Homemade roof rack | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

  • Register Today It's free!

Homemade roof rack


Well-Known Member
August 1, 2012
Reaction score
City, State
Year, Model & Trim Level
1998 explorer 4dr ohv
Hello, just thought id do a write up of how I made my roof rack! The roof rack is full length and width, with respect to the roof, ill get measurements eventually... I used 1/2 inch conduit and a flux core mig welder.

What you need:
Around about 60-70 feet of conduit = 6-7 pieces at 2$ each
Spray paint
Athletic tape (more on that later)
Pipe cutter (not necessary but soooooo much easier)
Pipe bender

I didnt use measurements just eyed it up and chuged along! If you do it my way just make a bend somewhere on the pipe and lay it on the roof. Then make a mark where you want the second bend to be and bend there... just keep repeating this until you get the desired shape! I dont have any pics of this part sorry!

Next assemble it! I suppose clamps would work well but i had a triangular magnet for welding and so i used that. My welder doesnt have a good current adjustment, but you want it low and the feed speed to be about mid way. Conduit melts very easily!
Note: I have heard welding conduit is especially bad for your health so use a ventilated area... I used outside....

Im not sure which of these codes doe pics so heres both!

<a href="http://s1242.beta.photobucket.com/user/jakegator/media/1230121646a_zpsa7f1e020.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1242.photobucket.com/albums/gg530/jakegator/1230121646a_zpsa7f1e020.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"/></a>
This is the rack almost all together, I plan on putting lights in the part where it swings up! In later pics youll notice that it swings up way toooo much so i cut it down later on.


<a href="http://s1242.beta.photobucket.com/user/jakegator/media/0102131230a_zpsc518960c.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1242.photobucket.com/albums/gg530/jakegator/0102131230a_zpsc518960c.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"/></a>
This is also before i trimmed the slope, but notice the welds... partly due to the material (mostly due to my skill level) the welds look terrible! However they are very strong as I can stand and jump on it with no problem.


<a href="http://s1242.beta.photobucket.com/user/jakegator/media/h_zps71774801.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1242.photobucket.com/albums/gg530/jakegator/h_zps71774801.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"/></a>
So here is where the athletic tape comes in! As I mentioned the welds look like crap, so i wrapped the whole thing in athletic tape. Its kinda like a fabric tape, anyways i think it looks decent so thats what im doing... Also The rack needs painted regardless if you wrap it or not, it will rust alot!


<a href="http://s1242.beta.photobucket.com/user/jakegator/media/0106131204a_zps13dc6f00.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1242.photobucket.com/albums/gg530/jakegator/0106131204a_zps13dc6f00.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"/></a>
And there it is finsihed! Its not bolted up yet and the lights are not hooked up either, eventually I plan on adding two more in the center!

Well hope this helped someone out! let me know if any one has questions or needs more pics!

Join the Elite Explorers for $20 each year.
Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links,.
Add an avatar, upload photo attachments, and more!

Hmm, conduit. Interesting idea! Very light weight, and easy to bend to shape. It's pot metal though, and galvanized, which makes welding it very tough. So dont feel bad about your crappy welds. :)

I've been tossing around ideas for building my own.... Might have to throw that on the list.

I doubt that will hold much weight, and I doubt that paint will stick for long on that galvanized surface.

I wouldn't recommend using conduit unless you are making something that is only supposed to look like a functional piece.

FIND - Regular spray paint does not stick very long, I used engine enamel and it last years (about 3 from experience). This is not the first rack that I have had built like this (although the first that i welded my self). The last one was for a 97 explorer that i installed 4 years ago, I loaded the old one with about 450 pounds (a bench weight set) on the rails and it held just fine. I was pretty surprised as i only expected maybe 100 pounds. It all depends on the number of supports you use, if it was steel I wouldnt have used as many vertical supports but in the end its much cheaper. Besides the only thing that is constantly up there was a hi-lift and a full size tire. I certainly wouldnt use this stuff for bumpers or anything like that or for roll cages :roll: :p
Steel would be so much easier to weld!!!

Looks great! Neat idea using conduit!

wood1 - Agreed!!!! Thats why I did mine outside.

also just a thought... I saw somewhere someone did the same type of thing except rather than welding used conduit connectors and drilled out the screws then replaced them with bolts... it looked good, just cost more!