeon 8 | Truck-Lite Headlights and Rigid D2's]

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post #16 of 72 Old 08-16-2015, 01:42 PM Thread Starter
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It's been a few weeks since the last update and there has been some additions! Since we have been in the heat of mid-Summer, I was feeling the need to do something about the heat soaking in thru the black hardtop. The A/C works well, but the amount of heat that you feel on the inside of the top is crazy! It was time for some HotHead Headliners. I added the side window liners, their 'Sound Assassin' deadener and choose the Dark Oak color, which is a close match to the color of the interior.






The difference is impressive, much less heat coming in thru the top and reduced noise as well. It would be nice if JK's came with this from the factory!


Next up was the TeraFlex MP multi-purpose tailgate table w/ cutting board. Install was quick and easy, less than 30 min. Using the nutserts was simple, I tried to take my time and be careful and it helped. I installed the tailgate table right before a camping trip in the JKU and was very happy to have it.







Today I spent the morning installing the TeraFlex JKU rock sliders. This was a delicate operation, you need to drill 20 holes in the Jeep and add 14 nutserts. It's a bit unnerving drilling 20 holes and adding the nutserts, but again taking my time and being patient really helped... even thought it was 95*s outside! I watched the TeraFlex install video and that really helped in addition to the instructions. I used a liberal amount of anti-sieze on the nutsert install tool and threads of the nutserts and had zero issues. Collapsing the nutserts was done with hand tools, I felt I had more control and feeling of where the nutsert was 'set' with hand tools. Taking my time, the work took a few hours. I also decided to install a pair of Husky mud flaps on the front. I'll probably get some ribbing for these and never would have put something like this on my Jeep before, but the amount of mud, rocks and dirt that gets throw all over the side of the JK bothers me. The hinges get pitted and my windows have scratches in them already due to being rolled down with dirt on the outside. I don't know how long the front mud flaps will stay on after a trip to Moab, but I wanted to try them out. I think with the TeraFlex sliders and Husky mud flaps, I'll keep a good deal of dirt off the side of the Jeep. Last but not least, I added some 2" wide 3M grip tape, for sure footing when standing on the slider.













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['12 JKUR | Automatic | 3" TeraFlex Outback Suspension, Alpine long arms, Falcon shocks | 35" BFG KO2's | Warn Zeon 8 | Truck-Lite Headlights and Rigid D2's]

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post #17 of 72 Old 08-23-2015, 04:05 PM
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Hi Greg. Nice build you've got going and very motivating.

This will be my first post/reply in this forum. I purchased a 2012 JKU Sport a few months ago, not really knowing what I wanted or what I needed. Now that I'm in it, I have realized that over landing is what is right for me and my family.

I am planning to lift the JK 3-4 inches and install 35 inch tires for clearance (and looks) purposes.

As I have researched, I am finding that the stock Dana 30 front axle is sub par and I'm getting worried. I don't plan on rock crawling or doing anything "crazy" with it.

Seeing this is my first Jeep, what can I do to make the Dana 30 perform off road without blowing it up? I've considered gussiting and sleaving it, but am I wasting my time?

Any advice from you or anyone else would be truly appreciated.
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post #18 of 72 Old 08-24-2015, 05:51 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Greg. Nice build you've got going and very motivating.

This will be my first post/reply in this forum. I purchased a 2012 JKU Sport a few months ago, not really knowing what I wanted or what I needed. Now that I'm in it, I have realized that over landing is what is right for me and my family.

I am planning to lift the JK 3-4 inches and install 35 inch tires for clearance (and looks) purposes.

As I have researched, I am finding that the stock Dana 30 front axle is sub par and I'm getting worried. I don't plan on rock crawling or doing anything "crazy" with it.

Seeing this is my first Jeep, what can I do to make the Dana 30 perform off road without blowing it up? I've considered gussiting and sleaving it, but am I wasting my time?

Any advice from you or anyone else would be truly appreciated.
Thanks for the comments!

I'm sure there are others that are better qualified to answer the question (and it's probably worthy of a thread on it's own), but I think that if you're not going to run bigger than 35's and you're not going to 'rock crawl' or wheel it hard, sleeving and gusseting a Dana 30 will be sufficient. If you're really worried about it, an axle truss would finish it off.

If my Rubicon Dana 44 ends up being bent, I'll probably be swapping in a Tera 44 HD. I really should check my axle, then sleeve and gusset it if it's still straight. It has been wheeled hard as a rental before I got it... just don't want to hear any bad news.


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['12 JKUR | Automatic | 3" TeraFlex Outback Suspension, Alpine long arms, Falcon shocks | 35" BFG KO2's | Warn Zeon 8 | Truck-Lite Headlights and Rigid D2's]

It's hard to beat a full tank of fuel and a desire for adventure!

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post #19 of 72 Old 09-11-2015, 05:04 PM Thread Starter
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The build has progressed a little more and the Jeep has seen quite a bit more trail time the last few weekends. One of the trips had us slogging thru a 4x4 trail that was more ATV route, with a lot of slow going due to stream crossings, mud holes and way too many rocks. There were a few different moments where I thought we may have to winch out, but the KO2 tires fought for traction and we kept moving. This was on the Grand Mesa, above Grand Junction. With all the mud I was able to see how the addition of mud flaps and the Teraflex rock sliders kept mud/dirt off the sides of the JK and I'm happy to say that about 75% of dirt was kept off the Jeep!




Before moving forward with the roof rack install, I pulled the top off the Jeep for the first time. Not sure why I waited so long, it's a blast to cruise around topless in a Jeep! I almost forgot how much fun it was... next time I'll ditch the doors too.






A couple weeks ago I started a thread on RME about JKU Roof Rack options and settled on the Front Runner Slimline II. The install took several hours, but in the end I was extremely impressed with the design quality of the rack. It's an amazing piece of gear that will easily carry anything I'll ever need. I decided to rig up a hoist to lift and lower the roof rack and hard top, to help with the install and make removing those items easier. My come-along ended up having a shorter cable than planned, eventually I'm going to use something like a small electric winch/hoist. Here's how the rack came together and the install went.










And pics of the rack from the trail, Black Bear Pass last weekend... they're not the best photo's of the rack itself, but it's what I've got for now. I had the Pull Pal on the roof rack, inside of a gun case. It was secure and nice to have outside the Jeep!





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['12 JKUR | Automatic | 3" TeraFlex Outback Suspension, Alpine long arms, Falcon shocks | 35" BFG KO2's | Warn Zeon 8 | Truck-Lite Headlights and Rigid D2's]

It's hard to beat a full tank of fuel and a desire for adventure!

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post #20 of 72 Old 09-16-2015, 06:16 PM Thread Starter
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Over the weekend I added a bike carrier to the rack, really love how the slats in the FrontRunner Slimline II make it so easy to add items to the rack itself. All you do is drop in a bolt with the head down and the slats are built to hold the bolt head so you can put a nut on the threaded part, facing up. I used a simple bike axle clamp up front and fabbed up a rear tire tie down out of some shallow C-channel and a Yakima loop. I don't like how tight the loop is and didn't plan to use the valve stem as the tie down point, but it's easier than pulling that rubber Yakima loop tight. I'll change it, soon as I figure out a better version.

I bought some steel to build a kayak carrier too, I'll get to that one of these days.

















And since we talked about the roof rack to roll bar mounts, here's some detailed pics of those. I had to cut the Hot Heads liners out around where those brackets needed to sit flat against the hard top... that was another unnerving operation!









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post #21 of 72 Old 10-01-2015, 04:45 PM Thread Starter
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Last weekend I took the JKU to Moab for some fun trails and had some carnage... http://www.rme4x4.com/showthread.php...-with-a-Hickey

The track bar mount on the axle end tore off, which is a common weakness. Matter of fact, the whole front axle is a common factory weak point on the JK. The axle tubes are small and thin, the knuckles have been known to bend, control arm mounts tear off and even the center section will allow the entire axle to bend if pushed too hard. I was looking at a new aftermarket track bar mount and was thinking I'd sleeve the axle, gusset the knuckle and beef up the control arm mounts, but this was all happening sooner than planned. We have a upcoming Baja trip in November and the last thing I wanted was a serious front axle failure while in the middle of the Baja Mexico desert. A decision was made that would simplify the potential troubles and add some serious beef to the front end. I was planning on upgrading the front axle housing down the road, but due to the track bar bracket failure I had to get serious about fixing the front axle sooner than planned!




After a short call to the helpful guys at TeraFlex in West Jordan, Utah on Monday a Tera 44 HD was on the way, with a set of TeraFlex HD Ball joints! 2 days later I had one sexy axle in hand! This axle is a thing of beauty, the welds are amazing, the power coat finish looks show-quality and the beefy diff cover all make for an axle that I don't want to get dirty! The Tera44 is a direct bolt in for the JKU Rubicon, making the use of the factory locker. It features massive 3.25" axle tubes, compared to the factory 2.5" tubes. The axle brackets are all 1/4" thick, which is way thicker than the wimpy stock parts... and of course the knuckles on the Tera44 are massive! There are a lot of other improvements with the Tera44 and it will add a lot of value and peace of mind to the JKU when its being pushed thru the whoops in Baja!














We're headed out of town in 2 days, otherwise I'd be tearing the stock front axle out of the Jeep right now!


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['12 JKUR | Automatic | 3" TeraFlex Outback Suspension, Alpine long arms, Falcon shocks | 35" BFG KO2's | Warn Zeon 8 | Truck-Lite Headlights and Rigid D2's]

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post #22 of 72 Old 10-07-2015, 05:33 PM
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post #23 of 72 Old 10-07-2015, 06:14 PM
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nice build so far
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post #24 of 72 Old 10-11-2015, 07:36 PM
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Really awesome and inspiring build. Stoked to see and hear how that front axle swap goes!
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post #25 of 72 Old 10-11-2015, 07:50 PM Thread Starter
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Posts: 176
Feedback: 0 reviews

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hickey View Post
Hurry up!
No. Canada.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ckato4477 View Post
nice build so far
Thanks.... but so far? I thought I was done.




Quote:
Originally Posted by whalesalad View Post
Really awesome and inspiring build. Stoked to see and hear how that front axle swap goes!
I appreciate it, a little at a time as I can! I need to round up some seals & bearings and get it done. This time of year is ideal to be outdoors and I'd love to have that beefy, upgraded axle under the Jeep so I feel better about making it home unbroken!


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['12 JKUR | Automatic | 3" TeraFlex Outback Suspension, Alpine long arms, Falcon shocks | 35" BFG KO2's | Warn Zeon 8 | Truck-Lite Headlights and Rigid D2's]

It's hard to beat a full tank of fuel and a desire for adventure!
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