Re: What\'s next ?
A roll cage is always the 1st modification I try to rush my freinds into, if they come to me for advice, on a build up. The Jeep passenger compartment is just not a very safe place to be, untill its been fortified, it is also, not a break the bank modification, considering what you are trying to protect with it. In my opinion, it also says something about your Jeep that most neophites dont understand, it says you take offroading seriousely, and respect it for the potentialy dangerouse sport it can be. You will get more respect from me, and most other experienced Jeepers,(and with respect, comes additional camraderie, and the added help, and parts,(hand me downs) bennefits that follow).
The next step though, is the harder part, on how to direct a person to continue the build up.
If you have enough money that you can put out a couple of grand, at once, and have decent fabrication skills, then its easy. I would say, a Ford 8.8 rear axle, a D44 front, and an SOA, build the axles to 4.54 gears with your choice of lockers, Do the SOA with used springs, and sell your stock axles to recoupe costs, and look for a set of used tires and get out on the trail. You will be set up pretty seriouse and will not have to spend a bank vault, full of loot.
If however you dont have a lot of cash and will be saving for a while for these swaps, and if you are limited in your fabrication skills, then you need to look for a shop having a 4" lift special(whatever brand, they are all about the same, for a short term lift), find some used 33" tires, and buy an EZ locker for the rear axle(Ughhh yeah, I said it, I endorsed the use of a lunchbox locker in a stock axle). The trick here is, that you do the install yourself, to start getting comfortable with opening up your parts, and save some cash that you need to be saving for the axle swap. The reasoning behind wasting money on a lunchbox locker is that if you dont spend money to have it installed, you may recoupe have your cost when you sell it later, but most importantly, it will allow you to get out on fairly tough trails, improving your skills, and gaining a love for the sport which will justify the more costly upgrades later. A winch is great, and very neccessary at the start if you like to do a lot of exploring and camping with only your vehicle, (which is a whole nuther topic, that would need to be addressed as its own topic). If you are with fellow rigs on your trips, then a winch becomes less important as a 1st upgrade. But shovel, axe, come along, ropes and chains, are easily aquired and need to be bagged and given a spot in your rig as soon as possible. Also a fire extinguisher, 1st aid kit, water, oil, tools, all need to be procurred and securely stored, by the time you take your 1st seriouse forrays onto the trails.
There are no off the shelf products that will improve your abilities on the trail, as will driving skills and experience. Get out and drive as much as possible.
Wow, you can get a nice tan on your arms, from welding with no shirt on.