Halley - '17 WK2 Trailhawk Overland Build

2180miles

Endurance Adventuring
Where did you source the spare wheel? I'm trying to find four 18" wheels to mount dedicated snow tires.

-Fellow Trailhawk owner
So sorry, I just saw this! I don't remember where I got them from exactly, but I think it was a Mopar overstock warehouse in the Atlanta region. Let me dig further in and see what I can find back in the old AMEX receipts.

Don’t mean to derail the thread but has there been any solution for a WK2 lift?
As far as the air lift suspension, none that I know of. I've heard rumors that Chief Products is working on it, but nothing concrete yet that I know of.
 

86scotty

Explorer
Ryan, kudos on your build and thread. Beautiful pics! Even the build pics. I love quality DIY's.

I have a background in building off-road vans but have done a couple SUV's as well. Also, I have a 2016 Rubicon that is the current camping/traveling rig. We just traded her Subie for a 2016 Overland with about every option except lane departure/blind spot/adaptive cruise. I'm pretty impressed with the air suspension and tranny features. Ours does have low range and neutral, though I'm no expert on what exactly the package is called. Same as yours best I can tell. It has the 20"s and lots of chrome trim instead of black but I'm ok with that. I've had a bunch of blacked vehicles over the past few years.

Getting on with it, I have a couple of ideas and questions for you. I'm planning to upgrade my rubber to 275/55-20 KO2's and trimming the spare tire bay to fit the bigger rubber. She doesn't like the idea of a swing out for daily driver use. Did you experiment with this before or since you went with the Wilco?

Also, I have noticed the space under the spare tire well is wide open. I simply can't believe there is that much unused space under any modern SUV. I have the same AMG aux battery as you and am thinking of welding up a rack under there for that battery and a water tank. This will mean fridge and drawer would have to be removed to get to the spare tire well but it's all about compromises.

I have an FSR RTT and am pretty concerned about the overhang/cantilever in front of 2 rails. Did you try it with just the 2 rails before adding the third? Also, how is the wind noise? My RTT has about the same form factor as yours, it's a hard/soft shell hybrid.

Thanks for sharing your journey.
 

2180miles

Endurance Adventuring
Ryan, kudos on your build and thread. Beautiful pics! Even the build pics. I love quality DIY's.

I have a background in building off-road vans but have done a couple SUV's as well. Also, I have a 2016 Rubicon that is the current camping/traveling rig. We just traded her Subie for a 2016 Overland with about every option except lane departure/blind spot/adaptive cruise. I'm pretty impressed with the air suspension and tranny features. Ours does have low range and neutral, though I'm no expert on what exactly the package is called. Same as yours best I can tell. It has the 20"s and lots of chrome trim instead of black but I'm ok with that. I've had a bunch of blacked vehicles over the past few years.

Getting on with it, I have a couple of ideas and questions for you. I'm planning to upgrade my rubber to 275/55-20 KO2's and trimming the spare tire bay to fit the bigger rubber. She doesn't like the idea of a swing out for daily driver use. Did you experiment with this before or since you went with the Wilco?

Also, I have noticed the space under the spare tire well is wide open. I simply can't believe there is that much unused space under any modern SUV. I have the same AMG aux battery as you and am thinking of welding up a rack under there for that battery and a water tank. This will mean fridge and drawer would have to be removed to get to the spare tire well but it's all about compromises.

I have an FSR RTT and am pretty concerned about the overhang/cantilever in front of 2 rails. Did you try it with just the 2 rails before adding the third? Also, how is the wind noise? My RTT has about the same form factor as yours, it's a hard/soft shell hybrid.

Thanks for sharing your journey.
Scott- Thanks so much for writing in! I greatly appreciate your accolades and recognition of the work it's taken to get here!

First off, I did not experiment with fitting the spare in the back as I knew from the get-go that the plan was to move it to the Wilco Hitchgate and install a second battery underneath. Sorry to be of no help there! I'm wondering if an OBA set-up (even cig plug or battery terminal hookup) and deflating the spare would solve this.

Regarding the space underneath the spare area, I agree completely. HUGE waste! I've also debated putting a water tank under there and utilizing the 4-6 large bolts on either side of that area to secure a skid plate off sorts. Perhaps if you built a solid floor like I did in the rear under the spare, you could do a piston to assist with the lift of the fridge?

With the tent, I ran just the two rails for exactly 6 hours before calling it quits and ordering the third rail. The "lift" forces caused at the front of the RTT were far too much for me to be comfortable with and I was very afraid of damaging the OEM nutserts. Lucky for you, the next post might solve this conundrum! If not, I've now got my 2nd set of crossbars (the Thule Traverse) that allowed for a third crossbar up front for sale. E-mail me if you'd be interested in them for simplicity and cost effectiveness. No issues running the RTT with those 3 crossbars for a year and a half. Wind noise was negligible in the cabin with windows closed, but was semi-obnoxious with the sunroof open and LED bar mounted up front.

Happy to answer any more questions or discuss anything further!

Ryan
 

2180miles

Endurance Adventuring
Chief Products WK2 Roof Rack Installation

It’s with great enthusiasm that I sit down to scribble this install write-up about the brand new Chief Products WK2 Roof Rack. A long awaited release from Chief, this rack steps in as one of few contenders in the industry for modern Grand Cherokees looking to move gear to the roof to save space inside. Boasting an unprecedented and engineer certified 330-pound dynamic weight rating and 1,332-pound dynamic rating, this rack is build to securely and safely handle whatever you can throw on it.

Whether you’re looking to store a spare tire, fuel canisters, LED bars, awnings, or a Roof Top Tent of any kind, the WK2 Roof Rack is the solution a great many people have been looking for. A very important thanks to my friend Nick for helping with the initial day of installation of the rack.


Chief Products Arrived!
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WK2 Roof Rack Packaging
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Shipped to me directly from Chief’s warehouse in Australia, the entire aluminum rack (listed on their website as the “Full Roof Rack System”) came immaculately packaged and wrapped in more protective bubble wrap than even Amazon sends out. Each piece of the aircraft-grade aluminum alloy was perfectly powder coated, each piece of individual hardware bagged and labeled for assembly. If I’ve learned one thing over the years of working with Chief, it’s that they put thought into each and every aspect of the process, from unboxing to install to customer service, it’s all there.

To start the install of the WK2 Roof Rack I needed to remove my roof top tent and existing Rhino Racks and Thule Traverse crossbar, along with the OEM roof rails. Great news - all of this can be done with a simple T-30 torx bit. With all of that put down on the ground behind the Jeep, I washed two years of grime and dirt accumulation off the roof, and we got to work.


Rhino Rack Crossbar Removal
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RTT / Crossbars Removed
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OEM Roof Rails Removed
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Cleaning OEM Nutserts
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Bare Bones Configuration

The first step was loosely fastening the small angled brackets to the Mounting Rails in preparation for their installation on the roof. Each bracket mounts with two 10mm bolts and lock washers which, in true Chief Products fashion, sit securely into grooves pressed into the Mounting Rails themselves. Once these 10 brackets were finger tight on the two Rails, we placed the driver’s side up on the roof of the Trailhawk. Utilizing the factory T30 fasteners and an angled bit driver, we installed the bolts into the factory nutserts along the roofline, making sure to leave the whole system semi-loose so that it could wiggle around as the rest of the rack was installed over top of the Mounting Rails. We repeated the process on the passenger side of the vehicle before returning to the pile of parts on the garage floor (placed gently overtop of the shipping bubblewrap!) to continue the installation.


Chief Products WK2 Roof Rack
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Mounting Rail Fasteners
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Mounting Rail Pressed Grooves
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Angle Brackets Installed
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Securing To OEM Nutserts
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Driver's Side Mounting Rail
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Initial Tightening of Angle Brackets
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Both Mounting Rails Installed
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Depending on which multiple Roof Rack configurations you buy from Chief, there are a variety of methods of installation. While I was ultimately working with the Full System configuration, I wanted to ensure that people were able to see the variety of possibilities, so we went forward with installing what Chief refers to as the “Bare Bones” configuration. This consists of the Mounting Rails and two of the Plank crossbars.

The beauty of the Chief rack is the modular nature of the product, allowing these Planks to be placed almost anywhere up and down the length of the Mounting Rails. The full system comes with 6 planks for a complete installation, but is configurable with anywhere from one to all six of them depending on your needs. I figured most people would use a two-plank configuration, so we placed them in positions 2 and 6 to illustrate this set-up. You’ll notice the awesome end caps that flank the crossbar planks, machined out in the famous 7-slots that pay tribute to decades of Jeep history.

Each aluminum plank is drilled out for bolts to easily fall through them into the Mounting Rails where a bar with pre-welded nuts mates up to the bottom side. For those of us with larger hands it can be a bit of fun to hold the nut plates into place, but I found that getting one side relatively secure and then adding the second bolt made it a lot easier to get everything tight. Once all 4 bolts were tightened on the first plank we moved onto the second one, buttoning it up in just a few minutes after picking it up off the garage floor. At this point we were losing daylight in the Northeast, so I drove the Jeep back from Nick’s house and tested the wind noise with the windows and sunroof both opened and closed. I’m happy to report that the existence of the rack was imperceivable at all rates of speed regardless of the window situation. Huge accolades to Chief for that accomplishment.



Plank Crossbar Installation
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Tightening to Mounting Rails
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2180miles Chief WK2 Roof Rack-21
by 2180miles, on Flickr


Rear Plank
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2180miles

Endurance Adventuring
Full System Configuration

The next day after checking in with Chief’s lead engineer Ben down in Australia, I moved forward with installing the Full System on the roof. The SINGLE most important thing to note here is that there’s a specific order to do this in to ensure that everything lines up appropriately. For the sake of this, let’s just jump forward to me having removed the two planks and standing in the driveway with just the Mounting Rails on the roof.


Roof Tray Corner Pieces
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Complete Roof Tray
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The first part of this process is to loosen all the fasteners holding the Rails down, including both the 10mm bolts attaching the angle brackets and the T-30 nuts into the roof nutserts. These all being loose (but not removed) is going to allow the whole set-up to shimmy around as the roof tray is placed overtop. The tray/surround itself is comprised of four straight pieces of aluminum and four rounded end-caps. The endcaps slide into the longer lengths and fasten with four small bolts per corner. Once the frame it assembled it weighs only a few pounds, adding to the beauty of this product where it’s entirely possible to install by yourself.

With the corner blocks tightened down I lifted it up onto the roof, following up by placing a plank in the first mounting position closest to the front of the Trailhawk. According to Ben the easiest way to get the entire tray lined up is to install the 1st and 4th position planks first, then to move forward with tightening down the mounting rails as the whole system is now in place to line up correctly. Once the rails and both planks were tightened down completely I lifted the rest of the planks into place and tightened them down accordingly. It’s worth noting that I did not re-install the 7-slot end-caps on the planks, as I don’t think they’ll fit in with the tray surround.


Roof Tray Installed
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Front View
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Front View - Planks 1 + 4
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Full Roof Rack
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Antenna Clearance
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Wrap-Up & Product Photos

With 6 crossbars into place and tightened down, I’d officially installed the Full System of the Chief Products WK2 Roof Rack. Total time, including figuring out how things went together and photographing as I went was around 2 hours. I can guarantee that in the future it will be much faster… I think I spent more time walking around the Jeep going back and forth between driver and passenger side than I did actually mounting and tightening hardware. The roof rack in the full configuration set-up did have some noise in the 200-250Hz range at highway speeds, but I’ve spoken to the guys at Chief and they’ve said that they have a fix for it and that it’s largely due to the rack being bare/empty at the moment. I’ll report back with updates.

Next week I’ll be heading back up to Maine’s Allagash Wilderness for a winter trip, and will be installing a new-to-the-market RTT to do some testing for the manufacturer. I’ll be stripping the WK2 Roof Rack down to their RTT configuration and will be truly looking forward to knowing that the tent, it’s weight, and me are 100% supported.

I’ll be back with more in the next few weeks, but for now, enjoy the photos and keep an eye out for Chief Product’s pre-order opening VERY soon for the incredible WK2 Roof Rack.


Questions? Comments? Let me know!



2180miles WK2 Side View
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2180miles WK2 Front View
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Chief Products WK2 Roof Rack
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Chief WK2 Roof Rack: FM/Satellite Antenna Clearance
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Chief Products WK2 Rear Corner View
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Chief Products WK2 Underside View
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Chief Products WK2 Rear Antenna View
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Chief Products WK2 Rear Corner View
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2180miles WK2 Rear View
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86scotty

Explorer
Great write up as usual Ryan. I'm really surprised at how affordable that rack is. That may just be me.

Any chance you could post a pic or two more from a distance to see how the rack changes the silhouette of the truck? I know, I know. :D
 

2180miles

Endurance Adventuring
Great write up as usual Ryan. I'm really surprised at how affordable that rack is. That may just be me.

Any chance you could post a pic or two more from a distance to see how the rack changes the silhouette of the truck? I know, I know. :D
Absolutely. Here ya go! This is as far away as I have currently but let me know if you need further and I can snap some once I'm home from this current work trip.



2180miles WK2 Chief Roof Rack
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JoelFT

New member
I have an almost completely unrelated question. I ended up getting the same tires as you and Storm. And, as I am somewhat new to this, I’m just learning about the “airing down” concept. What pressures are you using for off road vs street? TIA!
 
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