Project Cherokee: Con-Ferr Roof Rack Installation

Jeep Cherokee with roof rack. Jeep Cherokee with roof rack.

Project Cherokee: Con-Ferr Roof Rack Installation

After researching roof racks for quite a while, I decided to go with Con-Ferr’s 4″ Porthole Roof Rack. I really liked Garvin’s Wilderness Roof Rack, but the price was quite a bit more than I was looking to spend. Both racks are of excellent quality, so I chose the cheaper of the two.

I ordered from 4 Wheel Parts Wholesalers out of Los Angeles, Ca because that was Con-Ferr’s recommended distributor. Its a good thing I ordered the rack in February because it never arrived until late March. I guess a lot of the Con-Ferr parts were back-ordered.

What I ordered: I ordered the Cherokee Rack (Deluxe bolt together), (2) sets of light tabs, rack flooring, and rack mounts. I opted for the rack mounts that mated right into the factory roof rack.

Building: Building the rack was easy. It shipped in two halves that literally bolted together. The flooring was also really easy to install. It just clamped down with brackets. The only thing that you really have to pay attention to is making sure the flooring is centered, which was easy.

Wiring:The one thing that I did to make it a little easier when installing on the truck was to get the lights and mount / wire them to the rack while it was sitting on the floor. I decided to go with two sets of Hella 500s. I picked up four spools of 14 guage wire from Radio Shack. Each one was 25 feet, so I unspooled enough of the rolls to work with, and left the rest on the spool. I ran each wire from the power lead of each light to the back of the rack. (**After talking with an electrician from my work, he said that the guage of the wire was fine and I could have actually ran a single wire to power a pair of lights. Since I already had them run, I left them as they were.**)

I ran a small piece of wire loom to each light and then to a single main “feeder” piece of wire loom that ran along one of the flooring rails to the back of the rack. This wire loom is zip tied in place and keeps all the wires neatly together, and somewhat shielded from the elements. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good detail picture of this, but the picture below shows all of the pre-work of the rack that was done. This picture was just before the rack was put on the truck. You can see the wire rolls at the rear of the rack in the picture.

The rack wired up and ready for installation.

The rack wired up and ready for installation.

Truck Installation: This was actually quite simple. I had already built up the mounting brackets before this step. The end of the factory roof rails unscrew which allows you to remove the factory crossbars. I then put the end of the rails back on. After this, you just take four mounts and mount them equally on each side. Don’t tighten them down. This picture below shows how this looks:

The factory rack off and mounts for the Con-Ferr installed.

The factory rack off and mounts for the Con-Ferr installed.

At this point, you will definitely need a friend to help you lift the rack up onto the mounts. Its a good idea to throw a blanket on the roof just incase it slips off the mounts. Now you just sort of have to move it around until its centered front to back, and more importantly side to side.

Centering the rack on the truck.

Centering the rack on the truck.

Truck Wiring: To wire the lights up to switches, you more or less follow Hella’s diagrams. I did decided to do things just a little differently. I used Hella’s relays and most of the wiring, but I bought new switches.

Switches.

Switches.

I took the four wires out of the wiring loom of the back of the rack and brought them in through the hatch. This works our good because you can tuck them behind the plastic trim panels along the roof and sides. I then ran them up the passenger side trim underneath the door sills to the passenger front seat. It was at this point that I ran the wires from the relay (in the engine compartment) to the passenger side front seat and made the connection right there. It them tucked neatly under the door sill trim piece.

Wiring to rack.

Wiring to rack.

The switches that I bought hook up the same way the Hella ones do. After they were all hooked up, I had to aim the lights. I aimed the outer set out a little ways past my head lights. The inner set I aimed just past my headlights. So now with all three sets on, I have a wide range of light in front of my Jeep.

One set of lights on.

One set of lights on.

Both sets of lights on.

Both sets of lights on.