TheHops

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Happy New Year all!

A few days ago, I picked up my dream vehicle from the dealer: Ares is a brand new 2020 Gladiator Rubicon with a manual transmission in Firecracker Red. I took him off of the lot with just 18 miles on the odometer.

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted an off-road capable, 4x4 pickup with a manual, and Jeep definitely delivered on this one. I also entertained a newer Frontier or Tacoma, but after seeing my first Gladiator Rubicon in-person several months ago, I knew that was the route that I wanted to take. I had been hunting around for months for just the right deal, and I came across this one about 300 miles away from home, with just about everything that I wanted, at the right price point. After a few days of back-and-forth with the dealer, I had a one-way car rental from Nashville to Atlanta, and I was on my way to pick it up.

I've always been interested in the overland/long-range exploration scene, and I plan to carry on the trend of my previous builds with this platform. I have huge plans for this Jeep (Truck? Jruck? Teep?). I do plan on swapping out the wheels and tires asap in order to maximize resale on the stocks, however aside from that I do plan to enjoy it in (more or less) stock form for a little while. We'll see how long that lasts...the bug is biting hard, but I'm hoping to resist the urge on any major mods until at least the summer, due to several work trips scheduled between now and then.

The weather around here has been crappy for the past couple of days, but I did manage to snap a picture on the lot just before the sun went down. Believe me, there are many more pictures to come.

A brief dream sheet of mods on the horizon, in no particular order:

-Moderate (flush, or barely poking) offset (+10 to +30) 17x8.5-9.5 black wheels
-35x12.50R17 Ridge Grapplers
-High stage ICON lift (only stage 1 is available at this time)
-Find an OEM black hard top
-Tint the fronts to match the rear windows, add tint brow to windshield
-Line-x truck bed
-Mount my ARB dual compressor (I like the bracket that mounts under the passenger seat)
-Mount my fire extinguisher in cab
-Front and rear bumpers (currently leaning towards Fab Fours)
-Winch install (I currently have a brand new Superwinch EXP 10k synthetic, but may look to trade/sell for a similar WARN)
-Find means to mount rooftop tent (torn between tonneau/bed rack, or waiting on a suitable camper shell such as an Alu-Cab)
-Roof rack over cab and camper shell/bed rack
-Full skid/armor
-Install sPOD
-Wire in my two sets of Rigid pods (does anyone know of brackets that can mount pods behind the grille?)

Much, much more, but those are the major ones that I can think of at the time of writing this initial post.

This build thread will be slow going, but look forward to updates in the near future as I start getting parts in. I'm glad to be a part of the community, and look forward to learning/contributing!

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RH 67

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Very nice, and welcome.
 
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TheHops

TheHops

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Alright, so truth be told, I've been having so much fun with the Gladiator that I forgot that I had a build thread. Luckily, I've been taking a few pictures.

Coming up on a month of ownership, and things are going great. Mods/changes so far:

-Tailgate sticker (my first mod, woo!)
20200104_160626.jpg

-Tint (windshield brow, and fronts to match rears)
-Line-x bed
-EGR vent visors
-Installed my sPOD with HD series panel (mounted on a CMM grab bar ball mount, with a 67d arm and bracket)
-Wired in a set of amber spots, and a set of white side shooter spots on a rigid cowl mount
-New wheels and tires (Method 313, 17x8.5, +25 offset, with Nitto Ridge Grapplers in 35x12.50R17)

Wheel/tire before and after:
20200121_142238.jpg

20200121_142228.jpg

20200121_142315.jpg

20200121_142307.jpg

20200122_134121.jpg
(I had some other non-JT related wheel/tire work done at the same time, hence the 4 wheels/8 tires in the bed)
20200122_164954.jpg

20200122_164928.jpg

20200122_164947.jpg

20200122_164939.jpg

(I got exactly the stance that I was looking for here, with maximum function and minimal poke. These wheels are the exact specs as the AEV wheels, but they're lighter.)

I'm beyond pleased with how the setup has turned out so far. I've got a whole lot of ideas, and a few more parts on the way. My next major projects to tackle are bumpers, wiring the remainder of the lights in those bumpers, and installing/routing air for my arb twin compressor. More to come!

20200123_143109.jpg
 
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Doolin64

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What brand wheels are they? I think they look great. I too would like a set of wheels that in line with AEV specs.

***Edit...reread through your post. Looks like they are Method 313's. I must be missing something, I'm only seeing these with 0 offset on their website.
 
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TheHops

TheHops

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What brand wheels are they? I think they look great. I too would like a set of wheels that in line with AEV specs.

***Edit...reread through your post. Looks like they are Method 313's. I must be missing something, I'm only seeing these with 0 offset on their website.
Thanks! And no worries. You're correct, they are the 313s. I'm fairly sure the +25 offset are listed on their site, but I had been researching wheels for a while and I may be thinking of a different brand.

Either way, the part number for the exact wheels that I got are MR31378550525. Also, if you're interested in the red center caps, those are part number CP-T078K86-R. The wheels came with a sort of carbon fiber type center cap, but I wanted a bit of extra color to offset all of the black.
 
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TheHops

TheHops

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Since my last post, I was able to knock out a few more projects. Mainly, I was able to get my aftermarket rear bumper installed. I wanted something that would provide extra protection from the crazies that drive around here, would have good off road recovery points, and would be able to house rear lights without modification. I went with the Road Armor Stealth rear, and ultimately plan on getting a matching front down the line.

20200201_115039.jpg
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This bumper can take an 8000lb winch, though I haven't installed one (yet). Having the flexibility of ultimately having front and rear winches will inspire a lot of confidence when it comes time to push through some of the nasty stuff that I plan on encountering in my adventures.

For wiring the backup lights, I just tied them in on the same harness, fully enclosed the length in wiring loom and ran it along the right side frame rail, and up in to the engine bay to my sPOD. The connections are fully waterproofed and protected from abrasion. I also installed 4 small red marker lights in place of the parking sensors that I don't have. I have some waterproof quick release pigtails that I'll be splicing in to the factory harness with this weekend. It's going to turn out great!

20200201_170934.jpg
20200201_170943.jpg


My next (planned) major project will be tackling the compressor setup. I know I want to mount it under the front passenger seat, but I'll have to plan on how to route the cables and air lines. It's pricey, but as of right now, I'm leaning towards an UpDownAir setup. We'll see!

20200202_122250.jpg
 

Doolin64

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Thanks! And no worries. You're correct, they are the 313s. I'm fairly sure the +25 offset are listed on their site, but I had been researching wheels for a while and I may be thinking of a different brand.

Either way, the part number for the exact wheels that I got are MR31378550525. Also, if you're interested in the red center caps, those are part number CP-T078K86-R. The wheels came with a sort of carbon fiber type center cap, but I wanted a bit of extra color to offset all of the black.

Thank you. I was able to find them for sale no problem. Looking back on their site just now I just found them. I thought they would have been listed right underneath each other.

I can't believe how light your wheels are! When I bought my Gladiator it came with XD FMJ 137s. And 35" Toyo Muds. That setup was good for 109lbs per tire and wheel. I swapped to 35"BFG K02's and I saved some weight and improved the ride. Heck, I could run these Methods and 37" BFGs and still be lighter than the setup I initially started with. Certainly has me thinking because +25 offset is what I prefer.
 

Insert_Clever_Name_Here

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Awesome wheel fitment!
Looks perfect!

Alright, so truth be told, I've been having so much fun with the Gladiator that I forgot that I had a build thread. Luckily, I've been taking a few pictures.

Coming up on a month of ownership, and things are going great. Mods/changes so far:

-Tailgate sticker (my first mod, woo!)
20200104_160626.jpg

-Tint (windshield brow, and fronts to match rears)
-Line-x bed
-EGR vent visors
-Installed my sPOD with HD series panel (mounted on a CMM grab bar ball mount, with a 67d arm and bracket)
-Wired in a set of amber spots, and a set of white side shooter spots on a rigid cowl mount
-New wheels and tires (Method 313, 17x8.5, +25 offset, with Nitto Ridge Grapplers in 35x12.50R17)

Wheel/tire before and after:
20200121_142238.jpg

20200121_142228.jpg

20200121_142315.jpg

20200121_142307.jpg

20200122_134121.jpg
(I had some other non-JT related wheel/tire work done at the same time, hence the 4 wheels/8 tires in the bed)
20200122_164954.jpg

20200122_164928.jpg

20200122_164947.jpg

20200122_164939.jpg

(I got exactly the stance that I was looking for here, with maximum function and minimal poke. These wheels are the exact specs as the AEV wheels, but they're lighter.)

I'm beyond pleased with how the setup has turned out so far. I've got a whole lot of ideas, and a few more parts on the way. My next major projects to tackle are bumpers, wiring the remainder of the lights in those bumpers, and installing/routing air for my arb twin compressor. More to come!

20200123_143109.jpg
 
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TheHops

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Thank you. I was able to find them for sale no problem. Looking back on their site just now I just found them. I thought they would have been listed right underneath each other.

I can't believe how light your wheels are! When I bought my Gladiator it came with XD FMJ 137s. And 35" Toyo Muds. That setup was good for 109lbs per tire and wheel. I swapped to 35"BFG K02's and I saved some weight and improved the ride. Heck, I could run these Methods and 37" BFGs and still be lighter than the setup I initially started with. Certainly has me thinking because +25 offset is what I prefer.
That's exactly why I bought them! I wanted to keep the weight down as much as possible, and I knew the Ridge Grapplers were a bit on the heavy side. The Methods were definitely a bit more on the expensive side, but...buy once, cry once, I suppose!

Awesome wheel fitment!
Looks perfect!
Thanks! I put a lot of thought in to the specs ahead of time, and I couldn't be happier honestly.
 

Xenephobe

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I really like the stance of your wheel and tire set up! Gives me a really good visual of what I'm aiming for.
 
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TheHops

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Though I didn't technically add anything (yet), I'll still update with this:

After searching every day for about a month and a half, I finally came across a hard top kit! It was a long drive to go snag it (from TN to TX and back in one day), but it was well worth it, considering how critical it will be to my build. I had to have one in order to mount my eventual roof rack over the cab. That will be used to mount lights, as well as for miscellaneous and fuel storage (I typically carry four 5 gal jerry cans) for overland trips.

Ares took the trip like an absolute champ. Not bad fuel economy at all either, considering I'm on 35s, and that I was doing 75-80 through Texas. I think the engine is finally starting to break in. I plan on doing my first early oil change with Royal Purple and a fresh mopar filter next week, so maybe I'll see some more slight gains with the new lube. I think I'm going to hold off on upgrading the rest of the fluids until my second oil change.

20200215_165359.jpg
20200215_165353.jpg
20200215_213622.jpg
 
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TheHops

TheHops

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I was able to set some time aside today to handle the hard top conversion. Once I figured out the bracket setup, it wasn't so bad at all. From the time I started tearing down the soft top, to my hard top test drive was a little over an hour. I went with the DV8 hard top brackets and they work flawlessly. I also had to purchase the weather stripping/gasket/trim that goes between the two freedom panels. The locations of the brackets that I had to install are pictured below.

Two behind the front seats, beneath the plastic trim, just above the dome light:

20200228_130409.jpg
20200228_130448.jpg


And two (two pieces each that bolt together) brackets behind the trim above the rear view mirror:

20200228_130427.jpg
20200228_130441.jpg


As mentioned in the post above, getting a hard top was critical to my build so that I can eventually put roof racks on top. I was lucky to find one as quickly as I did. I also like the look quite a bit more than the soft top.

20200228_130335.jpg
20200228_130350.jpg


As a side note, I did my first oil change today at 3,326 miles. I run Royal Purple in everything I own, and I added a new mopar filter. Things seemed overall much smoother during my post-change drive

More changes to come!
 
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TheHops

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Today was a beautiful day, and I got a fair bit done.

I installed my Road Armor Stealth full width front bumper. I'm as impressed with the quality of the front as I am the rear one. I tossed in two sets of Rigid pods: a set of amber driving pattern lights to compliment the amber spots up top, and SAE fogs spliced in to the factory circuit for a bit of extra road-legal visibility at night. I'm working towards the perfect compliment of lights that have patterns that cover all sectors on/off road. I will be filling the 20" light bar spot with a hyperspot bar. I'm undecided on what to utilize the light tabs for above the winch mount.

Before:

20200307_100305.jpg

20200307_100311.jpg


After:

20200307_170709.jpg

20200307_170719.jpg


I forgot to measure heights beforehand, but after installing the front bumper (105 pounds) my Gladiator is dead level: 40" exactly from ground to bottom of fender on all four wheels.

Also pictured are a set of Rugged Ridge headlight guards. Great quality, and I can't wait for them to release the Gladiator tail light guards, since the JL ones don't work. Ask me how I know. Admittedly, it was kind of a spur of the moment purchase. They seem more cosmetic, since the openings are quite large...but they were on sale. They are made of metal (aluminum it seems) and some protection is better than none on these expensive Mopar LEDs!

Another random purchase are the side vent turn signals. I came across an install of them on the facebook group and loved them, I'm actually blown away by the quality, and the brightness. Definitely no regrets on these. I don't have pictures with the lights on, but I think they're great, and they look factory. The more "PAY ATTENTION" lights around here, the better.

Before:

20200307_100319.jpg


After:

20200307_170726.jpg


The order of precedence on my mods is a bit out of whack at this point, since I'm just nabbing up whatever happens to be on sale at the time that my budget is free. As of right now, still on the radar are:

-Install/wire compressor (leaning towards an UpDown air setup for my ARB twin compressor, under front passenger seat mount)
-Winches for front and rear bumpers (WARN VR EVO 12S or 10S for the front, and a 10S or 8S for the rear, pending a weigh in after installation of these bumpers and current winch costs)
-Small lift kit, with replacement ICON or King shocks
-Figure out the roof rack setup (currently leaning towards Frontrunner roof racks, with an A.R.E. CX HD camper shell, if/when it is released)

As always, more to come!
 
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TheHops

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No major updates, but the next few days will be beautiful so I took the top and doors off, went out for a drive, and took a few pictures.

P3250427.jpg
P3250433.jpg


I'm very happy with the direction of the build thus far. I haven't seen any decent sales yet on items on my mod list, so I'm holding off for the time being and I'm just kind of enjoying the Jeep as-is. I don't have any major trips planned until late summer (unfortunately the work life is interfering with that) so I'm not in a huge rush to get the remaining "core" parts on it. With that being said, the grand scheme hasn't changed:

-The build is centered around maximum functionality, focusing on sustained off-road travel, reliability, and self-recovery
-Minimal lift (if any, still undecided, I may just upgrade the stock parts and keep stock height) to maintain a low center of gravity, economy and drivability
-A waterproof bed solution that can fit my Dometic fridge (vertical space), and also mount my ~190 pound rooftop tent (leaning towards a reinforced camper shell at this time; hopefully ARE releases their CX HD for the JT)
-Roof racks over cab and bed, providing a level platform for spare gear, fuel and my tent, as well as 360 degrees of lighting

It's a work in progress, but I'm loving every minute of ownership!
 
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TheHops

TheHops

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I tackled a high priority project over the past 3 days (mainly spent waiting for parts): Installing my compressor.

Day 1 was all about customizing the harness and figuring out the wiring. I decided to go through the passenger door jamb, similar to how I did with my sPOD on the driver side.

I started by mocking up the wiring to see how much harness I would need. After establishing that and chopping and splicing a bit, I started routing. From under the rear passenger seat, I ducked in to the floor trim by way of the passenger seatbelts at the floor.

20200330_181415.jpg

20200330_181440.jpg


From there, I ran the harness through the floor trim on the passenger side, and up beside the glove box.

20200330_181502.jpg
20200330_184513.jpg
20200330_184522.jpg

20200330_190122.jpg


After running the harness part way up, and out of the trim beside the glove box, I dipped in between the foam padding on the trim piece, and the door frame, and up under the cowl in to the engine bay.

20200330_190126.jpg
20200330_190137.jpg


There is very little pinch on the wires (they're also sheathed), and the door continues to close with minimal force. It was a good alternative for me instead of trying to punch or drill through the firewall. Tucking the wires in to the engine bay, that concluded day 1.

Day 2 was unfortunately spent waiting for the mounting/air system and a crimp tool that I needed to make sure the job was done right.

Today however, on day 3, I was able to complete the project. I started by putting the new crimper to use and prepping the terminal ends of the harness. They're not the prettiest in the world, but they are rock solid.

20200401_131025.jpg
20200401_131529.jpg


Shortly before I finished, the second package of the day arrived with my Innovative JK Products ARB CKMTA12 system. First impressions were that it's a simple, but great piece of kit. I ended up opting for this over the UpDown Air setup mostly because of the simplicity...and the price. This kit will do everything I need it to, with minimal hassle.

20200401_151532.jpg


After laying out the pieces, the real install began. I grabbed my trusty old ARB and threw it on the mount. Two bolts is all it takes to bolt this up, though the seat bolts are fastened with red loctite. A small impact made short work of it.

20200401_152647.jpg
20200401_152652.jpg
20200401_152658.jpg


After that, slight modifications are needed for proper install. Two 1/4" holes need to be drilled per side. I did this very roughly, by using the bracket itself and a paint marker, then going at it with a step bit. There were no issues with this method. After mounting the air chucks (not pictured) in the bracket, it bolts right in to place.

20200401_154710.jpg
20200401_154733.jpg


I didn't take many pictures of this next part. Numerous cuss words and body contortions aside, it wasn't too bad, but it would be too tight to take usable pictures. After sliding the front seats all the way forward, you'll see two panels (one on each side) you pop out with a trim tool. Undo the bolts, and the console lifts up partially, allowing you to route the air line from the compressor to the drive side air connection. The air line is routed beneath both seat brackets, and under the emergency brake cable inside of the console.

20200401_170956.jpg


Once that's done, it's a simple matter of plugging in the hoses and co ducting a pressure test. My system held maximum pressure for 8 minutes without issue before I decided it was good enough.

20200401_173234.jpg
20200401_181150.jpg
20200401_184747.jpg


All in all, I love the product, and I know it'll serve me well. The next project I'm tossing around is installing my 600 watt pure sine wave inverter. I'll be using it to charge camera equipment, and run the fridge out of the cab in the rear seat.

As usual, more coming soon!

EDIT 28APR2020:

I can no longer recommend routing cables through the door jamb. I noticed soaking wet carpet beneath my floor mats on both sides. After some testing, I discovered that water would get in to my wiring loom inside of the cowl, and would channel down inside of the loom through my doors, rendering the weather seals useless. This routing method may work just fine on bare wiring since there'snothing to use as a channel, however I rerouted all wiring through the front floor drain plugs instead just to be safe. As of the time of this update, I am running with plugs out. I'll likely end up cutting very small slits in the plugs for wires to pass through, in order to maintain sound and weather resistant properties.
 
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