We’ve moved! Well, sort of. We recently started a new blog that we think you will all really like. Go check out www.getlostblog.com and let us know what you think. Overall, its a great deal of the same type of content featured on this blog, but with a sharper focus towards events, vehicles, and products for overlanding and just camping in general. For the foreseeable future, we will be putting any new content on the Get Lost Blog, but will keep this blog active so you can check out the archive of posts.
If you own a Jeep, and you do more with it (or at least hope to) than drive it to the grocery store, chances are you’ve at least heard of JKS Manufacturing. For those unfamiliar, we want to take a few moments of your time and fill you in on this company that specializes in Jeep suspension upgrades. Due to their name, many believe that JKS gained its start from offering suspension kits and components for the widely popular Jeep JK that began production in 2007, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
JKS Manufacturing has been designing, building, and distributing quality Jeep suspension since 1989 with the release of their original Quick Disconnect, a unique sway bar disconnect that sent shock waves through the industry. Fast forward 27 years, and JKS is at the forefront, still developing cutting edge parts for Jeeps of every kind and used for nearly any purpose.
What really sets JKS apart from the competition, besides their forward thinking components, is their grasp on the notion that most Jeep owners truly use their vehicles for nearly everything, and need their Jeep to perform just as well careening up a mountainous ascent as flying down the freeway. And that’s the premise they’ve always taken, which is what led to the original Quick Disconnect. This kit allowed Jeep owners the ability to easily disconnect their sway bar for maximum off road articulation, yet quickly reconnect for superb street manners without excessive body roll that is typically associated with Jeepers that opt to remove their sway bar. And now in 2016, with those years of experience under their belt, the masterminds behind JKS have released their latest offering, the JSPEC 3.5” J Konnect Suspension System. The J Konnect takes all of the experience JKS has accumulated and literally dumps it all into a comprehensive suspension system, ready to tackle whatever adventure you fathom.
And we at Off Road Power Products put the J Konnect to the test! As we covered in our previous blog post, found HERE, we recently outfitted a 2016 Jeep Wrangler JKU Rubicon two weeks before the highly acclaimed Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. Once our JKU was finished, we literally loaded it with gear and hit the long road to Moab, wheeled it on the red rocks for a few days, and headed back home. To say the J Konnect kit performed well in all situations would be a complete understatement. We’ve frankly never driven a JK that you could set the cruise control and forget you were in a Jeep, then hammer so hard in the dirt, and still drive home in.
Another important aspect regarding every JKS kit and component we have ever installed is the ease in which it installs. Some kits require some tweaking here and there, or they do not include a brake line relocation tab or other minor components, but not with JKS.
Sure, some of JKS’ FAB components require welding, but there’s simply no other way to install it onto the vehicle. And you can rest assured that when it comes time to weld, its going to fit perfectly. And as a huge perk, their kits are priced quite competitively with most of the “lesser” systems found on the marketplace that by no means perform as well. Oh yeah, and their packaging is hands down the best in the industry. This may seem like something minor, but if you’ve ever ordered something online and had it shipped to you,
only to unbox and find damaged contents, you know how big of a deal this really is.
So if you’re in the market for upgrading your Jeep’s suspension, you really need to look at JKS, we promise, you won’t be disappointed.
To see our full line up of JKS, click the below link:
To check out the video coverage of our journey leading up to and during Easter Jeep Safari 2016, click the below image:
Easter Jeep Safari 2016 has now come and gone in a typical whirlwind of last minute vehicle builds, sleepless nights, and plenty of fun out on the rocky trails of Moab, Utah with friends, both new and old. EJS16 was similar to many others in the past, but as the 50th anniversary of this amazing event, was purposely set out to be the biggest, and well, best yet!
For this year’s event, we decided we should have a new Jeep Wrangler JKU Rubicon to showcase some of the wares we sell. But in true Offroad Power Products form, this was decided only two weeks prior to EJS! And if that wasn’t enough, we were also in the midst of building a new package for Heavy Duty Rams, dubbed the Nomad, that ALSO needed completion for the event. At this time, our Nomad Ram was at the body shop having fender modifications completed, meaning we had one vehicle that couldn’t be worked on because it wasn’t physically in our possession, and another vehicle that we had just picked up, but didn’t have parts for. So basically we were at a ten on the sense of urgency scale. If this situation doesn’t sound familiar to you, then you’re not doing it properly.
The first order of business to meet this quickly approaching deadline was to outline the complete JK build and get parts coming, and coming FAST. We immediately decided that the theme for this JK should be what we sometimes deem, the Swiss Army Knife approach. Basically, a Swiss Army Knife approach entails a vehicle build that features off-the-shelf, bolt-on components that are absolutely bulletproof and can handle and TACKLE any obstacle we throw at it. Further, we wanted this approach to still be affordable for the Average Joe that just went out and bought a Jeep JK, which means stock axle housings, stock transfer case, stock engine, and any other of the truly expensive powertrain components would remain stock. Overall, we would take a bone stock, brand new Rubicon, throw a carefully selected pile of parts at it, and transform it into the Rubiconier!
As anyone with a Jeep knows, the first order of business is suspension. And anyone that knows us, is well aware that this is an area that we will meticulously scrutinize for days, weeks, or even months over depending on the build. For the Rubiconier, the decision was actually quite simple, keeping with the Swiss Army Knife theme, a JSpec 3.5” J Kontrol Suspension System from our friends over at JKS Suspension was on the list. This system offers superb off road prowess, while still being extremely street friendly. This kit includes everything that any Jeep enthusiast would have on their bucket list, to include front and rear dual rate coil springs, front adjustable track bar, JKS’ exclusive front sway bar “Quicker Disconnects,” all relocation brackets, and a plethora of components you can add to the kit. We opted to upgrade with a weld on track bar brace in the front and rear, a rear adjustable track bar, sector shaft/steering box brace, and extended brake lines. Further, because we wanted this Jeep to handle as well at crawl speed as at redline, we upgraded from the standard Fox 2.0” IFP shocks to Fox 2.5” remote reservoirs in the front, and 2.5” piggybacks in the rear.
Because of the diameter of these larger shock bodies, we needed to move the front lower shock mounts outward, which was easily accomplished by welding on a set of Synergy Manufacturing’s Lower Shock Mounts that relocate the lower mounting position to the inner C’s. From there, we knew we needed to handle the length of the factory arms, and for this we opted to run the new JKS J-Axis Adjustable Arms. Not only do these adjustable arms allow us to stretch the wheelbase back where we want, but also adjust the caster to our specifications.
The next order of business was to handle the steering. Due to the oversized tires we run on EVERYTHING, and our fondness for dirt, we’re huge advocates for adding a PSC hydraulic assist steering to most vehicles. The addition of their system, to include a new higher volume pump, reservoir, cooler, and pressure relief breather, makes turning even 42” tires on dry pavement like butter. In order to ensure this steering ram couldn’t disfigure what it was attached to because of the massive pressure, we then looked at upgrading the tie rod. The Rock Krawler tie rod was another no-brainer with its robust construction and built in “wobble stoppers” that would prevent the tie rod from flopping all over like a wet noodle when the hydro assist is doing work out on the rocks.
To complement the new high steer drag link that is included with the JKS kit, we opted to upgrade to a set of Reid Racing knuckles. With the high steer drag link, one would typically drill out the factory knuckles to relocate the drag link, however the Reid knuckles feature a pre-drilled tab specifically for vehicles running a high steer kit. Besides having the high steer functionality built in, the Reid knuckles also relocate the tie rod up 1.5” from factory, meaning more ground clearance. Plus, these knuckles are one of our favorite colors….ORANGE, so how could we go wrong?!
Now that the suspension was dialed in, we turned our attention to the wheel openings that somehow needed to clear 37’s with only 3.5” of lift. But why did we only lift the JK 3.5” if we wanted to run 37” tires you may ask. We’ve found that this combination will do a couple of things for us. For starters, its easier to get in and out of! But the most important reason is the fact that it gives us a much lower center of gravity, making the vehicle feel more comfortable and stable in off camber situations. The easiest way to get a larger tire into the wheel opening on a Jeep Wrangler is to get rid of those massive factory fender flares, as they take up a lot of valuable real estate. To fit the look of our build, we went with a set of Nemesis Industries Notorious Flares, accompanied by their Billy Rocker Rock Sliders with Tub Armor. These flares are so much more than the typical fender flare that most are used to. Nemesis has designed an internal reinforcement system, they affectionately refer to as the Skeletos. This system connects the fender flares to the inner structure of the factory fenders, sandwiching the outer flimsy body panels in between, creating a rigid structure. This allows for load dispersion in the event you were to run into or slide across an obstacle, drastically reducing the risk of body damage. We have personally used these as “kick stands” that have prevented the body from falling into trail obstacles.
Nemesis carries on with this theme on the Rock sliders that feature a reinforced tub armor which ties into the inner structure to disperse load again. The other added bonus is all of this body armor is made from high grade aluminum to prevent a massive weight gain. And surprisingly, despite the fact that the factory flares are made out of plastic, they actually weigh MORE than their Nemesis counterparts. Now to put some attention on to the bumpers. Keeping with the theme of light weight and high clearance, we went with the Savvy Off Road LHT aluminum front bumper which requires you to remove the factory front cross member and replace it with a steel winch cradle, tying the front back together. Out back, another Savvy LHT bumper. Like the front, the rear also has you remove the factory cross member, but this time tying everything back together with a new high ground clearance steel cross member that must be welded into place. We also opted to upgrade all four doors of this JKU with Savvy’s Aluminum Half Doors. Besides the weight savings, one of the nicest features of using these doors is you find yourself not quite as concerned with destroying the doors on an obstacle. Why? The Savvy’s are WAY less expensive to replace than the factory doors. To finish off the clean lines of our Nemesis and Savvy products, we had everything color matched to the vehicle, and the inner fenders shot with a layer of spray-in bedliner material.
To handle the weight of the spare tire without adding a component that we would have to open before opening the back of the Jeep. We installed the Teraflex HD hinged spare tire carrier. This replaced the factory unit allowing us to not only keep the spare tire mounted in the stock location, but exponentially reinforce the mount to handle the added weight of a 37” tire.
Now that the body and suspension are ready for the larger tires we needed to give some attention to the drive train. An early morning trip with the Jeep in tow, and we were on our way to Cashmere, Washington to pay a visit to our friends, and all around axle gurus, Nitro Gear and Axle. Knowing that we already had front and rear Dana 44 axles, coupled with factory lockers, and wanting to keep this vehicle with stock drivetrain in place, the only major upgrade to the axles would be a ring and pinion upgrade to give us the proper run out we would need with the addition of 37” tires, coupled with some minor axle reinforcement while we were there. To give us the offroad grunt we desired, a 5.13 ratio was selected to fill the front and rear pumpkins.
Because we knew we would be installing front and rear Tom Woods drivelines to handle the added articulation from the JSpec suspension, we had the crew at Nitro install solid spacers in place of the crush sleeves that come standard in this kit. This would allow us to install the Tom Woods drive flanges without compromising the pinion bearing preload. In order to combat any weaknesses inherent to the front 44, we sought the advice of Nitro coupled with our experience and added some relatively simple reinforcement. The front Dana 44 is a strong differential coming in a high pinion, which puts the drive load on the strong side of the gear, however the weak links are in the small, soft axle tubes, as well as the C’s which have been known to bend when stressed. Fortunately, because Nitro addressed these issues long ago, they offer an Axle Assurance Kit that includes knurled inner axle sleeves and knuckle gussets. Now, the sleeves aren’t something you can just go purchase and throw in as soon as you get home, they require at least a little bit of planning. Because they are an interference fit, it is recommended to literally freeze them overnight (that’s right, put them next to your ice cream and hamburger in the freezer) so the material can contract before being pounded into place. Once the sleeves warm back up to temperature, the knurling around the outer two inches dig in and secure their position. This is a great upgrade to either the Dana 30 or 44 since they both share the same size axle side tubes. With the sleeves in place, we welded on the knuckle gussets and front lower control arm skids. Wham, bam, axles are DONE!
After some tuning with our Superchips F5 Flashcal tuner to let the ECM know about its new gear ratio and tire size, it was time for the tires. We installed the new Toyo R/T’s in a 37×13.50R17 on a set of Method 105 Beadlocks in a 17X9 with 3.5″ of backspace. This widened our stance dramatically, giving us enhanced stability in off camber situations, and with the 13.50” tire width, the contact patch for offroading is perfect.
At this point, we were down to the final pieces to the puzzle. With the Tom Woods flanges waiting for us, we quickly installed them, then measured length for the custom shafts. Tom Woods was nice enough to bust those out and ship them out the same day. To guarantee the front driveline didn’t contact the exhaust at full droop, we went with the best option, a Magnaflow Loop Delete Pipe that moves the Y crossover behind the transfer case instead of in front, gaining the JK substantial clearance and another margin of safety, protecting the exhaust from all those pesky rocks. From the Y back is Savvy’s custom built Magnaflow high clearance exhaust. In true Magnaflow fashion, it was a perfect fit.
Now what to do with the interior? For all of the 12 volt auxiliary devices we would be running, we needed a power distribution center. Switch-Pros was chosen for this because of the eight programmable buttons and its solid state construction. For those unaware, solid state means there are no fuses or relays, it is all built into a circuit board, similar to most current vehicles’ factory computers. Plus, it means only running a single power lead to the battery, instead of a rats nest of wires and fuses hanging from the positive side of the battery. We mounted the Switch-Pros control panel on a custom A-pillar mount for easy access (and because it looks cool). One of these switches controls an ARB Twin Air Compressor that we mounted under the passenger front seat using a compressor mount from Teraflex. Another switch is utilized to engage the two Baja Designs XL-80 LED lights mounted to the A pillar windshield hinge for nighttime trail visibility. The final switch is for the ten….yes TEN, KC HiLiTES Cyclone LED Rock Lights to make sure we can see what we’ve both already ran over with the front tires, and about to run over with the rears. Now time to protect the seats with the best Jeep seat covers on the planet…..Bartact. We’ve used these covers in numerous other builds, as well as offer them to our customers, and they are without a doubt the best fitting, most durable, and best looking covers out there for Jeeps. And finally, to make all of our friends on the trail envious during mealtime breaks, we added a Trailgater folding tailgate table with a bamboo slide out. This awesome accessory mounts to the inside of the tailgate, and folds down to provide a sturdy table. It sure beats trying to prepare and eat your meal from your dirty seat or the ground.
With Project Rubiconier complete, sitting on all fours, looking pretty and less than fifty miles on the odometer, it was time to load this bad boy with gear and hit the long road to Moab, Utah to see how she handles the rocks. Others may believe in what most call a “shakedown run,” in which you take the vehicle for some mild testing before a big excursion…..nope, not us, who’s got time for that nonsense?!
The Toyota 4Runner was originally introduced in 1984 as a spinoff of the Japanese version, the Hilux Surf. In its infancy, the 4Runner was basically a Toyota pickup with a fiberglass shell over the bed. Over the years and five major redesigns, the current model 4Runner really only shares one major facet from its original design: the name. Today, the 4Runner can be classified as a mid-size SUV available in several trim packages and engine choices. This widely popular vehicle is mostly served to the general public as a stylish commuter with some leg room and storage space for getting the kids to soccer practice and loading groceries.
For 2014 model years, Toyota released an optional TRD Pro Series package to appeal to the offroading community. And while this package has some styling cues and basic upgrades to better outfit this 4Runner for very mild offroad use, it still leaves plenty to be desired for most that would have interest in a TRD model.
In our latest Zero 2 Hero build, we took one of these docile 2014 4Runners that could easily blend in with the crowd, and transformed it with some easy to install upgrades for a better appearance and suspension prowess. At the center of this build is an ICON Vehicle Dynamics Stage 1 Suspension System. While this kit may be dubbed a Stage 1, it by no means compares in any regard to a typical “lift” one would find at your local tire store. At the front, the vehicle gains some altitude from a set of ICON’s custom valved 2.5 adjustable coilovers. These are not only responsible for raising the front end for additional ground and tire clearance, but also deliver an astounding difference in ride quality, both on and offroad. To assist with proper axle movement in the front, a simple pair of sway bar drop brackets are slid in between the mounting points of the factory sway bar.
In the rear, the theme of altitude and ride quality is continued with a pair of ICON’s own custom wound 2” coil springs and 2.0 shocks. The coils lift the vehicle 2” over factory to provide a level stance when paired with the front adjustable coilovers. Further, these coils completely complement the V.S. 2.0 Aluminum shocks that ICON has precisely tuned for the weight and articulation of the 4Runner.
To finish off the suspension, we opted to add in a set of Camburg’s Performance Balljoint Upper Control Arms. When lifting nearly any vehicle, it is imperative to add additional caster for correct steering geometry. The best way to do this is by replacing the upper arms, plus these arms will also deliver increased wheel travel to better mate with the ICON front coilovers. Many may wonder why we opted for an upper arm that reused the factory balljoint, as opposed to a uniball style arm. The answer was simple on this build. This specific 4Runner is going to see considerably more pavement than trail, and uniballs, while being notable stronger than balljoints, can have a tendency to being noisy and sticky if not properly lubed on a regular basis. This coupled with the fact that this generation of 4Runners received substantially stronger balljoints than previous years, we felt that these arms were the right choice for this particular vehicle.
Finally, you can’t go to the dance if you’re not wearing the right shoes. A set of BFGoodrich All Terrain tires were wrapped on four ATX black simulated beadlock wheels to give this Toyota the appearance and aptitude of trail use, even when picking up the kids from soccer.
The Ultimate Adventure is just that, the ultimate adventure (at least if you love off-roading, lots of driving, sleepless nights, and trailside repairs). Put on by Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road Magazine every year, the UA is a weeklong adventure in which a handful of contestants are selected to meet in an undisclosed area at nearly the drop of a hat with their off-road artillery of choice and spend nearly a week in some of the roughest terrain around the country. Each day presents a new challenge in a new area as the contestants must drive their vehicle to a different destination in a convoy to find untouched territory as determined by the staff of Petersen’s. When, and we mean WHEN, carnage occurs, you had better be prepared to fix it trail side, or get left behind. Last year’s event happened to be in our neck of the woods, so we had the opportunity to have several of our own vehicles be involved in the UA, including our Mega Cab that acted as the camera crew transport vehicle, as well as our 4BT Cummins powered Jeep JK. The biggest carnage from last year may have been Synergy Suspension’s blown engine in their JK, which should have taken them out of the event. Fortunately, because of being in our backyard, we managed to source an engine from Montana, get it to the middle of Washington where the vehicle was down, and swap a fresh engine in that would allow the guys from Synergy to finish the event.
And because we had so much fun last year, we wanted to be a part of it all again! Through our great relationship with the staff at Petersen’s, they have invited us back to be the Official Retailer of the 2013 Ultimate Adventure and have welcomed our Raptor SD to be the official support vehicle for the event. Last year was fun maneuvering our big Mega Cab amidst all of the smaller vehicles on the trail, we will see how the Super Duty fairs! It will be exciting to learn where this year takes us and what debacles we encounter along the way, and who makes it out in one piece. No matter the outcome, it’s a great adventure with a superb group of people that is truly something to remember for a lifetime.
Checkout the highlights from the 2012 Ultimate Adventure
Where else in the world can you walk for four days non-stop, be in an overly crowded building, get next to zero sleep for a week, and be absolutely stoked every minute of it? SEMA, that’s where. SEMA 2012 has now come and gone and was another absolute success for many. We had the fortune of showcasing our Cummins 4BT powered Jeep JK with our friends in the Borgwarner Turbo booth. Last year, we had the opportunity to become very close to the Borgwarner crew through our usage of their EFR line in such projects as our triple turbo powered Dodge Cummins and the Jeep JK. Through these projects, we were able to flop their stereotype of EFR turbo applications right on its back, and roll our JK in place of where they would typically be showcasing Formula 1 race cars.
This year showed a shift from huge lift kits and crazy paint schemes with gobs of chrome, towards a more pre-runner look with flat paint schemes and fiberglass fenders. In the Jeep segment, AEV converted JK’s took the show. It seems almost natural for this body style to come factory from Jeep because of their popularity, but it would almost be a misfortune, because then everyone would have one.
In the off-road market, AEV converted Jeep JK’s were nearly everywhere, which isn’t a bad thing, because they are AWESOME! Pictured above is a two-door version that was featured in the BDS Suspension booth. Pictured to the right is a four-door in AEV’s booth.
To read more about this year’s SEMA Show and see additional photos, check out Diesel Power Products’ Blog
Spokane’s own Hazzard FabWorx was recently selected by Petersen’s 4-Wheel &Offroad magazine as the Official Fab Shop of the 2012 Ultimate Adventure. The Ultimate Adventure is a 9 day off-roading adventure trip of a lifetime. The annual event tasks drivers with the ultimate road trip from state to state and trail to trail with no towing allowed. It has evolved into one of the most incredible wheeling experiences on the planet. The primary rule of the Ultimate Adventure is “No whining! “
As the official fabrication shop, HazzardFabWorx is charged with building the flagship rig of the event. Since Jeep is the official vehicle of this year’s Ultimate Adventure the platform for the build is a new 2-door jeep Wrangler. HazzardFabWorx will take a concept designed by Fred Williams of Petersen’s and make it a reality. The details of the build are kept under tight wraps until the Jeeps unveiling.
HazzardFabWorx has gained notoriety for building Ultra 4 off-road race cars which are capable of competing in multiple disciplines during grueling events such as King of the Hammers. It was at these events that HazzardFabWorx caught the eye of Fred Williams, the technical editor of 4-Wheel &Offroad magazine and the man in charge of coordinating the build on the official vehicle of the Ultimate Adventure for the magazine.
The catch in all of this is that the 2012 Jeep Wrangler JK came off of the assembly line in Toledo March 15th and after undergoing a few preliminary modifications and some administrative necessities it arrived in Spokane on the morning of April 16th. The actual dates of the event are unknown, but previous trips have often fallen during the week of 4th of July, so the clock is ticking.
Bearing in mind the intensity of the proposed build one would think that aiming for a completion date of the middle of June (leaving time for a fresh paint job after fab work is done) would be completely unrealistic. For most shops it would be but HazzardFabWorx has a history of putting together incredibly capable off-road cars under inconceivable time constraints. Luke Shuman, owner and head fabricator, Rocky Dorame of HazzardFabWorx welcome the challenge and the opportunity to further showcase their talents on a national level.
For more info check out www.HazzardFabworx.com and watch for updates at www.4wor.com as well as www.facebook.com/4wheeloffroad .
9718 E. Fairview Crt
Spokane, WA 99206