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As I mentioned previously, Right Channel Radios carries a number of Firestik products, and includes three different Firestik mounting options with the Uniden kit. I opted for the Jeep Hood mount as I had not used one of these.
The hood mount, supplied in the off-road kit, is made by FireStik. Since many Jeepers live in the snow belt or other wet climates, you'll be glad to see that the mounting kit is stainless steel which means it should be up to the task. This mount attaches to the TJ's front fender lip, under the hood, on either the left or right side of the vehicle. The mount, which includes stainless steel mounting hardware, also includes FireStik coax cable, an RF connector for the coax, and even a microphone hanger (not sure why that was in the antenna mount kit but hey, it might be better than what comes with the radio).
For this mount, the attachment of the coax to the mount is accomplished using FireStik's FireRing weatherproof connector. This is the first time I've used this and I look forward to seeing how it holds up. I have disassembled a number of RF connectors on the trail that were on friend's TJs. Moisture had gotten into the base of the mount where the coax connector was attached and it literally corroded the interior of the connector. This FireRing configuration doesn't look like it will be affected in the same fashion.
OK....time to open the hood and figure out where the mount is going.
Before I picked up the drill to make some holes, I stopped by the Right Channel Radio site to see if there was any more info concerning the mount I had selected. I checked out the supplied install photos RCR had displayed and saw how the finished product was suppose to look (hey, that is half the battle, right?). I followed the supplied link to the FireStik site and looked for more info on the Jeep hood mount. While not applicable to my install, I believe a note they provided is certainly worth sharing.....they said:
Note: The rearward part of the fender on newer Jeeps does not have the same support that was found in earlier models. On these vehicles we recommend that the bracket be mounted at least 8-inches (20cm) forward of the rear edge of the fender where it has sufficient support. If this is not followed, or if the rear part of the fender is not given additional support, the fender, dependent upon the antenna size, will flex from any whipping action of the antenna. See the revised installation pictures by clicking on the link in the first paragraph.
So with an idea of where the mount was going, it was time to make a couple of holes. Using the mount as a template, I positioned the mount on the fender and center punched one of the holes. The 2nd one would get punched once the first was drilled and a bolt put in it to ensure proper spacing.
Note: The edge of the mount that goes against the lip on the fender is cut at a slight angle to take into account the curvature of the fender. Position the mount such that it extends perpendicular from the TJ's fender panel. Positioning the mount the other way makes it appear as though you mounted it crooked (which it would be).
Why the screwdriver? Because before you drill a hole, you always check to see if there is anything on the opposite side that won't appreciate your putting a drill bit through it. In my case, I had a wire bundle tucked up under that spot. I pushed the screw driver in between the body and the wire bundle which made a clear zone for the drill bit.
As is always the case when making holes, measure twice, drill
I used a 1/8" drill bit to drill a pilot hole and then finished it with a 1/4" bit. With a mounting bolt dropped into the hole, I was pretty much guaranteed properly placement for the 2nd hole when the center punch marked the spot.
I was glad to see that the mount included a backing plate (also made from stainless steel) to help spread the load. I made a mistake many years ago by not using a backing plate when I was doing a mount and it resulted in some slight cracking of the metal. Luckily, I caught it before it became an issue.
After the 2nd hole was drilled, I positioned the backing plate
under the fender lip, slipped a lock washer over the bolt, and threaded on a
nut.....repeating that for the 2nd bolt was easier. A slight grunt on the
wrenches and the bolts were secure.
FireStik made use of the hood/fender gap that exists on a TJ when they determined the mount's position on the vehicle. I noticed a slight amount of contact of the hood on the bolt heads when I closed the hood and latched it into place. Will this cause a problem? I don't see that it will. It causes a tiny bit of deflection of the hood and that is about it. A lower profile bolt head might work better. A button head bolt that uses an Allen wrench might have been a better choice. ACE hardware most likely has them (they have them in non-stainless for sure as I've purchased them before) and if this is an issue for you, check out your options at ACE. As I said, I didn't see it as being enough of an issue to worry about.....but I felt it needed to be brought up none the less.
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