Jeep JT Gladiator and Alu-Cab Canopy Camper

Doug

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I never even got to do a build thread on my 2022 Power Wagon. For those following along, I had knee replacement AUG 2021, but recovery was going slowly. We attempted to go camping with friends in Death Valley DEC 2022 but didn't last the first night because I couldn't get my knee comfortable. Last spring my knee finally started feeling pretty good but after a couple months it started to occasionally cramp on my and I'd need ice and hours of elevation to get it to relax. Doctors were baffled. As summer went on, the cramping was happening more often and became more severe, ultimately resulting in three ER visits. We attempted to camp at MRV and made it a night or two but Friday morning my knee cramped and sent us home. My wife wasn't able to close and load the camper without help from staff so we decided to downsize to something she could better manage and drive in the event I was incapacitated.

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A few weeks ago I bought a well equipped 2021 Rubicon Gladiator that had the AEV 370 upgrade with a full suspension and 37s, and quite a few other cosmetic details. It came with the Alu-Cab Canopy Camper and 270 awning, 3 of 4 Goose Gear cabinets in the bed, snorkel, and a Dickinson fireplace. I added the Alu-Cab awning walls kit that included the two extra legs, although we only put walls 3 and 4 up for this spot. We spent a total of a week camping in the Kofa in southern AZ and at DRV. Prior to the trip I added the hood mount hi-lift bracket, GP Factor MaxTrax mount to the rear door, and a Rotopax fender mount on the driver's side, although no Rotopax yet as I couldn't find a 3 gallon in stock.

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During the trip, I took notes on additional modifications we will make. These include the 4th GG cabinet for the rear and moving the fridge to a Goose Gear 40% seat delete. It was just a bit in the way in the bed. I also ordered the AEV HD springs. Although the standard springs performed better than I thought, on some technical stuff I was on the bump stops a bit too much. Rock Slide Engineering slider steps have been ordered as well. These were always in the plan for ease of entry. A Blue Ridge Overland Gear attic and 67Designs rail mount should be here in a few days to finish out the interior. An Alu-Cab shower awning and some load bars will finish out the exterior.

Looking forward to seeing how this build goes and the adventures it will take us on. I'll add a few more photos from that inaugural trip but it was great being able to camp again.
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First night was at the Hauser Geode beds
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Next night was in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge in AZ. It was our first time and what an amazing place to visit. We'll have to dedicate a week to go explore more.
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We tested out our new Dwarf 2 astro camera which has the ability to take and stack up to 999 images. We're still learning how to use it but it was a simple setup and produced some great first time images of the Orion Nebula and Horse head Nebula.
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Checked a few more projects off the list. I had my regular shop install HD AEV springs which add 400 pounds of additional carrying capacity, not pictured. I also had them install Rock Slide Engineering step sliders with the additional 3/16” steel skid plates. The steps are 10 gauge steel and can be used as sliders for moderate trails. The skid plates add an additional 3/8” of steel for the most technical rock crawling. The steps are motor activated and drop down 12” for easy access. The steps and skip plates with the removal of the stock rubicon rock rails add a net weight in the neighborhood of 200 pounds. Overall, I only gained a net 200 pounds of carrying capacity, I suppose, but empty the truck now sits with a slight rake forward versus the slight sag or flat stance it used to have.

One unfortunate result is the Rotopax mount I had installed on the fender isn't compatible with steps due to the tight tolerance between the step and the body. The Rotopax mount simply doesn't fit. I could have the mount reworked a bit and bolt it directly to the top plate of the step but I'm not sure I want to go through that trouble to carry 2-3 gallons of fuel.

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I also made a few small electrical changes. I moved the WeBoost interior antenna to the top center dash. The previous builder put the WeBoost interior antenna inside the rear seat grab handle behind the drivers seat. One our recent trip to Kofa we noticed the WeBoost antenna didn’t function well with my phone in the cup holder. A quick internet search suggested our phone needed to be within a foot or closer to get maximum amplification of the exterior signal. I decided it would be better located on the dash near where my phone will be while driving. I removed the HVAC panel and multimedia screen in the dash. I removed the rubber dash insert and drilled a small hole for the antenna wire, ran the wire behind the stereo and HVAC controls to the carpet. I then loosened the center console bolts to lift it enough to run the wire to the back seat to the signal amplifier.

I also installed a 67Designs Gladiator Rail which allows for multiple attachment points for cell phones, cameras, iPad or whatever. This rail system will keep both of our phones less than 12” from the interior WeBoost antenna giving both the best possible sign amplification. The rail was an easy installation using provided 3M tape and stock Philips head screws.
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Finally, the previous builder had installed a Rigid 1x2 65 degree scene light to illuminate the kitchen area. The light they had installed was white, whereas the similar lights on the sides of the camper are amber. The white light in the rear was a blindingly bright 1100 lumens. I swapped the white light for an amber one, which although equal lumens, it’s not as harsh. The toughest part of the install was cutting through the Sikaflex used to seal the light and reaching the nuts which are inside the frame of the camper. My hand could have used an additional pivot point, and may have one after this install. One bonus is I can use the scene light as a dust light if off-roading in sandy areas in a group.
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Nice. Interested to know what your weight is fully loaded for a trip!
 
Nice. Interested to know what your weight is fully loaded for a trip!
I'm interested but also don't want to know, lol. I do plan on weighing it fully loaded if I ever get loaded for a trip on time and can spare a few minutes. We're getting there. Once the new Goose Gear parts com in the plan is to load it for a quick buyout, even if it's just for a night in Big Bear. The goal will be 30 minutes or less to get on the road, minus a trip to the grocery store if necessary.
 
Excellent plan. I’ve often dreamed of “30 minutes and on the road”…

… it’s nice to dream :lol
Totally doable but it helps having a dedicated camping rig. With just throwing some clothes in a bag and some victuals in the fridge you can be on the road quickly even on very impromptu trips. Sometimes it takes longer to decide were to go than to get ready. I think Doug’s got a good base to accomplish his goal.
 
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