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EVO 4.5"/38" desert trail build

Desert Outlaw

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Desert
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2003 Tomb Raider Rubicon, 2020 Rubicon Gladiator
I like to run and lead trail runs over moderate level trails in the Southern California and Baja, Mexico region and I want my Gladiator to handle the same trails that my 2003 TJ Rubicon is built to complete. Since 1999, I have led runs into the Joshua Tree area (via Berdoo Canyon Road and Gold Crown Road) then in 2004, the 1942 Baja Pole Line Road outside of Mexicali, Baja California, then 2006 the "Mission Impossible" outside of Rancho Santa Inez/Catavina, then the Pioneer Trail in 2019. The Pioneer Trail and "Mission Impossible" being the most challenging.

Berdoo Canyon Road got a little dicey due to low clearance and small rocks
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Travel maxed out with the stock shock absorbers
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These trails along with lots of quality trails in the Big Bear area along with Truckhaven and Ocotillo Wells made up my mind that a high clearance build was the most practical. I ran Gold Crown Road and Berdoo Canyon Road - both 'EASY' trails that I ordinarily ran in my mid 90's short wheelbase Ford Ranger, and later my 2003 TJ Rubicon without incident. In fact, these trails are simple trails offering scenery and little if any challenge for my well-built TJ. But, with my stock Gladiator my wife was worried about rocks scraping the rockers and doors. I got some usage out of the stock Rubicon skid plates as well. There had to be a better way.

My wife of 10 years and I have conquered many trails - both in the U.S. and in Mexico.
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Dropping into "The Swamp" along the "Mission Impossible" trail outside of Catavina, Baja California, Mexico!
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Coming out of "The Swamp" along the "Mission Impossible" trail
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A JK running 38" BFG KO2s at the welder in San Felipe after this happened along the Baja Pole Line Road - February 2019
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Matomi Wash, outside of San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico
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Pioneer Trail outside of Bahia San Luis Gonzaga, Baja California, Mexico
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Here is my build sheet to run the 38" Milestar Patagonia. @TTEChris helped me through many of the details of the build. He runs Tank Customs (https://www.facebook.com/tankcustoms/) and has been able to lend advice regarding the parts that would work best. If I was located near Houston, I would feel more than comfortable with him handling the installation.


The Build Sheet - Purchased

Suspension
4.5” EVO Enforcer Overland
(For improved clearance and less forward rake over Skyjacker 4.5" kit)
Front lower EVO control arms
Rear upper EVO control arms
Fox 4.5-6” Rear 2.0 IFP Shocks
Fox 4.5-6” Front 2.0 IFP Shocks
(For comparable ride to OEM Fox shocks minus the soft valving)
Metal Cloak Rear Track Bar
(For maintenance-free DuraTrack bushing with durable zinc plating)
Daystar Coil spring Correction Pads
(To address/correct inward bowing of front coil springs upon suspension installation)

Computer
Tazer JL Mini
(for features that I will most-likely utilize when programming for shift points, fog lights, speedometer, etc.)

Steering
Steer Smarts Yeti Drag link
Steer Smarts Yeti XD Track Bar
(for heavy trackbar performance)
Steer Smarts Yeti Track Bar bracket
Steer Smarts Yeti XD Tie Rod (Rubicon)
(for heavy tie rod performance)
Steer Smarts HD N Steering Stabilizer
(for neutral steering stabilizer valving)
Steer Smarts Steering Stabilizer bracket
(advertised as the "strongest" steering stabilizer bracket on the market)

Wheels
17x9" 4.75 b.s. Quadratec Baja Extreme II (black)
(for classic 8 hole looks, price, light weight)

Bumper
Smittybilt XRC JL stubby bumper
(purchased locally used for $200)

Driveshaft
Front Adams Solid 1350 Driveshaft
(purchased due to long-travel nature of EVO 4.5" Enforcer Overland suspension. Heavy duty alternate to Adams 1310 front driveshaft)

LED lights
14" JW Speaker - flood pattern 35 degree pattern of light

...next on the shopping list after Christmas/New Years/10 Year Wedding Anniversary are...

Tires
Milestar Patagonia 38’s

Later in 2020,

Regear to 4.88 of front/rear Dana 44 diffs w/8 speed Automatic. I will do a little research to see if the pinion is smaller on the JT rear axle the deeper your gearing gets. If pinion size stays the same, 5.13's for the win.
Rocker skins
(Poison Spyder possibly)
MOLLE bed mounts for Hi-Lift or ARB lift unit and Roto Pax gas storage.
Rocker guards
Shrockworks or ACE - not sure yet..

I'm expecting to have a good time with the Gladiator just as I have with my 2003 TJ Rubicon!
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Back in 2004 with my new 2003 TJ Rubicon along Berdoo Canyon Road.
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Installation will take place in 4 weeks - either at home in my garage or at a 4x4 shop. This should be a Tacoma-figher for sure when it's all complete!LOL



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jurfie

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Awesome, subscribed!

If I ever drive my JKR (or future JTR) to my Mom's place in Palm Desert, I'll hit you up for a guided tour of Joshua Tree National Park! I've been wanting to explore that area ever since she bought her place there.
 
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Desert Outlaw

Desert Outlaw

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Awesome, subscribed!

If I ever drive my JKR (or future JTR) to my Mom's place in Palm Desert, I'll hit you up for a guided tour of Joshua Tree National Park! I've been wanting to explore that area ever since she bought her place there.
Daryl and his wife drove down from Nanaimo, B.C. for this run into Baja, so it can be done. It is a very long drive, though.
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Joshua Tree has miles of trails that are better explored October through April.
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jurfie

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Sweet! I wouldn't have the ferry from Vancouver Island to contend with, as Daryl and his wife did.

I'm not afraid of long drives; this little JKR has been to San Jose, CA a few times and this past summer we drove it as far east as Moncton, NB (about 3,500 miles each way). Just haven't driven to Palm Desert since it is so quick to just fly down for the weekend.
 

Bacon

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Are you concerned with the strength of the axles/knuckles wheeling hard on 38” tires?
 
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Desert Outlaw

Desert Outlaw

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Desert
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Are you concerned with the strength of the axles/knuckles wheeling hard on 38” tires?
@TTEChris wheels his JLUR on 40's and his hasn't failed yet. I'll pony up for a housing if/when it happens I guess.
 

WhatExit?

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Nice pics and bonus points for mentioning Truckhaven!
 

TTEChris

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Are you concerned with the strength of the axles/knuckles wheeling hard on 38” tires?
I know it's not a direct comparison but as mentioned we have been wheeling & daily driving our JL's on heavy beadlocks/40's for some time now without issue. I've only seen a couple of people have issues with similar combos and it always seemed they were extremely heavy on the throttle offroad. The JL/JT knuckles are much beefier than what was on the JK. On my JK's I always ran 37s and the first thing I did was weld on C Gussets.
 

spazzyfry123

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I know it's not a direct comparison but as mentioned we have been wheeling & daily driving our JL's on heavy beadlocks/40's for some time now without issue. I've only seen a couple of people have issues with similar combos and it always seemed they were extremely heavy on the throttle offroad. The JL/JT knuckles are much beefier than what was on the JK. On my JK's I always ran 37s and the first thing I did was weld on C Gussets.
Are the JT D44s thicker walled? And are they stronger than the JL given the additional weight, tow ratings, etc.?
 
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Desert Outlaw

Desert Outlaw

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Desert
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2003 Tomb Raider Rubicon, 2020 Rubicon Gladiator
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Are you concerned with the strength of the axles/knuckles wheeling hard on 38” tires?
I don't wheel my Jeeps too hard, but after 16 years, my TJ Rubicon might have a bent front housing. I think that it goes with the territory. Over time, I will need to upgrade, but this is what I do for fun @Bacon
 

TheSolarWizard

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I talked to rebel off-road today and they told me that for 37/38s, they don’t feel like an axle swap is required. for $2500 I wonder if swapping in the Dynatrac 44 might be prudent?
 

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