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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'll preface this post by saying that this will be less "DIY/How To" and more "things to watch out for". The instructions that Chief provides for the Hidden Winch Mount are extremely well done, and there are already a couple really good posts on here that do a much better job than I'd ever be able to in describing the general process. They even thought to take a bunch of nice photos along the way.

What these didn't do (at least in my case) was warn me about the pitfalls of trying to use the Chief Hidden Winch Mount with the 12,000lb Badlands Apex Winch on a pre-facelift (2012) WK2. Not sure which of these things caused me so much headache, it may have been a combination of all, but hopefully this post will prevent the next person from having to go in blind like I did.

So...the 1st issue that you'll probably come across while planning your install is that this particular winch cannot be "clocked". AKA, the housing with the clutch handle cannot be removed and rotated to a downward position to allow for engaging/disengaging from below. Every other winch I've ever owned was able to do this, so I definitely made an assumption that came back to bite me. Since the very nature of a hidden winch mount is that it's.....well, hidden, this could be a deal breaker right out of the gate for some people. In my case, I really didn't want to go buy another Warn Xeon 12s for the Grand (read: I'm cheap), so I decided that I'd just have to suffer through a lengthy power out if I ever actually need this thing on a trail.

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The 2nd thing you'll find is that the wireless function of the winch (it comes with a cable for using it in a wired configuration also) is activated in a way that makes leaving the control box attached cumbersome for this application. There is a button on the wireless remote that must be held down for a three seconds (this turns on the wireless radio in the remote) and then there is a seperate toggle switch on the control box of the winch that needs to be turned on. This toggle switch is behind rubber cover that also protects the port for the wired remote connection. Fortunately, the winch DOES allow you to remove the entire control box and relocate it for easier access. It even comes with some extra cables, a control box mounting plate, and all the extra hardware in the box. Unfortunately, at least if you have the 5.7 Hemi like I do, you won't be relocating it to anywhere in the engine bay where it makes the most sense. There simply isn't enough room for a 10x8 inch box full of electronics under there as far as I can tell. I suppose you could mount it inside the cab of the Jeep, but getting three, 2 guage, high amperage wires through your firewall back to the winch seems even more daunting (and expensive) to me. In the end, I decided to just leave the control box where it is, toggle the wireless switch ON permanently, and just use the battery disconnect switch that also comes with the winch to simply turn of the whole thing when not needed.

Once you've got the Chief Hidden Winch Mount installed and you've got a solid plan for the wiring and actual usage of the winch.....you'll be presented with issue number 3. It simply doesn't fit in the cradle. The distance between the mounting points on the feet are fine, as they are pretty standard across most winches, but the gear and motor housings on the winch make contact with the front walls of the cradle. See one of the attached images for a close up. You'll have to break out a grinder or something similar and do a little trimming on either the housing or the cradle to get the winch to sit flush against the bottom of the cradle. Otherwise you won't be able to bolt it down. I chose to do both. I used a flap disk on a grinder to remove just the high points of the housing of the winch, and even less off the inside lip of the cradle. Not enough to create a hole in the housing, and nowhere near enough to weaken the cradle. Just enough for the winch to fit. Prepare to take some time at this point to get things just right. I'm sure you could pretty easily ruin the winch or the cradle by getting a little too aggressive with a grinder here.

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Remember when earlier I chose to not relocate that control box....this leads us to issue number 4, the control box will definitely make contact with the rear of your grill. It will initially seem like there is a zero percent chance that you'll be able to make this work, and you'll probably want to give up and just go buy another winch at this point. I almost did, but as previously mentioned, I'm cheap. I also already own a Warn Xeon 12s and even though I didn't go through the hassle of unbolting it and trting to relocate it to the Grand, it looks to me to be just as big in the dimensions that matter for the purposes of this grill interference. I'm not sure it wouldn't suffer from exactly the same issues. So....tere really isn't much that can be done here but break out the Dremel and start trimming. You'll end up cutting a pretty good portion of the lower rear of your grill away to make room for the winch control box. On the bright side, it's completely unnoticeable from the front of the Jeep. There is plenty of plastic back there to modify, and no shortage of clips remaining to hold everything in place when you are done. So, as above with the grinder and the metal work....you're just gonna have to take your time and trim a bit at a time until everything fits. And........it will JUST fit. Barely. As in, even when I had the rear of the grill trimmed as much as I was comfortable with, when everything is put back together, there will still be a slight bulge if you get on your hands and knees and look closely directly at the front bumper cover.

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After that, it's pretty much smooth sailing. If you've made it this far you'll already be a pro at trimming plastic so having to take a Dremel to your bumper cover for a hole to mount the Hawse fairlead that comes with winch will be less nerve wracking than it would have been.

Anyways hope this helps someone out there if they decide to go down this route with these specific parts.

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Nice! Looks so good too when all put together. You don't see many 2011-2013 WK2s with a hidden winch. Also, what awning is that and do you like it? I've been eyeballing an awning for my jeep too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Nice! Looks so good too when all put together. You don't see many 2011-2013 WK2s with a hidden winch. Also, what awning is that and do you like it? I've been eyeballing an awning for my jeep too.
It's a 4.5ft awning from Overland Vehicle Systems.


Relatively inexpensive, and for what I use it for.....quick picnics when working or driving through the mountains.....it is just about perfect. I don't know that it's big enough for much else, but the Jeep's roofline isn't long enough to mount anything else without it looking pretty ridiculous.

We also have a much larger 23Zero Peregrine awning on the off-road trailer, so when we are parked there is essentially a 25-30 foot area of (almost) continuous coverage while at camp. I don't seem to have any images of that setup....but here are a few random other ones from the last year.
Plant Grass Wood House Building
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