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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone.
First let me thank all of the members who have shared their build information, pictures, and knowledge on the forum. Having this site to use as reference and inspiration has been very valuable during the transformation of my recently acquired Commander.

As the thread title implies, I purchased my Commander to turn into an Overlanding/Bug out rig. ( A custom built offroad trailer with RTT is also part of the plan)

So, what I started with was an '08 Commander sport, 4.7L with QT II purchased around Thanksgiving '19 with just under 90K on the clock.

The build plan includes:
  • Roof rack/basket
  • Auxiliary lights
  • Winch
  • Brush/bull bar
  • Tow hooks or D-ring mounts
  • On-board air compressor
  • Spare tire carrier
  • Jerrycan carrier
  • Lift
  • Larger tires
  • Rear seat delete (3rd row)
  • Hatch storage compartment
  • Kayak carriers
  • Dual battery setup (still on the fence with this one)
Weight is a major consideration with all of the aspects of the build. Certainly keeping the roll center as low as possible is foremost, then fuel consumption a close second. Product and build choices will be a trade between weight and durability.

Here's a pic on the day of purchase...quite the snowflake. LOL
40712
 

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First on the list (or first to arrive at the shop) is the roof rack. I went with the Surco 50" x 60" basket and fabricated my own adapters to mate with the Commanders rails. Surco is a brand I'm familiar with from past use on a Explorer twenty or so years ago. Another reason for the choice was the baskets material, Aluminum. My RTT won't be on the top of the rig so aluminum will suit just fine.

On black Friday I grabbed a couple kayaks for the wife and I. A plan for basket mounted kayak carriers was dreamed up and I fit and fabricated two sets. Again, the material used was aluminum.

At the same time a rack mounted 40" LED bar and two 8" LED's were mounted to the rack. 40" up front and the two 8's out back. The rack, and lights came from etrailer.com. Lights are wired to lighted switches in a five switch panel I've installed in the area of the telescoping pedal switch and small cubbie on the lower left of the steering wheel. ( More on this later)
40713
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Next up, the winch.

After hours of research I decided on a winch...the Smittybilt XRC 9500. I was torn for some time between a few choices of brand and whether to go with cable or rope. Initially rope was the decision for weight savings. Once I was realistic about a serious maintenance schedule, I opted for the easy to maintain cable.

While engulfed in the research I stumbled on a post in which someone made a hidden winch mount behind the bumper cover of a Cherokee and I was sold. Retaining the stock bumper instead of replacing it with a plate bumper w/ winch mount will save some weight and that is a goal....

Here we go...
40714


Bumper cover off, ABS "crumple panel?" removed, and cross-member cut out. This is serious. LOL

40715


Test fitting. I made the mount out of 0.250" plate. Six 0.5" bolts and 8" of weld will hold it to the Jeep frame. The 0.250" material is probably overkill but considering its use, this is one thing I do not want to fail. In my estimation the weight penalty is worth the cost. The D-ring mounts are let into the plate and welded front and back. There are also two gussets positioned between the fairlead and the D-ring mounts for extra rigidity.

40716

Painted and welded in. Notice the mounts off the bottom for the brush guard/bull bar. I purchased an ARIES Bullbar(Junk) for the build but more on that in the next post.

40717


Complete. Very happy with the way this turned out. An access hole will have to be cut into the top of the bumper cover to access the free spool lever but I'm good with that.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Time for the brush guard. As I mentioned in the previous post, I purchased an ARIES Bull Bar as a starting point for my brush guard. Had I known the wall thickness that was used to make it, I would have passed. Not only that, the lower crossbar was exactly where it needed to be in order to interfere with the winch...it quickly met my zip wheel.

To expand on the 3" tube of the Aries unit I used 1.5" x 0.83 wall tubing.
40718


The piece of angle is clamped onto the 3" tubing to use as a reference as I build the brush guard. As you see, I'm turning the corner about 8" with the tubing.

40719


Here is a look at the finished piece before coating. Two lower horizontal bars were added to protect the radiators as well as two legs that tie into the radiator support frame which added a fair amount of strength to the unit.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Okay, now we're getting into the good stuff. ;)

Maximizing range is a goal of the build and carrying a number a jerrycans is my solution. I've decided to fabricate a three can holder and it needs to be tamper proof. Also, a spare tire carrier is on my list.

After many hours of browsing and reading, a swing out style bumper with two pivots became my plan. Two pivot points to reduce stress on the components and the anchor points on the Jeep. Again as up front, retaining the original bumper cover instead of fabricating a plate bumper is the goal for weight savings.

40720


Here I'm in the process of building the double swing away arms. 2" x 3" x 0.83" wall tubing is being used here and its just tack welded into the Jeep at this point.

40721


The tamer proof Jerrycan carrier. If you'll notice, the top protects the lids from being exposed and is hinged to swing away to remove the cans. Also, there is a 0.5" rod that runs through the carrier and through the jerrycan handles to secure them. It is padlocked on the opposite side.

40722


Jerrycan carrier complete and the hoop bent for the spare tire. I used a piece of 1.5" x 0.120" wall tubing for the hoop. Notice the gussets added to the Jeep at the mounting points.

40723


Tire mount complete.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Now lets talk lift kits.

Not many serious options for the Commander in my opinion. I narrowed it down to the OME 2.5" and the SS 4". At the end of the day I ordered the OME package from Rocky Road that included assembled units and their proprietary UCA's. The order was placed towards the end of November...I patiently waited for it to arrive.

While waiting for the lift kit to show up I found a set of five freshly powdercoated JK wheels and scooped those up and purchased Falken Wildpeak AT3w 265/70/17 to wrap them with.

Christmas came and went. Finally, the first week of January I decided to call RR. Unfortunately, it was at this time I was informed that the lift was back ordered. "When is the expected arrival date?", I inquired. An unconvincing "probably the end of the month" I was told. I cancelled my order. Six weeks wasted, I wish I had been made aware there was an issue.

Thanks to this forum I was able to piece together a lift using the OME HD springs front and back and Bilstein dampers. I added a 2" poly spacer in the back because I intend to carry gear and tow an off road trailer. For the upper A-arms I chose the JBA arms and have to say the customer service provided was excellent. All of these parts arrived within 10 days....had I known before dealing with RR!

In addition to changing the springs and struts the CV axles and lower control arms were replaced also. The old axles will be saved as spares for the trail and I ordered extra tie rods and ends to carry as spares also.

Here are images of the completed rig.

40724
40725


40726

40727



A few things I left out of previous posts on the build:

I mounted a two piston compressor behind the drivers side headlight that is contained in a water tight box on five sides. I wired it to a switch in the five switch cluster mentioned earlier.

The track bar was cut and extended 0.375" to accommodate the lift.

I added 1.5" wheel spacers along with the wheels.

The back up camera was relocated to the hatch upper trim panel inside the cabin.

In addition to being able to use the remote that came with the winch, I wired the winch to a pair of switches in the five switch cluster. One one for power on, and the other to control the winch.

Upol Rapter liner was used to finish everything I fabricated and I hit the grill of the Jeep with it.

Commander decals were added to the rear quarters of the Jeep.
 

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man you've done a lot of work in a short amount of time...pretty slick rig. i like how the rear swingouts are integrated with your stock bumper cover.
 

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Looks excellent. Thank you so much for all the great pictures. Eventually I’d like to build a rear setup like you have.


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Great work! Thanks for sharing the progress.
 

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Sweet Commander! Great write up and pictures. I trust you’ll have more fun using it than you did building it!


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Now lets talk lift kits.

Not many serious options for the Commander in my opinion. I narrowed it down to the OME 2.5" and the SS 4". At the end of the day I ordered the OME package from Rocky Road that included assembled units and their proprietary UCA's. The order was placed towards the end of November...I patiently waited for it to arrive.

While waiting for the lift kit to show up I found a set of five freshly powdercoated JK wheels and scooped those up and purchased Falken Wildpeak AT3w 265/70/17 to wrap them with.

Christmas came and went. Finally, the first week of January I decided to call RR. Unfortunately, it was at this time I was informed that the lift was back ordered. "When is the expected arrival date?", I inquired. An unconvincing "probably the end of the month" I was told. I cancelled my order. Six weeks wasted, I wish I had been made aware there was an issue.

Thanks to this forum I was able to piece together a lift using the OME HD springs front and back and Bilstein dampers. I added a 2" poly spacer in the back because I intend to carry gear and tow an off road trailer. For the upper A-arms I chose the JBA arms and have to say the customer service provided was excellent. All of these parts arrived within 10 days....had I known before dealing with RR!

In addition to changing the springs and struts the CV axles and lower control arms were replaced also. The old axles will be saved as spares for the trail and I ordered extra tie rods and ends to carry as spares also.

Here are images of the completed rig.

View attachment 40724 View attachment 40725

View attachment 40726
View attachment 40727


A few things I left out of previous posts on the build:

I mounted a two piston compressor behind the drivers side headlight that is contained in a water tight box on five sides. I wired it to a switch in the five switch cluster mentioned earlier.

The track bar was cut and extended 0.375" to accommodate the lift.

I added 1.5" wheel spacers along with the wheels.

The back up camera was relocated to the hatch upper trim panel inside the cabin.

In addition to being able to use the remote that came with the winch, I wired the winch to a pair of switches in the five switch cluster. One one for power on, and the other to control the winch.

Upol Rapter liner was used to finish everything I fabricated and I hit the grill of the Jeep with it.

Commander decals were added to the rear quarters of the Jeep.
That's very nice work @widers944; Thanks for sharing the pics and the informative write up.

I've had a dual battery set-up of some sort on my mind for a while now; I have a Jeep 4x4 shop about 20 minutes from my house and they seem to be pretty good (have been there once before); Next time I go home - probably around this coming May or so, I'm going to pay them a visit and see what kind of options they can present me to make this happen. I have crossed enough things off of my Commander upgrade list, that this is now a priority - along with a new set of front shocks.
 

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Very good post. Welcome to the Commander world and you came in swinging!
 
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