Jeep Build Complete

It’s been a long time in the making, and I’ve been grinning from ear to ear all afternoon, the realization slowly sinking in.

The Jeep is finished.

I’m ready to drive around Africa.

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The Renogy Solar Panels on the open Ursa Minor J30 Camper

While I was at Ursa Minor they mounted two 100W lightweight Renogy Solar panels onto the roof of the J30 pop-up camper. These panels are the next generation of lightweight high efficiency panels. They weigh only 5lbs each, and are are extremely thin so there is virtually no additional wind resistance. The guys at Ursa Minor added a very small wind deflector to the front lip which is great.

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Renogy Solar lightweight panels and small wind deflector

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Renogy Solar Panels mounted to Jeep roof

To go with the panels a 20 Amp Renogy ViewStar Solar Charge Controller has been mounted in the rear cabin. This controller lets me monitor the voltage of the second battery, how much power is currently draining from the system, and how much charge the panels are putting out at any given time. It also has a host of functions to turn off the power outputs at various times of day, or night, or whenever you choose. When I get up at 6am the panels are already making power, refilling the second battery from a night of running the fridge, interior lights, laptop charging, and everything else. I designed the system to allow at least a week or two of not running the engine without depleting the second battery, which I will test down the road.

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Renogy ViewStar 20A Solar Charge Controller

Also at Ursa Minor the guys fitted an ARB awning to the rear of the Jeep. This 1250 awning is a perfect fit width-wise for the Jeep, and the guys made a very strong bracket to mount the awning in just the right place so it sits above the rear glass when it’s open. The awning is attached to the “lower” part of the top so it doesn’t go up with the roof. It’s also above the high-mount brake light that is part of the J30 camper.

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ARB Touring awning

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ARB Touring awning mounted to the rear of the J30

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ARB Awning open over my kitchen

A few weeks back Richard and I mounted an ARB air compressor under the hood – from Alaska to Argentina I had 16 flat tires, so having a dependable way to inflate tires has always been a must for this Jeep. Putting the compressor under the hood saves valuable interior cargo space. One of my tires has had a nail in it since I bought the Jeep, and I’ve just been topping it up every couple of days with the ARB compressor. It takes the tire from ~20psi to ~37psi in a minute and a half, which is great.

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ARB Compressor mounted under hood

I’ve also swapped to steel wheels, known as the “Mopar Winter Wheels”. The huge advantage of steel wheels is the ability to use a sledge hammer to get them back into shape in case of damage – an aluminum wheel will just crack, which would leave me stranded. A 16” tire would be more common in remote Africa, though the reports I’m getting say there enough high-end 4x4s getting around to ensure 17” tires can be found, though likely they won’t be cheap.
I had the wheels powder coated a textured black, so they look slick too simple smile

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Mopar Winter Wheels and decals

A highlight from my last trip was the map of the Americas I painted on the hood, and the yellow line I painted as the trip unfolded. I could see the map from the drivers seat, and it helped motivate me and remind me of the scale of what I was doing. On numerous occasions at borders and checkpoints the map became a talking point, which often ended in multiple policemen shaking my hand and wishing me well. It was a phenomenal way to convey what I was doing, and people seemed to rally around it.
Given that experience, adding a map of Africa to the hood was an easy decision, and I’ve stepped up the fancy using a decal this time. I will again be painting my route as I move through the journey.

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Africa map on the hood ready to be filled in as my trip unfolds

The famous quote is “it takes a village to raise a child”, though in this case I think it’s appropriate to say “it takes a village to build a Jeep and make a dream come true”. I absolutely could not have done this without the help and support of so, so many people. Friends, family, new friends and random strangers who wish me well.
I am extremely grateful to you all. You all have a seat in the Jeep whenever you want. Find out where I am, fly into a random country and I’ll pick you up and tour us around for a few weeks. Sid the Sloth is looking forward to your visit already simple smile

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The Completed Jeep, looking for adventure

I’ll be at EJS in Moab all this week with the Jeep. If you see me, flag me down!

NOTE: To the Jeep crowd – For now I’m running the stock Rubicon BFG 255/75/17 Tires on the Mopar Winter Wheels without spacers and there is absolutely no rubbing.

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Completed Jeep from the back


20 Responses

  1. Jim Rhoads says:


  2. BC says:

    Great, informational article. Your map on the hood is missing the border between Sudan and South Sudan. I am guessing the map you were working from is a little out of date (South Sudan became an independent country in 2011).

    • Dan says:

      Thanks for the feedback :)
      I noticed the Sudan thing too, it must be a slightly older map. Things change fast in Africa!
      I was trying to find anything else out of date about it, from memory it looks fine.

  3. Steve Adams says:

    Lookin great. We will be following along with great interest! good luck with everything.

  4. Clint says:

    Jeep is looking great! Just catching up on your blog… enjoying your adventures 😀 Look forward to reading more. Cheers!

  5. Wes says:

    Hi Dan
    Wes Here we are all puling for here in Bayview. Not much new here.

  6. Jay says:

    I saw you used Dynamat as a heat barrier on the water tank. If not to late, you may want to reconsider and use a true heat barrier like DEI , Therm-Tec and the like which are rated to withstand the extreme temperatures of the exhaust and ground/pavement. I may be wrong but I believe the Dynamat is rated at 500* most whereas heat barrier at 2000*.
    looking forward to the adventure!

    • Dan says:

      Thanks Jay,
      The dynamat is working out perfectly. The exhaust gets too hot to hold in that location, but the water in the tank isn’t even warm – not even a tiny bit, so I think it’s fine.


  7. Jared Marley says:

    So stoked for you! I’ll join you for some point of your trip!

  8. Lars Bergström says:

    Best of luck with the trip! Looking forward to updates on the site and Youtube channel as the adventure moves along…Stay safe and have fun!

    Regards from Sweden!

  9. Dawn says:


    Thanks so much for inspiring on so many levels. I cant begin to describe the discovery your writings are affording me. When I purchased my Jeep it was a clueless reaction to my Subaru Baja drowning in the Houston TX floods of 2016. Since then I have adopted a Jeep riding prior feral cat , new dog & moved & discovered offroading & camping. While I cant yet envision myslf traveling the world & shipping my auto, I can now daydream of driving to the botto of South America, creating remote, employment opportunities & see that many others have done such! Not sure what vehicle I will end up with since my cats tend to live 25 yrs & the dog is only 3 so they will have to go along.. But I am on my slow steady way. Thanks greatly to you & others who are sharing their builds & how tos.

    Enjoy your every single second!


    • Dan Grec says:

      Hey Dawn,

      You are very welcome, and thanks for letting me know how much it inspired you!
      May I suggest a jaunt up to Alaska for a summer. It is stunningly beautiful and you can explore and camp all over. It’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and it’s right there!!

      All the best,

      • Dawn says:

        Thank you.

        My mother & I traveled for a year around Alaska when I was 8 with 1 Scottie & a special ordered Ford pickup w 3 fuel tanks installed. Perhasp you are correct :-)

  10. Don says:

    What did you use where you put the solar wire through the roof?

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