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Week to Wheeling Day 3

Posted in Project Vehicles on December 12, 2018
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Contributors: Ryan Foss
Photographers: Stuart A. Bourdon

Wait, it’s only Day 3? For some reason it feels like this build has been going on for longer. But don’t take that as complaining. In fact, we’re having an absolute blast. There’s nothing better than hanging with your buddies, spinning wrenches, joking around, and turning a plain Jane vehicle into something special. It’s just that we’re getting so much done it feels like we’ve been at it for more than 72 hours. Today the build crew of Jason Scudellari, Christian Arriero, and Christian Hazel got off to a slow start waiting for the axles to arrive at the local off-road store, so Arriero pecked away at wiring the Rampage fog lights we installed in the Rampage Recovery bumpers during Day 2 and Hazel and Scudellari knocked out some sponsor commercials. Yes, they really do let these two guys on camera.

The axles arrived, along with some other parts the crew had been waiting on, and we wasted no time tearing open the crates to expose a pair of freshly built G2 Dana 44 axle assemblies we had ordered only a couple days before. With the ink barely dry on the order invoice and the credit card still red hot, the 5.13-geared, 30-spline Eaton E-Locked axles were prepped for install. On the front, the factory knuckles, unitbearings, and brakes were stripped off the old Dana 30 and transferred to the new Dana 44. With that out of the way, we swung the new axle under the Jeep and hooked up the massive MetalCloak arms. We installed the MetalCloak dropped pitman arm, track bar, and drilled and tapped the G2 axle’s bumpstop pads to accept the ½-inch coarse bolts included in the MetalCloak modular bumpstop kit when Hazel realized he had forgotten to order new bumpstops to replace the factory ones that had literally fallen apart upon removal. Arriero made a run back to the off-road shop and bought the last two they had in stock and ordered two more, which should arrive on Day 4.

While Arriero was out, Scudellari and Hazel turned their attention to cutting off the rear upper control arm brackets from the new G2 axle housing. The MetalCloak upper control arms are massive and the factory brackets aren’t wide enough to accommodate them. We checked our angles, measured twice, and then cut the G2 brackets off with a plasma cutter. We ground the remaining weld smooth, mocked the MetalCloak brackets on the housing, and when we were satisfied all was on according to the instructions, Scudellari professionally burned them in. With our attention on the rear axle, we decided to use our one set of replacement bumpstops to wrap up the rear suspension, allowing the front to wait for Day 4. It was relatively quick work to place the axle under the Jeep thanks to the Motor Trend Group Tech Center’s lift and with a couple bolts we had the upper and lower control arm bolts home, the rear track bar attached, installed the rear springs and bumpstop pads, and finally the RockSport system’s shocks.

We landed a bit short of our goal of having the Jeep sitting on its tires so we can measure for driveshafts, but once our parts arrive tomorrow it should be short work wrapping up the front suspension and finally upgrading our brake system with our EBC Extra Duty 9000 pads and 3GD Series dimpled and slotted rotors. Then, we’ll turn our attention to installing the Bushwacker flat fender flares and ProCar seating. Be sure to tune in to for daily updates all week, and check back tomorrow as we prep our new crate axles with EBC brakes and then sling them under the framerails to finish the MetalCloak RockSport Lock-N-Loaded Long-Arm suspension install!

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