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The 2020 Ultimate Adventure Long Range Jeep #UA2020, Part 4

Bodywork and some armor for the LRJ.

The 2020 UA LRJ is not a pure reproduction of a World War II SAS Willys MB, an iconic vehicle that certainly played a pivotal role in the North Africa Campaign of WWII. This build is rather a hodgepodge of modern parts that are vetted and darn near bulletproof (figuratively, that is) with a distinct nod to the WWII jeeps. We've detailed the build with images and video clips online in a 26-part series and have now undertaken the task of going a bit deeper into the build, showing photos with captions of exactly what's going on. This is mainly so the information can be included in our own print edition of Four Wheeler magazine, but these articles will also be available on FourWheeler.com.

This is part four in the more detailed installment. At this point the UA LRJ is made up of a lengthened TJ chassis with Ultimate Dana 60 axles, and the drivetrain is comprised of a Cummins R2.8 crate engine, an AX-15 transmission from Quadratec, and adapters from Quick Draw Brands. From there an Offroad Designs (ORD) Magnum Underdrive feeds extra-low gearing to an ORD-prepped NP205 transfer case. And, last time, in part 3 of the buildup we introduced LeDuc Series coilover shocks from Skyjacker Suspensions combined with a few custom-made bits. We got the suspension nearly done. We showed you the 5-38/13.50R17 Falken WildPeak M/Ts on a set of army green powdercoated TR beadlock wheels.

For this detailed installment of the buildup we will take the rig that much farther to completion by dropping the body back on the frame. Sticking to the theme, we will show you some of the details on how we modified parts for a few different Jeep models to create an LJ/MB hybrid, combining two iconic Jeeps into one. We'll also add some armor to keep everything safe come what may on the road or trail on the trip to Ultimate Adventure 2020.

Generally, we try to avoid body lifts like the plague, but they do serve a purpose in many an off-road build. For us these 1.25-inch TJ/LJ body lift pucks from Chris Durham Motorsports are important. They will give our low-slung Jeep a little more tire clearance during flex and full bump, and they allow us to tuck the drivetrain up a bit higher between the framerails. That will help us avoid completely reinventing the floor of our LJ tub.
Installation of the body pucks is simple (you will need body mount bolts that are 1.25 inches longer than factory), but getting the tub centered on the frame takes a bit of work. For us, aligning the body wasn't complete until the hood was in place, and at that point it became apparent that the body tub wasn't exactly straight on the chassis. Luckily, adjusting the placement of the tub is as easy as loosening the body mount bolts and using some brute force to move the tub relative to the chassis. We also had the benefit of our BendPak 10K asymmetrical vehicle lift to help us lift and lower the Jeep body to fine-tune its placement and the locations where holes would need to be clearanced.
Despite our CDM body lift pucks, the LJ tub still needed clearanceing in a few places. That's because we didn't want to compromise the placement of the engine and/or the placement of the rather large and long transmission and transfer case position. At the end of the day, a Magnum Underdrive with a Ford NP205 from Offroad Design are not small, and we want all the axle up-travel and ground clearance we can get. With clearance holes located and shaped, we made steel plates to cover the holes in the floor and then spot-welded them in place and added a seam sealer around the perimeter of the new plates. We also had the benefit of our BendPak 10K asymmetrical vehicle lift to help us lift and lower the Jeep body to fine-tune its placement and where holes would need to be clearanced.
If you read the buildup articles on the 2020 Ultimate Adventure Long Range Jeep on Fourwheeler.com you may know we are proud of our high-clearance tub hugging rock sliders. Initially we contemplated building custom boat sides but realized that would be a bunch of work. Instead we spent an inordinate amount of time building these rock sliders that look a lot like many aftermarket rock sliders. Ours are better, though, because they got us about 1 inch more clearance over commercially available rock sliders. Also, they are made from 3/16 steel plate and securely mount to the body of the Jeep with a bunch of Grade-8 hardware.
To start we trimmed off the lip of the factory LJ body tub using a strip of blue painter's tape as a guide. Then we sectioned a piece of 2x5x 0.188 wall rectangular tubing (that's 3/16 inch) into two pieces long enough to cover our rockers. From there we added a 3/16-inch steel plate to the inside of each piece and dry-fit the rocker guards. Then we added plate to the bottom of the Jeep's rockers so we can tie in the cage and the tub in several places.
Then we added plate to the bottom of the Jeep's rockers so we can tie in the cage and the tub in several places. With the rockers mocked up and heavy tack-welded together, we pulled them off and TIG- and MIG-welded the parts together. We then painted the rocker guards before reinstalling them on the Jeep tub.
We've known the 2020 Ultimate Adventure Long Range Jeep would get used hard off-road for many years to come. That meant we wanted to optimize the rig's wheelbase, departure angle, and durability any way we could. That can be a difficult undertaking, or we can look to the aftermarket for parts that help us do all these things. The steel Daddy Long Legs 4-inch stretch for LJ Crusher Corners from Poison Spyder Customs is made of cut and formed 3/16 steel plate. These parts help us add wheelbase, add strength to the Jeep's tub, and, thanks to the stretch (and enlarged wheel openings allowing for larger tires), decrease the Jeep's departure angle.
To install the Daddy Long Legs Crusher Corners for LJ we used some large C-clamps and then drilled holes for the mounting bolts using the corners as a template. We also used the corners as a template for where we would need to cut for the wheel openings, taillights, and fuel filler neck opening. We then removed the Crusher Corners and primed them with red oxide primer inside and out.
Truth be told, the SAS jeeps we are loosely copying with the build of the UA LRJ did not have tailgates or tailgate openings in their tubs, but we can honestly say we like having a tailgate in the tub of a Jeep. They make getting stuff in and out much easier. But rather than filling that tailgate hole with the boring and expected TJ/LJ tailgate, we came across this CJ-7 tailgate and with some hinge parts from Omix-Ada cajoled UA Crony and our friend Kenny Smith into installing the CJ tailgate on the LJ tub in no time.
We also leaned on Kenny to apply a couple coats of Lizard Skin Thermal Barrier on the inside of the Jeep's tub. This stuff really helps keep the heat from underneath a rig out of the interior compartment, and since it's water based it's super easy to apply and clean up. We got 4 gallons of the stuff from Summit Racing, a company that had the product shipped and in our hands in days. Thanks for the blazing-fast shipping.
The Lizard Skin thermal barrier helps with heat and dampens noises and vibrations coming from any rig. It's also durable (especially when top-coated with either the company's topcoat paint or automotive paint) and has a very grippy surface. It's not quite as strong as some bed liners we've used, but we like that it can be removed and re-applied if necessary, for repairs. The formula uses ceramic microspheres that, like your Yeti cup, don't transfer much heat.
With the help of our pal Rob Bonney at Rob Bonney Fabrication we designed this flat dash in the ilk of a military Jeep. Rob cut it out of 10-gauge aluminum on his in-house plasma table. The round hole to the left of the steering column is for the Cummins' R2.8 Murphy gauge. The hole to the right of the column is for a switch panel, and the hole on the passenger side is good for mounting a CJ-style glove box door.
Omix-Ada makes a ton of reproduction parts for almost any old Jeep including the first MBs and GPWs. We talked them out of a reproduction MB/GPW grille to fit the theme of the UA LRJ. They also have headlight and turn signal housings for these classic grilles.
One of the awesome designs from the WWII-era MB and GPW are these headlight buckets that can be flipped over to shine light on the engine compartment of the Jeep. We'll keep that feature in working order on the UA LRJ
These little running lights are special blackout units to make seeing the Jeep from the air that much harder during wartime. We will hook ours up to the turn signal switch in the late-model steering column we are using with help from our pal Trent McGee at Wicked Wiring in Glendale, Arizona.
With an epic shipping debacle that we are not sure UPS ever made good on, we had to paint the UA LRJ and head to the start of the event without our prototype Chris Durham Motorsports TJ to MB hood. Luckily Chris Durham, fabricator extraordinaire and UA Crony, always has a backup plan. For the time being, the cut-up TJ hood that came with our body tub will have to serve duty covering the engine from whatever weather we may encounter before the beginning of the off-road event.
Once the participants of Ultimate Adventure 2020 had assembled in Kalispel, Montana, we whisked Chris Durham away to a secret location (it was the shop of Kalispel local Steve Settle—thanks again Steve!). Here we bribed Chris Durham himself into painting the backup custom hood he had made and transported across the country expecting the worst from the failed UPS.
Durham also somehow made a set of modular mini fenders to cover the area in front of the LRJ's cowl behind the front tire. He did this without ever seeing the vehicle firsthand, but only via photos and phone conversations about the build. These mini fenders were also sprayed at the Settle Shop with some military-grade desert sand paint (Flat Tan 686 CARC).
With that, the body of the 2020 Ultimate Adventure Long Range Jeep was ready to go. Course we glossed over some more of the build's details that we will talk about in future.

Sources;
Cummins, 800.286.6467, www.cummins.com/engines/repower
Dana, 800.621.8084, spicerparts.com/applications/crateaxle
Falken Tire, www.falkentire.com/
IH Parts America, 530.274.1795, www.ihpartsamerica.com/
Offroad Design, 970.945.7777, www.offroaddesign.com/
onX Offroad, onxmaps.com/offroad-app
Quick Draw Brand, 513.446.9654, quickdrawbrand.com/
Quigley Drive Shafts, 800.233.9358, www.quigley4x4.com/Quigley-Products/Drive-Shafts/Product-Overview
Skyjacker Suspension, 318.388.0816, skyjacker.com/
VooDoo Offroad, 844.866.3661, www.voodoooffroad.com/
Warn Winch, 800.543.9276, www.warn.com/

Other Sources:
Chris Durham Motorsports, 864.420.1274, http://cdmracing.com/
OMIX-ADA, 800.328.9512, https://www.omix-ada.com/
Poison Spyder Customs, 800.776.0767, https://shop.poisonspyder.com/
Summit Racing, 800.230.3030, https://www.summitracing.com/
Wicked Wiring, 602.688.9465, https://wicked-wiring.com/