Rubicon trail soon....

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Jun 13, 2016
Chico, Ca
Will be taking on the Rubicon Trail here in September. Little nervous, have a fair amount of experience but i konw this is a trail that is not for the weak of heart. Anyone who has advice or has done it and has suggestions of spare parts that i should bring with me I would appreciate. I will be sure to take pictures and will be running the GoPro the entire time! Mods are:

Sway Away Lift + Coilovers

Total Chaos upper control Arms

285-70-17 Hankook Dynapro M/T Tires

Full Ricochet Aluminum Skid plates

Bud Built Steel Rear diff skid

Rocktec Front Bumper + Ramsey Pro plus 9000# Winch w/synthetic line

Trail Rear Rear Bumper

All Pro Rock Sliders

Full exhaust, headers back + TRD CAI + Snorkel (not needed or this trip obviously)

I Have the rear locker + A-Trac

I think thats it. I am hoping that i can make it through with minimal body damage but who knows. Hoping for the best, expecting the worst. At the very least it'll be an awesome experience!

I am hoping to run it next year, but body damage doesn't scare me. I recommend that you bolster your spare parts collection and familiarize yourself with changing out tie rods, CV assemblies, u-joints (prop shafts) and patching punctured tires. Those are the easiest things to break on a trail like the Rubicon. Looks like you have a pretty well built rig.
I've ran the Rubicon a bunch of times with my FJ when I had it (moved to a 200 series earlier this year), but don't worry the trail has been really tamed in recent years and the last time I ran it in '14 I almost just drove the whole thing and only needed my wife to spot about 6 times.

That said, your rear bumper armor thing is going to ruin your fun pretty good, you need every bit of departure angle increase you can get, and that thing is pretty terrible. And those aluminum skid will be pretty banged up at the end of it, but again the trail has been smoothed out a lot since then. You'll have fun, and I'm not knocking your FJ at all, I think it's great you're doing it, but I did change a lot of stuff out on my FJ after I ran it the first time. That is some real wheeling, and most bolt on stuff isn't up to the task.

My FJ had a modified by me Expedition one rear bumper and I tummy tucked it, with lockers front and rear. While you don't need any of that stuff, it sure made it much less stressful.
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That is good advice to Joe. Departure angle is important. What constitutes the "tummy-tuck" you mention? My next mod is full skids but I want to relocate my engine oil filter first, not happy with the cartridge filter being at the bottom of the engine and requiring skid removal to change. ( This is 2010+ FJ's) Especially with aftermarket skids. If I can't find a relocation kit for cartridge filter, I will have to hole-saw a location in the skid to use a flush mount plate and flat head screws to access the filter. Thats a lot of work but better than removing heavy skids every 8K miles.
Four years ago we did a little of the Rubicon from Tehama to Cadillac Hill, very rocky and harsh. We had a few days in South Lake Tahoe so it was fun to do some of the trail but didn't have time to do it all. We did the Barker Trail which overlooks Homewood ski resort and have nice pics of Lake Tahoe from that run. Will do Rubicon in a year or two and would like to do it as part of a group, not solo.
The Trails were called McKinney Creek and Barker Pass, sorry, had to look that up was shooting from memory in my last post.We did start with Rubicon to Cadillac Hill then on the way back out these other trails take off from the staging zone that ends/begins Rubicon just out of Tehoma.
@firensteel - my FJC was the 1st "Tummy Tuck" done by the innovative Bud of Budbuilt. It involves using a "Lefty" t-case, replacing the OEM crossmember, re-routing the exhaust and modifying Bud's skid plate to dramatically improve clearance. You can see it in my build thread in my sig...

Inspired by a conversation with Jim of Inchworm and Bud of Budbuilt at the FJCS2, I talked with Bud and the idea of the Tummy Tuck came to fruition. I dropped my rig off at Bud's for a few days while Bud took the necessary measurements and made the plans to create the new transmission cross-member for the Tummy Tuck. Amazing at the difference made at the "belly" of the FJC. Gained 4" of clearance with the flat belly, nothing is below the frame rails anymore, no fear of getting hung up on anything under the belly anymore...







New measurement where the cross-member used to be, net gain 4"...

Yes, still more to come...
@firensteel - my FJC was the 1st "Tummy Tuck" done by the innovative Bud of Budbuilt. It involves using a "Lefty" t-case, replacing the OEM crossmember, re-routing the exhaust and modifying Bud's skid plate to dramatically improve clearance. You can see it in my build thread in my sig...
And mine was the first to use the stock t-case and not have to buy a lefty. Either way, the tummy tuck is a game changer like MTB said.
Ok and you presumably have lca skids! and a diff skid cos that is always the lowest point...except for the rear lower shock mounts, you have armor there?
Im looking at full skids soon but would like to resolve that cartridge filter mount and run hoses to the second battery compartment for a spin-on location. Anyone done this mod?
It looks like the rear tube bumper on @Joepokah's rig could just be unbolted for the Rubicon. Otherwise it hangs so low it's likely to get caught on stuff. And it doesn't offer much protection anyway. Otherwise his rig should do fine. So what if skid plates get scratched and gouged? That's what they are for. And the advantage of aluminum is that it saves a lot of weight, which is always an advantage on that trail. Can't offer advice on what spares to bring. Most of the FJC's I've seen on the Rubicon did fine, IF you take your time and pick your lines carefully. Don't be afraid to back up and pick a different line if the first one doesn't go the way you thought it would.
I agree here with TrickyT on the aluminum skids. I have run the Ricochet LCA's for a few years and they are gouged but not deformed, a new lick of paint 2 weeks ago when I replaced my suspension and they are good to go. They are 3/16 inch thick and probably a 60 grade, maybe a 50 grade of Aluminum, hard enough to not just tear up. The higher the number, the higher the alloying content and the harder the material.
I think now that I have raised my FJ 2inches with the Walker-Evans suspension, I can remove the 1 inch diff drop and be able to fit ricochet full skids after I resolve this cartridge filter issue.
And mine was the first to use the stock t-case and not have to buy a lefty. Either way, the tummy tuck is a game changer like MTB said.
would like to hear more about your tummy tuck with stock tcase...please.
would like to hear more about your tummy tuck with stock tcase...please.
It uses a clocking adapter to rotate the stock t case 21 degrees up into the body. Have to beat a pinch weld flat and cut a hole to the right of the shifter because the shifter is now sideways, bend the shifter to compensate.

Once done, you would never know, but it is invasive and defiantly not bolt on. Lots of cutting, pounding and welding. But the results of ground clearance are the equivalent of running 41" tire.

I'm traveling now, but could send pictures later.
I did the Rubicon trail last year, I agree with everything Taco2 said. I damaged both tie rods, the Ubolts and did smacked my ass coming off the rocks. It will definitely beat the skids up. Have fun, go with others.
The Rubicon trail is great and one everyone should have on their bucket list. I've run it twice in our 2007 MT FJ Cruiser. Once, Back in 09 our set up was similar to yours with a 3" lift and 33", stock gears, engine skid, sliders and Metal Tech's front tube bumper. It was sticky in places but in the end got through with no damage other than the rear mud flaps tugged off. Attribute our success to good spotting and not being in any hurry.

The second time was for the 25th Rubithon in 2013 and our FJ Cruiser had a bunch of new mods. Most of the other FJ Cruisers we went with had 3" lifts and 34" or 35" tires we were on puny 295x70x17s still but made up for it with better gearing. IMHO Rubicon is all about picking lines. You don't really power through all the rocks and boulders... you more tip toe through, around and over once you spot the right line.

On of the best mods were the Metal Tech Tube Doors. They really help, letting you see where you're putting your tires. Highly recommend tube doors for visibility and/or a spotter who will walk most of the trail ahead of you. The trail is much easier since the DOT came through but don't let anyone fool you... it is still a worthy test of your driving skills. You'll do fine if you stay off the skinny pedal. Oh and going up Cadillac Hill... stay left :)

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nice videos John and Igrt. Something to look forward too. I know when my son sees these he's going to bug me forever to take him on the Rubicon. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you! Back on our first time through... one of the guys (Bernd) brought his 10 year old.... had the time of his life.
So ... Did you go in September (today being the 30th and all). I'm curious to see how you did.

Personally, I've only broke the suspect E-Locker Ring and Pinion (Dec 2006 prod date). Otherwise, 285's were always too small. 35's work much better.

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