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2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon - Lucky '13: Part 1

Posted in Project Vehicles on January 20, 2014 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Phil Howell

Lucky ’13 is a 2013 JK Wrangler Rubicon built by Currie Enterprises around the concepts of timeliness and simplicity. The crew at Currie has put together plenty of all-encompassing, high-zoot Jeep builds over the years, but they also know sometimes it’s better to get out in the dirt sooner rather than later. As such, Lucky ’13 was destined to be built using readily available upgrades that install with minimal drama. Custom fabrication? Not this time.

Phil Howell took the initial delivery of Lucky ’13, which originated at Classic Motors of Richfield, Utah. Phil’s experience with Classic Motors was a pleasant one, and he’d recommend this dealer to anyone. From Classic, Phil then made a beeline to his home shop where front and rear Expedition One bumpers were bolted on. A Warn ZEON 10-S winch found a home inside the front bumper, ready for recovery duty.

Since Lucky ’13 is a Currie project, Phil’s tenure with the 2013 Rubicon was brief. Bumpers and winch in place, he handed the Jeep and the keys over to the Currie staff. John Currie and marketing director Brian Shephard put the Jeep on the lift in the studio section of the new Currie shop in Corona, California. This took place in July, a time of year when Corona is just a few degrees cooler than a sunspot. With the studio’s A/C set in the mid-60s, long sleeves were just about mandatory during this photo shoot and installation session. Too-cool air conditioning was a good “problem” to have.

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Though famous primarily for its custom axle assemblies, Currie also has an extensive lineup of Jeep suspension systems for both the JK and the TJ Wrangler. Keeping timeliness and simplicity in mind, the Jeep received a short-arm suspension kit that utilizes stock mounting points for the control arms, and simple add-on brackets for the front and rear track bars. This 4-inch lift system provides room for up to 37-inch-tall tires and affords plenty of flex. The Currie control arms are naturally equipped with genuine Currie Johnny Joints. The Johnny Joints provide bind-free suspension flex, help isolate noise and vibration, and are cheap to rebuild when the urethane inserts begin to exhibit wear.

Most of the Currie suspension lineup is available a la carte, enabling customers to incrementally upgrade as needs arise and budgets allow. After the initial suspension system was in place, a pair of Anti-Rock sway bars and a Currectlync steering system were added. Custom axle assemblies weren’t part of the initial build, but Currie now offers a JK-specific heavy-duty front Dana 44 housing that will soon be on board this Jeep.

Follow along as we highlight the Currie suspension, handling, and steering upgrades. If you’re after timeliness and simplicity, Lucky ’13 makes a great blueprint.

Currie offers almost all of its suspension components a la carte, but has several complete suspension systems that can be ordered under single part numbers. The replacement coils provide a 4-inch lift, and the front and rear track bars are re-used in conjunction with simple axle brackets. Also shown is the Currie long-travel rear spring retainer kit, which prevents the rear coils from popping out under extreme suspension flex. Shocks are not included in this kit. You can choose between Rancho RS9000-series shocks and Walker Evans remote reservoir shocks, both of which Currie stocks. Currie offers almost all of its suspension components a la carte, but has several complete suspension systems that can be ordered under single part numbers. The replacement coils provide a 4-inch lift, and the front and rear track bars are re-used in conjunction with simple axle brackets. Also shown is the Currie long-travel rear spring retainer kit, which prevents the rear coils from popping out under extreme suspension flex. Shocks are not included in this kit. You can choose between Rancho RS9000-series shocks and Walker Evans remote reservoir shocks, both of which Currie stocks.
The replacement coils provide a 4-inch lift, and the front and rear track bars are re-used in conjunction with simple axle brackets. Also shown is the Currie long-travel rear spring retainer kit, which prevents the rear coils from popping out under extreme suspension flex. Shocks are not included in this kit. You can choose between Rancho RS9000-series shocks and Walker Evans remote reservoir shocks, both of which Currie stocks. The replacement coils provide a 4-inch lift, and the front and rear track bars are re-used in conjunction with simple axle brackets. Also shown is the Currie long-travel rear spring retainer kit, which prevents the rear coils from popping out under extreme suspension flex. Shocks are not included in this kit. You can choose between Rancho RS9000-series shocks and Walker Evans remote reservoir shocks, both of which Currie stocks.
The Currie suspension system provides more front droop travel compared to stock. As such, the front driveshaft can bind against the stock exhaust crossover pipe, which runs in front of the transfer case. The Currie suspension system provides more front droop travel compared to stock. As such, the front driveshaft can bind against the stock exhaust crossover pipe, which runs in front of the transfer case.
The front driveshaft binding against the exhaust crossover pipe is the problem. An aFe Y-pipe is the solution. The aFe Y-pipe routes the crossover pipe behind the transfer case. It’s a bolt-on upgrade that should be considered mandatory since it makes it possible to take advantage of the Currie suspension’s extra droop travel. The front driveshaft binding against the exhaust crossover pipe is the problem. An aFe Y-pipe is the solution. The aFe Y-pipe routes the crossover pipe behind the transfer case. It’s a bolt-on upgrade that should be considered mandatory since it makes it possible to take advantage of the Currie suspension’s extra droop travel.
An aFe Y-pipe is the solution. The aFe Y-pipe routes the crossover pipe behind the transfer case. It’s a bolt-on upgrade that should be considered mandatory since it makes it possible to take advantage of the Currie suspension’s extra droop travel. An aFe Y-pipe is the solution. The aFe Y-pipe routes the crossover pipe behind the transfer case. It’s a bolt-on upgrade that should be considered mandatory since it makes it possible to take advantage of the Currie suspension’s extra droop travel.
We commend Jeep for providing stout stock control arms on the JK Wrangler. Remember the wispy stamped stock arms from the TJ? Still, Currie control arms do one better with thicker-walled tubing and Johnny Joints at each end. We commend Jeep for providing stout stock control arms on the JK Wrangler. Remember the wispy stamped stock arms from the TJ? Still, Currie control arms do one better with thicker-walled tubing and Johnny Joints at each end.
The stock rubber bushings run silently, but they bind, and thereby, reduce suspension flex and suspension travel. Currie’s Johnny Joints (left) run silently as long as you grease them using the provided zerk fitting. Better yet, Johnny Joints provide bind-free suspension flex and wheel travel. The stock rubber bushings run silently, but they bind, and thereby, reduce suspension flex and suspension travel. Currie’s Johnny Joints (left) run silently as long as you grease them using the provided zerk fitting. Better yet, Johnny Joints provide bind-free suspension flex and wheel travel.
A dead-blow mallet made it easy to tap-tap-tap the control arms into their respective brackets. A dead-blow mallet made it easy to tap-tap-tap the control arms into their respective brackets.
Brian Shephard of Currie Enterprises matches the Currie control arm’s length to the factory arm. Brian Shephard of Currie Enterprises matches the Currie control arm’s length to the factory arm.
The Currie control arms fit into the stock suspension mounts and re-use the stock mounting hardware. If your mounting hardware is worn, this is the time to replace it. No such wear here, as Lucky ’13 barely had any miles on it. The Currie control arms fit into the stock suspension mounts and re-use the stock mounting hardware. If your mounting hardware is worn, this is the time to replace it. No such wear here, as Lucky ’13 barely had any miles on it.
If your mounting hardware is worn, this is the time to replace it. No such wear here, as Lucky ’13 barely had any miles on it. If your mounting hardware is worn, this is the time to replace it. No such wear here, as Lucky ’13 barely had any miles on it.
Adjusting the control arm length is as easy as threading the shank in or out, and tightening the jam nut once the desired dimension is reached. Adjusting the control arm length is as easy as threading the shank in or out, and tightening the jam nut once the desired dimension is reached.
Spidertrax wheel spacers allow you to go a little wider and better fill out the fender flares. Side hill stability was gained, too. Spidertrax wheel spacers are proven reliable, so there were no qualms about running them both front and rear on Lucky ’13. Spidertrax wheel spacers allow you to go a little wider and better fill out the fender flares. Side hill stability was gained, too. Spidertrax wheel spacers are proven reliable, so there were no qualms about running them both front and rear on Lucky ’13.
Extended bumpstop strike pads bolt to the stock strike pads. Extended bumpstop strike pads bolt to the stock strike pads.
It takes some patience to put the upper rear coil retainers in place, but once they’re in, you’ve got a secure coil spring. The bottom of the spring is captured, too. You can achieve up to 11 inches of wheel travel if you use the right shocks in conjunction with the spring retainers. It takes some patience to put the upper rear coil retainers in place, but once they’re in, you’ve got a secure coil spring. The bottom of the spring is captured, too. You can achieve up to 11 inches of wheel travel if you use the right shocks in conjunction with the spring retainers.
The bottom of the spring is captured, too. You can achieve up to 11 inches of wheel travel if you use the right shocks in conjunction with the spring retainers. The bottom of the spring is captured, too. You can achieve up to 11 inches of wheel travel if you use the right shocks in conjunction with the spring retainers.
The rear track bar bracket bolts into place, but requires drilling a hole for one of the fixing bolts. This bracket needs to be welded to the axle housing, so the paint was cleaned off before the bracket was installed. If you don’t have welding equipment, you can bolt this bracket on and drive the Jeep to a qualified welding shop—as long as you drive carefully. The rear track bar bracket bolts into place, but requires drilling a hole for one of the fixing bolts. This bracket needs to be welded to the axle housing, so the paint was cleaned off before the bracket was installed. If you don’t have welding equipment, you can bolt this bracket on and drive the Jeep to a qualified welding shop—as long as you drive carefully.
To facilitate using larger-than-stock shocks, the lower rear shock mounts are moved outboard. Note the replacement extended brake lines, which also come with the suspension kit. The stock sway bar is re-used, but receives extended Currie end links. You can’t see the end link in this photo because it’s on the other side of the shock. To facilitate using larger-than-stock shocks, the lower rear shock mounts are moved outboard. Note the replacement extended brake lines, which also come with the suspension kit. The stock sway bar is re-used, but receives extended Currie end links. You can’t see the end link in this photo because it’s on the other side of the shock.
Moving to the front, the replacement track bar bracket bolts into place and also needs to be welded before the Jeep is driven off-road. For now, the stock front axle housing stays in place, but plans are in the works to replace it with a heavy-duty Currie JK-specific Dana 44 axle housing. The heavy-duty axle housing will be highlighted in a future issue. Moving to the front, the replacement track bar bracket bolts into place and also needs to be welded before the Jeep is driven off-road. For now, the stock front axle housing stays in place, but plans are in the works to replace it with a heavy-duty Currie JK-specific Dana 44 axle housing. The heavy-duty axle housing will be highlighted in a future issue.
The front bumpstops strike against the lower coil spring seat. The Currie extension bolts to the spring seat and requires drilling and tapping a hole. The front bumpstops strike against the lower coil spring seat. The Currie extension bolts to the spring seat and requires drilling and tapping a hole.
The front and rear sway bar end link mounting holes need to be drilled to a bigger size in order to accept the extended Currie end links. The front and rear sway bar end link mounting holes need to be drilled to a bigger size in order to accept the extended Currie end links.
There’s a little of everything in this photo: suspension links, replacement coil springs, shocks, brake lines, bumpstop strike pad extensions, extended end links, dropped pitman arm, and the re-installed stock track bar. There’s a little of everything in this photo: suspension links, replacement coil springs, shocks, brake lines, bumpstop strike pad extensions, extended end links, dropped pitman arm, and the re-installed stock track bar.
You can continue using the stock track bar, but Currie offers an upgraded track bar. We’ll show you that next. You can continue using the stock track bar, but Currie offers an upgraded track bar. We’ll show you that next.
Currie offers replacement front and rear track bars. Just like the suspension links, they’re stronger than the stock parts and use bind-free Johnny Joints. The axle-end Johnny Joint has a threaded shank, so it can be adjusted to perfectly center the axle under the vehicle at ride height. Currie offers replacement front and rear track bars. Just like the suspension links, they’re stronger than the stock parts and use bind-free Johnny Joints. The axle-end Johnny Joint has a threaded shank, so it can be adjusted to perfectly center the axle under the vehicle at ride height.
Brian adjusted the front and rear Currie track bars to match the factory bars. This is a good starting point. If needed, the track bars can be re-adjusted later. Brian adjusted the front and rear Currie track bars to match the factory bars. This is a good starting point. If needed, the track bars can be re-adjusted later.
At the frame end, cushioning washers prevent the track bar from twisting too far. No washers are used at the axle end. There’s plenty of articulation on tap. At the frame end, cushioning washers prevent the track bar from twisting too far. No washers are used at the axle end. There’s plenty of articulation on tap.
Both the front and rear Currie track bars were easy to install. Both the front and rear Currie track bars were easy to install.
Grease zerk fittings make it easy to keep them running smoothly and silently. Grease zerk fittings make it easy to keep them running smoothly and silently.
Currie’s Anti-Rock sway bars are another optional upgrade. Anti-Rock sway bars are designed to be connected all the time. They provide a rate that’s firm enough to control body roll, yet are supple enough to allow full articulation. Choose from either steel or aluminum sway bar arms. Currie’s Anti-Rock sway bars are another optional upgrade. Anti-Rock sway bars are designed to be connected all the time. They provide a rate that’s firm enough to control body roll, yet are supple enough to allow full articulation. Choose from either steel or aluminum sway bar arms.
The front Anti-Rock bolts in place of the stock sway bar using supplied Currie brackets. The front Anti-Rock bolts in place of the stock sway bar using supplied Currie brackets.
The rear Anti-Rock also comes with application-specific brackets and uses factory boltholes. We hit a snag, though. Those same boltholes were also occupied by Expedition One’s bumper brackets. The bumper brackets forced the sway bar brackets outboard and all but eliminated bar-to-arm spline engagement. We found a way to make the two parts play nicely with each other. The outboard sides of the Anti-Rock brackets were trimmed down until they were flush with the bracket plate. This trimming re-purchased precious spline engagement, giving the Anti-Rock sway bar arms a sufficient surface to grip. The rear Anti-Rock also comes with application-specific brackets and uses factory boltholes. We hit a snag, though. Those same boltholes were also occupied by Expedition One’s bumper brackets. The bumper brackets forced the sway bar brackets outboard and all but eliminated bar-to-arm spline engagement. We found a way to make the two parts play nicely with each other. The outboard sides of the Anti-Rock brackets were trimmed down until they were flush with the bracket plate. This trimming re-purchased precious spline engagement, giving the Anti-Rock sway bar arms a sufficient surface to grip.
The rear Anti-Rock also comes with application-specific brackets and uses factory boltholes. We hit a snag, though. Those same boltholes were also occupied by Expedition One’s bumper brackets. The bumper brackets forced the sway bar brackets outboard and all but eliminated bar-to-arm spline engagement. We found a way to make the two parts play nicely with each other. The outboard sides of the Anti-Rock brackets were trimmed down until they were flush with the bracket plate. This trimming re-purchased precious spline engagement, giving the Anti-Rock sway bar arms a sufficient surface to grip. The rear Anti-Rock also comes with application-specific brackets and uses factory boltholes. We hit a snag, though. Those same boltholes were also occupied by Expedition One’s bumper brackets. The bumper brackets forced the sway bar brackets outboard and all but eliminated bar-to-arm spline engagement. We found a way to make the two parts play nicely with each other. The outboard sides of the Anti-Rock brackets were trimmed down until they were flush with the bracket plate. This trimming re-purchased precious spline engagement, giving the Anti-Rock sway bar arms a sufficient surface to grip.
With the sway bar arm location moved outboard, the arms now hit a pinch-welded body seam. With the sway bar arm location moved outboard, the arms now hit a pinch-welded body seam.
Solution: We bent the body seam out of the way with an adjustable wrench. Don’t cut the seam, as it’s a source of strength for the body structure. Bending is the proper way to address situations like this one. Solution: We bent the body seam out of the way with an adjustable wrench. Don’t cut the seam, as it’s a source of strength for the body structure. Bending is the proper way to address situations like this one.
Here’s the rear suspension complete with the Antirock sway bar. Here’s the rear suspension complete with the Antirock sway bar.
The final upgrade was Currie’s Currectlync steering system, consisting of a replacement tie rod and drag link. The final upgrade was Currie’s Currectlync steering system, consisting of a replacement tie rod and drag link.
These parts are also available a la carte. The Currectlync system uses thread-in forged tie rod ends that match the factory hole taper. No vehicle modifications are required: Just bolt it in, align, and go. The thread-in tie rod ends deserve a special mention because they can easily be replaced when needed. You replace only the tie rod end, not the whole tie rod. These parts are also available a la carte. The Currectlync system uses thread-in forged tie rod ends that match the factory hole taper. No vehicle modifications are required: Just bolt it in, align, and go. The thread-in tie rod ends deserve a special mention because they can easily be replaced when needed. You replace only the tie rod end, not the whole tie rod.
The Currectlync tie rod and drag link are made using 1 5/8-inch heat-treated 4130 chromoly steel tubing, while the tie rod ends have a burly 1 1/4-inch thread. If you tweak this stuff out on the trail, you’ve likely got bigger problems to deal with. The Currectlync tie rod and drag link are made using 1 5/8-inch heat-treated 4130 chromoly steel tubing, while the tie rod ends have a burly 1 1/4-inch thread. If you tweak this stuff out on the trail, you’ve likely got bigger problems to deal with.
The final step was to mount a set of 35x12.50R17 Falken Wildpeak tires onto the stock wheels. While the Currie system will fit up to 37s (with some trimming), the plan was to start out with 35s. The final step was to mount a set of 35x12.50R17 Falken Wildpeak tires onto the stock wheels. While the Currie system will fit up to 37s (with some trimming), the plan was to start out with 35s.
The forklift flex test was the final step. Prior to this, the Currie front and rear track bar brackets were welded to the axle housings as required. On the forklift, the front corner rose to 35 inches before the right rear tire began to lose contact with the concrete. Timeliness and simplicity yielded great results. Lucky ’13 is ready for some dirt under the tires. The forklift flex test was the final step. Prior to this, the Currie front and rear track bar brackets were welded to the axle housings as required. On the forklift, the front corner rose to 35 inches before the right rear tire began to lose contact with the concrete. Timeliness and simplicity yielded great results. Lucky ’13 is ready for some dirt under the tires.

Sources

Currie Enterprises
Corona, CA 92880
714-528-6957
http://www.currieenterprises.com
Falken Tire
Fontana, CA 92335
800-723-2553
http://www.falkentire.com
Spidertrax Off-Road
Longmont, CO 80503
800-286-0898
www.spidertrax.com
Warn Industries
Clackamas, OR 97015
800-543-9276
www.warn.com
AFE
Corona, CA 92879
9514937155
http://www.afepower.com
Expedition One
Ogden, UT 84401
801-726-4338
www.expeditionone.biz
Classic Motors
888-627-9773
Classicmo.com

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