Go-N-Broke: The Ultimate Daily-Driven Weekend Wheeler
Brought to you by Driving Line | October 02, 2017
When it comes to Jeeps built for both the rocks and the highway, few stand as out as much as Courtney Schipper’s 2002 TJ. Although Courtney has daily driven and wheeled this Jeep for four years, she recently decided it was time to take her beloved daily driver to the next level. Using only the latest and greatest parts available, it’s easy to see why Courtney nicknamed her build “Go-N-Broke” after the upgrades were made. A closer look will reveal just what took this Wrangler from its humble beginnings to becoming a force to be reckoned with on the trails.
Having been a Jeep girl for years, Courtney is no stranger to working on her own rig. Her boyfriend Austin Stobaugh owns and operates Off Road Brands, a company dedicated to providing top quality off-road parts and services directly to the consumer. The build would take place at his shop, making sure they had every tool and resource available to build this Jeep to the highest quality. While she didn't do all the work on it alone, Courtney was involved with the build every step of the way.
Before the recent upgrades, Courtney’s Jeep started out as a simple build — rolling on TJ Rubicon Dana 44 axles, a short-arm suspension system and Fox shocks all around. Although this setup was sufficient in the rocks and performed well on the street, Courtney had bigger and more difficult challenges in her sights. Soon, parts began showing up at the shop, and the blueprints were drawn up to transform this simple TJ into the ultimate daily-drivable trail rig.
Perhaps the most visible change is the width of the Jeep. The TJ now sits on Currie Enterprises RockJock 60 VXR axles, the latest and most extreme Dana 60 axles available. The stronger high pinion axles offer more durability, ground clearance and peace of mind from drivetrain issues like broken axle shafts and sheared gear sets common in smaller axles with big tires. The front end also features 35 spline axleshafts, a Detroit locker, Warn locking hubs and a JK disc brake system.
The rear axle is a full floater, meaning less wear and tear on the hubs and bearings, featuring an ARB air locker, 40 spline axle shafts and a matching disc brake kit. The Jeep was re-geared to a 5.13 ratio, allowing the stock 4.0 inline-six plenty of torque to get the Jeep moving.
The goodies don’t stop there. Courtney knew that in order to take advantage of the full width axles, her suspension setup needed to match in performance. The short-arm system was swapped for a full long-arm system from Rock Krawler, including a lengthened 3-link front end and triangulated 4-link stretched rear suspension. The long arm system offers much more articulation in the rocks, and the increased wheelbase improves the approach and departure angles while keeping the Jeep more stable on the highway.
Paired with the new long arm system is a Fox 2.5-inch coilover package on custom mounts, making ride height adjustments easy and allowing for easier tuning for a smooth ride. Currie Enterprises Anti-Rock sway bars were also added to control body roll on the road, and allow for maximum articulation in the rocks.
In order to make full use of all the new suspension and drivetrain upgrades, Courtney moved up to a set of 37-inch Nitto Trail Grapplers. This Jeep had to have the maximum grip in the rocks, but still behave itself on the streets. The Trail Grapplers fit the bill perfectly, and only complemented the overall tough physique of this build. The TJ is also now rolling on a set of black KMC Wheels XD128 Machetes.
Big tires, aired-down, with the lockers on make turning the steering wheel a workout, so the factory steering had to go. In its place is a PSC hydraulic steering assist system, mated to a custom tie rod.
After the build was finished, there was only one thing left to do — put it to the test in the rocks. And what better place to test a freshly built Jeep than the Rubicon Trail? The 65th Annual Jeepers Jamboree is an event Courtney has attended for several years, but this would be her first time driving the trail in a full width rig on coilovers and a long arm system. The Jeep performed perfectly as expected on the Rubicon, flexing over objects and driving up lines it never could before. Courtney said she couldn’t be happier with the results, and she believes the careful planning and thought that went into this build allowed the inaugural wheeling trip to go without a hitch.
“We didn’t have to adjust anything,” Courtney explained after completing five days on the Rubicon Trail. “The Jeep worked perfectly as it rolled out of the shop.”
While there’s no formula for building the perfect Jeep, you really can’t go wrong with big axles, big tires, big shocks and big control arms. However, there’s one element that Courtney has had all along to make “Go-N-Broke” the ultimate daily-driving rock crawler — and that’s big passion.