Part 11: More Easy Upgrades
It has been two years and almost 25,000 miles since we first took delivery of our 2007 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited, known to Four Wheeler readers as Project 'Con Artist. As with most of our project vehicles, the 'Con Artist has been a rolling testbed for countless products, some of which are easily installed and can make the little interactions with our Jeep that much more enjoyable. So here is a list of our latest easy upgrades that are sure to put a little more enjoyment into any Wrangler JK.
Walker Evans Racing Street Wheels with BFGoodrich All-Terrains
Walker Evans Racing wheels have a unique, classic design that has taken off in the wheeling world, having been proven everywhere from racing to rockcrawling. Walker's wheels are available in a true beadlock, but we chose the Street version for Project 'Con Artist because it is driven on a daily basis. The Street wheels, like their beadlock counterparts, exceed all industry standards for load rating, and are some of the strongest wheels on the market. One benefit to the Street wheels is the removable rings, available in standard or wide. While they don't lock the bead, they are still functional, protecting the wheels from expensive rock rash. We know people who have a set of nice rings for the street and a chewed-up set for the trail. Walker Evans Racing wheels are 17x8.5 inches and can be ordered in backspacing from 33/4 inches (what we chose) to 6 inches. All standard 5-, 6-, and 8-lug bolt patterns are available, as well as several different finishes. Walker Evans Racing also offers its wheels in a 20-inch size for those who want to go big.
We teamed the new wheels up with BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires in the 315/70R17 size. We have always been impressed with BFG's A/T, and with more driving and wetter weather coming up, we thought it would be a good time to swap to a more versatile tread, while giving up little in strength and capability on the trail. We also like the more racy look of the combined BFGs and Walkers on the 'Con.
HoodLift JK Hood Struts
For those of you looking for an easier way into your lifted Jeep's engine compartment, HoodLift has the answer with its gas-charged struts that allow for one-handed hood opening. The HoodLift struts also hold the hood in the open position without the use of the hood prop rod. The struts themselves are OEM-quality and also come with a lifetime guarantee. HoodLift also now offers a similar product for your tailgate.
Power Tank Speed Bag
If you are like us, you probably have a need to carry air with you, no matter what vehicle you are driving. Power Tank has a great solution for Power Tank owners in the form of its Speed Bag. The Speed Bag acts as a handy protective carrying case, turning the Power Tank into a portable air system. It also has pockets for storing your air hose and fittings, and is tough enough to live in trail conditions. The Speed Bag is designed to allow operation of the tank while still in the bag so it doesn't have to be removed until it is time for a refill. Now that is smart.
AEV Jack Base
For those with lifted JK Wranglers who have found their factory jack to be useless, American Expedition Vehicles now offers their Jack Base. The Jack Base provides 3.5 inches of added lift height to the factory scissor jack, easily allowing enough height to remove 37-inch tires. The wide base is shaped to fit in the JK's rear storage compartment and measures 7.5x10.5 inches and gives the factory jack enhanced stability, especially in soft soil conditions. Particularly useful are the molded-in compartments to hold lug-nut extensions and wheel locks. And just when you thought something so simple couldn't have any more uses, it can also be used as a wheel chock.
Off Road Evolution Trail Table and Billet-Aluminum A/C Rings
Off Road Evolution now offers its new Trail Table for JKs. The table is made from 1/8-inch steel and mounts directly to the tailgate, while clearing the subwoofer and load floor. It can be mounted either up or down and folds up when not in use, taking up only 1.5 inches of cargo area. When folded out, the table offers a full 348 square inches of surface area. We've used it as a cooking table, a workbench, a baby changing station, and just a place to put our cold frosty beverages at the end of a long day on the trail.We also dressed up the dash of Project 'Con Artist with a set of Off Road Evolution's billet-aluminum A/C rings. The rings are CAD-designed, formed from 6061-T6 billet aluminum, and CNC-machined.
Daystar Hood Wrangler
Does your JK hood flutter at speed or in windy conditions? Even after a trip to the dealer to warranty our hood straps, we were mesmerized as our hood continued to flutter down the highway. We mentioned our problem in passing, and Daystar sent us a set of its Hood Wranglers. The Hood Wrangler replaces the soft rubber factory straps with durable polyurethane material that holds the hood in place while maintaining the factory look. The result: No more distracting hood movement. Keep in mind, they are initially a very tight fit, but loosen up as they are broken in and work as advertised.
Expedition One Hi-Lift Mount
We have had a lot of positive feedback on our rear Expedition One JK bumper with its single-action swinging tailgate. If there was one drawback at the time of our installation, it was that there was no mount available for our Hi-Lift jack. Expedition One now has the mount available, and it easily bolts to the arm on our tire carrier. They also have mounts available for carrying fuel and water containers. With all of the mounting accessories available now, why wouldn't you consider the Expedition One setup?