It’s been a few weeks since we checked in on Project KJ, the ’05 Liberty CRD being overhauled in BDS’s R&D shop for this year’s Ultimate Adventure (UA). When it comes to building a rig for the UA, it’s got to be capable on any terrain; mud, rocks, dirt, sand, snow, and even asphalt. Reliability is key as each day of the week long 1000+ mile adventure is filled with trails, highway time, and varying weather conditions. The rig needs to carry driver/co-driver, food, camping gear, and spare parts.
At this point the guys down in BDS’s R&D shop are making progress on the Liberty. Cage is in and they’ve been going through finish welded all the seams. 1-3/4″ x .120 wall DOM tubing was used to secure the passenger compartment and extends forward into the engine bay to reinforce the frontend integrity now that the unibody and IFS subframe have been scrapped. Front and rear coil-over mounts are being built in as we’ll as we eagerly await the arrival of our new 14″ Fox 2.5 remote C/O and Fox 2.0 bumps any day now. Our PSC JK steering box is mounted to the front “framerail” after taking the time to sleeve and plate the unibody. OE steering shaft linkage bolted right up and won’t require much further modification. We’ll have more on this in our next post/video update.
Our wheels made it in from B.A.D. Wheels made it in. They are a 17×10 with 3.5″ backspacing to get our desired stance and allow a bit more room for the suspension/steering components. They feature several cool design features for safety and rapid air deflation. For now we’re mounted them to a set of 40″ Maxxis Trepador radials to continue mocking up the rig. We’ve got a set of the brand spankin’ new 40×13.50×17 DOT approved Nitto Trail Grapplers on order with expected arrival at the first of June. We’ll have a closer look at the wheels and tires at that time.
For now enjoy a few pictures I grabbed while down at the shop today. As parts arrive we’ll see a quick transformation as this rig gets closer to being mobile again. Stay tuned for more and let us know what you think so far…
Judging from the forums comments and some of the phone calls we got in the last day, we may have lost some of you with our last update about the roof chop. Group consensus was to go for it and we’ve got a couple ideas on how to cleanly finish it off that we’ll address a bit later in the build. With the roof off the guys got busy working on the rest of the cage. One thing we’re still deciding on is what’s the best option for mounting a fullsize spare. We don’t want to stick it off the back like a Wrangler and we don’t want it to half-hazzardly strap it to the roof. At this point we’re looking at options to get it inside behind the rear seats so it’s easily accessible but still gives the driver a line of sight out the back window. It’s times like this we wish we didn’t have 40s.
Up front the radiator has been removed and hopefully steering will be going in first of next week. We’ve also cut out the obtrusive lower corner of the floor/firewall on each size and fill panels are going in to net us extra clearance for the tires at full stuff.
Anyways, just a quick update on the progress, let us know what you think…
If this is your first time checking in on BDS’s Project KJ build, check out the rest of the buildup to see how we’re transforming this ’05 Liberty CRD into a capable slow-slung trail rig to take on the 2013 Ultimate Adventure hosted by Petersen’s 4Wheel & Offroad Magazine. (Project KJ Build Link)
After a few weeks getting sidetracked on new product development projects, the guys down at BDS’s R&D shop found some time to continue working on Project KJ, our ’05 Liberty CRD. The biggest change, the top is gone. We did this for a few reasons; it allows us to store a full size 40″ spare tire and gear, makes the cage much more accessible so we can tie it into the rest of the unibody, and it just looks cool in my opinion. At this point its just a rough cut, we still plan to cut a bit more before closing the cab back off for a weather tight seal (hopefully).
Another challenge is the steering. Ditching the factory rack-and-pinion steering rack in favor of a traditional steering box will allow us improved clearance and will tie to our Liberty’s new JK axles. After some investigation, we went with a PSC Motorsports‘s JK steering box with cylinder assist to help turn the 40×13.50 Nitto Trail Grappler DOT tires on 17×10 B.A.D. beadlocks that we have on order. PSC got the parts right out to us and after a quick test fit it appears the steering box will mount on the unibody and steering linkage without to much struggle. The radiator will likely need to be swapped to eliminate the interference between the steering box and radiator outlet hose.
At this point the cage work is continuing, steering box is being prepped, suspension linkage is being mocked up and Fox 14” remote C/O are on order. Plenty more body mods over the next couple weeks. Stay tuned for updates as Project KJ starts taking shape. Follow along and join the discussion on Facebook, YouTube, BDS Blog, LostJeeps Forum, Jeep Forum and JeepKJ Forum.
Since our last update, our mighty little Project KJ went on a diet shedding excess unibody and bulky fuel tank as the guys prep for mounting the new steering, suspension, axles and 40” tires. After stripping down the front bumper support, inner fenders and firewall, we’re making progress towards our small lift/big tires goal. The stripped unibody looks very similar to a frame rail allowing us to tie in the cage, suspension mounts, and mount a steering box up front. Our plan is to run a OE style box with hydro assist for easy turning in precarious situations offroad. Which steering box setup will best suit the build and our limited space constraints… stay tuned for more information as we figure that out.
For axles, we wanted to go with an attainable axle and show it can be built to handle some abuse. We picked up a set of JK Rubicon Dana 44s and are in the process of building them up. After cutting off the brackets, the axles received an outer sleeve and brackets were tacked in place as we figure out the suspension geometry. The JK 44s have a WMS of 65”, 3” wider than the KJ (and TJs) 62” width. This additional width will help give us additional room to mount the coil-overs, steering, and allow the 40s to turn lock-to-lock. The housing on the front D44 fits tightly between the engine and “frame” rail at full compression making it ideal for us to achieve a low center of gravity. There is a slight interference with the mechanical fan, which will be resolved by swapping to an electric unit.
In the rear, the unibody has been cut to roughly the shape we need to extend the wheelbase and clear the 40s with minimal lift. The rear corner is an important structural part of the KJ’s unibody so rather than hack it up and potentially tweak the body, we are moving to the interior as we mock up the cage to provide additional support and rigidity. We’ll have more on the cage as the guys build it into the little KJ. Stay tuned for more as the guys continue to turn this little Liberty into an ultra cool low-slung trail buggy to take on the Petersen’s 4Wheel & Off-Road Ultimate Adventure 2013.
To check out past updates from this build, head to Project KJ.
While we’ve been out playing in Moab all week, BDS R&D has been busy working on Project KJ, the 2005 Jeep Liberty (KJ) CRD we’re building to take on the 2013 Ultimate Adventure. If this is the first you’re reading about this build, check out Project KJ Blog for more info on this project and to get up to speed.
To make room for the massive tires we plan to run on this Liberty, we needed to make some room in the fenderwells. Starting with the front the inner fender was trimmed as we prepped a set of JK Rubicon Dana 44 axles with our mock up tires, 40” Maxxis Trepadors in place to get an idea of rides height, and full compression so we can begin designing the suspension for this little CRD powered Jeep. The plan is to keep the Jeep as low as possible, potentially running 3-4” of lift with plenty of droop from a multilink suspension and Fox coilovers. Stay tuned for more in the coming days as the guys continue to prep this KJ.
Congrats to Kelly Fromm for the feature on his BDS-equipped 2012 Chevy Silverado 3500HD Dually in the April 2013 Issue of 8-Lug Magazine. This mammoth is used as the tow rig for the Rev-It-Up for Wounded Warriors Memorial Tour sporting a number of customs touches and backed by a man with a heart of gold. With an 850HP custom widebody Camaro ZL1 in tow, Kelly, a retired US Army Veteran himself travels the country honoring the brave soldiers protecting America and building awareness for many worthy causes.
Along with a BDS 6.5” High Clearance Lift Kit and Fox 2.0 Shocks, this rig is running 35” Toyo M/Ts, 22” American Force wheels, Iron Cross bumpers, ARE cap, Warn winch, Rigid LED lighting, and plenty of performance mods. This dually, dubbed Freedom Fighter II has changed a bit since the shoot, getting a full out patriotic vinyl wrap and new black American Force wheels as it continues to tour around the country attending military events, car shows, and more.
Congratulations Kelly and thank you for letting us be a part of this very worthy cause! For more on this truck pick up a copy of the April 2013 Issue of 8-Lug Magazine and to stay up to date on the Rev-It-Up Tour, check out their Facebook page.