Wheeling for a Living
When Jason Hulbert first envisioned opening his own Jeep shop a few years ago, he arrived at the idea with a very different background and knowledge set than most others in the industry. With his parents owning Klamath Auto Wreckers - a yard that specializes in all things Jeep - he basically grew up in a huge Jeep graveyard. From the time he could walk, he was climbing and crawling over every Jeep model imaginable, learning every part and piece from the ground up, where it went, and how it worked. As it turns out, he couldn't have gotten a better education.
After years of reducing Jeeps to their component parts and pieces, Jason decided to put his unique experience to the task of building them up again, ready for whatever off-road rigors an owner could desire. And so Maxed Out Off-Road was born. Hulbert and company now have a slew of vehicles to their credit, but the most recent rig to roll out of their shop is the '06 Rubicon showcased here. Jason initially started the buildup with no particular customer in mind. And by the time the project was completed, he had decided to keep it for himself, both to promote the company and to provide him with a very capable trail rig.
As with most of its projects, Maxed Out got started on this one by pulling off all of the stock suspension components and installing an Nth Degree Mobility 6-inch long-arm kit. Combined with a set of Bilstein 5100 shocks, as well as a high-steer system and selectable sway-bar setup from TeraFlex, the Rubicon now had great suspension travel and reliable steering designed for hardcore use.
With Dana 44 axles front and rear, Jason felt fairly comfortable with the strength of the housings. For a little added protection, though, he bolted on front and rear differential skidplates from Nth Degree and then yanked the internals in favor of 4.88 gears from Sierra Gear, chrome-moly shafts from West Coast Differentials, and front and rear ARB lockers. This gear ratio is a perfect match for spinning the 36-inch Iroks: You get good power at slower speeds on the trail and don't wind-up your rpms on the highway. The air lockers are controlled from the dash via a Power Tank attached to the upper bar of the rollcage. This keeps it out of the way but easily accessible.
To provide plenty of power in the sand and mud (or just because), Maxed Out gave vent to its passion for building motors and dropped in a 4.7L stroker built in house. Backed up to the stock six-speed tranny and the NVG241OR Rubicon T-case, this little machine has plenty of power on tap for every occasion, especially with the Trailjammer kit from Edge Products tweaking the system for every ounce of horsepower and torque it can produce. Knowing that the OE driveshafts just would not take the abuse for long, Jason had Driveline Service in Klamath Falls, Oregon, build him a custom set of double-Cardan shafts, which have taken all of the abuse he's thrown at them so far.
With the formidable little rig coming together, Maxed Out turned its attention to armoring the exterior to survive life on the trail. For bumpers, the crew turned to Overkill Engineering. The front Rock Crawler bumper is a unique piece of work that has been sprayed with Line-X to provide some extra protection against the rocks. Guarding the vulnerable rocker panels is a set of Smasher Bashers from Nth Degree. Protecting the stock fuel tank is a heavy-duty skidplate from Warn, and the weak stock fenders were abandoned in favor of new steel models from Overkill. Tying it all together is a Viking Offroad Trail Top and custom graphics from the folks at Signvertise.
Wanting to keep the interior of the rig simple and utilitarian, Maxed Out installed an OR-FAB sport cage and a set of MasterCraft seats with five-point harnesses. A Uniden CB radio and an Alpine stereo round out the interior accoutrements. Aside from a little hometown four-wheeling to test the new components, this Rubicon saw its first serious trail time in Moab, Utah, this year at the Easter Jeep Safari. The rig sailed through the trails every day and crawled back home in the evening, still in one piece. What better testament can you ask for?