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 of 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 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 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.

Here are more of my favorite hunting related images that I use for my personal desktop wallpapers. Many of these photos were taken while I was out hunting and scouting in 2013 and the majority of the photos were taken with a FujiFilm HS20exr or HS50exr digital cameras. Click on the thumbnails to download a 1920x1200 image.

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These computer desktop wallpaper images are licensed for personal desktop use only. Any other purpose requires my express written consent. Unauthorized use or distribution or transfers of the images will violate copyright laws, trademark laws, communications regulations and statutes.

four point mule deer and doe on skyline four point mule deer and doe on skyline
cliffs clouds and sunset creek close-up water
hunter on skyline hunter in cliffs
Dallen aiming at mule deer with X-Bolt mule deer buck bedded in grass
mule deer buck in grass rutting mule deer buck with doe
rutting mule deer buck with dow sniffing air large 3x5 mule deer buck in snow
mule deer buck and doe mule deer buck on skyline
Snow capped mountains spring green mountains
Vortex Razor HD binoculars with mountain Model 1885 and Vortex Viper Scope
White crowned sparrow Hunter with X-Bolt


For years I have enjoyed the using FujiFilm cameras. I have owned a HS10, a HS20exr and now a HS50exr. I really like the versatility these cameras offer for taking photos while I am out in the field hunting or scouting. Most of photos and video on my blog have been taken with FujiFilm digital cameras. They take really great outdoor photos.

Recently I noticed that my HS20exr camera was having faded areas in the center of my photos. I figured that a good cleaning of the lens would solve the problem however once I started cleaning the lens I quickly noticed that the cause of the problem was not dirt on the outside of the lens. The problem is caused by the lenses internally hitting against one another. When you return the zoom to 24mm the lenses stop moving by the outermost lens butting up against the next internal lens.

Over time the lenses stopping against one another has created a milky white area in the center of both of the lenses where they make contact. Unfortunately for me I did not notice the problem until after the warranty time had expired. Had I used the camera more the problem would have shown itself sooner and I would have fallen under the warranty.

After boxing up the camera and shipping it to FujiFilm their repair department informed me that they will need $167 to make the repair. After calling and explaining my point that this is clearly a design flaw in the camera they defaulted to "it's out of warranty." And so it is, I understand. I will just let others know to watch out for this problem in their FujiFilm EXR cameras so they too don't wind up with an expensive repair bill.

I figured that it was a no brainer that the lenses hitting against one another regardless of the warranty length was clearly a flaw in the manufactures design, something I thought FujiFilm would like to repair to keep their customers happy. I guess I was wrong.

I hope I didn't make a mistake in purchasing the HS50exr. I will be watching my HS50exr very closely to see if it develops the same problem. I hope that they have the problem corrected. I really do like the HS series of cameras. And so far the HS50exr has been performing very nicely. Although it has taken me a while to give up the AA batteries that the HS10 and HS20exr operated on. So far the proprietary battery in the HS50exr is working really well.

View some of the first photos from my HS50exr — 2013-2014 Mule Deer Photos With My FujiFilm HS50exr Camera

I declined to pay for the repair. Does anyone want to buy a really cheap, used, damaged lenses, HS20exr camera?

October 9, 2014 - UPDATE ON MY HS50EXR
It's been just over a year with my HS50exr and it has the same problem. The lenses hit against each other internally. The dings in the lenses are not that noticeable right now but they are definitely hitting each other. I'm sure it will be just as bad as my HS20exr got after another year. I called FujiFilm repair up two days before a year was up and the guy said something to the effect of "I have a HS10 HS20 and HS50 sitting right here and they don't have this problem" and he commenced to inform me that they don't do what I am saying they do. Well FujiFilm, YES THEY DO! He informed me that I could send it in for repair and I told him that I am using the camera heavily this fall and could not afford to be without it for the next few weeks. He then was nice and told me I could send it in with a note that we had talked about it. I'm going to need the camera up through the first of November before I can send it in. We'll see what happens when I do.