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AnJKorMan: Crawl and haul all in one Jeep

Posted in Features on December 28, 2015
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“That escalated quickly…”

One of the most memorable quotes in Anchorman, the Will Ferrell movie that is full of them, is “That escalated quickly.” Ferrell’s character, Ron Burgundy, uttered these words following a gang fight with rival news teams. The same quote would equally apply to Nick Nelson’s ’13 JK Unlimited. Nick started with a capable Rubicon model, but before the first oil change was due, he headed to Adam’s High Rollin’ Customs in Reno, Nevada, for a complete makeover.

First on the list was a new set of axles that could live with 40-inch-tall Nitto Trail Grapplers. The factory Dana 44 axles were sold before Nick had a chance to bend them, offsetting some of the cost of adding Currie RockJock Dana 60 axles. The RockJocks came complete with all the mounting brackets to sling them under Nick’s JK, reducing the necessary downtime for the build. The Currie axles also use tone rings that retain the factory ABS and ESP and keep the dash of Nick’s Jeep from lighting up like a Christmas tree. That is where the similarities with the stock axles end. The RockJocks are bigger in every way, from the ring gear and axleshafts to the tubes and knuckles.

Adding 1-ton axles and 40-inch-tall tires transforms any JK into a formidable rockcrawler. Nick was looking to do more than just crawl over rocks though. Living in Nevada provides access to endless desert two-track that would take a lifetime to experience at a 100:1 crawl ratio. Fortunately, Evo Manufacturing offers a suspension that is just as capable in the desert as it is in the rocks. Adam’s added their Double Throwdown and EvoLever suspension with King coilovers and bypass shocks at each corner. The bypass shocks provide position-specific damping that rides great on the street yet firms up for hard hits off-road. The end result is a Jeep that can take on the streets, the rocks, desert washes, or even the rival evening news team.

The 3.6L Pentastar engine in Nick’s JK is a big improvement over the previous 3.8L engine, both in terms of power and reliability. The engine is rated at 285 hp, but the Banks RamAir intake and Dynomax exhaust bump that number up even higher.

In the past, a supple suspension on the trail meant that your Jeep rode like a marshmallow on the pavement and was a handful off-road at speeds higher than a crawl. Fortunately those days are past us. The Evo Manufacturing Double Throwdown front suspension flexes like mad, providing 14-inches of wheel travel for stability in the rocks and shock damping to eat up whoops.

The Evo Manufacturing control arms are stock length, which allows for bolt-in installation. They are far stronger than stock, though, with 2-inch, 0.281-wall DOM construction and Currie Johnny Joints for increased articulation without binding.

Good shocks are critical to going fast in the desert, but they aren’t cheap. Evo Manufacturing specs out King 2-inch coilover shocks coupled with King 2 1/2-inch three-tube bypass shocks for its Double Throwdown suspension. The shock valving and spring rates are designed specifically for the JK Unlimited, and Nick has further fine-tuned the shocks with the guys from Adam’s High Rollin Customs.

The Currie RockJock front axle uses a rotated center section to maximize ground clearance. The axle came complete from Currie ready to bolt in with all of the mounting brackets in place. The 3-inch, 0.375-wall DOM axle tubes and high-pinion Dana 60 center section offer a huge increase in strength, as do the 35-spline 4340 chromoly axleshafts and 1480 U-joints. Nick’s axle uses 5.38 Motive gears around an ARB Air Locker.

Steering is handled by PSC with some help from Currie Enterprises and Evo Manufacturing. You can barely see the PSC hydraulic ram behind the Evo Manufacturing mount that doubles as a skidplate. The ram is part of PSC’s JK steering system that also includes an upgraded steering box that is tapped to work with the ram, a high-volume steering pump, and a larger reservoir. The tie rod and drag link are from Currie. They are constructed from 1 3/8-inch 4130 chromoly and use 1-ton tie-rod ends.

There aren’t many factory components left under the rear of Nick’s Jeep. The stock exhaust system was relocated to make room for an Evo Manufacturing EVOLever cantilever suspension. Laying the King coilovers and bypass shocks flat allows for huge suspension travel without having to punch holes through the tub to fit the shocks.

Out back is another Currie RockJock 60 with 35-spline chromoly axleshafts, 5.38 Motive gears for a Dana 70, and an ARB Air Locker. The RockJock reuses the factory JK disc brakes but comes with all of the mounting bracketry for an easy, bolt-in installation. Currie offers the RockJock in semi-float or full-float styles. Nick chose the full-floater option due to the weight and intended use of his four-door JK.

Big 40-inch Nitto Trail Grapplers are found at each corner of the Jeep under heavily trimmed factory fender flares. The tires are mounted on 17x9-inch ATX Chamber beadlocks with paint-matched beadlock rings. The ATX Chambers use countersunk socket head cap screws on the rings and are a 5x5.5 bolt pattern to match the Currie RockJock axles.

Inside the Jeep, Adam’s High Rollin’ Customs welded in a GenRight six-point cage kit. The cage uses 2-inch DOM tubing and has crossover bars above the dash and behind the front seats to maximize strength while still fitting under the factory hardtop. The PRP Daily Driver seats have high enough side bolsters to hold Nick and his passengers in place without making it overly difficult to enter and exit the Jeep.

Nick added a subwoofer box and two wakeboard speakers to the back of his Jeep. The four-door JK offers enough space for the whole family and all their gear without having to sacrifice these creature comforts.

The Evo Manufacturing tire carrier uses 1.75-inch, 0.120-wall DOM tubing and Currie Johnny Joints to tie into the rear corner armor. It holds the fullsize 40-inch spare tire without any rattles by mounting to the tub in four locations. Hitch pins make it easy to open the tire carrier and access the rear of the Jeep.

When you take a Jeep with a 116-inch wheelbase rockcrawling you cannot be too cautious. Like wearing suspenders with a belt, the sides of the Jeep are flanked by 1/4-inch aluminum Evo Manufacturing skins along with 1.75-inch, 0.120-wall DOM rock sliders.

Going fast through the desert is typically reserved for prerunner trucks and Baja bugs, but the Evo Manufacturing Double Throwdown suspension allows Nick’s Jeep to eat up rough terrain at speeds that would put a stock Wrangler on its lid.

PhotosView Slideshow

Tech Specs
’13 Jeep Wrangler JK
Engine: 3.6L V6
Transmission: W5A580 five-spd automatic
Transfer Case: NP241 Rocktrac
Front Axle: Currie RockJock Dana 60 w/ 35-spline chromoly axleshafts, 5.38 Motive gears, ARB Air Locker, and Warn Premium hubs
Rear Axle: Currie RockJock Dana 60 w/ full float hubs, 35-spline chromoly axleshafts, 5.38 Motive gears, and ARB Air Locker
Springs & Such: Evo Manufacturing Double Throwdown front suspension and EvoLever rear suspension with King coilover shocks and three tube bypass shocks
Tires & Wheels: 40x13.50R17 Nitto Trail Grapplers on 17x9 ATX Chamber beadlocks
Steering: PSC steering box, pump, reservoir, and hydraulic assist ram, Currie tie rod and drag link
Lighting: PIAA 510 lights, TruckLite LED headlights
Other Stuff: Smittybilt XRC8 Comp winch, Evo Manufacturing Quarter Pounder front bumper, trimmed fender flares, Evo Manufacturing door skins and rock sliders, Banks RamAir intake, Dynomax exhaust, GenRight full cage kit, PRP Daily Driver seats, Evo Manufacturing rear corner armor and tire carrier, Drake hood hinges

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