By Jon Maib
Our 2010 Jeep JK is a 4 door Sport model and doesn't come with all the bells and whistles a Rubicon does. We did purchase our JK with a 2" puck lift already installed and some larger tires. That means stock shocks, no rock protection and no towing ability. One of the things you can find very cheap, if not free, are Rubicon upgrades. First off, lets look at shocks. We scored some Rubi shocks from a buddy just by helping him install a puck lift with new shocks. You may think Rubi shocks are not much of an upgrade, but Ill beg to differ with you. Jeep decided to give the Rubicon package a Mono tube that is better valved to resist heat fade better. Compression on the shocks are a bit different as well. The sport compression is somewhere in the range of 30-35lbs of force to compress where the Rubi shocks are in the neighborhood of 65 - 70lbs of force to compress. Rubicon shocks are easy to install and can cost you next to nothing (or free in our case). The proof is in the ride, and there is a big difference. If you're not sure you have Rubicon shocks... just look under your Jeep, they are red!

The Sport model comes with nothing to protect its pinch welded rocker panels on either side. We all have looked at the rock rails made by after market companies such as Poison Spyder, Rampage, Smitty Built, Bushwacker and more! But the problem is, most of those run $200+. Sometimes its hard to find the cash to fork out for those. That's where we turn to scavenge from the Rubicon once again. The Rubicon rails are a great alternative to the massive steal rocker protection that after market companies carry. You can score a pair of Rubi rails anywhere from $0 - $100. In our case, again, we helped a buddy swap his Rubi rails out for some Poison Spyder ones and for our help, he gave us his rails. So now we have some rocker protection. Later, we will show you how to armor these up a bit more... Scavenging parts from other places! Make sure you get all the mounting nuts and bolts from the previous owner. These are a piece of cake to install, just line up the holes!

One of the other things our Jeep didnt have was a tow mount. We like ability to tow if needed and it also adds another location for a pull point. Throw a D ring in and you have additonal strap points in the event you get stuck. Once again, the Rubicon can be picked apart for the tow hitch reciever. Just find that guy that removed his because of adding an aftermarket bumper, thats what we did! FREE!

Ok, so now we have a better ride, some rock protection and a tow reciever. Next thing that a lot JK owners are doing is taking the front bumper off and sheading the plastic. So, we decided to do this as well. Here is another free mod that we did to give us a little better look. I will tell you up front, this really is a temporary bumper for Vulture, just because a rock will beat this tin can metal up. But again, FREE mod. I began by making a moc up of what I wanted the bumper to look like..

Next, take your bumper off and unbolt the plastic from the metal. You will then need to grind and pound the impact cans off the front of the bumper. Now, if you dont have a welder or the necessary equipment to customize further, you could actually just leave the bumper as is and bolt it back on. There you go.. FREE modification. We took it one step further though!

Using my 3d design model, I cut a v-section out of the ends and then cut the molded section out to make the bumper flat on the front. I then patched that with some metal I had laying around in the garage. I then added a curve to the sides and then bent the bottom to match that curve. Welded that all up and ground smooth.

At this stage, I grabbed part of an old roll cage and cut a bent section off of it to give it a bull bar look. Welded that on and then cleaned up all the imperfections. I then shot it with some black paint that I had on hand. I also needed to make some custom fog lamp holders so I could use the factory fog lamps. I just mades some brackets using spare metal and welded those in as well. Bought some new grade 8 bolts and installed the bumper. Total cost was about $10, and that was just for the bolts.

There are plenty of cheap mods you can do to your Jeep JK these days. Just keep your eye out for those great deals! Stay tuned to the next Phase of the Vulture Project as we bring you more parts that we scavenge from other locations and Jeeps, like this damaged 10th Anniversary Rubicon hood that we scored from Truck Fest this year at a dirt cheap price. We'll be fixing this up and re-painting it. Phase 2 coming soon!