The DIY Hunter

2008 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

I will always remember my last trip in my old heavily used 1991 Montero. That trip was to Scout Camp with KB on the East Fork of the Bear River in the Uinta mountains, the last week of July 2018. What a fun trip and great farewell to an old friend that served me well even though she was run down the day I got her over twelve years ago. The Montero ended up being the best $300 dollars I ever spent.

With the passing of my Montero I was in the hunt for a good 4x4 SUV that would take me into places like a side by side ATV. After a long and exhausting search I found that the best option for me was a used four door Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.

As I researched more and more into the Wranglers I knew I wanted one with a little lift, 33" tires or larger, a winch and the locker/sway bar options provided by a Rubicon. I also like the color white and preferred to have a little older vehicle that I wouldn't be afraid of scratching.

After a month or so I found the one I wanted in Logan and a trip or two to the credit union I had my first Jeep — a white with black hard topped 2008 four door Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.

I absolutely love the Jeep however after a couple months of driving it I realized there was one thing that I hadn't researched about with running larger tires — axle gear ratios. The Jeep had 35" BFGoodrich KO2 35x12.5r18 tires which are really only have a 34" diameter when new. My 4 speed auto-transmission with the 3.8 L engine and stock 4.10 axle gears just didn't have enough power to use fourth gear. Unless I was driving downhill I had to turn the overdrive (4th gear) off. 

Weeks of studying gear ratio charts and talking with other Jeep owners I decided I better get the axle gears changed out. Wanting the jeep to last me for a very long time so I felt it best to get the gears changed over as soon as possible. I knew this had to be causing added stress to the transmission and engine by effectively only being able to use three gears of the transmission. I was running some higher than desired RPMs with only being able to use three gears instead of four.

The gear ratio I decided on was 5.13. This would take the gear ratio up three steps from the 4.10 stock gears that were in it. A lot of people tried to get me to go with the 4.88 gears but I really never felt this would offer enough power and I am so glad that I didn't get the 4.88 gears. One of the things I factored in in going with the 5.13 over the 4.88 is that my Jeep has really heavy Rock Slider bumpers and a heavy winch. I also carry a lot of heavy tools and a high lift jack. With the heavier equipment it further helped me decide to go with the lower gears.

I really like the 5.13 gears. I can travel up most interstates in forth gear even on climbs. Some of the steeper grades it does have to downshift to maintain 60+ mph.

If I could do it over again I would really like to try the next step lower 5.38 gears. 5.38 gears are the lowest gears you can fit in the Dana 44 axles that my JK Rubicon has front and back. One of the reasons I probably would prefer the 5.38 gears is when I get new tires. I'm not particularly fond of the KO2 tires I currently have. They are a good tire but I want a more aggressive mud terrain tread on my next set of tires. I'm looking close at the Toyo Tire Open Country M/T Mud-Terrain Tires and from what I have been reading they are closer to 35" than my current tires thus lowering my RPMs a little from the 34" KO2 tires I am currently running. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that I use a Superchips programmer to get the tires size and axle gears correct. I actually have the tire size set for 33.75" to get the correct MPH using my phone's GPS to verify my speed.

After 500 miles or so of driving it was recommended to me to drain the gear oil and replace it with some new oil. After a bunch of studying on gear oils I chose to use Lucas 85W-140 Heavy Duty Gear Oil. Researching gear oils I found that synthetic gear oil did not transfer heat away from the gears as well as traditional oil so I went with this Lucas 85W-140 Heavy Duty Gear Oil over the synthetic 75w-140 that the owners manual recommends.

RPMs at 70 mph with 4.10 gears with 35 inch tires.

RPMs going 70 mph in 4th gear with the stock 4.10 axle gears and 35x12.5r18 BFGoodrich KO2 tires.


RPMs at 70 mph with 5.13 gears with 35 inch tires.

RPMs going 70 mph in 4th gear with 5.13 axle gears and 35x12.5r18 BFGoodrich KO2 tires.


changing gear oil

After 1,000 miles of driving with the 5.13 gears I drained the rear differential case. This was the horrible looking oil that came out. I got a little nervous that something was wrong. I then drained and replaced the front differential case and the oil looked the same color as well. A couple thousand more miles and I checked the rear oil and it is the pretty golden yellow color as it was when I replaced it. My guess is the shop used some funky conditioner or something that made the opaque silver color.


So I've been playing with the new Defender 850 trail cameras lately.  I thought I would share some of the things I have found that might help you get the most out of your Browning trail camera.

The option to connect to these cameras via an app on your phone or tablet is pretty geeky cool. I like this function most for going through the setting and using the live preview to point the camera in the perfect direction. Here's how the app connecting process works.

With the power on turned on the camera, you then open the Browning Defender app on your phone. The trail camera is always using low power Bluetooth so when you turn on the Defender App it will either automatically connect via Bluetooth or you will have to select the Bluetooth camera name and then press the connect button.

Once you have this Bluetooth connection established you then can click the "BLU <> WIFI" button to switch the camera into wifi mode. At this point be a little patient as it may take a few seconds for your phone to see the trail camera in your available wifi's to connect to. Once the wifi shows up select to connect to it and then hit the back button on your Android phone (not sure what the iPhone people do). Now you will have a wifi connection to the phone and can use the Live View, Playback and Settings options. Pretty simple.

In the video below you can see how the live preview works. This is nice to point the camera where you want it, walk past it and see how critters would frame up in the view and adjust the camera position as needed.

While this camera has some cool features the battery life (taking video) with the expensive CR123A batteries it uses just doesn't compare to my favorite Recon Force Advantage Browning trail cameras.

 

A photo posted by Brady Smith (@diyhntr) on

 

 

 

Trail cameras are the best! I love capturing the activity of the critters on the mountain. Especially in full HD video with my Browning Recon Force trail cameras. As you can see in the videos on this page I have captured some pretty fun stuff so far this year.

After seeing the 7x8 bull on my trail cam last year I have been hopeful some other "larger" bulls would be on my cameras this summer. So far I have only been getting two spikes and a variety of two year old bulls. I usually get a couple three year old bulls but none so far this year. Well if I did have a large bull on camera do you think I would be showing anyone until after I knew he was dead? ;)

For years I have been slowing digging out a marshy spring area trying to make it into a small pond for the critters to play in. I regularly pack in a shovel to dig from the safety of the solid ground around the muddy, marshy spring. In July I packed in waders for the first time so that I could really get into the mud and water and dig it out. I spent 3 hours in the nasty mud digging it out. I should have brought gloves as my right hand received a nasty blister. What a workout. I still would like to dig it out some more on one side but it will have to wait for another trip.

I have also been hauling in 50 pound mineral and salt blocks to help encourage the critters to hang around to get their picture taken.

On this page are some of my favorite trail cam action from this summer. At the bottom of this page is a YouTube playlist with most of the video action I have posted. 

The elk and moose have really been enjoying the new pond. Seeing the spike I call Thumper (a small spike with a notch in his right ear) splashing around in the pond is so awesome. Excited to see more of this in the future.

To stay up-to-date with my trail cam and blog action follow me on Instagram.

 

Browning Trail Camera with rechargeable batteries

I have gone through many alkaline batteries in trail cams from using them in video mode. To help save on batteries I made some homemade  DIY 12V NiMh Rechargeable Trail Camera Battery Pack but found that the bears and elk liked to rip them off the trees and chew the cords in half. This year I have been just using rechargeable batteries inside the trail cameras and they work fairly well. Because they don't start out at 12v with only eight batteries in them I like to replace the batteries every trip up the mountain to maintain enough power to run the cameras. The only downside I have found to using the NiMH rechargeable batteries in the camera is that the night video doesn't have quite as good of distance for critters that are further away from the camera.


Browning Trail Camera with rechargeable batteries

With fully charged Ni-MH rechargeable batteries the screen on my Browning trail cams will show around 53-60%.

 


 

A video posted by Brady Smith (@diyhntr) on