Recently I purchased a full set of Iggee seat covers for my 2004 Rubicon off eBay (their online store?) My factory seats are not in bad shape. The passenger side does have a few stains that will not come out, and overall I’m not a fan of cloth seats. When it rains or when mud is flying around, they just become a pain in the butt. Or a wet butt, as the case may be.

I have had some bad fitting seat covered in my previous vehicles. Loose, faded, and just plain ugly. That was NOT the route I wanted to go this time. I needed something fresh, something vinyl, and something that fit like a glove. Also I needed to brighten up my interior. The seats were dark, the dash was black, the carpet black, the herculined floor black. The interior needed some yellow highlights, aside from the sweet leopard print floor mats I made back when I worked for a carpet store.

Iggee seat covers live up to their hype, even at $245. I am thrilled with the fit. The yellow matches perfectly with the Solar Yellow Jeep. The only thing that was a bit of a pain was the clips on the bottom. But once the seats were removed it all went smoothly. Unfortunately i do not have photos of the install, but here are a few shots of the end result. After a few days the covers hugged the seats, and all was perfect. Install Takes an hour or so, take out the seats, slip on the covers, and put seats back in.

Do not buy them from the Iggee Website, they are over priced. Iggee also sells them on an Ebay store, for cheaper. Check the auctions, mine was sold as a complete set of 2 front and 1 back seat cover for $245 plus shipping. Sometimes they only list the 2 front for the same price. Also expect to wait about 2 weeks for your seat covers, they say its because each is custom made to order.

This past weekend I attended the 2010 OK4wd OKtober Truckfest in Stewartsville, New Jersey.   This is the first time I’ve entered my TJ into an event like this, surrounded by other great trucks.  The turnout was great, more trucks than i cared to count.  There were tons of Jeeps and Non-jeeps alike.  Although i was a bit disappointed that the RTI ramp and tilt test weren’t going on, I still had a great time and got some ideas for future jeep projects.   Here are some photos from the show.

Here is a time lapse of us installing the 3″  Zone Offroad Suspension into my 2004 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. The kit went on fairly easily, replacing the stock suspension and coil spacers I put on previously. I purchased the kit at OK4wd in Stewartsville, NJ.  I have run this suspension for a few months now and have to say it runs great on the street, it feels like stock, only higher.  I have not had much time trying it off road yet though, so I’m not sure how it flexes.  Thanks to Courtney Cordaro and Robert Kahl for help installing the kit.

One day I was under my truck inspecting everything from front to back. Yjs tend to need this done more often than you would think. As a friend was turning the steering wheel i notices the steering box actually moving. I went to check the tightness of the bolts, when i found that there was a giant crack in the frame, with rust all around it.
Not being the best welder myself, I took the truck to 2 separate garages that I trust. I asked them officially (and unofficially) if there was a way to weld on steel reinforcement to the frame to solve the problem. Both mechanics informed me that the rust was too great in that area, and that too much was lost to salvage. Luckily one of the mechanics had a spare body and frame in great condition that he was looking to get rid of.  It sat axles and all behind his garage with no engine or trans, packed with random jeep parts that he was looking to get rid of. A few hundred bucks and he towed it right to my house.

The first few days I spent sorting the jeep parts, sold some on eBay, some on Craigslist, and some on forums such as Jeepforum and Jeepin, which are also great sources of information by the way.  I used an engine hoist I picked up from pep boys for a previous project to remove the body from the frame, and began inspecting for damage, rust or cracks.   All seemed to be good.    I cleaned the frame, coated it in some POR15 I had left over (Rust proof paint that is TOUGH), and began to plan the frame swap.

I had previously done a lot of work on my Jeep, but nothing this extensive.  I began to make lists of what would have to be done, what would have to be disconnected, what bolts I would have to spray with PB Blaster (an excellent bolt loosener) and what the most likely tasks were to give me trouble.  I planed ahead thinking what may need to be replaced, such as hoses, mounts and connectors.  I made a plan of attack, writing down what i wanted to get done every day over an extended weekend.  I was to begin working Friday afternoon after work, and took off Monday just in case.  Once I was confident that all was set, I was ready to rock.

To capture this great undertaking, I decided to set up my camera on a timer, capturing 1 photo every 30 seconds for the entire length of the swap.  The first night the camera shut off on me due to technical problems, but after that all worked out great.  I used a tripod, Canon XTI and a laptop out my window, then threw it together with Quicktime.

The frame swap itself went very smooth.  All my notes and guesstimations were correct.  My friends Courtney, Scott and Steve all were there to lend a hand and help everything come together.  The days were long, but as long as you pay attention to how you pull it apart, everything will go back together perfectly.   The only problem i ran into, which took up most of Monday (because i had no ride to the auto parts store) was a broken Power steering line.  The actual metal portion of the line kinked and opened when trying to unscrew it.

I took the truck around the block, and had no problems whatsoever.  Through the week i checked torque on all bolts, and continued to ride without a hitch.  Great project, long hours but fun times.   And in case you were wondering, the fan in the video was necessary because we did the swap in June, and man was it hot!

Ok, so i was a little late putting this up, but here are some shots from the open house OK4wd had a few months ago. There were many great vendors on hand to provide information on their products, an RTI ramp, giveaways, obstacle course and lots of great looking trucks. After getting hung up on the boulders…twice… I went back inside and ordered a 3″ Zone Offroad suspension lift for my 2004 Rubicon. The weather was great that day, and I cant wait until the next event.

This topic is a cross between my two loves in life: Photography and my Jeep. It pains me inside every time I see someone showing off their great vehicle, modified or not, sitting lifeless in the driveway. Although every car, truck or motorcycle has their place, for the sake of the blog I will try to stick to trucks.

My Rubicon is my daily driver, as was my YJ previously. 90% of the time it explores the ‘urban jungle’, sticking to roads and highways and not trails and rocks. However that is where it shines. Lets face it at 13mpg and a ride that is about as smooth as a wooden roller coaster, it’s not a Cadillac. Put rocks, mud or a fallen tree in its path and you’ll be riding right. That is its “natural element.” That is where the Jeep belongs. That is where it should be photographed.

The environment where you choose to shoot a rig should also be influenced by its owner. Personally I tend to ride in the woods more than I do in the dessert or on rocks. When I choose a site for a photo shoot, I try to capture the essence of where I ride. And if what you are shooting happens to be a road hugging sportster, pavement may be your best friend. If shooting in an urban environment, try to make your surroundings older than your ride. Classic cars usually don’t look good in futuristic looking gas stations.

Now that we have selected our location, its time to decide if we want a glamor shot of our vehicle, shined up and glimmering in the sun, or perhaps a rough and ready, mud filled romp. Again these decisions should reflect the owner/driver. Don’t just pose yourself in a place you would never be. It’s almost like false advertising. Be proud of who you are, what you do, and what your 4×4 represents.

Now your choices are action shot, or a nice planned still shot. Both are great choices. We all love to see Ferrari’s racing around the turns in a blur, of a truck getting swallowed by a wall of mud, but how much of the parts and effort that you have put into your Jeep does that showcase? Sometimes a nice still shot will showcase those details we all know live on our vehicles, the body lines you worked so hard to gap right, that bumper that you bought instead of going to Aruba, or that sweet custom pin striping that boulder gave you last weekend. Badges of Honor.

Lastly, when shooting your vehicle of choice, do not stand directly in front/behind or to the side holding the camera at eye level. This is the shot we see a hundred times. Get creative. 3/4 shots (from one of the corners) give you ride some depth. Get low to make your truck look like it towers over everything, or zoom in to get some great detail. Don’t forget to sometimes throw in the family, yourself, or a pretty model to help accent the scene. Using some of these techniques will help you photos have a bit more kick. Don’t forget, even during daylight flash can be your friend to fill in those shadows.

Lets face it, we want our vehicles to last, and look good. Like most Jeepers out there, I try to remove my carpeting any time I’m wheeling or carrying anything potentially dirty or carpet damaging. This saves the carpet but easily scratches the paint making the interior look less attractive while also inviting rust (eventually.)

If money was no object, I would gladly take a trip over to Rhinoliner and have them apply their great product to protect my interior. However at this point i felt as though the money required for that could be used elsewhere on the truck. After reading a few reviews, I choose Herculiner as my liner of choice. Purchasing the kit gave me almost everything I needed to dress up and protect my tub. All i needed was some degreaser, tape, gloves and some long sleeves.

I can not stress this fact enough: YOU MIGHT WILL GET PAINT ON YOU AND YOUR CLOTHES. Be prepared. Wear your work clothes. And gloves. And a hat. Herculiner is a tough product that is made to stay on what its applied to, which definitely includes skin. I have used this product with great success in more than a few of my trucks and my friend’s trucks as well. When the surface is properly prepared, this stuff works very well.

I began by cleaning out the truck, taking out all seats, seat belts consoles etc. Trust me its easier to take them out than trying to clean them up. Next clean everything well with some good degreaser and cleaner. Follow the instructions (those annoying papers that come with the stuff we buy that we usually throw out right away) it has a few things in there that can help. Next i scuffed all surfaces for maximum adhesion. Tape off anything you wish to stay unpainted. A good roll of painters take will save you time in the long run, as well as some newspapers. Clean off all the dust from scuffing again with some good cleaner or acetone. I usually start by painting all the corners and edges, where the roller will not reach. Move on to the hard to reach areas, then the wide open spots. It took the entire gallon (i think) of Herculiner, coating some higher wear spots a few more times just in case. The results were soo clean and professional looking. DO NOT rush to put everything back in your truck. despite normal drying times listed on the paperwork, i tend to let things dry as long as possible…. just in case.

I ran this stuff on my old truck for over 5 years with no need to re-do. And with my new truck, its been over a year with no bad sign. Herculiner does fade though from a glossy black to a duller black/grey. this did not bother me at all, after all it is usually hidden by carpet. however I have been told by others that once this happens, they clear out the truck, clean up the Herculiner and use some rattle can spray paint in black to bring back the look. I would love to hear some feedback about how that comes out.

Within the first year of having my Rubicon, I knew I had to find a way to fit my 35 inch MTR tires from my previous jeep.  It took 8+ inches of lift on my ’89 YJ to make it look right with the tires, and man did it look sweet.   Plus the tires have much more ground clearance and grip, which is always the name of the game.  The amount of problems I had while running a lift high enough to run that kind of rubber lead to a lot of headaches:  drive line angles, Slip yoke eliminators, CV Drive shafts, and more than a few broken u-joints along the way.

I had a few choices for making the room for the tires.  The obvious one being a lift.  Then you begin to think about which brand to choose, how many inches, long arm, short arm, drive-line angles, transfer case drops, etc.  More than i was ready to dive into AGAIN.

Then I came upon the Genright Fenders.   Great appearance, but a bit more… extreme than i was looking for.  They allow more room for tires, without having to start piling on the suspension woes. This led to what I finally settled on:  American Expedition Vehicles‘ Highline Kit.   The kit retained a stock look while adding its own creative touches, AND 3 inches of room over the tires.  Sold.

On I drove to OK4wd, trailered home a new heat reduction hood, front fenders, and 4 new wide fender flares.  Now logic would dictate that i should test fit all the parts, but being the impulsive person I am, I brought everything right to the paint shop.  A day or 2 later I brought them home and on they went.

I could not ask for a more perfect fit than the AEV Kit provided.  Every bolt hole matched up both to the body and under the hood.  All components stayed in their factory positions and heights, with no stretching cables or hoses. Minor cutting was involved to the brackets under the battery, but aside from that, and 1 broken bolt while taking out the fenders, it all went on perfect.  All rubber and trim parts were reused from the original hood and fenders.  The only thing i had to buy was new RUBICON Stickers for the new hood.  I think I’m one of the few people that should be allowed to buy  those, after all my truck ACTUALLY IS a Rubicon (sorry it annoys me when people pretend to have things they done.   Be Proud of the truck you have!)

With the Highline kit on, and a previous 1 inch body lift installed, the 35’s fit right in, though i think 33’s would have fit in slightly better.  This was expected as I wanted to put in 2 inch coil spacers (which i did eventually) but all in all i was extremely happy with my kit.   The truck looks much wider from the front because the fenders were moved up, as well as the wider flares. And i’m constantly grabbing people’s attention with the great functional heat reduction hood.

Yes, people do this kit at home using a sawz-all and drill and stock parts, but there is no way the fit is as great, and the look as perfect, as the AEV Highline Kit!   I recommend this kit for those who don’t want to mess with their stock ride or center of to keep a low center of gravity.

Here is a video of the install taken with a Canon 40d set to take a picture every 30 seconds.  As you can see 95 percent was done by myself, although i would not turn away an extra set of hands.   This project can be done over a weekend with no problem with normal garage tools and basic garage knowledge and patience, aside from the painting.

2004 Jeep Rubicon

Welcome to Garage Blog, a place to give inspiration and motivation in the world of truck repair and upgrades.  Although most blogs will not provide step-by-step instructions on many of the upgrades that are done, they will show what can be accomplished after the creative ideas have entered your mind.

I mostly work on Jeeps.  The Jeep i currently own is a 2004 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, which is sitting a bit taller and more aggressive than the day it came from the factory.   I have no official training in automotive work, just a mechanical mindset, a garage full of tools, and the creativity to make my ideas work.

In order to really feel proud of your vehicle, I feel it is necessary to customize it.  To make it your own.   This can be as large as a complete overhaul or as small as a air freshener that captures your attitude.

Thank you Scott for making this site possible.

As always, feel free to leave comments or questions!