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Your First Jeep Build


Having off roaded for over 40 years in Jeeps of every flavor and knowing the  types of trips taken and intended to take and the myriad of questions from folks wanting to know if their rigs are capable of ___________ trail.  Then what are the minimum requirements to get out and do trails and be successful on most of them.


It is highly unlikely that most will stretch its off road legs beyond the obstacles to be found on the Rubicon trail I will address what it takes to do up to that level and not beyond.


1)  The Jeep lineup includes a model called the Rubicon.  Jeep wanted to cash in on the off road craze and tasked its engineers to come up with a suitable Jeep.  The established goal was a trail known world-wide as the Rubicon Trail and that was the testing ground.  What evolved was a new model named the Rubicon and named so since it can conquer the Rubicon in its stock form.  Now I know that not everyone drives a Rubicon and even the Rubicon's efforts to summit the trial could be easier with a few mods.  To that end I provide the following for your reading enjoyment.  NOTE this only applies to CJ, YJ, TJ and JKs.


2)  Lift:  Albeit the Rubicon is a capable rig it and all others can benefit from some additional lift.  Lift primarily accomplishes 1 thing and that is to provide some additional clearance to the under body components.  There are 2 kinds of lift, suspension and body.  The body lift allows you to run larger tires without having to add additional suspension lift.  BUT there is one more lift that is neither suspension nor body lift, I call it the free lift.  A quick glance at any TJ to even the non-off roader will bring forth the comment of "if you get rid of the shovel hangin underneath you could get further up the trail".  And they are right.


That said my first recommendation would be to capitalize on the free lift by getting shed of the shovel and getting your 2 inch free lift.  Free is not always free and the 'free lift' is not free or cheap.  You will need a skid plate such as a Terflex or other brand and for some of you a SYE (slip yoke eliminator).  It is also a bit more complicated than a regular suspension lift.  The bonus is that you get a free 2 inch or so and a skid plate, something you need and should have.


Suspension lift:  A 2-inch budget lift with coil spring spacers will do and you should even be able to keep your stock shocks.


Body lift:  I am a proponent of BL’s and have run a 2 inch on my Jeep for over 5 years.  There are some among us that lay claim to the myth that BL’s are dangerous.  I am certain they could be at some point by 2 inches or less is not an issue [a].

In summing it up:

·      For the tight of fist go with just a budget lift. 

·      For the looser of hand add a 1-2 inch BL

·      For the max bang for your buck and the investment minded add a skid plate and a SYE to the above


3)  Tires:  Even the most casual of off road explorer should use a good quality off road tire such as the Goodyear MTR or the BFG KM2 (b).  Anything else will only let you down when you need traction the most.

Tire size:  The answer is both simple and complex.  Any tire size between 31 and 35 inches tall will be more than ample for 95% of the trails and drivers.  BUT its gets more complex as you need to factor in axle ratios, transfer case and transmission first gear ratio along with the tire size.  Your best bet is to consult the Rock Crawling Index (RCI) to get an idea of how your Jeep will perform. [c]

4)  Shocks:  I add shocks only because they can enhance your on and off roading experience.  I recommend an adjustable shock so you can dial in your ride and off road response preference.  Rancho is as good as they come.

To finish your build and to be a WELCOME member on trail runs I would suggest that you take your hard earned ducats and spend them on a winch and a on board air system to help yourself and those less well equipped.  Bang for buck you may want to consider the Warn Powerplant [d].

a)  Wrangler Wreck

b)  Goodyear/BFG Tires

c)  Rock Crawling Index

d)  Warn Powerplant

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