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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I thought I would make a quick post about my trip to Ocotillo Wells today. This trip gave me a chance to test the piece of vinyl I glued between the cab and camper shell to keep rain out of the bed (I have an actual bed...in the truck bed!). Here are a few pictures, and...a few seconds of video summing up why I wouldn't buy a new Gladiator.

***This is a shot of the Apollo 4-way stretch marine vinyl that is supposed to be waterproof and seemed to be when I tested it, but might not really be...(long story); I glued the vinyl to the top and sides of the back of the truck's cab and the front of the camper shell, in order to cover the gap between the cab and shell to stop rain from getting into the bed. I used Eclectic E6800 adhesive sealant. This is the truck in my driveway yesterday afternoon just before I left for Ocotillo Wells. The E6800 had finished fully curing about 24 hours prior to this photo.

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Here is a close-up of one side. You can see the clear glue (dark part of the vinyl and extending about a half inch to the right of that...).

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Here is the top of the cab/camper shell. You can see the two lines of glue running along the vinyl on the outside. Before I laid those down, I initially attached the vinyl with lines of glue under it and let those cure.

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Here is a shot of the sweet mattress I've got in the back, including my bedding materials. It's a fantastic way to camp! No setup. No take-down. No messing about. No worries :) Except rain...but I'm hoping my little vinyl job will (has) fixed that!

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A few dark clouds loomed in the afternoon sky; they foreshadowed a chance to test the new vinyl cover against nature.

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No such luck...the rain gods were just playing games. Here is the truck out in Ocotillo Wells getting some flex on. Notice the rear tire stuffed up into the wheel well a good bit. The dog (owned by another wheeler there) happened into the scene just as I snapped the photo. The dog's owner was a bit, umm, odd, let's just call him odd. I asked if he had water for the dog; he poured a little into a dish, and the dog drank.

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Here is the other side. Getting some flex on LOL!

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Over the next couple of hours, I got a chance to get the truck fairly well twisted up on the trails. Our planned off road route (to various places about the general area) was cut short when one guy's Chevy 350 powered Jeep Willys' transmission failed on Blow Sand Hill.

Just before that, or at around the same time, I tried Blow Sand Hill in my truck. Needless to say, a 2004 GMC Sierra 1500 with 33" street tires at 35 PSI (yea, I could've aired down, but with this truck and these tires, I don't bother...) isn't exactly the ideal rig for this type of obstacle. Anyway, I only ended up trying the hill twice. Both attempts were similar, but the second was slightly more aggressive and slightly more successful -- I made it about 85% of the way up on that try. I used 2nd gear 4-low and wound the absolute piss out of the poor little 4.8 liter. I stood on it hard and had it at 5,500 RPM for a fair few seconds until it started bogging toward the top even under full throttle. Pathetic, LOL. I still love the truck, though, and it's not as though I didn't know exactly what I was getting into when I bought it, nor is it as though I'm not totally accustomed to grotesquely under-powered vehicles (like our beloved TW) and how they perform. After the second attempt, the motor was getting a little hot. I have only seen it above 210 degrees once or maybe twice in the several months I've owned the truck, in spite of having damn sure gotten it singing a few times before both on and off road. Sand dunes are different, though. Anyone who's done them knows they can be hell on a motor -- especially when you're at damn near red line under a blazing sun. After trying the hill twice in the manner described above, the motor was sitting at around 220, roughly (maybe as high as 225 -- not sure exactly), so I figured I'd shut it off for a while instead of overheating the crap out of it. I can't help but wonder if it would have kept itself under, say, 240 or whatever, but I didn't really care to find out. When I fired the truck back up a few minutes later to go down the hill (after the Willys was pulled down the other side of the hill because it had lost the trans), it briefly sat at a nerve-wracking 240-ish for maybe five or six seconds. I guess I let it heat soak sitting there on the hot sand in the sun. Maybe shutting it off when it's too hot is not a great idea. Driving back down the hill at around 2,000 RPM dropped the temp back down to 220 pretty quickly; then it faded back to 215/210 over the next minute or so as I drove it around on flat ground at the bottom.

At that point, I shut it off again (after having driven it around in a relaxed manner for another couple of minutes, during which temps stayed at the normal 205-ish). I then hooked up my 30,000 pound tow strap up to my receiver (via the hitch pin through the eye of the strap) and the front of the Willys (with soft shackles). It took about an hour and a half or two to tow the Willys back to our camp -- situated 4 miles west of Highway 86 along S22. During that time, there were no further issues with engine temps. I guess these Chevy V8s just don't like screaming away in high temps. It's no Toyota, after all, LOL. They are happy to do that all day long, in my experience. Hah.

Speaking of Toyotas: one of the other guys had an FJ cruiser on 33s, and had actually bothered to air down before we went out. He made it up Blow Sand Hill on his second attempt. Better tires and power-to-weight ratio and lower tire pressure... It's funny, because I have done Blow Sand Hill on a 2015 XT 250 (EDIT: video is now in another reply, below), and the way that bike reacted to that situation was quite similar to the way this truck did, in terms of power, speed, and gear selection (top speed in the truck in 4-low 1st and 2nd is very similar to the bike's top speed in each of those gears with the truck's 3rd being a fair bit taller; the power-to-weight ratio/ability to pull up hills in 1st and 2nd also seems similar; actually, I also just realized that the XT's 3rd gear top speed is identical to my truck's 4-high 1st gear...I wonder if that would get it done, but I know the stupid POS would just shift up into second even with the shifter sitting on "1"...really stupid design IMO, but apparently that's how they are, although I could probably get a lockout switch hooked up to force it to stay in 1st when I want it to, but enough of this rambling digression; back to this little report now!). With both vehicles, I first tried the hill WOUND OUT in second gear. In both cases, that was almost enough to get it done, but no cigar. I got it done with the XT but PINNING third gear to the MAX and then down shifting as soon as third started bogging. If I used that technique with the GMC and/or aired down the tires (even though they're street tires), I am faily confident I could make it all the way up. Perhaps I'll come back and try again some day, if the truck doesn't fall apart before I get the chance.


Somewhat to my surprise, the glue and vinyl seemed to have held up perfectly to this test, taking everything I threw at it today, seemingly without issue, though time will tell. So I am thinking just maybe this setup will actually perform as I designed it to. I will soon add another piece of vinyl over the back end of the camper shell (or another material, depending on how this actually works in the rain and if it keeps holding up to wheeling). The one thing that kind of sucks is that it tends to get pretty dusty back in the bed, but that's nothing a vacuum cleaner used after each trip can't overcome. I kind of pessimistically expected this glue to not properly secure the vinyl to the camper shell and cab in the first place. I figured the bond would be weak and it would just pull right off. Then I expected the vinyl to rip or the glue to get pulled off when the truck started flexing around off road. I did a fair bit of that, and neither of those has happened yet. I'll have to see if it all stays together, but so far so good after a day in the desert!

Strangely enough, when I got home at around 6 o'clock, I was on YouTube just watching a couple of suggested videos, and I came across one depicting a comparison of the Gladiator and Colorado ZR2. It just happened to be in the 4x4 training grounds at Ocotillo Wells. I was in that exact spot messing around only a few hours before. Funny coincidence, I thought. Below is that video. Go to 7:40 for one of the reasons why I wouldn't buy a new Gladiator. On a related note, the ZR2 is looking good :)






After watching this whole video, I kind of agree with the following comment from Tony Sloan (comments section...): "it seems as though both people were payed to talk up the jeep [sic] even where it failed or came up short". Or they were somehow "encouraged" to do so in some way.
 

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That ZR2 (so frigging nice) is one high-end specialty truck. Nothing someone is going to be loading drywall into.

There's about 30-40 Galdiator vs. "something or anything" videos going around. Definitely the talk of the "truck" town. I view it as a recreational only truck. No one is going to buy one to make it a work truck. Designed to have fun. Kinda like a TW. My local dealer has offered me stupid money as a trade in for my 2013 Wrangler that I leased new and then... after liking it so much and it keeping it's value... I bought out the lease. I'm always the one saying "never buy the first year of anything, why be a Beta tester. But I'm seriously looking at the Gladiator, especially the base model with no frills, roll-up windows, etc. as a lease. I mean, who makes roll-up window in anything nowadays?
Then if it's a bummer, vamoose.
Pricing was released last Thursday, you can order but there are none at any of my local dealers. Base is a few thousand ($2K-$3K) more than the standard 2 door Wrangler which is a real surprise to me. Of course the Unlimited Rubicon can reach $60,000K but that'll never be on my radar.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Here are a couple more photos that Travis (the trip organizer) took.

07 FJ cruiser on 33s and 62 Willys on 31s in background; 05 TJ on 35s barely visible stage-left.

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62 Willys getting hooked up for the tow back to camp (plot twist: I just found out today that it actually wasn't broken, but apparently just popped out of gear? LOL...). Also, me wearing a borrowed hat...since I didn't bring a
hat or sunglasses or sun block -- oops. I need to make sure I have those items consistently.


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The Willys.

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The TJ.

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The Willys getting towed down the easy side of Blow Sand Hill.

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Below is my video of the harder side of Blow Sand Hill from two or three years ago. If it looks not-that-steep, well, it's not, but blasting up a sand dune -- even one like this -- actually still requires a lot of speed and power.


https://www.facebook.com/kj.ok.9/videos/vb.825725062/10156877173570063/?type=2&video_source=user_video_tab
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
stagewex: I don't mean to criticize anyone for liking the Gladiator, or anything. It's not that I even dislike it, per se. I could even feasibly end up with one myself in the right situation (15 years from now as a stupidly good-deal used purchase...kind of like what happened with my truck LOL). For me, a lot of other options would be highly preferable as brand new vehicles, including the regular LWB Wrangler. I would really like to see a short cab/longer bed version of the Gladiator (maybe 3 bench seats like in Tacomas and my 1500). Personally, in my view, any truck bed shorter than 6 feet kind of defeats the purpose of it being a truck. One could still make one of these pretty beastly with a fat lift and 40s, and, while we're at it, a supercharged Hemi etc. etc.
 

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Man, that looks like a lot of fun. Love that Willy's.

On the Gladiator it seems the diesel version and actual long bed version is in the future. Two things I would want but don't care that much about right now.
I've had 3 Wranglers over the last 20 years and was actually going to go with the 4 door version reluctantly because I just need more room for camping and other stuff. Sure it's a Soccer Mom Jeep but whatever.

Taking the rear seat out on my Wrangler on a regular basis really sucks. And they have been talking about this frikken pick-up truck going into production for 20 years too.

With 4 doors and and open bed I'll probably go with the Gladiator. For me it was just about what model Jeep I was getting. Just need a day off to go to the dealer. Lease of course.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
LOL yes, I glued the vinyl to the truck. It is not just any old glue though; that stuff is seriously strong and legit and is so far meeting exceeding the advertising claims. It does look like crap, but I couldn't care less about that. Function over form every time for me! :)


stagewex: Well, that will be cool! Maybe post up some pics/video on here once you get it!
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Alrighty, so, to quote myself from this thread, it could be "pretty beastly with a fat lift and 40s". And what do you know; someone's already done precisely that ;)


(Skip to 7:40 if you just want to see the Jeep...)

 
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