Gladiator v2.0

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tobyw
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Gladiator v2.0

Postby tobyw » Tue May 16, 2023 8:22 am

I'm not even sure where to begin with the back story on this transition, but suffice it to say that priorities have shifted over time and the current situation is that I'm the oldest I've ever been, and I'm growing weary of the constant maintenance and general ownership burden of having so many vehicles around. Both kids have their own rigs now, and with me always having a tow rig and a wheeling rig (well, several wheeling rigs :oops: ), it's just silly when you step back and look at it. Not to mention the fact that in 20+ years of homeownership, I have never parked MY daily driver IN a garage, which is a particular bummer in the winters... So, consolidation was the catalyst here and although I've tried the combination of Jeep and truck before, the plan for this go-round includes a very key element to help ensure success. At least for a little while :roll: :lol2

We'll start with the basics; she's a 2023 Gladiator Rubicon with the 3.6L gasser and wonderful 8-speed automatic dressed in Granite Crystal paint. Here was the first test fit in the garage to seal the deal:

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With fitment confirmed, it was time to get started on making it mine:

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The first order of business was to address the most glaring shortcoming from my previous Gladiator ownership experience: entry and egress. To make it right this time, I went with a set of Rockslide Engineering slider steps:

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Next up was a complete Teraflex suspension makeover including their super-trick "extended travel" rear suspension setup which replaces the low-hanging rear swaybar and stupid-long links with a torsion style bar that mounts above the frame. I also opted for the Falcon 3.1 reservoir shocks:

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At this point, it was looking as though the poor Gladiator had skipped leg day at the gym, but I was stuck in supply chain purgatory awaiting what was previously unobtainium (more on this later):

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With a few hours to kill, I spent the time working up a new front winch bumper:

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I still have to bend up the hoop and get it welded out, but the overall idea is there...

And that brought us up to speed as of Mother's Day, as I continued to wait for the previously mentioned unobtainium :heuu:
Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...
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tobyw
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Re: Gladiator v2.0

Postby tobyw » Tue May 16, 2023 8:29 am

The factory taillights on the Gladiators are functional, but among some of the dumbest looking things I've ever seen in the automotive world. Luckily my friends at Oracle have a solution for this, and it's probably the best 7 minutes I could ever hope to spend modifying this thing:

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Sitting in my office around noon on Monday, I got an email notification from the shipping company that a shipment had dropped. YAHTZEE :thu2:

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Unobtainium obtained and installed 8)
Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...

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tobyw
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Re: Gladiator v2.0

Postby tobyw » Thu May 18, 2023 9:22 am

Headed for cooler climates :thu:

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Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...

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tobyw
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Re: Gladiator v2.0

Postby tobyw » Mon May 22, 2023 12:50 pm

Camped near the summit of Tollgate, OR near Langdon Lake at just over 5,000ft and I'm extremely happy to report that it towed out great even with stock 4.10 gearing :shock: And even more amazing was the 13.35mpg hand calculated economy for the round trip :woot:

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Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...

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tobyw
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Re: Gladiator v2.0

Postby tobyw » Wed May 24, 2023 10:33 am

So this next part may be a little controversial, but it was merely a means to an end...

Sadly, the smooth steel side saddle toolbox I used on Gladiator v1.0 is no longer in production, and I just didn't want the visual asymmetry of checkered aluminum on one side with open air on the other. To make matters worse, the Gladiator bed has the fuel filler neck protruding into the interior space, so much so that a typical crossbed toolbox will not drop in. There are a few options on the market to alleviate the situation, but they all involve a tapered bottom section that just robs too much real estate for my taste, not to mention basically forcing everything you drop into the toolbox right out to the center where it's the most difficult to reach :roll: As such, I was on the hunt for a way to make a standard box fit and about the only viable solution I could come up with was to jack the box up enough to clear the filler neck. In doing that, I was left with a cavity between the bed rail and the toolbox, which ended up seeming like a good place to stash a fire extinguisher. But, what to do on the opposite side? :? Let's fab an air tank :thu:

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With that handled, it was time to figure out how to mount all of this junk. This Gladiator isn't as highly equipped as my previous unit, so I didn't have the super handy "trail rail" system inside the bed. That problem, however, was easily solved with a couple chunks of stainless Unistrut:

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Time to mock up raised the toolbox location:

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Not being horribly upset with things at this point, I spent a few minutes making some simple brackets for mounting the toolbox and fire extinguisher, and then mounted the air tank directly to the toolbox:

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At this point I stood back and looked at the mess I'd made, and quickly realized the jacked up toolbox, while functional, left the rest of the bed just looking, well, empty. I played around with a few ideas and landed on a version of a "bed rack" that is still marinating, but the foundation has been mocked up with some 1-3/4" tube:

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The plan will be to add crossbars that are just proud of the top of the toolbox to allow longer pieces of, uhhhh, whatever to be slid over the top of the box in a effort to keep as much utility as possible. The front cross bar will be fully welded in, but the rear bar will be removable with tube connectors so that I can pull it out and haul taller items if necessary. I'm out of 1-3/4" tube at the moment so hopefully I'll hop back into the project over the weekend.
Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...

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tobyw
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Re: Gladiator v2.0

Postby tobyw » Sun May 28, 2023 4:33 am

It took a little more math than I'm used to because the side rails actually taper in 1-3/4" from front-to-back, but I was able to nail the layout of the crossbars and have them sit 1/2" above the toolbox:

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Then it was time to cut in the tube connectors on the rear bar to make it easily removable to taller cargo:

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And finally time for paint:

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Here is the finished product, although I'm already having bad ideas about adding to it :roll:

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With that knocked out, I turnt my attention to the half acre of baron landscape that makes up the rear quarterpanel of the Gladiator bedside. It just looked empty and plain, so I made an attempt to jazz it up a bit and further separate my Gladiator from the crowd with a roll of matte black 3M vinyl sheet and 3/16" wide Rubicon red 3M pinstripe:

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Overall I think she's looking pretty good for now. Hopefully I can put the finishing touches on the bumper this weekend and get to getting more dirt on the tires :thu:
Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...

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Roman
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Re: Gladiator v2.0

Postby Roman » Mon May 29, 2023 10:50 am

BOBCAT...

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tobyw
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Re: Gladiator v2.0

Postby tobyw » Tue May 30, 2023 7:26 am

Roman wrote:BOBCAT...


Seriously? THAT is what you take away from my build threads?! :oops: :lol2 :lol2 :lol2

But since you mentioned it... After years of driving on grass to access my shop, I finally cut in a proper driveway. I added some curbing to separate the new driveway from the yard, added some landscape posts to separate the arborvitae on the other side of the new driveway, killt off the grass in preparation for gravel, and then liberally applied the aforementioned gravel:

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Hence the skid steer to shake out the gravel and provide a handy paint hanger :thu:
Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...

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tobyw
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Re: Gladiator v2.0

Postby tobyw » Tue May 30, 2023 7:36 am

To complete the front bumper, I bent up a hoop with some more 1-3/4" tube and added some gussets complete with speed holes to finish it off:

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After booger welding it all up and grinding the edges smoove, some black paint was applied (and yes, hung from the skid steer to dry :lol2 ):

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:thu:
Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...

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Roman
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Re: Gladiator v2.0

Postby Roman » Tue May 30, 2023 6:33 pm

Toby, you warrant your own project section...

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Lurch
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Re: Gladiator v2.0

Postby Lurch » Sun Jun 04, 2023 5:40 am

You can follow me.... but it's gonna hurt ;)

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tobyw
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Re: Gladiator v2.0

Postby tobyw » Wed Jun 07, 2023 9:05 am

Lurch wrote:This made me think of you.

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That is way cooler than any garbage I glue together... And more expensive :shock:
Yep, I've wheeled one of those, too...

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