Dave's Jeep JT Gladiator: The 'Gator

Dave

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#64
As stated, one of my goals for this build is to keep it "lightly" modified in the hopes of maintaining fuel economy as well as ease of maintenance and spare parts availability.

37's are super tempting but then that necessitates a re-gear from OEM 4.10 to aftermarket 4.56 (voiding my warranty and adding cost). Where most go wrong is the suspension, and adding more tire than what is really needed. So I'm thinking a mild 2.5 inch lift and a set of 35's which is ONE size larger than OEM (same as I did on my JL build) is the smart play here.

Looking across the spectrum of suspension manufacturers, and especially those in the Gladiator market, I looked at Icon, Metal Tech, Evo, Rock Krawler, and Clayton Offroad.

Right now I gotta say I'm super impressed with Clayton Offroad (who I had never heard of) and their 2.5 inch "Overland Plus" suspension. This kit checks all the boxes for me regarding strength, durability and simplicity.

So many decisions to make :coffee
On this note, a decision has been reached. Thanks @Dean for your comments.

My only critique, and word of caution, is they come from that hard-core rock crawling background. The overland scene is something relatively new to them. That said, the new bushing they are using in their JL/JLU/JT kits are legit. I got to see some pre-production components of their JLU kit at a show last year. Judging by the photos it looks like this kit is based off those components. I only wish they would do a modest overland-style kit for the older Jeeps like my LJ.

My only other fear is the ride not being as good as a more comprehensive kit like Icon which has both shocks and springs as part of the package. I'm sure you can get a set of Bilstien 5160's to work with the Clayton kit, but I'm always wary of suspension kits that don't include shocks tuned for the springs. However, as far as fit-and-finish go, their stuff is top quality.
This is an important consideration, and given my zeal for skinny pedal on long desert tracks and such (which I will be doing a LOT more of in the future), I went down the rabbit hole on this subject and sort of came full circle here. I like the Clayton kit, but it's not offered with a purpose built shock option. I like the Fox stuff, but it's paired ala carte with other springs etc.

So I'm back where I've been since 2005-ish... looking hard at Icon Vehicle Dynamics. I think I'll go simpler this time and opt for the Stage 7 kit with non-CDC valve 2.5 shocks. I had the CDC's on the JL and rarely (if ever) changed the settings on them anyway.

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Finn

Adventurist
#65
How useable is the storage in the XL Gear Pods? I’m thinking it’d be a excellent place to stash a backpack and camera bag when running in the store on a trip. Also in a couple years when kids are on the way might be a good place to stash a diaper bag.
 

Dean

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#67
I like Clayton and their stuff, but I think you made the smart choice. If you were building something for rock crawling I would have nudged toward Clayton a little harder, but knowing what you do and how you do it I think you'll be much happier in the long run with the Icon kit. It's more comprehensive and it's all been designed, tested, and tuned to play nice together.
 

Dave

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#68
How useable is the storage in the XL Gear Pods? I’m thinking it’d be a excellent place to stash a backpack and camera bag when running in the store on a trip. Also in a couple years when kids are on the way might be a good place to stash a diaper bag.
Very useable. Large bags are no factor.
 

Dean

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#73
Word on the street is that you can no longer order a JT in Gator Clear Coat...

... Jeep colors come and go. Glad I jumped on this one when I did!
That's one thing I've always liked about Jeep. The limited edition single-year colors. Inca Gold. Electric Lime Green. Burnt Orange. Dozer Yellow.
 

Dave

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#74
Let’s get that Goose Gear in here. Weighing only 18.6 lbs, the 40% seat delete kit is a net weight savings over the OEM driver’s side rear seat that weighs at least 30 lbs.

The truck still retains comfortable seating for 3 adults, and seats 4 in a pinch (or two kids in the back). And it still has 4 OEM seatbelts after the seat delete.

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Dave

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#75
Now let’s get that Engel fridge in here.

The big question for me was could we use our Engle MT45 Platinum fridge and mount it INSIDE the Gladiator and out of the weather? The answer is - HELL YES! Thanks to Goose Gear and their 40% seat delete kit, mounting a fridge (Engel MT45) behind the drivers seat inside the Gladiator is not only possible, it’s pretty easy.

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Dave

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#76
Plenty of power outlets in the JT. But I want something for the Engel that’s a dedicated circuit not tied to the key. So I added one ;)

Fused at the battery, ran across the cowl and down the drivers side frame rail.

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Under the carpet behind the drivers seat is the key. Modify this plug as a pass through.

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View from underneath.

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And back inside

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Here you can also see the finished Dremel work where those 3 small studs for the OEM container for the removable top hardware were removed. I hit them with some MOPAR PGV (Gator) paint to prevent rust. Since this is now “below deck” storage those studs needed to go.

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Watertight. Butyl mastic and some RTV for good measure.

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Rear floor prepped and ready for Goose Gear install. Note that I removed the small factory storage bin and that I added some aftermarket black carpet here to insulate and provide a finished look.

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To be continued...
 

Dave

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#77
And the fridge install is a wrap! Here’s the rest of the details for mounting an Engel in the Gladiator (larger fridges will likely NOT work in this location).

Tie downs installed. Power port installed (Blue Seas).

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Close ups of the dedicated power port for the fridge. Made a small bracket for it out of some aluminum angle.

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Tembo Tusk straps. Been using this type for over a decade. Super stout.

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Added an extra 1 inch nylon safety strap to the fridge at a conveniently located OEM wall anchor. The fridge now has 5 links to the vehicle for safety.

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View from above. Easy access and easy visual for the connection

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View of the rear mounting from the passenger side.

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Engel MT45 fridge installed inside the Jeep Gladiator.

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Full access. The lid opens completely allowing the removal of the basket from inside the Engel.

I’m saving a LOT of weight here by going minimalist and not using a fridge slide. And the side access you see under the Goose Gear actually holds quite a bit of extra gear.

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Borrego60

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#78
Very nice job Dave, Have you ever thought of a Power Pole to to eliminate all the power wires to the battery. with this 1 wire to battery and your 12v requirements to this and fused of course. My winch,lights 12v source are connected to one under the hood and 1 wire to battery. 1593432646635.png
 

Dave

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#80
And on that note, when complete my “aftermarket” wiring will total four (4) carefully planned circuits attached to the battery:

1. sPOD Bantam - all off road lighting.

2. ARB dual compressor on its own fused 8 ga 30 amp circuit.

3. Dedicated interior power source, fused 12 ga 15 amp circuit currently only powering the Engel (2-4 amps tops). I may power a 2M radio there as well in the future for trail comms.

4. Winch. TBD.

I’m pretty OCD about my wiring and safety, and I like keeping accessories totally separate from OEM wiring if at all possible. This way if there’s any problems, trouble shooting or repair is a snap.
 
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