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  1. Ryan Harden
  2. JL Builds
  3. Tuesday, 30 April 2019
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After running mostly stock Jeeps (TJ, JKR and now JLUR) I wanted to finally get this build going to showcase and test Slow Speed Trail initiatives as well as teach educational aspects of upgrades at our classes.

The build is called the Black Knight as at some of the first events with this there was joking about the scratches and somehow Monty Python and the Holy Grail came up as I said "Tis But A Scratch" as the Black Knight said in the movie (yes, that movie is really dumb). Here's the scene if you want to waste a few minutes of your day. I even went as far as to get a helm like that knight and some pins to go with the new name that'll go on the hood. Yes, this is ridiculous but it's part of the fun.

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This whole build started with Milestar Patagonia MT's in 38x17. I had 40's in the cart... for like a week but decided with all the driving, 38's would be a better fit (the price between the sizes was about the same). I went with these tires because they are good on the road and good crawling. I'll post reviews once I have them on.

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Next, I went with the Dirty Life rims that include the rock rash and beadlock rings. I'll likely run non-beadlocks for most everything, but want to have beadlocks because I want to bring this up to lawmakers to try and get an exemption for beadlocks at some point on the road.
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Knowing how much more rolling weight I'll have and this being my daily driver, I went with the TeraFlex Delta Brake Kit w/ High Modulus Bridge. You'll notice a lot of TeraFlex in this build. I wanted to use a company that supported us right from the beginning with prizes and such. It's also something Jeeps Are Life carries a lot of and has many of these things in stock.
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That last video sold me. All I could think about was something happening to my son and that extra distance being the "did I crash or not" moment.

For the lift I went with the TeraFlex JLU 4-Door: 4.5” Sport ST4 Suspension System & Falcon 3.3 Fast Adjust Shocks. I was going to go with the EVO long arm kit but that thing is mega expensive and I wouldn't have had anything left to do the driveline right. Being this isn't just a show Jeep and it's on the trail darn near every week, I had to build this with the right components for flexing and crawling.


Also went with the JL/JLU: Falcon Nexus EF 2.2 Fast Adjust Steering Stabilizer from TeraFlex. Being able to adjust this for road, dirt or crawling had me.


Being I may be towing a trailer and at some point, getting bigger axles and maybe 40's, I decided to upgrade the gearing to 5:13 so I can get 8th gear back at 70mph and taking some load off the transmission. 5:13 is also doable with 40's but again, that would risk axles at this point. While the JL axles and components are far beefier then the JK, 40's are still 40's and that stress isn't something I'm willing to risk stock axles for. I need to get to events, train and guide with as much certainty as I can. 40's are risky without some kinda 60 axle configuration or better and that's not something I can afford.
I went with a trusted name, Yukon.

DANA 44 5.13 FRONT RING AND PINION SET W/ D44 UPGRADE / DANA 44 5.13 REAR RING AND PINION SET W/ D44 UPGRADE
DANA 44 MASTER OVERHAUL KIT W/ D44 UPGRADE, REAR / DANA 44 MASTER OVERHAUL KIT
LUBE-LOCKER-LLR-D044 DANA 44 DIFFERENTIAL COVER GASKET



Then I went with METALCLOAK-7210 METALCLOAK "M" DANA 44 DIFFERENTIAL COVER


To mount the spare, I always wanted a basket style carrier. Taking the tire weight off the tailgate and bumper has its advantages. I wanted it so I could mount the tire, fuel, trail shovels, saws, brushing stuff on this carrier over in the Jeep. I was going to go with Gen-Right but at $1500 for the carrier, I was pleased when DV8 came up with a $800 option. Here's a pic from their Facebook page with it loaded up (on the red JL).
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This will require spedo calibration so I went with the Z Automotive Tazer JL. It has a lot of features and seeing it on Bob Fisa 's JL, that sold me.



Rock Krawler makes a nice adjustable trackbar, so picked one of those up as well. The Rock Krawler JL adjustable front track bar is made from 1.5 inch solid steel, features an integrated anti-wobble joint at the frame and a FK Rod Ends Precision Series JMK Chromoly Heim Joint at the axle.


To get a bit more clearance, I went with the American Adventure Lab Rubicon High-Line Fender Brace with Daytime Running Lights in RGB. Great for shows I'll be at and gives many more inches of travel.





Lastly, because we'll be teaching recovery classes, I installed the Hi-Lift jack. Right now I mounted it on the hood. Later, I'll mount it on the new carrier. I do not want to mount it inside so I have more room for gear.
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I will order a Tom Woods driveshaft and a few other things, but those require some of the things to be installed and measured first. I'm not sure what to do with the front bumper yet or what extra skid plates and such I'll go with. Still picking those things out.

I'll post updates on this install as James Le Voy and I get them on. I'll then post periodic reviews on everything as time goes on. We'll be mapping thousands of miles of trails in WI this year, all will test this build each week. If you need help with any of this, contact Tim Somers from Jeeps Are Life. They'll give you member pricing AND donate to our trail fund for each sale from RL4WD members.

Please keep in mind that Jess and I have wheeled our stock Jeep Wrangler Rubicons for almost everything we've done. I would have been fine with most of what we have in Wisconsin wheeling a stock Rubicon, but this vehicle will be at shows, will be part of training and will be used to showcase a common build to land managers and gov agencies. It's important that it was built up as an example, that is why Jess and I invested in this build over all else. I hope you find this information informative and maybe it'll spawn some questions or comments for your next upgrades. Feel free to ask below!

I posted some of the videos from other channels that influenced my decisions, I hope you found those helpful as well.

Jess Harden and I refinanced the Jeep and ordered some upgrades for the JLUR Black Knight. No, RL4WD doesn't pay for my jeep or the upgrades. Jeeps Are Life and Levoy's did give me a great deal on the parts (like they'll give you a great deal) and install. We paid off enough of the Jeep to refinance the parts so the monthly payments didn't change, something you may want to talk about doing if you don't want to pay cash or take money out of your investments. Many financial institutions will do loans like this for 1-5% secured over financing just the parts at 10-30%. My point in saying all this is to show you how we did it so you see some options, not to say take loans out. Talk with your financial advisor before doing anything. You can try for sponsors but without a massive following, you won't get anywhere. Like anyone, you have to prove your worth to sponsors.
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It's going to be Epic? :o
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Allen Wohlfeil you'll be able to drive it and make that call yourself.
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Tazer is in. Love I can override the sway bar to disconnect in 4 high or 2 wheel even.
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I picked up a bunch of the build things today from Jeeps are life!

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For the tires, going to delete the TPS sensors via the Tazer (for now, they'll be in the stock rims if I change my mind). Going to try media balance at 10oz per tire and bolted valve stems (this is for rock bashing video coming up). I've done media balance in my semi tires I had on the GMC 1 ton... it worked pretty well with the big tires and will balance better than the semi tire spinner. Media has pros and cons like everything but.

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Here's a simple video on how this works

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Tires and rims look amazing!


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Those Black Knight badges are so on-point; both visually and figuratively. I'd buy a set ; )
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You can get em on Amazon for like $9
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Super happy for you, Ryan, but bummed for me...really wanted to watch this.
It looks great. You should be proud.
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No worries, there are always folks getting lifted, it was awesome being part of the building process and learning
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Ryan, the Black Knight looks outstanding!
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Was fun to watch the 1st part of the transformation yesterday. 20190608_114925.jpg 20190608_114925.jpg 20190608_115210.jpg 20190608_114925.jpg
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James Le Voy and I installed the tire carrier today. Not fun with no instructions, so we shot an install video to help others out. IMG_20190609_175228.jpg
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Gear progress!


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Got the Black Knight home, pretty awesome being able to tow it with our GMC Sierra half ton. The truck handled the rough roads and winds very well. The Jeep barely fits between the wheel wells of the trailer now but that's ok ;).

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Now to change the plates to truck registration, reinstall the 3rd brake light, and get some rubber to extend the fenders so it's road legal.

Turns out the metal cloak diff covers were the 10 bolt pattern, not the new 12 bolt pattern so I ordered the Rancho covers and skids from Jeeps Are Life. The Tom Woods Driveshaft will be here tomorrow or Monday and then the Jeep will be ready for some flex tests.

Going to call Nortec today to see if I can order some Rough Country inner fenders, they sell all 4 for what other companies sell 2 for and since they've supported us with prizes and such, I want to have some RC stuff on the Black Knight.

Overall this experience has been very positive building a rig that's on the edge of what's legal. This rig will be driven by DNR, DOT, Tourism, Town Boards and more to help them see these vehicles are safe, compliant, and very capable. It'll be used as a show vehicle, a training vehicle, recovery vehicle and one that can be used to gauge building higher-level slow speed trails.

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I do have to do some more adjustments on the back tire carrier and then start the raptor lining process. I'll keep reporting as progress is made here.
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