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Custom roof rack

2TimingTom

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I'm looking to increase the roof carrying capacity of my Explorer by building a custom roof rack.

Here's my thought:
Take the factory roof rack off and throw it away
Drop the headliner so I have access to both sides of the roof panel
Use the rain gutter to mount the feet of the roof rack- probably 4 feet per side
The feet would fit inside the rain gutter and bolt through with ample RTV to seal it
The rack itself would be nearly the full length of the roof. I'd like it to come far enough forward to be able to mount some lights without the roof cutting off their effectivity.
The rack needs to be about as high as the factory rack to maintain my garage parking ability.

I seem to remember someone posting a rack build similar to this- but I can't find it.

Thoughts?
 
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ultraclyde

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I'm almost done building the rack for my '97. I debated through-bolting it but finally decided I didn't want to risk the roof leaks. Mine is a 2wd tow and travel rig, not an off road toy so the leaks would be an issue.

In the end I removed the factory cross bars and kept the fore-aft tracks. The factory bars and tie downs use little flat metal pieces with threaded holes in the track to mount. I made my own flat metal pieces and welded in 1/4" nuts for a little more grip. With a little grinding I now have eight little flat, threaded plates that will slide inside the factory rails that I can bolt into with my rack feet.

I also had a little more airspace in my garage to work with than you did. Be aware, I had to add 1" tall feet on top of the existing channel in order for the flat floor of the rack to clear the convex in the center of the roof. I think you're going to have a hard time building a rack of any utility that's only as tall as the factory bars. You might be able to get away with a flat deck-type rack with an angle-iron lip around the edge, depending on what you want to use it for.

Testing the fit - at this point it's all tacked together but still missing some of the uprights on the side, and the entire front upper rail.
fc27dpdaVxFueYjUMaOOKKUDjJQGs4GWh0IC164Sj68
 
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ultraclyde

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Couple more pics for illustration

This is an earlier test-fitting session before I added the upper rail. You might be able to get this done and still be about the same height as factory I debated leaving it this way but I plan on making removable mounts for my mountain bikes, so I kind of needed the upper structure.
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The problem is that the tracks (and the roof) are canted to the outside of the truck side-side, and they curve front to back. In fact, making a rack longer than mine (6') would be really hard. The roof curves enough front to back that there is close to 6" height difference form the high spot in the center to the top edge of the windshield. The back drops back down as well.

Here's a detail of the feet I made ( the rack is upside down, so the foot is pointing up in the air)
PDJAY9wOhwtBhzefSKILg0uBhdLhbu-1rlIyuyeS3S8
 
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ultraclyde

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Has anyone ever seen a rack built using the existing sliders? I am thinking about going that route myself.

You mean the factory cross bars, the factory tracks (like mine) or the factory threaded track inserts?
 
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Maniak

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Has anyone ever seen a rack built using the existing sliders? I am thinking about going that route myself.

I'm not sure which piece your trying to re-use but I am using the factory rails and made my own sliders/cross bars.. This setup has been working well.

Here are some shots of it..

5343018385_96608373be_z.jpg

roof rack cross bar mount 1 by maniak_az, on Flickr

5343007513_158a224b6e_z.jpg

roof rack cross bar mount close up 2 by maniak_az, on Flickr

I'm using the factory things that go "into" the slider and use bolts to screw into the factory piece and a nut to lock my new slider into the rail.

Now I can make my own basket and cross bars etc and not just clamp a basket to the factory plastic cross bars.

~Mark
 
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ultraclyde

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...And Mark's got 2 out of three. I'd stay away from reusing the factory crossbars - too tall and too weak.
 
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Brian1

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I made a safari style roof rack 10+ years ago using the stock roof rails and my own brackets that slide into them. I got tired of it and finally sold it a number of years ago. Here are a few pics I dug up. The "screw" in the picture is a threaded machine screw that goes into one of the locating holes in the stock rails.

I think your idea sounds good. What about a bracket bolted to the roof for a light bar and then a removable roof rack using the factory rails?
 

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rabbit91

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It's not the crossbars I would be re-using, I'm thinking just the actual slider part and building off of that.

Did you ever end up doing this ? I'm going to tackle it pretty soon.
 
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2TimingTom

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No.

One of my goals for my truck is to keep is able to able to park in my garage since I don't drive it much. I'm finishing up a project now that is going to have serious effects on the ride height. Once I get that done and I know where I'm sitting at, I'll either do it or not if I don't have the clearance height.
 
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colintrax

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I don't have much to add to this but the factory cross bars are rated for 160lbs and I know I've surpased that. They're stronger than you'd think
 
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2TimingTom

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It's not the crossbars that I don't like- it's the lack of ability to tie things down. With a roof rack built like a basket or even a large flat platform, you can easily tie things down all over the place. With 2 crossbars, your options are limited.
 
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Travisfab

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Did you ever end up doing this ? I'm going to tackle it pretty soon.

I ended up picking these up instead. They slide into the stock location. I'm going to build a rack.

B350CF62-3702-4138-9DAC-C0DB790BD262_zpstjztj9bs.jpg
 
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rabbit91

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Nice, those look sweet. I had a hit on another thread that someone successfully extend their stock rack with pieces from another X. This is the route I'm going
 
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