Part 7: Adding More Functionality
Over the past year and a half, we have been enjoying our JK Unlimited to the tune of 15,000 miles, and while this is probably one of the most feature-laden Jeeps to ever come from the factory, we have found room for little improvements in the everyday functionality of our JK. To make our Jeep a little more comfortable and a lot more useful, we turned to the aftermarket for a heap of odds and ends to add to our Project 'Con Artist.
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Cobra 75 WX ST Remote Mount CB
We needed to be able to communicate on the trail, so we decided on a CB radio. However, the JK has very limited interior space to mount a bulky radio, so we ordered up one of our favorite models, the compact Cobra 75 WX ST. Not only does the 75 WX ST have a tiny box that mounts remotely, the majority of the electronics, including the display, are in the mic itself, along with an NOAA 10-channel weatherband radio and Cobra's patented SoundTracker noise-reduction technology. We have used this model of CB in past projects, such as RangeRunner, and have never been let down by its performance. It is one of the best consumer CBs you can buy out of the box, and as long as Cobra keeps making them, we'll keep using them.
Skyjacker Rock Ready Grab Handles
The first thing you'll notice after lifting your JK is that the Wrangler comes with no grab handles to hoist one's self into the vehicle. After running jumps into the driver seat got old, we turned to our friends at Skyjacker. These handy nylon strap handles were just the solution to our problem of needing a grab handle as well as having something to hold on to when peering out of a doorless opening on the trail. The Rock Ready Grab Handles fasten around the factory "sport bar" (or almost any diameter rollbar up to 3-inch) and are a great addition to any vehicle with a cage.
Cool Tech UltraMount CB Antenna System
We were looking for a CB antenna mount that would be nearly invisible when the antenna was stowed away, but would still give us great performance. We found it through a neat little company called Cool Tech out of Newhall, California. The Cool Tech UltraMount CB antenna kit comes complete with everything needed to do the installation, including a tunable 4-foot Firestik antenna and stainless steel mounting bracket. The UltraMount requires no drilling in the body and just a small hole in the license-plate assembly. Installation takes about 45 minutes and the mount is almost completely hidden when not in use.
You may remember that we added Superior 35-spline chromoly axles in a previous build that necessitated removal of the stock rear locker in favor of an ARB Air Locker. When we installed it, we hooked it up to our Kilby Air Boss air tank, which worked great, except for the fact that the air tank holds 160 psi and the air locker works best between 70 and 105 psi. So in order to keep our ARB O-rings safe during engagement, we added this inline air-pressure regulator available from Kilby.
Tough Stuff Products EZ-Flip License-Plate Bracket
Available from 4WD Hardware is the stainless steel Tough Stuff EZ-Flip flip-up license-plate bracket. The EZ-Flip mounts to any roller fairlead and features corrosion-resistant stainless steel construction and marine-grade clips. In states such as California, where a front plate is required by law, we no longer have to choose between winchability and being legal.
Misch 4x4 Armrests
If you have ever driven a JK long distances, you know Jeep skimped on the armrests and after a few hours in the saddle, your arm is looking for a place to fall and rest. Thanks to Misch 4x4 Products, that problem has been solved with these cushy armrest extenders. Not only do they have a heavy-duty steel inner skeleton, but they are guaranteed for life and install easily in 10 minutes.
Hi-Lift Slide-N-Lock Tie-Down System
Another area sorely lacking in the stock JK is rear cargo-area tie-downs, so we ordered up some of Hi-Lift's Slide-N-Lock rails and mounted them on the wheelwells, giving us the added security when we get the Jeep crossed up on the trail and our cooler and tools are threatening to attack from the back. These rails are available in four different lengths and have self-locating pin holes every 5 inches, so you can adjust tie-downs to where you need them.
Tuffy JK Security Console Insert
We upgraded our security and comfort levels with the addition of Tuffy's drop-in security insert. Not only does it offer a slick design that retains the factory center console for clean looks, but also is constructed from 16-gauge steel and has a heavy-duty locking mechanism to secure our winch controller and air hoses when we are away from the 'Con Artist. As a bonus, the giant padded armrest with weather-resistant marine-grade vinyl gives our shifting arm a place to rest.
Daystar EVS Foam Shock Bumpstop
When Daystar urged us to try its new EVS Foam shock bumpstops, we admit we were a little bit suspect about the claims of enhanced shock performance and softer compression that would all but eliminate hard bone-jarring impact of full compression. After trying them on several different vehicles, we are sold. These things work as advertised and smooth out the last bit of travel on any shock, turning what would be hard suspension crashing into smoother progressive compression. They come in two hardnesses and will work on factory and aftermarket shocks.