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Battle Prepping the Ultimate Adventure 2020 Tailgunner UAJKJ #UA2020

Keeping our old reliable JK Wrangler reliable.

Christian HazelAuthor, Photography

It's not officially called the UAJKJ. In fact, when Fred Williams commissioned Hazzard FabWorx to build this double-ended JK Wrangler for Ultimate Adventure 2012, it was called things like the Ultimate Orange Jeep or the Off-Roadster or Wacky Which-Way Wrangler. I'm the one who started calling it the UAJKJ just to sort of hang an easily hashtagable handle on the little orange trail tamer. But whatever the name, it's been one of those vehicles that's always on hand and has proven fairly reliable over the years with only precious little maintenance. The suspension is a mishmash of custom and off-the-shelf BDS components. The engine, transmission, and T-case are all factory 2012 Rubicon parts, so they're pretty reliable and trouble-free. The axles from the original build were removed and replaced with a bombproof pair of Ultimate Dana 60 axles for an episode of Dirt Every Day some years back, and we honestly can't remember if they're 5.13 or 5.38 ratios, but the factory Rubicon locker switches activate the Eaton ELockers and it goes down the road at freeways speeds in Overdrive right at roughly 2,500 rpm.

The UAJKJ right after driving back to SoCal from UA2019 in Alaska.
The UAJKJ getting UA2020 ready at Wood's Off Road in San Marcos, California.

After serving as the tailgun vehicle for UA2017, UA2018, and UA 2019, we sort of realized that other than things like an oil change here and an air filter there, we hadn't done anything in the way of maintenance for this vehicle in all that time. I brought it down to Wood's Off Road in San Marcos, California, to have UA2018 alumnus Johnny Wood go over the suspension joints, change out the transmission, T-case, and gear fluids, fix a power steering leak at the pump, sort out some hammered bumpstops and trail-repaired brake lines, and make sure all the lights work fine. Wood also smogged it and fixed some other stuff that was plaguing the Jeep.

For the first UA in several years, the UAJKJ will have beadlock wheels thanks to Battle Born Wheels.
Some fresh 38x13.50R17 Falken Wild Peak M/Ts getting mounted on the 17x9 Battle Born Wheels Gatekeeper Beadlocks.

Then, I ordered up a set of fresh Falken Wild Peak M/T tires in our UA-spec 38x13.50R17 size along with a set of 17x9 Battle Born Wheels Gatekeeper beadlocks with an 8-on-6.5 bolt pattern and a 3.5-inch backspacing. The steel Gatekeeper beadlocks will be a welcome addition to this Jeep, which has been sporting regular non-beadlock wheels for the past three UAs. As I was installing the new tires and wheels I noticed the passenger-side hub assembly felt like it could stand to be tightened a bit, so I popped off the Warn locking hub and found a bit of Alaskan river water. I pulled the caliper and caliper bracket and popped off the hub assembly to repack the bearings and then put it all back together and packed my gear into it. I'll be driving it to the start of UA2020, and then I'll hand the keys over to our longtime Crony and medic, Clifton Slay, who will pilot it on this year's adventure.

Be sure to follow #UA2020 for all the social media updates as UA2020 gets under way and watch fourwheeler.com/ultimate-adventure for daily event updates which will publish Sept 13-20!

Installing beadlocks at home isn't tough. You need something tall enough that fits inside the wheel to lay the tire on. Drop the tire over the beadlock ring and position it on your box, cooler, or whatever you're using. Don't forget to put the valve stem in before the tire.
Install the bolts and run them down by hand until they barely contact the ring. Note the markings on the bolt heads that help keep track of where you are in the torque sequence.
Begin torqueing in a crisscross pattern, first until all bolts are at 10 lb-ft and then until they're all at 18 lb-ft.
Once the bolts are properly torqued, pull the valve core and inflate until the inner bead seats. Then install the valve core and finish inflating to your desired spec.
For our relatively small JK we run the tires at 24 psi in the rear and 26 psi in the front, which gives us a good, even contact pattern.
It's a good practice whenever you have the front tires off the ground to check your hub bearing preload. It was a little loose, so I pulled the locking hub and found a bit of residual water from all the UA2019 river crossings.
Pulling the hub off to repack the bearings requires removing the caliper and caliper bracket. Not all the UA2019 mud and debris.
Never allow your brake caliper to dangle by the brake hose. Always hang it securely from the frame.
The hub/rotor assembly was popped off. Despite a little water intrusion, the bearings looked great and were still full of grease.
I had some excellent Spicer SPL grease on hand, so I repacked the bearings with it and reassembled everything.
Ultimate Adventure rules require a fullsize spare, which on this vehicle rides under the rear hood. The space was designed for a 37-inch tire, so I needed to deflate the 38-inch Falken to get it to fit. The Warn Powerplant winch can quickly air up the spare if it's ever needed.
Between Wood's Off Road, Falken, and Battle Born Wheels, the UAJKJ is ready for another UA trip as the official tailgunner.

Sources

Battle Born Wheels
775.400.4048
Battlebornwheels.com

Falken Tire
falkentire.com/

Warn
800.543.9276
warn.com/