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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Ok, so I got to thinking. I want a roof rack. I don't want to pay whatever outrageous price someone charges me for injection-molded plastic and some cheap aluminum. I want something that'll LAST and that'll be able to hold up more than the roof. Soooooo...I gots me all these tools, why don't I MAKE one?

And there was the genesis of an entire weekend of time...


Difficulty: Cakewalk..........Medium......*..Expert
(rated expert for major tool usage/owning)

Things you will need:
Cut-off saw or Sawzall or hacksaw and some HUGE arms
Drill press
Rat tail file (for cleaning drilled holes)
Flat file
3/8" x 1" bolts, washers, lock washers, nuts
1/4" x 2" hex cap bolts, washers, lock washers, nuts
12 stainless steel (reccommended) 6mm x 16mm hex cap bolts and lock washers
One 4' piece of 1 1/4" x 1 1/4" angle iron
2 cross bars of your choosing (I used 5' slotted square steel tube sawed to 54")
Good drill bits (cobalt reccommended)
Paint of your choice
Other crap to attach to the rack

1. Download and print out 2 copies of this file:
View attachment RoofRackBracketLayout x 4 - modified.pdf

2. Cut out the 4 strips, leaving them connected the long way, fold on the dotted line, and tape them to the inside of the angle iron:
bracket-paper.JPG

3. Cut the angle iron into pieces the size of the double brackets:

bracket-cut.JPG

4. Drill through the paper and bracket at the spots marked. The larger holes are 3/8" and the smaller holes are 9/32". NOTE: You only make 2 sets with all of the smaller holes, these are for attaching to the roof. For the other 2 sets, only drill the middle small hole:

bracket-paper-drill.JPG

5. Cut the brackets apart now into 2 equal-sized pieces. They should be 4 3/4" each.

bracket-finished.JPG

6. File out the holes to remove any excess metal using the rat tail file and file all edges with the flat file.

7. Paint the brackets with rust-resistant paint. I used black Plasti-Dip. Be sure to clean them with alcohol or mineral spirits first since the steel will be oiled prior to shipping.

8. Remove the small covers on the roof edging to expose 3 bolt holes each.

9. Attach one lower bracket to each mount point using the 6mm bolts and a lock washer, then attach the upper bracket to the lower one to form a Z shape with 2 3/8" x 1 bolts. It should look like this: (sorry no intermediate pics, I kinda got carried away...)

mounting-closeup.JPG

10. Get your cross bars and attach them to the brackets. Since I used slotted square tube steel, I used 1/4" bolts to bolt through. If you want to use round pipe instead, use a U bolt and drill appropriate holes.

11. Get a beer, you're done!

**Pic Coming Soon!**


I chose the slotted tubing so that I can attach a lot of things to it by simple bolting. One thing I wanted on it was rope cleats for tiedown:

**Pic Coming Soon!**





Feel free to use and improve on the plans! I have some leftover angle iron and if someone wants a set of brackets to mount whatever but lacks the tools, I could make a set for probably $30 or so (painting extra, I hate painting...). Note these brackets can be used to mount just about anything you want, and can be customized for whatever bolt-on mounting you may need.

If anyone wants a copy of the master CAD file, just PM me for the file and a link to the software I made it in.

This is my first time attempting any fabrication with metal/steel so I'd really appreciate any comments or suggestions people could have! Please be kind though, I know my metal fab skillz are lacking...

Thanks to PaulJ for inspiration and "general look", I admit I kinda ripped him off. Please don't hurt me!



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I like the use of the slotted tubing, makes it even more versatile. Nice write up and looks good.
 

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Twilightzero;
A simple and very versatile design that can be adapted to many loads. :wink: People could even 'spiff' it up a bit; end caps, maybe even paint to match. :) I bet many of the 'standard' accessories for bikes, skis, luggage, etc would work with it. Thanks for the info. :lol:
p.s. (don't worry about any 'negative' or 'ghetto' comments, there's always some who get their 'kicks' that way).:evil:
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
paulj said:
looks vaguely familiar :)
Sorry :( You've been credited above, couldn't remember for the life of me whose plan I was originally looking at and I had to get it posted and get going to a meeting. Thanks for the inspiration! :D


rogwild said:
A simple and very versatile design that can be adapted to many loads. People could even 'spiff' it up a bit; end caps, maybe even paint to match.
I'm going to paint the crossbar eventually but I didn't want rubberized Plasti-Dip on it. I have a compound that will bond with rusty metal and make a black oxide coating that I can then paint black over again. The end product will be much tougher and more resistant than just painting it now, but the metal has to be actually rusty for the stuff to work, so I'm letting it "age and patina" a bit :D

ramblerdan said:
Arrr, manly! Nice low-cost solution. Someone willing to spend more $ for less weight should be able to use the same plans with aluminum.
I looked seriously at doing it in aluminum, but when I grabbed a piece of aluminum angle iron and could bend and twist it with my bare hands, I decided I wanted something a LOT tougher for the brackets. Especially if I haul plywood or LVL beams up there, it would kill the poor aluminum!

And why yes, it IS manly, thank you very much :D



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Chief Has Been Element Owner
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Very ghetto fabulous!!! :-o But I like it!

Maybe take it too a shop for some quick powder coating....should make it last much longer I would think.

I usefulness is an A+...the tie down cleats are genious
 

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Discussion Starter #7
lwclancers said:
Very ghetto fabulous!!! :-o But I like it!

Maybe take it too a shop for some quick powder coating....should make it last much longer I would think.

I usefulness is an A+...the tie down cleats are genious
I should get it gold plated for the blingness :cool: :cool: :cool:

Seriously though that's a great idea, hadn't thought of powder coating it at all. Where does one get that done...?



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Twilightzero said:
I looked seriously at doing it in aluminum, but when I grabbed a piece of aluminum angle iron and could bend and twist it with my bare hands, I decided I wanted something a LOT tougher for the brackets. Especially if I haul plywood or LVL beams up there, it would kill the poor aluminum!
You must have been testing 1/8" aluminum angle. 1/4" is plenty strong.
 

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I'm a little slow on my reply so now I'll just have to 'second' others suggestions: end caps and powder coating would really help. Looks good though.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
ramblerdan said:
You must have been testing 1/8" angle. 1/4" is plenty strong, as PaulJ's bracket demonstrates.
Yup I was, don't have a convenient place here to get 1/4" aluminum :( A friend of mine suggested 6063 1/4" aluminum, almost as strong as steel, but the piece I need would cost me roughly $30 and I don't feel like paying more for this rack - I'm a cheapass!

tom.b said:
I'm a little slow on my reply so now I'll just have to 'second' others suggestions: end caps and powder coating would really help. Looks good though.
It's been suggested to me to fill the inside of the tube with that spray expanding foam stuff - will cut the whistling to zero, no end caps needed, and then I can just paint the outside easily with black rust-proof paint. Then if I want to bold something on, just push the foam out and Voila, another hole :D

I'd love to powder coat it but I'm trying to keep my cost down...



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I used 1/8" aluminum. It also has sharp inside corner, which means it isn't quite as strong as the version with a fillet. On the other hand, it means the two pieces fit together nicely, so the weight is supported by more than the bolts. Clearly your steel brackets are stronger.

However I am not concerned about the strength of my brackets. In the overall picture I think they are fine. I used the same aluminum to make brackets on a roof rack for a pickup campertop years ago.

I'd be more concerned about corrosion than strength. Corrosion isn't going to weaken your steel brackets, but the rust could stain the car. Corrosion of the bolts is a concern. Even I have to watch that - in fact with dissimilar metals corrosion of the bolts can be more of a problem. Where possible I've used stainless steel hardware. Where I couldn't find the right stainless steel items, I used generous amounts of lock-tite to minimize water intrusion.

paulj
 

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Chief Has Been Element Owner
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Powder coating isnt all that expensive at all! If memory serves people got all 4 rims coated for only $100...I would think this would be less.

The rust proof spray paint isnt going to work well because every time you put something on the roofrack it will scratch and pull the paint off.

Poweder coating is a LOT more durable and shouldnt chip or fade.
 

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good deal creating a low budget rack, the cleat idea kicks but, but for the love of christ in heaven, did I see a pic with a fairing made from 1/2 inch wood?!?!?! :D
 

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Discussion Starter #17

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Discussion Starter #18

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I like the versatility and lightness of the multiple holes; but just wondering what effect they have on 'wind noise' and possibly mpg (but again, its an Element, not the most 'AERO' vehicle to start with).:evil:
Perhaps the holes could be 'tuned' to play "Ride of the Valkyrie"!:cool:
 

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The wood fairing was an early iteration, when I was trying to see how much fairing I needed to quiet the howling at 40 mph. The current version is a discreet piece of 2" aluminum. There should be a picture of that on my pbase gallery.

paulj

Here's a picture of the first fairing I made - using thin plywood, painted white. I don't recall if Yakima even offered a fairing in those days.
 

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