If you keep up with any of our builds, you're bound to notice the high-end leather interiors. Last update we covered Alea Leather, but for those wanting another approach, we also carry Katzkin Leather. Katzkin has been around for over 30 years and produces high-quality aftermarket leather interiors for a variety of popular vehicles, from the Chevrolet Silverado to the Honda Accord! Katzkin is an official supplier of leather to the Ford motor company, and also exclusively supplies leather to Shelby American, Inc., of performance car fame.While for some, a Jeep Wrangler should be a bare bones, true-to-original utilitarian 4x4, others desire a more luxurious approach. Although some of the higher-end trim models, like the Sahara and Rubicon, can now be ordered with leather seats, factory leather leaves much to be desired. Enter Katzkin leather, featuring a variety of patterns, custom stitching, embroidered logos and more! Here at RubiTrux, we pride ourselves in using only the best in aftermarket add-ons and accessories, and Katzkin is no exception. Each leather set is a completely new, top quality leather upholstery set for your seats. This product does not replace the factory seats, and these are not seat covers, so your factory upholstery will need to be removed for the install.Available in a variety of color schemes, stitching and logos, these seats can match any build style and go well with the OEM colors. Front seat heaters are an optional upgrade on our builds, and you can have them in your Jeep too! Just be sure to let us know, and the heaters can be installed at the same time as your new Katzkin leather! The leather is also available in an Ostrich Skin (Aussie) pattern, shown below, for those that want an extra touch of unique on their Jeep JK or JK Unlimited build.So if you're looking to upgrade the interior of your Jeep Wrangler JK or JK Unlimited, Katzkin leather is for you! With other upgrades such as HotHead Headliners, and color matched interior trim pieces, we can trick out the interior on your Jeep JK to fit any build style; as our slogan states, there are "Unlimited Possibilities!". Give us a call, today!
Go 4x4 It
RubiTrux and High Country 4x4 Blog
If you tuned in last week for the Mojave Sand JK Unlimited, you may have briefly read about our newest JK-EXT conversion, also in Mojave Sand! Mojave Sand is one of our favorite colors for the Jeep Wrangler JK and JK Unlimited, and we're excited to say that we're producing the first ever EXT in Mojave Sand at our shop, right now! The vehicle arrived as a completely stock 2016 Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited Sport, and has been in the garage for the past week. Currently, we're preparing to send this JK-EXT out to the body shop – here's what we've got so far!Pictured above is the stock JK Sport, with non-matched hard-top, fender flares, and the OEM wheel and tire package. The hard top, rear seat, carpet, seatbelts, and everything rearward of the driver's seat was removed on Monday morning and placed aside, with work beginning around lunch that same day. As you can see below, the rollbar and J-rails (where the soft-top clips in) were also cut out and removed. There are quite a few spot welds that need to be drilled out during this step, most notably where the rollbar and J-rails are attached to the body. You can also see the contrast between the OD Green primer and Mojave Sand on the removed portion of the rollbar. Since the JK entered production, Jeep stopped painting the entire rollbar, leaving the innermost portion, usually covered with padding, with the green color you see here.
Rick Robey, lead on this EXT project, is shown below removing the factory rear corners. All areas where the frame and OEM body panels meet the EXT kit are also prepped, to ensure a clean and proper surface for welding. This prep work includes hammering certain areas of the sheetmetal flat, as well as sanding down the OEM Mojave Sand paint, to facilitate the welding process. It is very important during this step to remove the factory insulation, because it is flammable; welding around this area for the kit install is close enough to cause a fire. Said fire would be very hard to put out, as once the panels are in place, the flames would be inside the body! The frame extension is then welded to the OEM frame, with inner plates like the ones seen in our Brute conversion to strengthen the connection.
Once the frame is extended (above), the bed kit can be placed on the new rear crossmember and fit around the original body panels. The lower support on the new body extension fits inside the OEM quarter panel. Once everything is in place and lined up, the kit is welded to the body. Rick is shown below dropping in some welds; once these are in place, seam sealer is used to completely cover the area to protect against corrosion, as per OEM standards. Also don't forget to remove the adhesive square from the bed of the JKU, to allow installation of the floor pan!
Next, the outbound body panels are temporarily fitted and aligned. Once everything is lined up, Rick is shown here making adjustments to the fuel door cutout, OEM sheetmetal, and the EXT body panels themselves. While the foam in the rear quarter panels has been removed, there is still quite a substantial amount housed in the body cavity by the rear doors. We removed the rubber plug next to the door latch, and throughout the welding process, sprayed water into this area (hence the spray bottle on the frame) to prevent a potential fire. Once the entire area is prepped, the welding can begin.
Seam sealer is applied to the OE quarter panels to guard against rust, and to help hold the JK-EXT panels in place. Once the body panels are clamped into place and everything is double checked, Rick is shown below making the final welds for the new outer quarter panels. Once the welding is completed, the welds and any rough areas are ground smooth in preparation for the trip to the body shop. Once the bed sides are completed, the OEM subwoofer cavity is plated over before the sub-floor is fitted to the new truck bed.
Both surfaces are cleaned and the new sub-floor is added over the OEM subwoofer enclosure. This will become the base for the truck bed, so strength and corrosion protection is a must. Seam sealer is placed on the prepped areas and both areas are pressed and welded together. Once the sub-floor is in place, the main floor can be added on top of this (this piece features ridges, like the ones found on pickup trucks, while the sub-floor is smooth sheetmetal). Below, Rick welds these pieces into place; you may notice that we set a tire and a few brake rotors on the bed during this process. This is to ensure that all pieces set and dry correctly. Once the welds on the bed are done, the cab closeout, roll-bar, and hard-top can be fitted!
The JK-EXT roll-bar is set in place and test fitted to what remains of the OEM roll-bar. The edges of the aftermarket roll-bar extension may need the primer/e-coating removed to fit inside the OEM roll-bar. This will be a tight fit. Once the roll-bar is in place, the holes for the mounting plate are marked and drilled out. The completed roll-bar will bolt through the floor to a plate on the underside of the Jeep. The hard-top is then placed on the EXT and bolted down; with this in place, the cab closeout can be lined up. Afterwards, the cab closeout is bolted to the body and seam sealer is used to close any gaps.
Once everything is bolted down, the rear doors, door latches and tailgate are all put back on the JK-EXT, and the vehicle is pulled outside the garage, now ready for the paint and body shop. Stay tuned for more, we're planning a 3.5” AEV lift kit, 35” tires, and more!
This week we're taking a look at one of our recently completed builds, this time in Mojave Sand. Mojave Sand is a new color for 2016 and we're sure it'll be a classic. This color began arriving at dealerships a few weeks back, and with all the hype, it makes the perfect Vehicle of the Week!The first thing you'll notice is that this JKU (JK-Unlimited) has our standard 4500 build package. Featuring a 4.5" AEV Dual Sport SC Lift and AEV 17" Salta wheels wrapped in 37" Toyo Open Country M/T tires, this Jeep is ready for around town or the trails! We went with the black Salta wheels to match the undercarriage and bumper package, giving a nice contrast with the Mojave Sand. The bumpers are an AEV premium front bumper and an AEV rear bumper with tire carrier. The front bumper houses a Warn 8s Synthetic Winch while the rear bumper mounted tire carrier is perfect for carrying the 37" spare.For the interior seats we chose Alea leather; the Eleganza Bentley style goes great with the two toned seats, which in turn go well with the OEM colors. The interior dash and door trim panels are painted-matched, and these include the trim panels for the Alpine X009-WRA Restyle System. The X009 gives the dash a more modern look, while providing a larger screen and controls than the OEM unit.
For lighting, we chose to replace the factory headlights with JW Speaker Evolution J Series, while JW Speaker fog lights were mounted inside the AEV front bumper. Recon turn signals and tail lights also replaced matching OEM components, while both the front windshield and rear tire carrier received a pair of Rigid D2 LED pods. These lighting upgrades will increase the visibility of the driver and passengers above that of OEM quality, especially in offroad situations, where the D2 pods will help by providing light over the front hood and at the rear of the vehicle.Continuing with lighting, the side markers and taillights will make this JKU more visible to both pedestrians and traffic; again, invaluable on both the trail and around town. The front AEV bumper also has a pair of custom painted ARB Intensity LED driving lights. These LED lights are some of our favorite, with the size resembling that of the old KC Daylighters, but with modern LED technology! If the larger ARB Intensity lights seem out of proportion for your build, the new classic-sized ARB Intensity's are for you!If you liked this Jeep, wait until you see our Mojave Sand EXT! This EXT build is currently in progress, so check back next week for part one!
You may remember some of our past blog posts, where we covered hard-top insulation and waterproof premium carpet, when the stock carpet and non-insulated hard top won't cut it. Another part of the modern-day Jeep Wrangler JK that leaves room for improvement is the stock interior. Depending on the trim, your Jeep may come with cloth or a factory leather interior. Both of these are sub-par when transforming your Jeep into a high-end RubiTrux conversion. We use nothing but the best on our vehicles, and that means replacing the factory interior with a quality upgrade. In this post, we'll discuss Alea leather, featuring premium overseas material, to give your Jeep that high-end, luxury look and feel.Chances are if you look around for a used Jeep Wrangler, most of them will feature cloth seats, especially older Wranglers with the classic body style, or the lower trim packages of the Jeep Wrangler JK/U production run. Shown above is a factory interior in a Rubicon JK Unlimited. While a solid number of Jeeps rolling off of the factory floor today will feature an OEM leather interior, the quality just doesn't cut it, especially when compared to high-end product from Alea. There's a reason you may be able to find the factory leather online; owners are replacing OEM leather with premium aftermarket upgrades, and Alea is the popular choice.
Alea Leather has been around for several years, with the parent company, Sunguard Group, being incorporated in 1992. Alea Leather Specialist, Inc. distributes their premium leather interior products throughout the United States. Alea stands for Automotive Leather Eleganza Atelier, which refers to the production methods and quality leather supplied to the automotive aftermarket. We've been using Alea leather in our Jeep Wrangler JK's for a few years now, and we've been very happy with the quality and craftsmanship associated with the product.There are a few options to choose from when looking into Alea leather for your Jeep Wrangler JK or JK Unlimited. The first is the standard factory style leather, starting at $1,099.00 (above). This leather kit can be matched to several factory colors, including khaki, slate grey, and dark saddle, perfect for that two-tone interior. Can be ordered with official Jeep logos, such as "Rubicon" or "Sahara", for example. This product is Grade A Italian automotive leather featuring OEM approved Serafil airbag threading from Germany. These leather skins have been airbag tested and approved; sewn using PFAFF Docuseam Sewing System, the airbags will deploy unhindered by the leather in the event of an accident.The second choice is the Eleganza leather (above), which features a different criss-cross pattern on the seat and seat back than the factory look. The mid-level leather set, starting at $1,849.00, the Eleganza is great for the owner looking to add a touch of luxury to their build. Also can be matched to several OEM colors and offered with official Jeep logos, if desired. This product also features the German stitching and airbag compliance testing as the factory style interior.
The third option in regards to Alea Leather is the F-1 interior (above and below), which is top-of-the-line, for the build where no expense is spared. Coming in at a base cost of $2,950.00, this set features a unique cross-bar pattern in the seat and seat back. Also can be matched to several OEM colors and ordered with official Jeep logos, at the request of the customer. This pattern also passes airbag compliance testing and features German Serafil airbag threading. FFMVSS 208 Suppression tested and approved.All Alea leather comes with a 3 year, 36,000 mile warranty, and an optional upgrade to Nappa leather. All MOPAR logos are available and are fully licensed. Please allow a two week lead time after your order is placed, and as all items are made to order, we do not accept returns. Alea is perfect for that high-end Jeep Wrangler JK build, and no matter what pattern you choose, your Jeep will turn heads around town and on the trail! If you've got a 2007-2016 Jeep Wrangler JK or JK Unlimited and you're tired of the factory cloth or leather interior, see why so many RubiTrux conversions use Alea Leather and order today, from RubiTrux.com!
This week we're taking a look at two popular products by BedRug. The first is the original BedRug Premium Carpet floor kit. Offered for both the Jeep Wrangler JK and JK Unlimited, this kit gives you the look and feel of a premium carpeted interior without all the downsides of OEM carpet! For example, BedRug is resistant to mold and mildew. As any Jeep Wrangler owner knows, water and moisture getting inside the vehicle can become a frustration, even on hard-top models. The long term result of this is that the OEM carpet set becomes dirty and can retain a damp moldy smell.On older CJ's and early generation Wranglers, the answer to this problem is the removal of the factory carpet set and addition of a spray or roll on bedliner product. However, some owners may not like the roughness of bedliner, or may have reservations about scuffing up the inside of a brand new $45,000 vehicle during preparation. Also, depending on the prep work, the bedliner may not adhere correctly to the tub, and to fully cure the Jeep usually needs to sit for several days. Add in the fact that the entire interior needs to be removed, the dash taped off and the metal sanded down, and you're looking at a sizable project.The benefits of BedRug are that the seats do not have to be removed, so install is a snap. The material, featuring a ¼ inch polypropylene foam layer and heat shields, dries quickly after getting wet, useful for those unexpected rain showers when driving with the top down, or for when you want to wash the BedRug. This product is 100% waterproof and is custom molded to fit the interior on your Jeep. BedRug is also available for the Jeep CJ-7, YJ, and TJ, in addition to the latest generation Jeep JK and JK Unlimited (shown here).If the carpet set isn't for you, or if you still want that rough and tough bedliner feel, check out BedTred, also by BedRug. This product gives you the spray-in bedliner look, without all of the hassle. BedTred is also custom molded to fit your interior, is easy to install and remove, and is 100% waterproof. BedTred will never stain or mold, and is resistant to harsh chemicals, so you can remove them after a day on the trails and hose 'em down, no worries! Featuring ¼ inch thick polypropylene foam and heat shields, BedTred is made to last, and also dampens road noise!So whether you like the look and feel of a premium carpet set or the toughness of the classic bedliner approach, BedRug has something for you! Offered in front, rear, or complete sets, both BedTred and BedRug kits can be ordered for the classic body style CJ-7, YJ, and TJ, or the new Jeep Wrangler JK and JK Unlimited, and are perfect for all of your off-road adventures! Order today, from RubiTrux.com!
This week we've had a very unique vehicle come through the shop, now for sale! This pre-owned 2005 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited LJ is built to the max, and features a 6.0 LS Conversion under the hood, in addition to a Dana 60 front and 14 Bolt rear. Sitting on 37x12.50x17 Toyo Open Country M/T tires, this Jeep is ready for anything, from Moab to the local trails in the mountains of North Carolina.Since there's so much to this build, we'll start with the most obvious. The engine is an 04 6.0 Lq4 with a Comp Cam that provides 315.5 HP and 312.6 TQ at the rear wheels. This engine is mated to a 4l80 4-Speed Automatic Transmission and Jeep Rubicon 4-1 Transfer Case. Novak motor mounts, radiator, transmission adapter, engine harness, tachometer signal converter, Sanderson headers, engine top cover, and transfer case cable shifter were added during the swap, to make sure everything coupled up and ran smoothly. The oil pump has been upgraded and a Cadillac CTSV Oil Pan added. A Borla Stainless Muffler and custom 2 into 1 exhaust was also added.The suspension is a GenRight Elite Coilover, featuring custom tuned King Coilovers and King Air Bumps with Internal Stops. A PSC Hydro-Assist and Steering Box help turn the large 37” tires, while an under-the-hood steering cooler and electric fan keep the temperatures down. The 14 bolt rear and high-pinion Dana-60 front (narrowed to 65”) are beefy enough to handle the tires and V8 motor. Meanwhile, a Dodge 2500 brake master cylinder and ¾ ton brake rotors provide plenty of stopping power for this 'rig.Inside, the axles feature a 4.10 gear ratio and chromoly axle shafts. The front Dana-60 features 35 spline axle shafts, a Yukon Grizzly locker, Warn lockout hubs, a Blue Torch Fab (BTF) differential cover and high-steer arm, and TMR ½ Ton Brake Brackets. The rear 14-bolt axle (again, narrowed to 65”) has an ARB air locker, BTF Brake Brackets, Differential Cover, and Pinion Guard. The Tires are 37” Toyo Open Country M/T tires mounted to OEM Hummer H2 wheels.The exterior of this LJ has quite a few upgrades, such as an ORFab Stubby Front Bumper, TNT custom front fenders, relocated front turn signals, and hood louvers. At the rear, we've got a Smittybilt rear bumper, custom countersunk taillights and tail gate, and a license plate relocation setup. For recovery, the front bumper mounts a Smittybilt XRC 8 Winch.This vehicle has been converted into a truck with a GR8Tops extended half-cab conversion and Gr8Tops bulkhead, with speaker cutouts. Also featured on the interior is a Rock Hard 4x4 bolt-in Roll Cage that has been color matched to the factory Jeep paint code.As you can see, this Jeep Wrangler LJ has been built from the ground up, and priced at $49,500.00, would make a great addition to anyone looking for either a show vehicle or a trail 'rig. Give us a call at (828)406-3031 if you're interested, you won't be disappointed!
This week, we're taking a look at a new product from Poison Spyder, the Body Mounted Tire Carrier. Traditionally, an aftermarket tire carrier featured a swing out A-frame (or similar design), mounted to an aftermarket rear bumper. This bumper is then mounted to the frame of the vehicle, as is the case on the Jeep Wrangler. However, over the past few years we've seen quite a few different build styles gaining popularity, such as high-clearance fenders, or tire carrier setups that bolt to the roll-bars. When reviewing these new designs, one that stood apart was the Poison Spyder Body Mounted Tire Carrier. We've seen similar products in the past, but the unique feature of the Poison Spyder version is the ability to mount accessories, such as a Hi-Lift Jack.If you're already a Jeep Wrangler JK owner, chances are you're worried about the whole "body mounted" aspect of this tire carrier. As many JK owners know, the sheetmetal found on the JK/U generation is the thinnest yet, and is easily dented. Taking this into account, Poison Spyder took time in finalizing this design, being careful to address all weaknesses associated with essentially hanging a spare tire from the factory sheetmetal. As you can see from the complete kit above, there are several different brackets, each with a vital purpose for supporting the carrier and up to a 40" spare tire!Since 1987, the Jeep Wrangler has featured the spare tire mounted to a swing out tailgate, replacing the factory tire carrier and drop down tailgate present on the CJ series. In order for the swing out tailgate to support the tire, especially when fully opened, the hinges and accompanying mounting points on the body are already reinforced from the factory. As the rear driver side of the tub does little but house the latch for the tailgate, it is not reinforced as the passenger side is. Poison Spyder addresses this with a large latch plate, to effectively spread the load over a larger portion of the sheetmetal, as well as a set of internal gussets, installed directly behind the OEM taillight, attaching the latch-plate for the tire carrier into the heavy substructure of the JK/U.
The Poison Spyder Body Mounted Tire Carrier also features adjustable cams for smooth hinge operation; regardless of any aftermarket accessories or a heavy spare tire, the carrier can be opened easily with one hand. As mentioned above, this carrier will fit up to a 40" tire, and will accept any bolt pattern, center hole size, or offset on your OEM or aftermarket wheels; this is accomplished by an ACME-threaded rod and wingnut with urethane centering cone.In addition to fitting up to a 40" spare tire, the Poison Spyder Body Mounted Tire Carrier also fits your license plate on the center of the carrier, as the OEM license plate holder has to be removed prior to installation of the carrier. For states that require illumination on the license plate, the Poison Spyder LED license plate/third brake light is sold separately. A Poison Spyder license plate delete cover is supplied with the carrier, to cover the hole left by relocating the license plate.As mentioned before, the Poison Spyder Body Mounted Tire Carrier can also mount multiple accessories, such as Hi-Lift Jacks and Roto-Pax, perfect for vehicle recovery and extending the range of your Jeep, respectively. There are a few different mounting options for the Hi-Lift Jack, and Poison Spyder does offer a bracket kit for mounting the jack horizontally, towards the top of the carrier, if a vertical mounting point won't do.To conclude, if you're looking for an aftermarket tire carrier for your build, this product from Poison Spyder is a great solution. A common fact is that once you mount a 35" tire or above on the OEM tailgate, it starts to damage the hinges and latch mechanism. This Poison Spyder carrier addresses that fact by mounting the tire to both sides of the tailgate, with large mounting plates and internal gussets to effectively support both the weight of a spare tire and accessories such as off-road jacks or fuel packs. This product also tucks the tire up higher than a traditional tire carrier, perfect for increasing the departure angle of your Jeep Wrangler JK, especially when coupled with a high-clearance bumper, such as the Poison Spyder Rock Brawler II! However, if you're still in the beginning phases of your build, don't worry, this tire carrier will work with just about any bumper on the market, including the plastic OEM version! So if you're shopping for a tire carrier, choose Poison Spyder today!
This week, we're taking a look at a pre-owned Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited. This Jeep only has 42k miles on the clock and features many aftermarket upgrades, great for the owner looking to jump right in without the hassle of building up a stock Jeep. Built with nothing but the best in aftermarket accessories, this JK Unlimited is ready for the toughest trails around, while still providing a sturdy on-road platform with the LCOG setup and 37” tires.The suspension and tire setup on this Unlimited go hand-in-hand. While the traditional means to fit a 35-37” tire is a 4-6” lift, depending on what generation Wrangler you're looking at (A Jeep TJ will require more lift for a larger tire than a Wrangler JK, for example), this JKU couples a 2.5” lift and flat fenders to fit 37” tires, perfect for keeping the center of gravity low while on the trail or around town. The lift is an Icon Vehicle Dynamics 2.5” coilover kit coupled with Teraflex Long Arms, while the tires are 37x13.50x17 Toyo Open Country M/T's. A lower center of gravity means less body roll while going into corners on pavement; while offroad, the likelihood of a rollover is decreased as well.As far as power goes, a 5.7L HEMI coupled with 4.88 gears turn the large 37” tires with ease, giving this 'rig plenty of horsepower and torque. The front OEM Dana-44 was retained for this build, but the rear axle was upgraded to a Dynatrac Prorock 60. These axles are also equipped with ARB Air Lockers, which are powered by an ARB Dual Air Compressor mounted behind the rear seat.The undercarriage of this Jeep JK Unlimited features a full T&T Customs skid plate package, while Poison Spyder Bumpers, Flares, and Body Armor protect the frame, fenders and body of the vehicle. If recovery becomes an issue, a Warn 9.5 cti-s Winch and custom-painted Hi-Lift Jack are ready to help, while Smittybilt D-rings provide a solid point at which to attach tow straps or a winch line to the bumper.Aside from the 5.7L V-8 HEMI, this Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited also features a Genesis Dual Battery Setup under the hood, perfect for all of the aftermarket LED lights, which we'll cover in a second, or for jump-starting the Jeep with the second battery should the first battery die, for example. There is also an sPod system, keeping the wiring for all of the LED light bars neat and organized, which is coupled to the 6-Rocker switch panel inside the cabin.In regards to LED lighting, this Jeep has it all. With the dual battery under the hood and switch setup inside the cab, powering all of these accessories is a breeze! Lights include 8 Rigid Industries D2 Pods, 1 Rigid Industries 10” LED bar, one 20” Rigid LED bar, one 40” Rigid LED bar, and three 50” Rigid LED bars. Oracle LED side mirrors and Truck-lite LED headlights round out the aftermarket light package. All of these LED's will ensure that this Jeep JKU will have no trouble turning night into day, whether around town or on the trail!Inside the cabin, there are numerous upgrades that add to the comfort, safety, and function of this Jeep JK Unlimited. In regards to safety, a Poison Spyder trail cage removes the weak-point in the factory roll-bar system while also providing room in the center section to add more rocker switches in the form of a Daystar switch panel. The factory interior has been replaced with a full custom two-toned Katzkin leather set, while the red Bartact grab handles and custom pool-ball shifter provide a nice touch as well. The front seats are also equipped with Katzkin seat heaters, perfect for those cold winter mornings, while the sPod 6-Rocker Switch Panel remains within easy reach, above the rear-view mirror.Stock JK Unlimited Rubicon accessories include the supplemental front seat-mounted side airbags, Bluetooth connectivity group, A/C, electronic sway-bar disconnects, the 4:1 Rock-Track Transfer Case, a 5-speed automatic transmission, remote start, and the power convenience group.This Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited has it all, and more. While the high number of LED light bars and the roof-rack may not appeal to some, with the large aftermarket Jeep following and used parts markets on places such as Craigslist and Ebay, the new owner could simplify the build rather easily, and put those funds to use for further modifications! Whatever your plans, come by and check out this Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited, V-8 HEMI and all, the next time you're in Boone. We're sure you won't be disappointed!
This week, we're taking a look at Hothead Headliners. If you have a Jeep Wrangler with a hard top, you may have looked into such products from MOPAR or other vendors. Hothead Headliners first appeared on the market in 2009. Sold by Mark Ambrose Enterprises, Inc., these headliners were constructed in Mark's upholstery shop. Mark's shop has since switched to products aimed specifically at the Jeep Wrangler, with other items like a soft-top headliner and floor-pan insulation becoming popular over recent years. However, the flagship product, the hard-top headliners, remain the most sought-after. The newest model headliner is constructed from a base of 1/8" water-proof automotive panel boards, plus 1/4" thick, high density, cross-linked polyethylene insulating foam. On top of this, 3/16" thick automotive headliner fabric, with foam backing, gives the color you see on the inside of your Jeep Wrangler, as seen below.The Hothead Healiners can be ordered in a variety of colors, some to match the OEM coloring of your seats or interior trim panels. The aformentioned foam-backed automotive headliner material can be colored in Black, Graphite, Medium Dark Grey, Ox Grey, or Medium Dark Oak. The Medium Dark Oak color matches the two-toned interior found on certain Jeep Wrangler JK and JK Unlimited models (above), such as the Rubicon and the Sahara, while the Graphite option matches some of the cloth seats found on lower model Jeep JK's (below).Great for both keeping your Jeep warm in the winter and cool in the summer, these headliners install in a snap, with study 3M VHB tape! This product provides an OEM look and feel, great for a new or used Jeep Wrangler JK. While it is not recommended to remove and replaced these panels often, due to the sturdy nature of the 3M tape, the Hothead Headliners can be removed if needed, keeping the individual mats intact. This is great if you either sell the hardtop and wish to keep the liners, or worst case, total your Jeep, and want to transfer the headliners to the new hardtop. Regardless, it's nice to have the option, which would certainly be welcome in either of the above scenarios. Here it is worth noting that some competitor's products are designed for a one time installation, and may tear or come apart upon removal, potentially costing you money in the long run.Not only can this product be removed if needed, but these headliner panels also install without having to take the OEM hardtop off of the vehicle. Many similar products require the removal of the factory hardtop, but with the Hothead liners, installation is a snap, especially since you don't have to recruit a few friends to remove and reinstall the hardtop! To close, these panels provide not only insulation from the cold, they also reduce road and wind noise while improving the sound of your stereo. As far as sound deadening qualities, road/wind noise decreased by about 3 to 6 decibels. This is great for both music and having phone conversations while inside the vehicle, for example. So if you've entered the market looking for a great headliner to protect you from the heat and cold, dampen the noise in the interior of your Jeep, or just to give your factory hard top a more high-end feel, the Hothead Headliner is for you! Order today, from RubiTrux.com!
At the conclusion of Part 1, we left the above HEMI LJ in two pieces on the garage floor. Now, with the tub lifted off the frame, we can begin installing the Brute kit itself. As noted before, this Jeep Wrangler LJ Rubicon was recently purchased by a customer. As the customer wanted a V8 Brute, the LJ seemed the logical choice, as it already featured a HEMI conversion. The LJ Rubicons were offered from 2004-2006 with certain offroad upgrades such as factory lockers, Dana-44 axles, and a Rock-Trac NV241 transfer case, among others. The V8 conversion on this Jeep is a 5.7L HEMI coupled to a 545RFE 4-speed automatic transmission sourced from a Dodge pickup.As previously mentioned, we decided to go ahead and remove the remainder of the tub from the frame after cutting the Jeep in half. This gives plenty of room to weld, as well as add in some frame reinforcement. As some of you may already know, many Brute vehicles are plagued by the “Brute bounce”; this is due to the nature of a pickup platform on a Jeep frame. Some Brutes have this issue more than others. To counter this, the frame was reinforced directly underneath the driver seat, with the reinforcing plate extending back towards the rear wheels. But first, let's get to the initial frame modifications. As this is an LJ, the AEV frame extensions were first cut down, and along with the frame sleeves, were then added to the frame. The AEV jigs were used to hold all of this in place while the welds were dropped in by Chris Minnich (below). On the right of the welded frame rail, you can see where the body mounts were initially removed; these will be added back in a later step.Above, the rear frame extension is test fitted; this is where the second winch will be housed in the dual-winch setup. Below, the tub is placed back onto the frame for fitment of the doors, top, cab closeout, and bed. After the tub is secured, the AEV cab closeout is added, clamped down, and the doors are test fitted before the closeout is welded in place. As you can see, the cab closeout completely wraps around the remnants of the OEM tub, both along the floor at the rear of the cab, and just behind what's left of the factory roll-bar.
Fitment of the top, doors, and tub is very important during this step. Below, the forward bed mount and rear frame extension are temporarily added via a few tack welds to check fitment of the bed. Once everything is in place and checked, the bed is removed. After the bed is taken back off of the Jeep, the forward bed mount is welded in; alignment of this piece is essential to the fit of the Brute bed.If you look closely in the picture of the forward bed mount (above), you can spy a fishplate on the driver-side frame rail. These are frame reinforcements supplied by AEV, and are applied to the insides of the frame. The prior welds and any rough surfaces on the frame are ground down to ensure that these plates sit flush. After more measuring and double-checking, the rear frame extension is also welded into place, this time with a pair of outbound fishplates, shown below.Now that the cab closeout, frame extension and the bed supports are all in place, it's time for the frame reinforcements. The cab is lifted off of the frame a second time, to give Jesse Robertson more room to work with the frame reinforcement (below). These plates are welded to the frame directly under the front floorboards and leading back to the forward bed mount. This will help to counter the inherent problem of the “Brute bounce”. After both sides of the frame are reinforced, the entire assembly is painted before the tub and truck bed are bolted to the frame.
Once everything is back on the ground, a set of AEV highline fenders are added to complete the AEV Brute build. These highline fenders were removed from an '06 Brute that passed through the shop, as the buyer wanted standard fenders with extended flares on his build, and holding onto these proved a worthwhile investment. As many of you may know, AEV no longer produces the highline kit, and these fenders are getting hard to come by (below).After the highline fenders are added, the tailgate is bolted up to the bed and the Brute is pulled out of the garage bay. As we've yet to receive the proper rear driveshaft, we pulled the truck out in front-wheel drive to load it onto the trailer. Below, check out pictures of the Brute before it left for the body shop; it's certainly come a long way from the soft-top LJ that it once was! After the Brute returns we'll be taking a look at some of the future upgrades planned, such as a long-arm lift kit and 37” tires, so stay tuned and let us know what you think!