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2008 Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited Rubicon and Trailer

Posted in Features on September 1, 2011
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We first met Gil Meacham when he walked into Impulse Off-Road in St. George, Utah, to purchase a part for his JK Unlimited with the trailer he had built into a comfortable backcountry camp trailer. After some conversation, we knew we had to bring this to our readers.

Gil’s tow vehicle is a 2008 Jeep JK Unlimited Rubicon. Its list of modifications make it the perfect tow vehicle for his trailer, including 5.13 gears in the OE Rubicon Dana 44s, Rubicon Express 3.5-inch Superflex short-arm suspension system, Teraflex Monster track bar, Kilby skidplates, Evap canister relocator, and high-clearance front bumper with Smittybilt XRC8 winch, Expedition One rear bumper with Hi-Lift jack mount and spare carrier, and 35x12.50R17LT Goodyear DuraTrac tires on 17x8 ProComp 1089 alloy wheels. For a little more power, Gil installed a Superchips tuner, a K&N air filter, and a Rancho Dynomax exhaust system.

A Kargomaster Congo rack with Yakima 54-inch bars can carry watercraft, such as kayaks and a Portabote folding rowboat. A ham radio antenna mount was fabricated behind the custom wind deflector on the rack. Inside, there’s a complete complement of Daystar products and ham and CB radios. Gil’s JK Unlimited is built to tow and take on the backcountry in style.

There are plenty of camp trailers on the market. Some are built to go off-road. They do this well. Gil had researched all of these trailers then decided to build one, as his retirement income wouldn’t allow a shiny new off-road camp trailer.

Gil found a used 2007 Wells Cargo 5x8-foot V-nose cargo trailer and turned it into a lightweight enclosed backcountry camp trailer. A set of 4-inch blocks raised the springs enough to run 31-inch BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires.

Gil found a used 2007 Wells Cargo 5x8-foot V-nose cargo trailer that was the perfect candidate for the build. The trailer was modified to be a lightweight (1,850 pounds) backcountry-capable trailer. The 4-inch spring blocks allow 31-inch BFG All-Terrain tires and custom stabilizers that are 4 inches longer keep the trailer stabilized in camp. An EZ aluminum step makes it easy to get into the trailer and the Kirkham auto shade awning supplies shade.

PhotosView Slideshow

Gil built a completely custom interior from scratch. Two 15x30-inch windows and a Fantastic rooftop fan were added for light and ventilation. A PF4045 converter/charger/distribution panel handles the power from the shore power plug, 3,000-watt portable generator, or National 100 amp-hour acid glass mat battery. An 800-watt inverter supplies AC power from the battery. Equipment is carried under the custom convertible sofa bed with 5-inch latex memory foam mattress and on the two front shelves in the V-nose.

To keep weight down, Gil loads the trailer before a trip for each particular type of use, including extended dry camping, resort camping, primitive campgrounds, and overnight camping. Some of the equipment that gets loaded for a particular use is a propane buddy heater or 120-volt cube heater, Paha Que TeePee shower and head tent, a luggable loo, and portable battery-powered shower with solar-heated water bags. Small items are carried in Rubbermaid Action Packers.

Gil and his wife explore the backcountry in comfort, enjoying some of the best scenery that this beautiful planet offers, knowing they’ll be able to return again because Gil took the time to build a JK Unlimited and an inexpensive, lightweight trailer — a rig that can just about do it all.

PhotosView Slideshow

Vehicle: 2008 Jeep JK Unlimited and 2007 Wells Cargo V-Nose cargo trailer
Owner/Hometown: Gil Meacham/St. George, Utah
Engine: Jeep 3.8L V-6
Induction: MPFI
Transmission: Jeep 42RLE automatic overdrive
Transfer case/low range ratio: NVG241OR Rock-Trac/4.0:1
Front end: Rubicon Dana 44
Rear end: Rubicon Dana 44
Ring and Pinion: 5.13:1
Front Differential: OE E-Locker
Rear Differential: OE E-Locker
Suspension: Rubicon Express JK 3.5-inch short-arm system
Tires: 315/70R17LT Goodyear DuraTrac
Wheels/Backspacing: 17x8 ProComp Series 1089/4.5 inches

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