Author Topic: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon  (Read 21415 times)

87Warrior

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2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« on: July 29, 2010, 10:41:18 PM »
2003 TJ Rubicon


I bought this Jeep in December of 2003 at a salvage auction. Had 12K miles on it and still had the new car smell. It also had 2 rods through the oil pan and 4 rods with beautiful arcs in them. Rebuilt the 4.0 (should have stroked it) and the rest is history. It was claimed to have had 'flood damage'....my guess is the new rubi owner couldn't bear the thought that he ruined his $35,000 toy  :slap2: It now has 122K miles on the chassis.



Suspension:
- Nth TJ Front and LJ 3" Rear progressive rate coil springs
- Currie RockJock Front and Rear Trackbar
- JKS Control Arms, Quicker Disconnects, and Brake lines
- Bilstein 5150 front shock and Bilstein 5100 Rear Shock with Clayton shock relocators
- 1" PA BL

Drivetrain:
- Cooper STT's (315/75R16) tires on stock Moabs with 1.25" Spidertrax Wheel spacers
- 5.13 gears
- ORO U-Turn Steering Upgrade
- 16" Vanco Big Brake Kit
- Dual Filter Cowl Intake (aka Macs CAI)
- Griffin 2-core all aluminum radiator
- Front and Rear Tom Woods CV Driveshafts

Armor:
- Jeep Medic Tummy Tuck and Engine Skid
- Rokmen differential covers
- Rockhard 4x4 Sport Cage
- Olympic Rocks Bumpers
- AtoZ Sliders
- Kilby Steering Box skid
- Rokmen Fuel Tank skid

Electronic:
- Superwinch EPi9.0 Winch on a Rokmen Winchplate
- Uniden Pro CB with a 3' Firestick
- IPF H4 headlights
- 6000K HID long range accessory lights (now on windshield brackets)
- RB1 Factory navigation radio with Ipod Adapter, Bazooka sub in the factory enclosure and Alpine Type-S 5.25" in speaker pods
- Viar OBA with 2.5gal tank and in-cab relay trigger/ gauge

Other:
- Bestop spare tire carrier with Hi-Lift attachment
- Viking Fastback Soft top
- Rugged Ridge 7" Flares


Waiting to be installed:
- New Spicer Ball Joints
« Last Edit: December 19, 2014, 12:35:14 AM by 87Warrior »

87Warrior

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2010, 03:06:54 PM »
November 2010, minor update:
- Reinstalled factory Fog lights
- Relocated Auxiliary HID to windshield brackets, switched via an XJ factory fog light switch. The wiring and relay for the HIDS are hidden behind the cowl.



I am also currently negotiating a deal on a Rubicon D44 front axle. It includes Vanco Big Brake kit (15" wheel), ORO U-Turn steering with 7075 Aluminum Tie Rod (new TRE's), RE Track Bar, RockCrusher Diff Covers, Alloy USA Axle shafts, Alloy USA axle seals, New EBC Green Pads. (That is over $2500 in after market parts, not including the axle) I hope to take the goodies off of this axle and throw them on my rig. The stock stuff I pull off my axle will go into this one then find its home under the MJ....
« Last Edit: November 08, 2010, 03:47:10 PM by 87Warrior »

Meatywand

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2010, 11:18:07 PM »
I jizzed my pants....
Quote from:  Sergeant D
Nothing says Alpha like getting your anus violated by another man

I gazed through the open window upon a full moon.
His name was Meatywand.

87Warrior

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2010, 11:59:15 PM »
I jizzed my pants....
I'll take that as a compliment. Thanks! The build has been fun so far and I can't wait to make it better!

Meatywand

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2010, 11:41:06 AM »
It was a whole hearted compliment :lol: I really like how stockish looking your Rubie is as well even though I love all my armor, it's still really cool to see a Jeep as built as yours that looks like it could have just come off the car lot.
Quote from:  Sergeant D
Nothing says Alpha like getting your anus violated by another man

I gazed through the open window upon a full moon.
His name was Meatywand.

87Warrior

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2010, 12:12:20 PM »
Thanks man! You hit the nail on the head. When I started building this rig I wanted to retain a 'factory' appearance, primarily because so few Jeeps are built that way. Don't get me wrong, I love Jeeps that are built to the extreme and show it (like yours).

Corner armor might not be to far off in my future. I would just spray them with silver instead of black :)

87Warrior

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2011, 12:19:43 AM »
I have been assembling parts for the last several months in preparation for a week long run out in CO this summer. This year we are running trails that require a solid vehicle with outstanding brakes to make it to the end. No more narrow flat trails. Now its narrow, steep and rocky trails along a cliff edge  :lol: I also plan on driving the 16 hours to the trails rather than trailering.
(5.3 Silverado + Jeep on trailer = 9mpg; Jeep = 14mpg  :yup:)

With the trip ahead, I need to get these installed within the next 2 months:
- Superior Axle rear axle shafts
- Alloy USA front axle shafts
- Moog ball joints
- Vanco Brakes with machined Knuckles
- Replacement heim joint for my RE trackbar
- ORO U-turn steering system

If any of you AR members happen to be in the Almont/Aspen/Crested Butte/Leadville area of CO the first week of August, let me know.

87Warrior

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2011, 06:44:41 PM »
After 2-3 years of "nothing exciting" happening to my Rubi, I decided to start giving it some love while the Comanche is at the body shop.



The list of stuff to be done:
1. Remove stock steering, brakes, knuckles and axle shafts
2. Remove ball joints and install new ball joints
3. Install axle tube seals
4. Install new Axle Shafts
5. Install 16" Vanco Brake kit and knuckles
6. Install U turn steering system I picked up from Phillip
7. Replace heim joint on RE ATB

It came apart slowly, yet easily, even pressing out the ball joints. Installing the new ball joints was uneventful just a slow and tedious job. I clean the axle tubes out and push on the seals. I notice one of the zerks look cracked and sure enough it was. Luckily the axle going into the MJ has the same seals so I stole a good zerk and installed it. While I was dealing with Zerks I figure I should install them in the new ball joints. Straight forward and simple, right? 1, 2,3 go in... The the passenger side lower, #4, decides to play hard ball...and SNAP. The head of the zerk breaks off leaving the threads in the joint. 6 hours later the threads come out. It looks like the wrong zerk was sent with that ball joint and was too long allowing it to bottom out.

Tired of looking at the pasenger side I decide to start on the driver side brakes. Knuckle goes on, shaft goes in, unit bearing is ground down, rotor/caliper bracket/ caliper goes on, then I go to attach the brake line. Won't fit, the end of the Jeep line is a bit different than the Ford caliper. Massage the end and get it to fit. Torque the U-turn driver side bracket and attach the rod end at the Pitman arm.

By this time the weekend was over and had to leave my rig on jackstands. Looks like I am in for another hot weekend of wrenching. Have to get the front end done before I drive it out to Colorado!

The must finish list:
- Passenger side brakes/knuckle
- ORO Steering Stabilizer
- Adjust toe/drag link
- Replace ATB rod end
- Break in the brakes!
- Install Griffin Radiator and new T-stat

Still awaiting install after the front is done:
- Rear Superior Axle Shafts
- Rokmen Tank skid

Something else arrived today!


Just by holding the unit and looking it over, it is clearly a very well constructed piece of art work. Almost a shame it will go in my Jeep....almost  ;)


Its never ending, but I love it  :D


87Warrior

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2011, 11:28:16 PM »
Success!

Vanco Brakes installed:


And the U-turn:


Then I installed the 2 row Griffin Radiator. This was surprisingly easy. The fan shroud required a hole to be drilled on the top driver side, about 1" up. Luckily, I already had this hole drilled.


87Warrior

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2011, 11:55:50 PM »
I got the Jeep back from a week long Jeepin' trip in Colorado. It drove 12 hours, ran 600 miles of trails, then drove 12 more hours back home! The Vanco brakes worked great, the U-Turn performs much better than the stock inverted y steering, the Currie front track bar was quiet, the Griffin radiator kept it at 210 all day and the Moog Ball joints kept it going straight.



I did manage to sheer off the rear UCA/Trackbar bracket on Tincup Pass. Limped it down the mountain and hauled into Gunnison for a local welder to repair. Now I am seriously considering a 4 link long arm upgrade. The research begins!

AirForceOne

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2011, 01:59:31 PM »
Awesome TJ, man.  Every time I see yours I feel compelled to go out buy one...  Someday.  Someday soon maybe.  :lol:

I gotta ask man, where did you snap that last pic at?  I want to take my Tahoe out west and hit some trails and passes that are not too extreme (only has 33s, and rear locker).  It would be awesome to snap a pic right about where you are there...

87Warrior

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2011, 08:57:07 PM »
Awesome TJ, man.  Every time I see yours I feel compelled to go out buy one...  Someday.  Someday soon maybe.  :lol:
Thanks  ;D I still love driving it as much as I did when I picked it up.


I gotta ask man, where did you snap that last pic at?  I want to take my Tahoe out west and hit some trails and passes that are not too extreme (only has 33s, and rear locker).  It would be awesome to snap a pic right about where you are there...
That pic was taken on American Flag Mountain near Taylor Park, CO. You should look at taking your rig to the San Juans out around Ouray, Silverton and Telluride, CO. By far the most spectacular views you can reach via 4wd. Plus the trails are far from tough, unless you have a fear of heights.

87Warrior

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Re: Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2011, 11:18:17 PM »
Installed my Superior Axle rear axle shafts last weekend. The install was almost too easy! Remove wheel, brakes and retaining plate bolts, install new shaft and reassemble.

While out wheeling in CO back in August, I managed to bust one of the clips on my Viking top rear strap. A zip-tie had been holding it together until today. I built a simple strap buckle. Sure it doesn't have a clip, but the velcro holds it all together just fine.

 

logikfive

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2011, 11:40:49 PM »
I want both of your Jeeps :(

87Warrior

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Re: Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2011, 09:16:05 AM »
Thanks logik.

Last night my on-board-air air pressure switch started leaking air out of the electrical terminals. Ordered a Viair water resistant switch from Home Depot. They were a little higher priced than other places, but shipping was the cheapest I could find.

87Warrior

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2012, 09:14:43 PM »
Well it is the last day of January and I am driving around with the windows out!
 

This time last year:
 

Finally got the front end tightened up with new control arm bushings which cured my death wobble. I still need to replace the bushings on the axle housing.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2012, 09:20:06 PM by 87Warrior »

87Warrior

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2013, 11:13:31 PM »
It has been awhile since my last update. I haven't had to do much to the ol' Jeep since it has been running fine and nothing has broke.

Sometime last summer my lockers decided they didn't always want to work. I could usually get them to lock the first time I tried while wheeling, but after that pressing the axle lock button did nothing. After probing the entire locker system with a multimeter I could not locate the problem. I suspect it may be related to a cluster bus code that has been pending for over a year now that I have not been able to isolate either.

Enter, the locker bypass mod. I used the second method mentioned here:
 http://www.wanderingtrail.com/Mods/TJLJmods/Locker_Defeat.htm

I located a junk piece of XJ wiring harness that had a matching set of plugs. Ran the wires through the dash leaving a plug terminal near the airbag module. I then wired switches in the console to operate the lockers. I have front and rear locker switches behind the shifter and a system interrupt in front of the t-case lever which is a pull-on switch. Since nobody wants to accidentally lock an axle at 70 mph I wanted the option to 'turn off' the bypass.

Wiring all completed indoors:
 
The piece of harness I used had more wires in it than I needed. I left pigtails for possible future needs in the console.

Installed:
 
Yes, I keep my Jeep this clean.....

To splice into the locker harness plug, I simply un-clipped the plug wire retainer from the back of the plug, inserted the proper wire for each locker and re-clipped the retainer. I did not ground the bypass back to the plug, but I did a chassis ground near the shifter.

With the interrupt switch pulled on, I can lock either axle whenever I desire. I should have done this long ago :)

87Warrior

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #17 on: March 19, 2014, 12:29:25 PM »
Two of the last three trips I took to Colorado in this rig resulted in the rear trackbar/control arm bracket becoming separated from the axle. This isn't a lot of fun when camping on vacation. I have had a guy in Gunnison weld it, then a fellow in South Fork.

I decided enough was enough and backed the Rubicon in the garage to pull the rear axle to weld on some real brackets. I picked up the Mad4x4 TJ bracket kit several years ago to do this repair, but never got around to it. I also bought the Clayton shock relocation brackets.

I wont be needing these anymore:


Since the Mad4x4 brackets were designed for an 8.8 swap, the radii were too  large to fit snugly around the D44 tubes. I had to cut a smaller radius into the brackets. Even after cutting the smaller radius into the UCA brackets, I was still able to achieve almost 8" of vertical separate between the UCA and LCA mounts. I also hacked up the trackbar mount so it would fit over the control arm mount so it would have no interference with the gas tank skid with the pinion angled up. I also media blasted and painted my old RE springs since rust had taken over.




While I had lots of room under the rear end, I FINALLY did the Rokmen fuel tank skid install. I have had this sitting on the shelf for 4+ years!!!!!! The rear cross member was all bent up so it had to be straightened. A transmission jack made the skid install a breeze even with 2/3 tank of gas....after I figured out how to disconnect the fuel line fittings.


Test fit and check for clearances:




My old JKS rear trackbar decided it was done being 'adjustable' as it was rusted together. After trying to break it free, I ended up bending the bar. Now I am waiting for a Currie trackbar CE-9120RS to arrive so I can get the Rubi back on the ground!
« Last Edit: April 12, 2014, 12:54:23 AM by 87Warrior »

NVmySSmaro

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2014, 07:21:37 PM »
Do you mind if this makes it on to the FB page? Post any particular pics or info, that isn't already there, that you want me to tease them with if you are ok with it.

87Warrior

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #19 on: April 12, 2014, 01:06:04 AM »
Do you mind if this makes it on to the FB page? Post any particular pics or info, that isn't already there, that you want me to tease them with if you are ok with it.
No problem  :D

87Warrior

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #20 on: June 27, 2014, 01:48:11 PM »
I replaced the RE 3.5" rear coil springs with Nth LJ 3" coils.


Getting it all put back together. Someday I would like to re-position the upper coil spring mount so the coils sit plumb.


My Currie trackbar finally came in from Savvy. I don't think I'll every buy from Savvy again.....

I couldn't leave well enough alone. I had to replace the front RE springs and OME shocks. It's a good deal I did, one OME shock had lost its fluid and did nothing.

I find this picture interesting. On the left we have the new 3" Nth spring followed by my old 100k mile RE 3.5" spring. The spring on the end is a Moog V8 ZJ spring.

The new coils only lifted the front 1/4".

The new front shocks are Bilstein 5150 with 10" of travel with the Bilstein stem conversion.


Everything back under the Jeep. Looks like it is about time for replacement brake lines.


And the obligatory glam shot during the test drive.


All I can say at this point is, 'WOW'. It drives like a completely different rig. I guess good shocks and springs DO make a big difference in ride quality.

Short of an oil change, a little grease and double checking the suspension fasteners, it is ready for another 16 hour drive to Silverton, CO the first of August.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2014, 01:53:02 PM by 87Warrior »

AirForceOne

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #21 on: June 28, 2014, 09:26:11 PM »
If I'm not mistaken, the guy who runs Nth Degree is (or was) a full time Jeep engineer.  Four Wheeler did a full feature on his personal rig a few years back and it was a remarkable build.  :yup:

87Warrior

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #22 on: June 29, 2014, 02:31:13 AM »
Yup. The original owner of Nth Degree, Jim Frens, was a Jeep chassis engineer. I believe he is now part of the AEV/Nth crew.

Onyx Dragon

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #23 on: July 24, 2014, 03:52:31 PM »
I bet Meaty cries now instead :lol:

87Warrior

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Re: 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
« Reply #24 on: July 31, 2014, 09:22:20 AM »
I think the Jeep is ready for another week in the San Jauns:
- Changed Fluids: Axles, T-case, Trans, motor
- Topped Fluids: Washer fluid, Power steering, HOAT Coolant
- Greased rear driveshaft, trackbars, control arms, disconnects, steering
- Verified all nuts and bolts are tight
 
I did order and install a new Tom Woods shaft up front. The slip joint in my 125K mile stocker was just too loose for my liking. This also cured a 60-70mph vibration I had been having.
 
I also fabbed together a mount for my HTC smartphone. To be used as a GPS routing tool off road AND as a video recording device. While I know the San Juan trails better than the back of my hand, I am trying to prepare my self for a future overland trip. GPS routing is just one of those things I have never used.
 
I used RAM mounts to build this since they appear to be the bees-knees in vehicle accessory mounts and an extra hard shell cover for my HTC phone.
- RAM Rail Base
- RAM Short Double Socket Arm
- Ram Diamond Base
- Ballistic hard/soft phone case (I already own this case, but got another to leave the hard shell mounted in the Jeep)
 
I mounted the diamond base to the backside of the hard case of the phone and checked to make sure it would still clip around the soft case on the phone. Then attached it to the arm and RAM rail mount. I was extremely disappointed with the rail mount. The mount simply uses a large hose clamp with rubber sheathing to hold unit to the rollbar. This didn't bother me but I did expect the hose clamp to be high quality. Nope this is the same cheap hose clamp you find at Autozone for less than a dollar, equipped with poorly engaging worm gear and the clamp fitting that bends once it start to get tight. I had to reshape clamp surface upwards to full engage the worm gear in order to put any torque on this. I hope it is tight enough for trail use. 

(Never mind the fog light relay)
 
Ready to navigate with routes and downloaded topo data to Back Country Pro:

 
And it is even set up to record a day on the trail with 10 hours of storage available: