Posts Tagged ‘Upgrades’

Banks Torque Tube Header

September 28th, 2010 No comments

My parents came to visit for Addie Kate’s 2nd Birthday, which happened to fall on Labor Day weekend.  I took advantage of having dad in TX to install a Banks Torque Tube header on the Rubicon.

Installing the header was a frustrating job.   Pulling the factory parts off was easy enough, because there were workable shots at each one of intake/exhaust manifold bolts.   But, once we started putting the Banks header on, those same paths we had used to reach the bolts were closed off by the nice smooth flowing tubes of the header.   The engineer who designed the header for Banks was obviously way more focused on smooth flowing tubes for unrestricted flow than on allowing the installer to properly torque the bolts holding the header on.   On some of the bolts, we just had to tighten them down as best we could and didn’t even try to torque them to spec.

The project took the greater part of a day, including a lunch break and a run to town for additional tools.   But, the end result was well worth it.

The Rubicon has a noticeable extra spring in it’s step when you put your foot into it.  And the exhaust has a nice low rumble.   I actually expected the exhaust to be a bit louder, but that’s nothing a Banks muffler won’t solve….

Here’s a couple pics I snapped with my phone during installation.

Banks Header

Banks Header

Vanco Big Brake

May 6th, 2010 No comments

A couple of weekends ago, I finally got to install the Vanco Big Brake kit upgrade on my Rubicon. I ordered this kit as soon as I bought my Jeep because the stock single piston calipers were severely underpowered and struggled to stop the 35 inch tires.

The install of the Vanco kit requires you to completely remove the front axle shafts in order to replace the stock knuckles holding the calipers in place. The Vanco kit includes an upgraded knuckle, calipers, pads and rotors for a 1998 Ford Explorer 4×4.  I was really impressed with the quality of the parts included with the Vanco kit….but not the installation instructions.

Vanco left out a few really simple details in the installation instructions. The most important missing piece of info was that the new calipers should be installed on the right and left sides when standing in front of the vehicle. I incorrectly assumed that Right and Left markings on the calipers would have been oriented from behind the wheel. So, I installed the calipers upside down on the wrong sides of the axles.

This tiny little detail kept the brakes from bleeding the air out of the system. My friend Jeff was helping me with the install and neither one of us thought to reorient the calipers. We worked for several hours trying to get the brake system to hold pressure before taking a stab at the problem by installing a new master cylinder. When the new master cylinder didn’t help, we called it a night and I turned to mrblaine on JeepForum for help. mrblaine helped Vanco design the kit originally and he immediately pointed out our issue.

The next day we flipped the calipers, bled the brakes and the Rubicon was back on the road with increased stopping power. I’m very impressed with the Vanco kit. The most notable difference over the stock brakes is the ability to modulate braking power. With the stock brakes, I would apply pressure to slow down, then try to apply more pressure to stop quicker and nothing else would happen. There wasn’t any more braking power to apply. With the Vanco kit, the braking pressure is extremely linear in that the harder I push, the faster I brake.

There was one more small problem after install in that my axles continued to leak diff fluid. This was never an issue before the install, so I decided to have Ellis Auto take a look at my axle seals. Sure enough, they were going out and needed to be replaced. Ellis fixed the seals up and now the Rubi is better than ever.



April 3rd, 2010 No comments

After some research on JeepForum, I found a solution to my speedometer and odometer being out of whack due to my larger tires and 4.88 gears. A couple of Jeep guys had installed the HealTech Electronics Speedohealer to correct their speedometers, odometers and transmission shift points. For the price, this seemed like the best solution. So, I ordered the healer on ebay and decided to give it a try.

My friend Jeff helped walk me through the install and taught me to solder in the process. I had to splice the speedohealer into the speedometer signal wire before it entered the Jeep computer and provide the healer with switched power. I ended up wiring the unit directly into the wiring harness by the computer under the hood. Install was simple and straightforward and I couldn’t have asked for a better result.

After driving a bit, I was able to dial the speedohealer in and correct my speed, odometer readout and shift points. Overall the Rubicon drives much better now that it is shifting at the appropriate times.


Warn Grill Guard

March 10th, 2010 No comments

I added the Warn Grille Guard to my front bumper set up to add a little extra protection and because I like the looks. Install was simple with only four bolts and a little loctite.


Seat Risers, Handles and Cleaning

October 4th, 2009 No comments

This weekend I got to spend some quality time with Ethan working on the Rubi.

  • On Friday night I installed a set of the Buchanan Machine Works 1 inch seat risers.  We’re talking nice quality parts here:  solid machined aluminum blocks powder coated black and HD hardware.  The kit makes the seating position much more comfortable and the added visibility is great too.
  • On Saturday Ethan and I spent most of the day in the garage cleaning out the last remnants of Montana from the inside of the Jeep.  There was a lot of mud, dust and dirt around the inside and under the carpet.  I even found a few stray coils and a bullet when I pulled the carpet out.  After cleaning her all up, Ethan and I had to take it for a quick spin down one of the rock/dirt county roads nearby.  Can’t have it being too clean after all…
  • I also installed a set of the Mastercraft 3 inch Grab Handles to help with entry into the Rubi.  The extra hand hold while driving is nice too.

One other note, we rolled 35k miles while Ethan and I were driving around.

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Maintenance Day – 33k miles

August 30th, 2009 No comments

Yesterday, Ethan and I spent the day giving the Rubi some much needed TLC:

Billet Mechanical Door Stops

While we had fun monkeying around in the garage, I’m really happy to know these items have been completed.  The oil change was due after my drive home from CO.  The old spark plugs were all pretty worn and each had a gap between .50 and .65.   The factory spec gap is .35.  I think the Jeep was running a little smoother with the new plugs and synthetic oil…although it could simply be wishful thinking.

The BEST part of the day was when I got to take Ethan for his first ride in the Rubi.  He was really excited and loved it.  I had told him about the ooga horn before we went for a ride and he was scared to hear it, thinking it would be really loud.  During our drive I convinced him that it wasn’t too loud and hit the button.  He immediately started laughing a huge belly laugh and wanted to hear it over and over.   Later, as we were once again working in the garage, he was pretending to work on his Dale Jr. Powerwheels racecar and I overheard him “installing” an ooga horn of his own.