psrivats' 2005 TJ Rubicon mild build

psrivats

Team green shackle
Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2018
Messages
5,233
Location
OR, USA
I think it's time to start my own build thread :)

Intro
I owe a ton of thanks to this forum overall for helping me make a learned purchase on a good Jeep. I always have been attracted to Jeeps and after a lot of research, reading and thinking between a used JK and a used TJ, I went with a TJ. And I am very happy I did! This vehicle is exactly what I wanted in terms of how it looks, how it feels to drive and how it is inside and outside.

My TJ
It took me a good while to find this TJ . Weeks and weeks of opening CL multiple times a day and checking local dealership websites. Eventually I found a good one on CL, a single owner 2005 Rubicon, 42RLE transmission, 56k miles, black, hard top + soft top + bikini top. I paid $16k. Was not happy with buying black but I did grow to like the color. Still wish I could have bought a earth tone color, moss green or a khaki one or even red, but I guess black is classic in its own way.

This was how the Jeep looked the day I got it - 2.5" lift, 17" rims, 33"+ mud terrain tires, chrome everywhere. There is pretty much no rust since we don't have salt on our roads and otherwise things were in pretty decent shape. There are a few small scratches on the doors, some small rock chips on the hood edge, some scratches on the rear where the hard top goes, but otherwise nothing major. I got a thumbs up sign from my local mechanic for engine/trans condition. However I knew that it did not drive well. There was a speed shimmy at ~45mph that disappeared past 55mph, ride on the Fabtech shocks was too rough and there were plenty of squeaky and rattling sounds.

May 2018
IMG_20180611_163427.jpg


My build philosophy
Though I thoroughly enjoy seeing photos and videos of Jeeps doing crazy things, I am not into off-roading as an activity in itself other than what comes naturally when I go hiking or camping in the PNW. I want my Jeep to drive and handle well on the highway and at the same time, be capable+robust enough to go on any forest service road and backcountry road to trailheads and camping spots that I choose. This will therefore be a mild "build" in many ways.

The Build
I have taken a lot of inspiration from a lot of other builds here; you guys rock for sharing so much information. @Chris @Jerry Bransford @jjvw @glwood @Ranger_b0b @Squatch were amongst the many here that have given me great advice be it to simple or complex questions. A good portion of what I have has been put in by the very capable @David Kishpaugh of Jeep West and I am very grateful to him for listening to my rambles.

Here is what I've done so far after getting the Jeep in sequential order. Unless noted with a *, my local mechanic or Dave did the work. I'm slowly learning to do more on my Jeep, but I have a very long way to go. I really have a enormous amount of respect for every one of you here that do your own amazing work on the Jeep. Your build threads are all really fantastic.

The Jeep drives very well today with what I have. I'm quite happy as to where it is in terms of ride quality. I've only gone on one looong drive (hiking trip) after all the recent work that was done and towards the end I wished for a smoother ride as I was fatigued after a very long day of hiking on Mt Hood. But that wish went away after a night's rest :)

  • All new fluids everywhere
  • New AC compressor
  • 1.5" seat risers (Buchanan Precision Machine)*
  • Iggee Seat covers*
  • BedRug front and rear*
  • Rugged Ridge molded floor mats
  • ANCO 91-13 wiper blades*
  • De-chroming* except for OEM front grill overlay and OEM fuel door cover (I like them both)
  • Stock bumpers (PO saved them) + OEM bumper caps*
  • Thumbscrews for hardtop*
  • Body Armor TJ-4121*
  • VisionX VX-7RD H4 replacements for the stock sealed beams*
  • Replacement fog light lens housing to replace cracked lens* (thank you Daveys Jeep!)
  • Multifunction switch fix for fog lights* (I followed the how-to )
  • Used 16" MOAB wheels (Craigslist)
  • Goodyear Duratracs 265/75R16 C-rated and road force balanced till it was done right (after Jerry's advice on multiple threads)
  • Black magic brake pads + centric rotors+new calipers
  • 1up- USA bike rack
  • Currie currectlync steering
  • Savvy Johnny Joint control arms
  • RC 1075 rear adjustable track bar
  • Teraflex front adjustable track bar
  • Rear main seal leak fix
  • Bilstein 5100s front and rear
  • New 5-760x front axle joints
  • Adams rear 1350 CV driveshaft
  • Suspension check/setup by Dave. Running a 2.5" lift with Fabtech springs the Jeep came with.
  • Savvy cable shifter for transfer case
  • Speedohealer*
  • OEM locking gas cap keyed to ignition key
  • Removed the Auto-mate aftermarket security system the PO had installed*(what a mess this was!)
  • SKIM retrofit (I followed the how-to)

Here's how the Jeep stands today. I included a soft top pic since I absolutely and utterly love the soft top. I very reluctantly put the hard top just this past weekend as temps start to drop.

9/26/2018

IMG_20180923_153437.jpg
IMG_20180913_090113.jpg


IMG_20180803_195522.jpg


IMG_20180625_203855.jpg



Wishlist

(I will keep adding here and moving items to the "done" list above going forward; items not in any particular order except the regear/trans cooler)
  • 4.88 gears (happening soon)
  • Derale Transmission Cooler
  • Replace Hood latches with new OEM parts
  • Headliners for the hard top
  • Dead pedal (based on @tworley and @jjvw mod, got a 90s mustang one from eBay, just need to install)
  • Fix the small paint scratches on door/tub and rock chips on the hood
  • Install and route USB charging (going to attempt this myself)
  • Custom rear storage solution (I removed the backseat and thinking about how to best use the rear space for my needs; might do this myself as well)
  • Tuffy center console and glovebox
  • Replace all the speakers with something close to factory specs (I have the infinity sound system with the center console subwoofer). No plans to upgrade the head unit at the moment.
  • On-board air - still thinking about this. Would love to have the option of airing down and up depending on where I go.
  • Exo-gate - I worry about the hinges already even with 32s. Really feel it when opening the tailgate on my steep driveway. Some of the swing out tire carriers I've seen also look great
  • Jerry can mount? I go camping to some remote spots and would love to carry extra gas just in case.
  • Thoroughly understand Jeep suspension setup tradeoffs and think about how I want to improve my system in terms of suspension travel @jjvw you really are my hero in this topic!
  • Driver Door panel crack repair
  • LED headlights? I want to stick to H4s for looks/color temp but I have a feeling I'll go to LED eventually for the brightness/visibility advantage.
  • @jjvw's sprayer on wiper arm mod
  • Slightly bigger fender flares to avoid spray on the tub ? Undecided.
  • Winch? Need to go out with local Jeep group and learn proper usage.
  • Keep reading and learning as much as I can
Luxury wishlist:
  • Bestop Supertop NX sunrider top in black twill (nothing wrong with my factory one but I saw the black twill in person and it's really nicer in every way; looks fantastic, appeciably quieter, great quality material, and really love the sunrider feature very much)
  • Half doors with slider windows for the summer. I just love the look of half doors without the top.


Any sort of suggestion/comments/criticism on my Jeep and it's build is very welcome. I look forward to getting my Jeep even better than it stands today with all your help and advice.

Edit 12/20/2020
**I have to go change a bunch of stuff above since I either changed my mind or changed direction. Overall, this is for the Jeep stands as of dec 2020. I still need to button up a few more things, but I'm quite close to calling it "finished".

PXL_20201219_194023692.jpg
 
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I can chime in on the door panel crack repair...I took off the panel, and used epoxy and fiberglass fabric on the backside. That fixed the crack on the back, to keep it from getting longer. I used a black sharpie on the inside, since I have the dark gray/charcoal panels. Looking for a better inside repair, however, to hide the crack better...I'll give the silicone fix a shot.

Very nice TJ you have there, and l love what you've done to it. If you get 4.88 gears, are you staying with 32" tires? Manual or auto transmission?

Curious as to why you replaced the control arms, and if or how the handling was affected afterward.
 
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I can chime in on the door panel crack repair...I took off the panel, and used epoxy and fiberglass fabric on the backside. That fixed the crack on the back, to keep it from getting longer. I used a black sharpie on the inside, since I have the dark gray/charcoal panels. Looking for a better inside repair, however, to hide the crack better...I'll give the silicone fix a shot.

Very nice TJ you have there, and l love what you've done to it. If you get 4.88 gears, are you staying with 32" tires? Manual or auto transmission?

Curious as to why you replaced the control arms, and if or how the handling was affected afterward.

Thanks for your input. I'll also remove the door panel and see how it's on the inside, not a bad thing to check. The silicone fix that @AndyG posted looked great and pretty simple to do so worth giving a shot.

I have 42RLE. And yes I've decided to stick to 32" tires after a lot of thought. 33s and above will need more work to get them built right and look right. Wherever I've taken the Jeep so far, the 32s have been plenty adequate.

I replaced the control arms on Dave's recommendation. The new steering, CAs, shocks, adjustable trackbars all were put in together so I cannot tell you if the control arms alone made a difference. However, the Jeep handles much smoothly now compared to before with the new items. The steering is steady, everything feels nice and tight while driving. The 5100s were also Dave's recommendation. There is less noise and vibration inside the cabin now. I like the ride quality very much.

If I get to meet @Chris when he's up here on his next visit to Beaverton, I'll have him drive my Jeep and have him comment on what he thinks!
 
Thanks for your input. I'll also remove the door panel and see how it's on the inside, not a bad thing to check. The silicone fix that @AndyG posted looked great and pretty simple to do so worth giving a shot.

I have 42RLE. And yes I've decided to stick to 32" tires after a lot of thought. 33s and above will need more work to get them built right and look right. Wherever I've taken the Jeep so far, the 32s have been plenty adequate.

I replaced the control arms on Dave's recommendation. The new steering, CAs, shocks, adjustable trackbars all were put in together so I cannot tell you if the control arms alone made a difference. However, the Jeep handles much smoothly now compared to before with the new items. The steering is steady, everything feels nice and tight while driving. The 5100s were also Dave's recommendation. There is less noise and vibration inside the cabin now. I like the ride quality very much.

If I get to meet @Chris when he's up here on his next visit to Beaverton, I'll have him drive my Jeep and have him comment on what he thinks!
I appreciate the feedback, thank you. You already have some of my wish list items on there, Savvy T/C cable shifter & Savvy control arms, so knowing more about those is very useful. I have had the T/C shifter cable on a previous TJ, so I know about the value of that. I also have the RC rear adjustable track bar, and I like how the Teraflex front track bar is similar, and works the same way as the rear RC.

Sounds like Dave just wanted you to upgrade your Rubicon to the best it could be as it sits.

If you get your re-gear done before me, I will look forward to it's evaluation with 32s and the 42RLE. That's what interests me the most. That, and finding an installer who can do it without screwing up the lockers!
 
I appreciate the feedback, thank you. You already have some of my wish list items on there, Savvy T/C cable shifter & Savvy control arms, so knowing more about those is very useful. I have had the T/C shifter cable on a previous TJ, so I know about the value of that. I also have the RC rear adjustable track bar, and I like how the Teraflex front track bar is similar, and works the same way as the rear RC.

Sounds like Dave just wanted you to upgrade your Rubicon to the best it could be as it sits.

If you get your re-gear done before me, I will look forward to it's evaluation with 32s and the 42RLE. That's what interests me the most. That, and finding an installer who can do it without screwing up the lockers!

I had a long chat with Dave in person about what I'm looking to get out of my Jeep. The man knows Jeeps in and out. I'm so glad he's only ~20 miles from me. He explained how he does things and gave me a list, and I did a good bit of reading on everything and realized his recommendations were spot on; good components where needed and thoughtfully chosen combination.

I will most certainly post my thoughts on the regear with 4.88s on this thread. I've read as much as I could on 4.88 vs 5.13 and I think 4.88 is the right choice for me.
 
If I get to meet @Chris when he's up here on his next visit to Beaverton, I'll have him drive my Jeep and have him comment on what he thinks!

I'll actually be up there this Saturday (though with the minivan, not the Jeep, haha), so I'd love to see your Jeep.

You've got a good build going on here. Truth be told, I wish I had the will power to stick to something more simple like this. Unfortunately, I drank the Kool-Aid, and now I can't control myself!

Dave is a great resource to have, no doubt. We're very lucky to have a guy like that within driving distance of us.
 
I had a long chat with Dave in person about what I'm looking to get out of my Jeep. The man knows Jeeps in and out. I'm so glad he's only ~20 miles from me. He explained how he does things and gave me a list, and I did a good bit of reading on everything and realized his recommendations were spot on; good components where needed and thoughtfully chosen combination.

I will most certainly post my thoughts on the regear with 4.88s on this thread. I've read as much as I could on 4.88 vs 5.13 and I think 4.88 is the right choice for me.
Well, you've pretty much confirmed my choices for my wish list:
https://wranglertjforum.com/threads/wish-list-i-hope-to-turn-into-a-build-list.7325/
with maybe the exception of the full Exogate system. I am waiting on feedback from @JMT on the hinges themselves. The rest I will go forward on, and looks like I will add the Teraflex front adjustable track bar to the list..:)
 
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Very tasteful build brah! I like where you're going with it. The chrome fuel door gives it just enough pop to be subtle. The Rubi flares are already pretty wide, so steer clear of the Dumbo ears if you can.
 
I'll actually be up there this Saturday (though with the minivan, not the Jeep, haha), so I'd love to see your Jeep.

You've got a good build going on here. Truth be told, I wish I had the will power to stick to something more simple like this. Unfortunately, I drank the Kool-Aid, and now I can't control myself!

Dave is a great resource to have, no doubt. We're very lucky to have a guy like that within driving distance of us.

Let me know @Chris, would love to meet you in person and talk Jeep. I would be curious to hear your thoughts on my TJ's ride quality.

Thanks for your compliments on the build. I've taken a lot of information and inspiration from your old TJ and current TJ.
 
Well, you've pretty much confirmed my choices for my wish list:
https://wranglertjforum.com/threads/wish-list-i-hope-to-turn-into-a-build-list.7325/
with maybe the exception of the full Exogate system. I am waiting on feedback from @JMT on the hinges themselves. The rest I will go forward on, and looks like I will add the Teraflex front adjustable track bar to the list..:)

I think we have similar needs that we are looking to get out of our Jeeps. I loved the half door photos and quite a few of other things you posted. Since you've had a JK, do you think owning and driving that influenced you on your TJ build?
 
Awesome build and looks great. Looking forward to seeing it progress through the list. I like the seat covers it really classes it up.
 
I stole the dead pedal idea from jjvw. You'll love it though, I use it everyday on the way to work.

Looks like a solid build!
 
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Very tasteful build brah! I like where you're going with it. The chrome fuel door gives it just enough pop to be subtle. The Rubi flares are already pretty wide, so steer clear of the Dumbo ears if you can.

Thanks!

I worry about the spray from the roads damaging the paint on the tub in the long term. It rains a LOT here in the winter. Is the differnce between 4.25" flares that I currently have and 6" flares that drastic? I am running 10.5" wide tires FWIW.
 
Thanks!

I worry about the spray from the roads damaging the paint on the tub in the long term. It rains a LOT here in the winter. Is the differnce between 4.25" flares that I currently have and 6" flares that drastic? I am running 10.5" wide tires FWIW.

I run a 10.5" wide tire too and have Rubi flares. Not sure what your wheel BS is, but mine are 3.75" BS. It really isn't too bad, and we get a fair amount of rain here as well. It's a personal taste kind of thing, but if you think you'll be ok with 6" wide flares you shouldn't have any trouble selling those Rubi flares to offset the cost.