The Jeep

2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

Jeep Wrangler Build for Two Years Around Africa

The build of my Jeep is extensive, with each modification carefully thought out and planned. The build focused around primary goals, I will lay out the rationale and decisions for each.
Weight was a primary consideration for each modification, as was limited interior space.

Goal 1: Strong 4×4, big enough to sleep in, fit inside a 20 foot container.

  • 2011 Jeep JK Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon.
  • 3.8l V6 Gasoline engine, 6 speed manual transmission.
  • Locking front and rear differentials, electronic sway bar disconnect.
  • 4.10 axle ratios.
  • 4:1 transfer case ratio.
africa jk side zoom dan 720x480

The Stock JK Wrangler soon after I bought it used

Goal 2: Extremely capable off-road

Two years around Africa, especially West Africa, requires a very strong 4×4 vehicle. I chose the Rubicon for the factory diff locks, stronger D44 front axle, and low range transfer case. In addition to that, I have added:

  • Suspension: Stronger and improved handling with mild lift
  • Bumpers: Radiator protection, stronger
    • AEV Front with Skid Plate, AEV Rear, Tire carrier and High Lift Mount.
  • Tires: All-round performance, extremely durable, mild clearance increase
    • .
  • Wheels: Extremely strong
  • Recovery: Going solo for two years, I need to be able to get myself unstuck.
    • (synthetic rope to reduce weight).
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    • to remove trees and limbs if needed.
  • Lighting: Inside and out, being able to see is a must
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    • 2 x .
    • 2 x .
  • Snorkel:
    • AEV with Pre-Filter for extreme dust removal.
    • .
  • Engine Skid:
    • .
africa jk with bfg ko2 720x480

Africa bound JK with AEV 2.5 inch lift, Mopar Winter Steel Wheels and BFGoodrich KO2 All-Terrain Tires in 34×10.5r17

Goal 3: Interior living space

A two year expedition is not a vacation, this is my life. Given that I’m building my Jeep into a house on wheels, I want interior living space – to be able to escape the bugs, the rain, or even just escape the world for an evening will help keep me sane enough to continue.

The build and design is centered around a Pop up roof and interior cabinets I designed and built.

The roof is lighter and more aerodynamic than a roof rack + Roof Top Tent combination.

  • Interior: allows for standing, sitting and sleeping in the rear of the Jeep
    • Removed back seat & carpet, custom built cabinets for camper setup using:
    • .
    • .
    • To see photos and the build process of the interior see: Jeep Build Phase 1 Complete
africa jk wrangler ursa minor j30 720x480

The Jeep with popup J30 camper

africa jk interior cabinets 720x480

Cabinets going in

Goal 4: Improved Sleeping, Cooking, Eating

Two years from Alaska to Argentina on my previous expedition taught me a lot.  I love camping, though after two years I was done with Ramen noodles and tinned soup. I want to eat vegetables, cheese and meat. I want to sleep up off the ground out of the mud. With that in mind, the following modifications where made:

  • Fridge:
    • .
    • .
  • Awning: Sun shade over the kitchen area at the rear
    • mounted on rear.
  • Shower: Keep it simple, keep it light
    • I hang in the sun for heat.
  • Fan for sleeping: Light, charges off USB, has speed settings and internal battery
africa jk arb awning rear open 720x480

ARB Awning open over my kitchen

Goal 5: Ability to be self-contained for weeks at a time

My aim to to get far off the beaten path, so I need to be able to support myself. With that in mind, I added:

  • Solar: To charge the second battery
    • 2 x .
    • .
  • Additional Gasoline: A range above 500 miles is a must
    • . (Total Range ~600mi.).
    • .
  • On Board Air Compressor & Tire Repair: self-repair is a must
    • .
    • .
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    • Spare values, stems, inners, etc.
diy 4x4 water tank pump filter plubming wiring 720x480

Completed plubming and wiring inside behind drivers seat. Pump, ball valves, wiring and filter and UV treatment on right

africa jk titan gas tank 720x480

Titan Tank 13 gallon gas tank

Goal 6: Secure Storage for all my stuff

The stock Jeep glovebox and console are just plastic, and the hood does not lock. I improved that with the following:

  • Secure Storage:
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  • Additional Locks:
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africa jk tuffy center console 720x480

Tuffy Security Center Console

Miscellaneous Other Modifications and gear

  • Navigation: I drove AK-Argentina without a GPS. I’m not doing that again.
    • .
    • .
    • Tracks4Africa Map Pack.
    • Open Street Maps (free and fantastic!)
    • Michelin paper maps , ,  .
  • Electrical: I don’t like inverters – they are inefficient, heavy and hot.
    • .
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  • Tools & Spares: Just the essentials.
    • for diagnosis.
    • to clean and oil air filter.
    • and tons of old wires.
    • is much better than duct tape.
    • for electrical diagnosis.
    • 1/2″ drive.
    • Tons of standard stuff – sockets, allen keys, torx bits, screwdrivers, wrenches, hammer, pliers, cutters, saw, wire, solder, etc.
  • Camping / Other: Stuff to make life on the road more enjoyable.
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  • Camera Gear:
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With that, my house on wheels is complete.

africa jk colorado 720x480

Tiny House. Massive Yard


139 Responses

  1. Durwin says:

    Another question.
    Does the Mopar Winter Wheel mount flush, directly up against the AEV fuel caddy? Can you take a picture of the area where the center wheel hub opening is against the caddy? I have the same setup. Thanks, Durwin

  2. Mike McKay says:

    Can you post pictures of sleeping inside on the platform? I’d like to have an inside sleeping option for my JK but from what I can read in forums, it’s 55″ from the back of the front seats to the inside of the tailgate, and I can’t fathom how to sleep comfortably in that space. I’m 5’10”, and I believe you said in a YouTube video that you are 6’2″, so I can’t imagine how it can be comfortable. Thanks Dan!

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Mike,
      You mean downstairs, not up in my popup roof?
      I show that configuration in this video. There are also little flaps on the cabinets near the two front seats that makes the sleeping platform a little longer. With the two seats all the way forward, I get just over 6 feet.. so if I sleep diagonally it works well enough (but not nearly as good as upstairs)

  3. Durwin says:

    Did you have any issues using the Mopar tire pressure sensors with the Mopar Winter wheels?
    Thanks for answering my previous questions.

  4. Durwin says:

    Thanks for answering the question Dan. I ordered the wheels today.

    Have you spoken about how to handle relationships while overlanding?

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Durwin,

      Not a lot, though there’s a whole chapter on it in my next book that’s coming out in a week or two.
      I’ll post an announcement here when it’s for sale!


  5. Ilya says:

    Did you ever do an after-action report on the state of the Jeep after you got back home? What broke, what wore down, what needed replacing as preventative measures? Did the mud harm anything? The newer JL/JT models have so much electronics in them and folks report mud getting into seals/electronics and causing problems. Can you comment on your experiences?

    • Dan Grec says:

      I never did, because there was nothing to report! The Jeep ran great, and continues to do so. I’ve driven it another 60 thousand miles since I got back, and drive it everyday in the snow now, without a problem.

      Lots of my recent videos on YouTube go into details about the modifications and how it all performed.


  6. Andreas Karkatsas says:

    Hi Dan . Your adventures are a real inspiration to me and contrary to other content creators , I admire your simplistic approach to the whole jeep build .
    My question is a real lame one : how have you mounted your shovel on the spare ? I’d like to do something similar on my 2020 Jimny . Thank you .

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Andreas,
      Thanks for the kind words!
      My shovel is actually mounted into the rear tire carrier that I mounted to my Jeep – made by AEV specifically for my Jeep.
      It’s designed to carry a shovel like that, and it works really well.


  7. Dimaretx says:

    Nice Jeep, I love the image with the stickers on it!

  8. Richard says:

    How many miles were on the Jeep when you got it? I’m taking your advice and looking for a used Jeep so I can spend the rest on the adventure.

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  8. April 2, 2023

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  13. March 16, 2024

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