February 23, 2011

Jeeps are built, not bought II – it all comes together

Ah, that's better: the Wrangler at Jeep Woodhill 4WD Adventure Park. God bless beam axle suspension.
Skip this bit if you don’t agree, but I believe that outside of 4x4 competition, super-aggressive tyres like the Centipedes are overkill. I was going to fit BFG Mud Terrains to the Rubicon’s 17-inch alloys, but was seduced by good reviews overseas of the new-ish Goodyear Wrangler MT/Rs with Kevlar (photo, right). Their unusual asymmetric design combines advantages of an all terrain and a mudder. From the brake side out the pattern comprises a row of block tread, then some all terrain-type tread, some typical mud terrain tread, then another row of blocks. The common criticism is that they’re too much of a compromise, but my experience over four seasons is that they are at no disadvantage compared to the best non-extreme mud treads, whatever the terrain. My 255/75 x 17s are a conservative one size up from stock.
Aiden Van der Werff ready to fit
an OME spring.
Although diff-head clearance hadn’t been an issue, the Wrangler was hanging-up elsewhere. Fortunately, the Jeep world is full of Wrangler lift kits. For example, the catalogue from American supplier Quadratec is thicker than some provincial phone books and devotes 32 pages to lift kits and suspension improvements. I shopped closer to home, with the relatively simple (simple is good!) but well reviewed Old Man Emu kit. I have used OME for years, always pleased with both the products and the service from suppliers, in this case Jeep-friendly Motortech 4x4 on Auckland’s north shore. I got medium-weight 2616 front springs suitable for a vehicle with a bar and medium rated 2630s at the back. These provided about 60mm more air under the body and solved my clearance problems. A fair bit firmer than standard, I’d think twice before choosing a “heavy” option. The Nitrocharger Sport shocks provide way better ride and control than the uninspiring factory dampers.
Rancho Rock Gear sump shield is
glued in place. Maybe it's painted
red for easy location
if it falls off.
While discovering the insufficient clearances, I seriously re-shaped the V6’s flimsy sump; only luck stopped it tearing open. The Motortech 4x4 guys hammered it into shape, carefully testing for leaks. They then fitted a Rancho RockGear sump shield I’d imported from the US. Beautifully built, it’s a controversial product because it’s held in place by special adhesive. The subject of many postings on Jeep forums, no one has yet reported one falling off or coming loose.
Bumpers: The Wrangler’s standard bumpers had to go. I rather fancied an American product or two, but chose ARB’s because we live in the age of OSH and Motortech 4x4 has had no problem getting ARB low-volume certified. The steel product’s a good compromise between light weight and brute strength.

So it's time to get serious in Motortech's workshop
More fun than Christmas: Aiden Van der Werff
unpacks the goodies at Motortech.
Fortunately, the Mopar skid plate mated perfectly and the bumper allowed fitting our familiar rated recovery hooks. At the back, the standard bumper included a number plate holder that protruded below its lower edge to act as a scraper blade. Another couple of outings and it would have been wrecked, so a matching ARB rear bumper seemed like, and was, a good idea. The extra clearance of the two well-built bumpers, particularly at the front, has been an eye opener and the Wrangler is also a better-looking vehicle for them. The bumpers also let me Hi-Lift off purpose-provided slots.
Why no winch?
The winch on my last truck became a 40kg dead weight, so infrequently was it used. I almost always travel in groups so there’s usually a friendly recovery nearby. If not, I’ll have to get out my Tirfor 516D hand winch. Using it can be hard work, but it’ll do the job. Should I change my mind, the ARB bumper is winch-ready.
Mounted under passenger seat, the
latest ARB compressor provides
an energetic source of air
for re-inflating tyres.
ARB's recently introduced deflator
is the best 4wdNewz has used.
Other stuff
After 12 years with a GME AM CB radio, it wasn’t a hard sell by Motortech to get me into a compact 3220 UHF unit with matched aerial. It’s easily used by the clumsy-fingered and pulls in a strong, clear signal.
A wired-in ARB CKMA12 compressor lives under the Wrangler’s passenger seat for tyre inflation and it’s significantly faster then the older model. The 6m air hose, a detachable inflator with gauge, and the ARB E-Z tyre deflator all sit beside it, out of the way. The E-Z is the best deflation device I’ve ever used.

ARB bumpers allow the Jeep to be Hi-Lifted
from front or back.
Other bits and pieces include the American Rugged Ridge Hi-Lift jack bracket that fits to the tailgate end of the roll cage and allows secure stowage of, and quick access to, the heavy jack. A good Wrangler-owning handyman could easily make one and it would be time well spent.

American Rugged Ridge mount keeps jack secured to roll structure.
Recovery points don't get much more accessible than this.
Seal of approval: the low-volume
certification plate gets riveted to body.


  1. Wat a wank. That peace of shit wouldnt go 90% of the plaices my Safari can.

  2. That's a stupid and uncalled for comment. I've actually seen Phil's Rubicon on a some tough tracks and he has every reason to be proud of what it can do. It never faltered once, which is more than I could say for some of the other trucks.

  3. A mate brought a set of those Goodyears for his Cruiser and sold them after a few months, they were totally hopeless.

  4. Razza, some specifics would be useful.

  5. What effect did the ARB springs and shocks have on on-road ride and handling, please?

  6. David, the ride is stiffer but still acceptable. Wouldn't want it much stiffer, though. Handling is slightly better than stock.

  7. Thanks for this. I'm thinking of doing something similar when I get my Wrangler soon. Do you mind telling me about how much all this has cost?

  8. James, I'm afraid to add it all up!

  9. Any chance that Razza could provide more info as requested? I'm interested in buying a set and would like to hear what he thinks is wrong with them, other than generalizations.

  10. A stick on bash plate? Were do you plan 2 tak this toy piece of shit roading, Fairyland?

  11. This is total crapola. All youve dun is bolt on some crap Ozzie parts. Any fool can do that. I want to here about proper suspention mods, not the MacDonalds hamburger sort. Like the other guy said, just take youre toy and go play in fairyland.

  12. Fair enough, Dan the Man, but it turned out well for my needs – maybe others' as well – and I've found some good tracks in Fairyland.

  13. Its a girls truck, but seeing you ware a bra and knicers I guess that figures.