The Next set of mods was the long awaited 4xGuard front guard along with the newly released Matrix! Unfortunately I got the newer (3rd GEN) front guard with the shorter sides. It was a little lighter than the Gen 2, but I didn't like the look of it as much. Oh well what are you going to do right! I was really excited about getting the Matrix. I had seen Russ' first 2 designs and when he finally released the production version I had to have it. I wanted to get the hoop as well, but I couldn't bring myself to spend $150 plus shipping on a 2' piece of pipe. I had planned on making one eventually, but then other mods got in the way (literally )
Oh, I also installed some chrome molding in my grill. I thought it looked good at the time
It was time to figure out the spare tire situation. Until now I had been keeping it in the cargo area. This works but gets annoying since it takes up so much space. On my XJ I had tried strapping my spare to the roof in a basket, and though that got it out of the back I didn't like the extra top weight and increased body role it produced. This time I wasn't going to do the same. I knew I didn't want my spare up there. I know a 32" is lighter than a 35", but I didn't want to increase top weight any more than I needed to. I thought about getting the Saguaro rear bumper and carrier, but for many reasons that wasn't going to happen. All that was left was the stock tire location. So I removed the bumper to see what I was dealing with.
(You can also see my reso in that one)
Since I had the factory hitch I knew that was going to be the big problem.
For now I decided to pull the hitch out and try to get my fully inflated 255/75/17 up in there. Until now all I had seen was a couple of guys fit their 265/70/17 up in there. Knowing that the 255 was only slightly taller than the 265 I figured I could make it work.
I had some plans to modify the hitch, but I didn't have time to do it then.
And in went my inflated spare. This was and still is a brand new Rubi BFG M/T.
I had enough clearance at the exhaust.
And with it pushed all the way to the rear It could hug the rear crossmember with some room to spare against the track bar.
At this time I had also scored a brand new 4xGuard rear guard Gen 2 off eBay for $120! Some guy was selling it and didn't know what he had. He listed it as a front skid for a Commander. I sent him a message telling him what he actually had along with an offer. A few minutes later I received a message back from him that said SOLD!!!
Eventually I got around to modifying the hitch and reinstalling it. I cut off the nuts that were tacked onto the back side and trimmed the hitch flush with the welds. Then I got carriage bolts and passed them through from the inside out. This way the hitch was as smooth and low profile as possible.
With this set up I could have left the spare fully inflated and it would have rubbed the track bar slightly, but I decided to deflate it and get a compressor in case I have to use the spare.
We took a trip along the border fence. Whenever I need to get out for a quick trip I just head out into the hills southeast of where I live. From my house I can be at the peak in 45min. We always see a lot of border patrol roaming about. The more difficult areas to get to are usually patrolled be Rubicons. I got to talking to one of the guys once and he told me I should take a trip along the border road. He said it wasn't really somewhere I was supposed to be however there was no rule saying I couldn't. So one Sat morning I took the fam out for a joy ride.
Now is about the time I got a CB! I bought just a cheap Midland model-1001Z and a magnetic antenna. At the time I just wanted a CB and didn't care about any of the fancy add-ons, so this one was a nice choice. I planned to use the cubby to the left of the steering wheel for the CB's home. I pulled the cubby out and chopped the back of it off. Then fitted the CB inside of it and secured the CB with two bolts.
And once installed.
I kept the mic in the drivers door pocket. I was only going to use the CB while wheeling, so I didn't want it in the way for day to day driving. I also had a PA that I mounted on top of the front guard. Unfortunately I never took a picture of it and it is now destroyed I forgot to secure it into place once when I took the guard off and then put it back on (I think for an oil change). So late when I jumped in to go for a drive, the PA fell out and I ran over it
Now for one of my favorite mods!!! I was lucky enough to score a set of HM Engineering chromoly UCAs! Thanks to AcidCold we found a guy in Saudi Arabia who had bought a set but rolled his Commander. So he had a brand new set just sitting around waiting for a new home. These UCAs are exactly like the Camburg or Total Chaos uni-ball arms. So you know they will hold up to some serious abuse.
Comparison to the stock arm:
This was also about the time I swapped out my 1.25" spacers for .25" spacers. I wasn't liking how for the tires stuck out past the fenders with this small of a lift. It made the Jeep look squatty! IMO
As you might have noticed I also got a set of Stillen rotors on sale from Kolak. I love these things! I only got the rotors, because the Mopar pads that the dealer had put on were still new. Even with just a rotor swap I felt a noticeable braking improvement! These really helped make up for the extra weight and rolling resistance.
I hooked up with a buddy and his PreRunner group to have a little fun. Nothing too exciting! Mostly just flying down trails and trying not to loose them over the whoop sections They kept trying to get me to jump it, but this thing doesn't have the suspension for that!
I was a little out of my league! Though I did find some rocks to show them up on
As you can see I really needed new tires at this point! Time to start scouring Craigslist again. . . .