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  #1  
Old 01-17-2017, 01:12 PM
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Halley - 2017 WK2 Trailhawk Build

Hey all!

So this is my formal introduction here after a few months of following, reading, admiring, and researching. My username is as such due to my endurance adventure blog that I write with stories of my Appalachian Trail thru-hike, cross country bicycle trip, and recent attempt at Vermont's 273 mile Long Trail over two weeks last month. Disappointed that one ended early, but you can go read about it and see photos if you'd like: 2180 miles - Endurance Adventuring

I'm a decade long TJ owner, selling my Volvo 840 buying my Wrangler Sport in high school, and building her since then. She's up on 35" MTR/Ks, 3" lift with Currie suspension components, 8k winch, Undercover Fab aluminum skids from front to back, Rigid LEDs everywhere, strobe lights for on-road recovery stuff (good samaritan lights as I call them) and the rest of the typical works with electronics and radios. The members of the Massachusetts Jeep club I founded in 2011 affectionately call her Big Red. As our club has grown, my close group of Jeep friends began discussing an overland trip through northern New England. As I took on the planning of our adventure with my buddy Rob, I began realizing that the TJ wasn't going to be the best platform for me personally to do these kinds of trips in.

I began shopping for a JKUR, floating the idea of trading my daily driver in and keeping the TJ and the JKUR, each to serve different purposes. As my research continued and I spoke with JKUR owner friends, I realized that I'd much rather have something along the lines of an SUV that would be less of a one trick pony. I travel for work and therefore frequently have rental cars, so I began test driving the Grand Cherokees during my weeks away from home, which ultimately turned my search in that direction. Reading about the current (2016) and new models for 2017, I focused on the Overland and Trailhawk trims as ones I'd be interested in buying. Price was a factor, but I knew early on that I didn't want to heavily mod this truck, so buying a Limited trim and upgrading things wasn't really in the cards for me. The Overland always struck me as much more of a luxury oriented vehicle than the name might suggest, and the Trailhawk is the nitty gritty but still very well equipped model, as you all know.

After many months of waiting, debating, test driving, yada yada, I finally went ahead and purchased a 2017 Trailhawk last week. Fully loaded (minus Blu-Ray entertainment), it was a unique package with the active safety package, luxury package - read: panoramic sunroof that I dreamed about, multiple skid plates underneath, 18" wheels wrapped in Kevlar lined Goodyear A/Ts, and the Quadra-Trac/air suspension package. Sticker was $49,500, and after a week of putting dealerships against each other, and after a bit of negotiating I got it from a dealer in New Hampshire (90 minutes from my house in Boston), for $42,799. I am quite happy with the price, and opted to add the 7-year bumper to bumper Mopar warranty for $1,300 for a piece of mind. There's a high likelihood I keep it that long, and I can get money back from FCA if I sell the vehicle first.

So that's probably enough for post #1. I purchased it and dropped it off immediately for the front end to be protective wrapped, so I haven't had a chance to take it for a real high-res photo shoot yet (save for lining the ladies up for a family photo as you'll see below). Here are some photos to start, since that's what we all love in these threads anyway. This will not be the most advanced or capable build in the history of this forum, but aside the rare iPhone photo, I promise to at least have high quality pictures.

Look forward to writing more posts with mods and adventures.

Ryan



At the Dealership by Ryan McKee


Three's Company by Ryan McKee

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  #2  
Old 01-17-2017, 01:17 PM
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Re: Halley - 2017 WK2 Trailhawk Build

Nice! I wouldn't change a thing. All those little red kisses really set it off.
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Old 01-17-2017, 01:33 PM
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Re: Halley - 2017 WK2 Trailhawk Build

Nice rides.
Welcome to the Garage
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Old 01-17-2017, 02:44 PM
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Re: Halley - 2017 WK2 Trailhawk Build

Nice ride, IMO you got a good deal on your pricing too.
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Old 01-18-2017, 12:11 PM
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Re: Halley - 2017 WK2 Trailhawk Build

Nice rides and Welcome
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Old 01-19-2017, 08:30 AM
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Re: Halley - 2017 WK2 Trailhawk Build

Quote:
Originally Posted by BubbaATL View Post
Nice! I wouldn't change a thing. All those little red kisses really set it off.
Thanks! Yeah I'm a big fan of the subtle red hints too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Governor View Post
Nice rides.
Welcome to the Garage
Thank you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by 75 Anniversary View Post
Nice ride, IMO you got a good deal on your pricing too.
Thanks. I think so too. I had attempted to push one of the dealerships to $42k even, but their finance manager called me directly and told me that "If someone was offering me the car for $42.7, I should pay cash and do cartwheels out the door." so I called that dealership and said I'd take it for that price immediately after we got off the phone

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Originally Posted by Heckflosse1963 View Post
Nice rides and Welcome
Thanks much!
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Old 01-19-2017, 08:31 AM
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Re: Halley - 2017 WK2 Trailhawk Build

First up on the mods list (I guess removing the license plate bracket happened first thing when I got home) was to get the front end protective wrapped against road rocks and paint chips. I had been meaning to do this on the A4 when I purchased, but never got around to it. I had only had the GC home for 12 hours before I drove it a few miles and dropped it off at a local shop that has Lambos, Ferraris, and Porsches as his regular detail / wrap clients. In discussing my options with Pete, the owner of Unique Car Care, even before I took delivery of the Trailhawk, he laid out three options for protective packages that I could go with.

For $799 I chose the Xcel self-healing/UV safe/10 year warranty protective wrap for the full front bumper, grille, 1/3 hood, 1/3 front fenders, and mirrors. He even used a special "stealth black" to cover the hood decal to match the hood wrap line. In addition to this I had him do the b-pillars to protect the glossy black material from scratches, then the a-pillars and the roof line before the sun roof. My intention with the latter two was to protect the paint from scratches that I might encounter when on trails as the roofline lifts the low hanging branches up. I know a lot of you have access to wide open trails and beautiful mountain ranges, but in New England we have a ton of heavily wooded trails with overgrown vegetation that often lends pin striping to the paint jobs of our rigs.

Total cost with the pillars/roof add-ons and a detail job after the install - $1,049.00... Beneficial for me, he kept the car in his shop all week while I've been gone.

Here are some photos he sent me during the install...



Xpel Ultimate Bumper Install by 2180miles


Xpel Ultimate Bumper Finish by 2180miles


Xpel Ultimate Hood Finish by 2180miles


Xpel Ultimate Hood Install by 2180miles


Xpel Stealth Film Install by 2180miles


Xpel Stealth Film Finish by 2180miles
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Old 01-19-2017, 08:53 AM
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Re: Halley - 2017 WK2 Trailhawk Build

Nice ride and it looks great...welcome. Why not do the entire hood with the Xpel? That line would drive me nuts...or is it really not as noticeable in person as it is in the pictures?
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Old 01-19-2017, 09:06 AM
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Re: Halley - 2017 WK2 Trailhawk Build

Quote:
Originally Posted by IndustrialChaos View Post
Nice ride and it looks great...welcome. Why not do the entire hood with the Xpel? That line would drive me nuts...or is it really not as noticeable in person as it is in the pictures?
I've yet to see it in person. I'll let you know how it looks in person and will get some dSLR photos in daylight to show.

I chose not to do the whole hood because the cost difference was a few hundred dollars, and I honestly don't think that the top portion of a relatively flat hood that stands 48" off the ground will be subject to a lot of damage. I was happier to reallocate the money to the pillars/roof where direct damage to the paint is more likely.
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Old 01-19-2017, 09:16 AM
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Re: Halley - 2017 WK2 Trailhawk Build

Quote:
Originally Posted by IndustrialChaos View Post
Nice ride and it looks great...welcome. Why not do the entire hood with the Xpel? That line would drive me nuts...or is it really not as noticeable in person as it is in the pictures?
Same here. I don't get spending a decent amount of dough and not doing the whole thing. Only looks even worse after a few waxes as well.

The Jeep looks awesome and look forward to the rest of the build.
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Old 01-22-2017, 10:02 AM
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Cobra 75WX / Firestik NGP CB Install

So the next thing up on the mods list was a CB. Our club has a requirement for CB radios during group events and trail runs, and while I'm not entirely sure yet that the Grand will replace the TJ on those easier runs, it's still important for me to have it. I've been planning to take the amateur exam and eventually installing a 2m/440 system in the truck, but haven't gotten around to that yet. For now, a few miles of coms is all I need on a regular basis. For better or worse, there's not a ton of information on CB installs in the WK2 models. A handful of photos here and there of antenna mounts, and a bit of HAM installs, but I figured I'd go ahead and of a more detailed write-up for anyone else that may need it in the future.

In order to maintain a clean look for the cabin, and to occupy as little floorspace as possible, I chose the Cobra 75WX unit. The system is pretty much contained in the mic itself, with scan and weather functions, and has a separate box that converts the PL-259 coax to the mic cable, also adding an external speaker 1/8" jack (the 75WX is known for a weak speaker, since it's contained in the microphone itself... for now, it'll be fine, but I'll eventually put a speaker under one of the seats for a little more oomph). I also chose a 2' antenna with the approximate knowledge that when mounted on a spring by the bracket, I would get the top of the antenna about 8" over the roofline. While this isn't fantastic for any antenna, it will give me adequate reception and will still maintain a clean OEM+ look (it'll also be able to fit in the lower bay of my garage if ever the need arose, and I can easily swap in a taller antenna for trips with the club.

From the images I found on google, it seems most people rivet or velcro a mic clip into the center console or on either side of the 8.4" screen, but I wanted something that was a little more easily accessible and didn't require drilling a hole in the dash or the tacky look of an adhesive. I started searching for a cell phone type mount specific to the Grand Cherokee, and discovered the ProClip Console Mount which was designed to mate up to the center console by the cup holders. They provide a small tool to pop up the console and get the lip of the clip underneath for secure mounting. It took all of 2 minutes to get this thing hooked up, including drilling out and screwing in the mic clip that Cobra provided with the CB.



ProClip Mount by 2180miles


ProClip Mount by 2180miles


Photos of other owners who have tailgate mounted antennas on the WK2 have shown them in two locations, 1 being drilled into the brake light assembly, and the other into the lower bumper below the brake light. In both instances the antenna is mounted into plastic, so I went ahead and ordered a NGP (no ground plane) antenna from Firestik. This is a special kind of antenna where the internal wiring is designed to work at locations that do not have metal ground planes, like motorhome fiberglass, on a motorcycle where the metal is minimal, and on boats. In this instance it worked perfectly for my plastic brake light.

I initially was hesitating to drill into the brake light itself but after removing the plastic pop rivets and taking the light off the Jeep, I realized that there was plenty of room to get a metal bracket on the back side of the mount in between the tail light's plastic. I cut up a small piece (1.5" x 1.5" , if that) of 18 gauge steel to provide a firm backing to the antenna bracket. Drilling it out to the same hole pattern as the bracket I was then able to use the self-tapping screws to get through the mount, plastic brake light, and metal on the other side. I painted the metal plate and put it front of my heat gun to speed up the drying. Putting this back onto the Jeep I was able to close the tail gate and check that there were no clearance issues between the two when it closed. Initially there was a little bit of rubbing (against the tail gate side plastic, not metal thankfully!) so I took the bracket to my angle grinder with a flapper disc and smoothed it down a bit to cut down on rubbing.



WK2 Brake Light Assembly by 2180miles


WK2 Brake Light Assembly Removed by 2180miles


Firestik Antenna Bracket w/ Metal Back Plate by 2180miles


Next up in the process was figuring out how to get the coax cable back to the CB itself. I had decided from the beginning that the CB controller box would live under the battery compartment lid (the battery on the WK2 is under the passenger seat... makes 12v wiring a breeze), so the coax needed to end up there. I fed the wire through the vents in the back of the trunk, then used my interior trim tool kit to lightly bend the trim pieces and push the wiring underneath. I moved from the rear pillar to the trim piece at the very back of the trunk, then around to the passenger side. I had to unbolt the cargo tie down to lift the right side of that trim piece up, but then was able to feed the wire down along the spare tire compartment to behind the rear bench seats. Moving to the rear passenger door, I fed the coax under the door trim and then under the passenger seat bracket and into the battery compartment. It took a while to get all of this done, using patience as I was petrified of breaking a trim panel on the brand new truck, but I managed to use all 18' of the wire without any coils or major stuffing of any spare wire... all good things for signal! It's also nice that the only time the cable is exposed is the 2" between the B-pillar and the front passenger seat, and the location where it passes through the tailgate weather strip.

Once that was done, I went to check in on my buddy Rob who had been going to town with the battery compartment cover. Cobra includes a nice grommet and mount for the wire, so we decided that instead of mounting the control box on the top of the compartment cover, we'd mount it underneath. Due to where the battery lives there was a lot of room to the left side, where the control box fit perfectly. Simple crimp-on ends were easily attached to the (+) lead of the battery, and we grounded it out to the seat bracket for a good chassis ground. Drilling out the compartment cover to run the mic control cable under the seat, we then threw the grommet in there and called it good. The nice thing about this CB is that the microphone can detach from the control box so if I ever need to get it out of the way for whatever reason, it's simple to do so.

Here are the photos of the wiring (I labeled the route in red) and the under-seat bracket and wiring.



Coax Routing Through Trunk by 2180miles


Coax Through Passenger Compartment by 2180miles


Coax Into Battery Compartment by 2180miles


Batter Cover Undermount by 2180miles


Battery Cover Install by 2180miles


Battery Cover Installed- Wire Quick Disconnect by 2180miles


After this it was a matter of getting the antenna assembly onto the rear bracket, and tuning it. While Firestik tunes their CB antennas from the factory, I find it's always best to re-do the tuning on the vehicle itself to find out how the environment and install have affected its signal. The yellow band at the base of the antenna in some photos is there to denote that is is a NGP antenna and will not function normally on a standard CB antenna install. Once tightened down on the bracket and the tailgate operation was tested a few times, we took the Jeep out to the end of a state park where marshlands surround the parking lot for quite a distance in every direction. This area provides an uninterrupted surrounding for the antenna to be tuned in, not affected by power lines, buildings, or other structures that can cut down on the reception and SWR readings.

After toying around with the adjustable antenna screw for a while, Rob and I were quite pleased to have the CB measure in at around 1.2 - 1.5 SWR at channels 1, 20, and 40. In my many experiences installing CBs in my Wrangler (I've used 3, 4, and 5' antennas, so I've done a bit of tuning) and installing them in dozens of friend's rigs, this was the quickest and cleanest install to SWR readings I've ever come across. I was quite pleased. I took some photos of the Jeep while we were out there, and let Rob mess around with the air suspension, dropping it into it's lowest settings (which I hadn't yet done) and raising it up to Off-Road 2 mode, it's highest setting.

After returning back to his house, packing up my stuff and leaving, he sat in the cab of his Tacoma and we did a range-test between our radios as I drove away. I knew going into this that the 2' antenna would be a limiting factor on range, but I was happy to find that I could hear him clearly and he could receive me clearly up to around 2 miles away as the crow flies. I had measured out distances from his house online beforehand to know which landmarks marked which distances. So, a few hours and about $150 and I have a solid CB set-up in the Grand, with a range that will do just fine for what I need it for.

Hopefully this will help someone out in the future if they are doing the same thing to their WK2.

Big thanks to Rob for helping out. Here are the final photos of it installed.




WK2 Antenna Mount Bracket by 2180miles


WK2 Antenna Spring Mount by 2180miles


ProClip with CB Mic by 2180miles


Grand Cherokee CB Cabin Mount by 2180miles


WK2 Plum Island Reservation by 2180miles


WK2 Trailhawk Rear by 2180miles


WK2 Tailgate by 2180miles
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Old 01-22-2017, 10:08 AM
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Re: Halley - 2017 WK2 Trailhawk Build

Wow nice work. That is really slick.
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