Issue 03 2008 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon – Rubigone Sean Holman 3 Comments, Join the Conversation A Dream Wrangler that is ready for play or survival Photos by Jorge Nunez You don't have to wait for the end of the world or roving groups of undead to feel the need to bug out for a bit. Long days strapped into an office chair next to a cubicle mate who wants to tell you all about her 15 cats, sitting for hours in a freeway parking lot without an ETA home, or living next door to a wingnut neighbor who always seems to place those “Hope” and “Change” signs on your side of the property line are all acceptable reasons for needing some time away. Recreation is life's best medicine and leaving civilization with a few of your favorite firearms and enough gear to be self-sufficient for a couple days is an age-old tradition guaranteed to give you the recharge you've earned. Doing it in a vehicle that gets you further away will almost certainly ensure your peace and isolation. In the spirit of bugging out of everyday life, Bob Tulley of Corona, California's Wrangler fits the bill. Starting life as an '08 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and fully upgraded by Off Road Evolution in Fullerton, California, this rig is overbuilt by most standards, yet remains civil enough to be a daily driver. Based on the long-wheelbase, 4-door Wrangler JK Unlimited, it's big enough to take you and a buddy away for the weekend (or the family away from Armageddon), but still compact enough to fit on most trails. The race-inspired suspension, beefy underpinnings, and massive rolling stock add to the “just-in-case” factor and allows the Jeep to climb over boulders to get you to the high point, or over the top of the boss's Prius; you'll know if you ever find it blocking the parking lot exit. The stock 3.8L V-6 doesn't make big power so it relies on proper gearing. The factory 4.10 gearing has been replaced with 5.38s that are able to turn the 40-inch Goodyear Wrangler MT/R tires at highway speeds. Paired with the Rubicon's low 4:1 transfer case and EVO MFG suspension, this Wrangler can creep or blast over just about any terrain. Proven on trails such as Dusy-Ershim and the Rubicon, Tully's Jeep is also used by his company to service and maintain rural telecommunication towers that can only be accessed by rough and desolate dirt roads, so its dependability in backcountry has been validated. We should all be so lucky to have a work truck like this one. Whether you enjoy trail riding and discovering new places filled with old history or are doing some recon for your escape route, this Wrangler is built to bug out on demand. In the meantime, it provides all sorts of fun and relaxation, and a much-needed respite from everyday life's frustrations. Now we just need to win the lottery to afford one. 1. Armored Fenders These Crusher Flares by Poison Spyder laugh off rock hits like a .50 cal pokes holes through watermelons. Featuring all-steel construction, Crusher Flares replace the vulnerable plastic stock fenders, while giving the Jeep enhanced aesthetics and improved clearance for the trail. Brand: Poison Spyder Customs Model: JK Front Crusher Flares MSRP: $495 (pair) URL: www.poisonspyder.com 2. Grab Handles MasterCraft Safety makes climbing aboard lifted Wranglers quick and easy with its high-quality 4-piece grab handle kit. The front handles wrap around the roll bar with three mounting straps, ensuring they won't move around on you, and the rear straps bolt-in using existing hardware on the Sound Bar. Brand: MasterCraft Safety Model: 4-piece JK Grab Handle Kit MSRP: $67 URL: www.mastercraftsafety.com 3. Communication Sometimes you need to break cover and communicate with the outside world. For those instances, communication duties are handled by an ICOM two-way radio, which has been modified to reach all frequencies. Brand: ICOM Model: IC-706MKIIG MSRP: $1,069 URL: www.icomamerica.com 4. Wheels Finding yourself in intense situations calls for a wheel that is up to the mission at hand. These 17×8.5-inch Walker Evans aluminum wheels feature high-pressure cast construction for strength and full-face beadlock rings, which protect the wheel face and valve stem while keeping the tire on the wheel, even if you roll over a spike strip. Brand: Walker Evans Model: 17-inch Beadlock Racing Wheel MSRP: $395 URL: www.walkerevansracing.com 5. Tires Crawling over anything takes a big tire, and the large-lugged Goodyear Wrangler MT/R* tires are huge. At 40-inches tall, there isn't much that can stop the forward progress of these big meats. Each tire is rated at 3,195-pounds of carrying capacity, so tires will be least of your worries when you load up for your adventure away. Goodyear developed the MT/R with excellent highway manners, but that doesn't mean they won't hold their own in the slop. (* Spare tire is a Toyo Open Country M/T) Brand: Goodyear Model: Wrangler MT/R MSRP: $605 URL: www.goodyear.com 6. Rock Sliders Running a long wheelbase rig in tight places sometimes requires pivoting and sliding. Red Rock Fab sliders keep rocks out of the doors, the sheetmetal unscathed, and allow the big Jeep to slither over obstacles without getting hung up. Brand: Red Rock Fab Model: Rock Slider MSRP: Discontinued URL: www.redrockfab.com 7. Body Armor Working together with the rock sliders, the 3/16th-inch-thick JK Body Armor panels are precision fit to the Wrangler JK's subtle body shape and add reinforcement to an area of the Wrangler that could dent at the slightest contact with anything harder than dry brush. Brand: Poison Spyder Customs Model: JK 4-door Body Armor MSRP: $229 URL: www.poisonspyder.com 1. LED Light Bar Traveling on a moonless night is not a problem with Rigid Industries' 50-inch SR-Series Hybrid LED light bar. With an output of more than 16,000 lumens and a draw of just 173 watts, the SR is as bright as it is efficient and easily cuts through the darkest nights. Brand: Rigid Industries Model: 50-inch SR-Series MSRP: $1,200 URL: www.rigidindustries.com 2. Front Bumper Stock Wrangler bumpers are no match for rocks and locked gates, but this beefy replacement from Red Rock Fab with its reinforced stinger, provisions for the factory foglights, and heavy-duty shackle mounts will stand up to any obstacle. Brand: Red Rock Fab Model: Front Bumper MSRP: Discontinued URL: www.redrockfab.com 3. Winch Going alone? Then it's wise to have a self-recovery winch at the ready. Not only will it allow you to extract yourself from a sticky situation, but it's also useful for moving debris out of your path. The Warn 9.5ti is one of the best available in this class of winch, and with a 9,500-pound rating, pulling stuck vehicles out is no problem. Brand: Warn Model: 9.5ti MSRP: $1,521 URL: www.warn.com 4. Steering Stock steering systems aren't designed for the loads created by giant tires, so a hydraulic steering assist system, like the PSC Motorsports one used here, is a mandatory upgrade. The PSC system uses a hydraulic ram to aid the steering system and makes piloting the Jeep through a sea of obstructions a breeze. Brand: PSC Motorsports Model: Jeep JK Trail & Street Cylinder Assist Kit MSRP: $1,323 URL: www.pscmotorsports.com 5. Front Axle When you need an axle upgrade that can take a .357 round better than a sandbag and manage huge tires, Dynatrac is where you go. The front ProRock 60 has more ground clearance than the stock Dana 44 axle and comes with bigger brakes for shedding speed in a hurry. The Jeep will likely fall apart before these cast-iron-and-steel monsters fail in the field. Brand: Dynatrac Model: ProRock60 Front MSRP: $7,338 URL: www.dynatrac.com 1. Rear Bumper Carrying a couple hundred pounds of wheel and tire is not easy on a vehicle, so a Red Rock Fab rear bumper and tire carrier was chosen to support the spare. It is also a good place to mount communications antennas, auxiliary lighting, and recovery shackles. Brand: Red Rock Fab Model: Rear Bumper and Tire Carrier MSRP: Discontinued URL: www.redrockfab.com 2. Rear Axle Like the front axle, the rear of this Jeep employs a Dynatrac ProRock60, which has more ground clearance than the stock Dana 44. Also like the front, it's stuffed with upgraded axleshafts, an ARB-selectable Air Locker, and 5.38 gears for big gains in strength and capability over the stock axles. Brand: Dynatrac Model: ProRock 60 Rear MSRP: $4,349 URL: www.dynatrac.com 3. Corner Armor When traversing extreme terrain, rear vehicle corners and taillights are especially susceptible to being reshaped by the topography. To keep the body square, a set of Poison Spyder Customs 1/8th-inch-thick steel Crusher Corners are bolted in place and work in conjunction with the rear Crusher Flares, even including provisions for superbright flush-mounted LED lights. Brand: Poison Spyder Customs Model: JK Rear Crusher Corners MSRP: $666 URL: www.poisonspyder.com 4. LED Lighting Flush-mounted LED lights are not going to get knocked off on the trail like the protruding factory lights will. LEDs are incredibly bright and draw little power, plus there is no filament to get damaged from bouncing around off-road. Extremely durable and vibration-resistant, there is no bulb to replace. Brand: Poison Spyder Customs Model: 24-LED Taillight MSRP: $33 URL: www.poisonspyder.com 5. Rear Suspension Notice the rear suspension? No? Well that's the point. EVO MFG's Double ThrowDown rear-suspension system mounts everything above the rear axle, so nothing is hanging down to hang you up. The cantilever suspension uses any existing long-arm suspension kit and adds four horizontally mounted King shocks (two bypass and two reservoir) to get 14 inches of real-wheel travel without having to cut into the body. Also available are King Rock Stop hydraulic bumpstops. Brand: EVO MFG Model: Double ThrowDown System MSRP: $4,928 URL: www.evomfg.com 1. Auxiliary Lighting There is no such thing as too much lighting, and Baja Designs' SolTek LED lights are performers. With an output of 2,880 lumens, the SolTek LEDs pack a punch for their size and are designed to be nearly unbreakable, making these lights a perfect choice for front-bumper applications. Brand: Baja Designs Model: SolTek LED MSRP: $450 URL: www.bajadesigns.com 2. Front Suspension Regardless of what long-arm kit you start with, you can easily add coilovers with EVO MFG's front coilover system. When paired with EVO-spec 14-inch King reservoir shocks, this coilover system will match the rear suspension's 14 inches of travel for a very balanced suspension system. Whether you require slow control in a technical section of trail or need to make a fast getaway, the EVO MFG suspension upgrades are up to the challenge. Brand: EVO MFG Model: Front Coilover System MSRP: $2,370 URL: www.evomfg.com 3. Light Bar Mount Poison Spyder Customs' JK light bar mount is a solid place to mount your full-width LED light bar. Putting the light source high above the hood allows the light to penetrate deeper into the darkness, giving you the ability to see any lurking dangers that much quicker. Brand: Poison Spyder Customs Model: JK Light Bar Mount MSRP: $274 URL: www.poisonspyder.com 4. Trail Fridge Ice for perishables is hard to come by in the backcountry, and when it melts it usually makes the sandwich bread soggy. Instead of using an ice chest, ARB's exceptional fridge freezer runs off of your 12-volt electrical system and will keep its contents at a user-selected temperature as long as you have battery power. Once down to the specified temp, a low power draw means you'll still be able to start your rig in the morning. Brand: ARB Model: 50-Quart Fridge Freezer MSRP: $880 URL: www.arbusa.com 5. Fire Extinguisher Mounts Dual 5-pound fire extinguishers are mounted on the rollbar's rear downtube with a set of Kartek heavy-duty quick-release fire extinguisher mounts. These mounts are TIG welded and feature a sturdy quick-release design. They're good for when you find yourself rubber-side up and on fire. Brand: Kartek Model: Heavy-Duty Quick-Release Fire Extinguisher Mount MSRP: $51 URL: www.kartek.com 6. Seats Regardless of how capable the vehicle is, you won't be covering much ground if the occupants aren't comfortable. MasterCraft Safety's Baja RS suspension seats blend the proven safety and performance of its race seat in a chair that reclines, enhancing functionality in any vehicle that sees everyday use. Optional seat heaters and a palette of color choices mean they'll match any interior. Brand: MasterCraft Safety Model: Baja RS MSRP: $576 URL: www.mastercraftsafety.com 7. Sports Cage While the Wrangler does come from the factory with a minimal cage, it leaves the front passengers without full protection and won't be enough if you are at some point likely to take a tumble. To reinforce the stock structure, Rock Hard 4×4 offers this completely bolt-in sports cage that extends the factory protection all the way to the A-pillar. Brand: Rock Hard 4×4 Model: Ultimate Sports Cage MSRP: $650 URL: www.rockhard4x4.com 8. Navigation When escaping from something or to something, it's good to know where you're going. The Lowrance family of GPS units is a great choice to keep tabs on where you are and where you'll end up. Brand: Lowrance Model: GlobalMap 540C MSRP: $800 URL: www.lowrance.com 9. On-Board Air Being able to make your own compressed air is helpful for more than just airing up tires. With a powerful on-board air system, you can run pneumatic tools, making your rig a mobile workshop. Using a York compressor, the Kilby Air Boss system uses engine power to compress air and hold it in a 2.5-gallon storage tank, ensuring it's ready when you need it. Brand: Kilby Enterprises Model: Air Boss MSRP: $1,450 URL: www.kilbyenterprises.com 10. Auxiliary Power Running lights, lockers, and the myriad of other accessories that are installed to a vehicle can tax the factory wiring, so Precision Designs has developed a system to power any accessory separate from the factory wiring. The sPod system makes it easy for Jeep owners to add accessories without damaging the power system or cutting into any factory-installed wiring. Brand: Precision Designs Model: sPod MSRP: $435 URL: www.4x4spod.com 11. Dual Batteries When you are loaded down with electrical accessories, you better be able to back them up with dual batteries. A dual battery setup will allow the use of accessories off of one battery, while preserving the other for starting the vehicle. Once running, the vehicle's electrical system charges both batteries. 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