Tumbleweed Offroad... Errr, Overlanding

jtimbrook

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So maybe I shouldn’t be so lazy and document my build. Backstory time, we’ve owned a few Jeeps in my family, last count was about 20, give or take. We’ve modded many and driven our fair share into the ground. My biggest undertaking was my ‘12 JKU...
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When I traded it in it was sitting on 37’s and 12” King’s and saw trails as far west as the Rubicon and out to Hidden Falls here in Texas. Alas, it was time for a change mainly because I was needing to do something different. I had already been offered multiple times some hard to pass up offers on her and lo-and-behold I was able to get into a ‘19 JLU Rubicon.

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When you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all right? This one is one of the very few that I did not mod out mainly because I knew the Gladiator was coming out. Sure enough in less than a year I found one that met everything on my checklist thanks to my Dad (more on him later). Several phone calls later and the dealership drIrving it out to me from Austin, the paperwork signed was signed at a Starbucks Oct. ‘19.

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And this is where my new overlanding journey begins...





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jtimbrook

jtimbrook

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So here’s the idea, build up a daily driver I can use for extended overlanding trips without taking a second mortgage and not making a lot of the same mistakes I made with my ’12. My priorities:
1. Suspension, keep it close to stock but still provide clearance for decent trails and a set of 35’s eventually.
2. Armor, I’m not doing 6ft waterfall climbs so throwing on a set of rubi rails, maybe some rocker armor, and bumpers will do the trick.
3. Recovery, I’ve done the self recovery thing many times over and yeah, winch, recovery boards, full tool kit, and air. Don’t leave home without them.
4. Creature comforts, getting older means sleeping in comfort just like driving in comfort. RTT, kitchen, and plenty of space for other fun toys like bikes, paddleboards, and other Jeeps.
5. Technology, I’d prefer not to deal with other people but there are those times. Radios, mapping, oh my...

This is a good start but not exclusive, I’ll add other bits and bobs as I progress but hey there’s a world to explore! Btw here’s an obligatory other Jeep pic...
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jtimbrook

jtimbrook

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First mods, a set of Milestar Patagonia’s, Teraflex leveling kit, RuggedRidge winch, and EBay bumper. You know just enough to be slightly dangerous, or adventurous...
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Chug approved!
 
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jtimbrook

jtimbrook

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And then... stupid quarantine, the toll it has taken has been incredible but it has made me realize how much I value each day I have to explore the world around me. We were able to hit a super slim window and ran up to Moab.

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Lessons learned, enjoy some of the best stargazing at Arches National, mountain biking is easier with a non-squeaky bottom bracket, the dinosaur park should be a must do, and paddle boarding down the Colorado River is stunning unless the winds pick up, then it’s just work...
 
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jtimbrook

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Let’s continue where I left off... We ground tent camped and realized we needed a new tent, yes we threw away the old one before we left Moab. Decisions and impatience led me to watching wayyyy too many RTT reviews on YouTube and another trip on the horizon which really narrowed the options. The trigger was pulled and Northridge came in clutch with the Overland Vehicle Systems TMBK tent. I also needed bed rails and went with a set of Builtright Industries rails.
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So yeah that was fun to install, thankfully I only had to drill out one bolt in the whole process, Jeep’s bedlining process creates challenges. However, Builtright definitely has a great product, thanks y’all!

Now, back to adventures with Dad, he’s the one that originally found the deal in Austin and why is that well he was in the market for a Gladiator too. His issue was he wasn’t particularly interested in a black Jeep and so his loss, my gain. I get a call two months later, my Dad made a quick trip to Oklahoma to pick up a Gladiator. My dad has zero impulse control sometimes... I think it took him the trip back to realize this one wasn’t the right one, and within a few days he was back at it looking for a better deal. I really did like that Gobi color. Randomly one day he calls me.

Dad, “Hey whatcha got going on this weekend?”
Me, “dunno know, whyyyy?”
Dad, “Wanna go to New Branfeuls?”
Me, “Wha? Whyyy?”
Dad, “Your Mother said either you go or your sister goes with me, it’s just a day trip?”
Me, “You’re avoiding the question...”
Dad, “I traded the Gladiator...”

it really never is a dull moment...

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Dad, “Can you install some step rails so your Mom can get in and out easier?”

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OMG... I give these 2 boulders out of 100 for installation. Worst 6 hours ever, I’d rather deal with anti-seize everywhere than install another set of these... But they are stout and my Dad is happy as a clam...
 
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jtimbrook

jtimbrook

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We found another window to get out of town, this time a little adventure through Arizona.

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First stop Sedona, I was really surprised by how busy the town was. After our trip to Moab I was expecting less people but alas the place was packed. I will say though it’s a beautiful area and worth the visit. With some advice from Ali from the Rigged for Dirt podcast we ran Schnebly Hill road from East to West and had a great time.

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The trail does not require anything special but I definitely think running it downhill is the better way to do it considering the terrain. There’s a couple spots that might fall in the category of slightly technical but honestly we didn’t even need 4x4.

From Sedona we headed further north and made our way to Lake Powell. We wound up camping at Lee’s Ferry and used it as our base camp for the next few days we were there for. It also meant we got to break in the new Overland Vehicle Systems TMBK RTT. Sooo comfortable and so easy to use, we should have done this sooner.
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So if you haven’t gone to Lake Powell I’d definitely put it on the list especially if you’re going to hit up Sedona. It’s not much further up the road and the scenery is worth every bit of it. There are some party spots but you can certainly find an area away from the crowds. Mental note reserve a boat or jet ski way in advance as they’re booked months in advance.

Overall, the trip was much needed and certainly enjoyed to the fullest. The set up on the Gladiator still needed some more tweaks but in its current form did the job well.
 
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jtimbrook

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@Invictus Off Road The RTT has been great so far. It's listed as a 3 person tent and when it's open honestly it's a very roomy tent that I could see three adults sleeping in. For our trip our Chug did indeed sleep in the tent with us and we had ample room to move around and not feel like we were ever on top of each other. There are some interior cargo pockets but you can easily add more storage such as hanging a bungee net from the uprights. My grip albeit very small is I wish there was a little more in the instructions for final set up. I learned a lot in how everything works together like the rainfly etc... Entry is from the side so that helps free up room in the tent unlike some soft RTT's that have entry from underneath and has an option to add an annex (future purchase for sure). If you're trying to keep a tight budget I feel this is a great option for those getting into using an RTT and I'm glad I went this route.
 
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Ah, Thanksgiving, a time to reflect on family, friends, and lots of eating... Then again there’s adventures with my Dad. Out of the blue a few weeks before Thanksgiving...

Dad, “So I really like how your Gladiator looks.”
Me, “Me too, but it’s a work in progress.”
Dad, “Oh really, what do you still want to do?”
Me, “35’s...”
Dad, “What about your bumper?”
Me, “What?”

@Northridge4x4 had an unbeatable deal on the Rugged Ridge HD bumper and winch and my Dad telling me they’d be in by the week of Thanksgiving. He really liked the look of what I was running to this point and was like let’s get your’s built up and mine kinda built up so when my sister takes it it’s not some stock looking thing.

Always an adventure...
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@Discount Tire once again just went above and beyond to make this all work. I’m back on a set of Cooper Evolution M/T’s in the 35” variety wrapped around a set of DX4 Gear wheels. Instead of like some other local tire shops they swapped my old set on to my Dad‘s Jeep, took the sensors out of his stock tires, swapped them into the new set for my Jeep, and installed a normal set of stems into the stock tires so my Dad could sell them. No charge for the extra work and the certificates I have on the old set go with my Dad. 100/100 boulders for how awesome they were in getting this all done.

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Thanksgiving morning was entertainment at my folks place. Passerby’s kept looking at us like we were crazy or something. The swap was an 85/100 boulders on the easy scale. I would have been better off taking the winch off the old bumper and re-installing it once the bumper was on but I had help and so the hard way it was. As far as the Rugged Ridge bumper, it actually was super easy to install and it has a clean aesthetic that I really like. Wiring was straightforward and made way easier with my sister and her tiny little hands fitting up behind the air box way better than me. We pre-loaded the winch line afterwards and called it a day. I still need to install a Teraflex leveling kit on my Dad’s Jeep but he’s in no hurry. Comparing bumpers the Rugged Ridge HD is definitely one that I’d recommend for someone who’s on a budget and still wants a good bumper. Afterwards my Dad liked it too, a lot...
 

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@jtimbrook , thank you for the shout out to your local Discount Tire store, those guys work hard every day to earn your business.

We appreciate you posting some photos of the transformation. It looks great!!!
 
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jtimbrook

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New shoes means adventure time! A few of my wife’s co-workers wanted to get out of town and check out some nearby backcountry areas nearby. When we got to the meet point that’s when I found out the guy that was supposed to lead wasn’t able to go and well I got volunteered to lead... I swear I’m going to start charging for guide work...

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Don‘t mind the Raptor he’s a good guy...

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We had a great time and even found us a Xmas tree (we had our tree tag with us). Overall, the Jeep ran great and once again the Coopers didn‘t disappoint. It would have been a little nicer to have had snow, but were definitely in a dry year.

Up next new fenders...
 

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Love the updates! That dog is a hilarious add! Glad you were able to make it to AZ - there is definitely amazing scenery throughout the state, and most can be day (or two) trips. I am planning on such for some time around end of this month.
 
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Love the updates! That dog is a hilarious add! Glad you were able to make it to AZ - there is definitely amazing scenery throughout the state, and most can be day (or two) trips. I am planning on such for some time around end of this month.
We love the Western New Mexico, Eastern Arizona, and Four Corners areas. It seems like every time we visit a particular part there’s something new to find afterwards.
 

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