Roof Rack


I've considered alternate roof racks but for the time being want to put the serious money into suspension and recovery. The stock rack has served its purpose fine with a Thule system that holds the RTT and awning, but I want a tray in between the stanchions to hold other recovery and camping gear.

To this end I removed the headliner.

It's pretty straightforward, removing all the hardware of grab handles, interior lighting modules, sun visors, etc. The only hang up is in removing the sun visor clips with tabs that tend to break easily.

Remove the weather stripping on all doors. The A-pillar covers snap out being careful to keep retention clips in place, and second row seatbelt mounts on the B-pillars need to come off to remove the covers. The rear covers that surround the wing windows between the C and D-pillars snap out, again being careful to keep the retainers in place.

With the headliner free, the last step is to remove the electrical connection from the sunroof junction in the A-pillar,

...and then the main connector that attaches behind the driver's side footwell panel. The dead pedal needs to be removed to access this.

There are a number of attachment points along the route of this cable, the first of which is just above the main connector, the rest of which on the A-pillar are taped into place. Carefully remove the attachment points and feed the cable up behind the dash to the A-pillar junction being carful to route the cable so the connector egresses without snagging. Sounds harder than it is to remove.

With the cable free, remove the headliner.

Next out is the rear AC/Heating ducts, eight screws total holding it in place. It's U-shaped around the cargo area with a air-feed tube that goes up the passenger D-pillar.

With the ceiling cleared, the five nuts per side can be located, two at the rear and front and one in the middle.

Remove the nuts and the racks pop right out.

I considered a number of materials to use for the cross-members and settled on 1/2"X3"X4' oak planks from Lowe's connected to 2.5"X1 and 3/8" Stanley zinc plated mending braces attached with Arrow 3/16" aluminum rivets with 1/4" grip.


I wanted to allow varied placement of the Thule Crossroad Railing Feet while keeping the cross-members close enough to create parallel support to prevent sagging. I came up with 3" spaces between the 3" planks giving me 6" centers to mount the mending brace, resulting in room for five cross-members.

With the braces attached, I remounted the roof rails and reassembled the interior.

With these back in place I measured the width and cut down the oak planks to 41 and 5/8" in length, and mitered at the ends to fit the 22.5 degree angle of the stock rack.

I test fit the planks, fitting them underneath the mending braces to mark the holes, a pair on each end, to attach them. I number each plank to correspond to their position on the rack.

I stained and varnished the planks with a marine-grade product, three coats taking a couple of days.

With the varnish set on the planks I finished the rack install. For the most part everything lined up well to the brackets. I secured them with 8-32x1" stainless steel flat phillips machine screws and nylon-insert stainless lock nuts.

I wanted the top to be relatively weather protected and nicely finished using stainless finish washers.

The oak allows me to mount stuff like RotoPax and MaxTrax mounts. A set of desert tan ones might look pretty good up there.

I noticed after I had installed the brackets and replaced the rails that I could've done another two slats bringing the edge to the sun roof. Not sure what I was thinking when I initially thought-put and measured the project. If I can't live without them, I'll add two more. Some day.

This gave cargo area 26" X 41" within the footprint of the rack.

The clearance at the arc of the top is 6/16 with a 1/4" from the elevated rail. The slats will sag with a heavy load so I may wedge large rubber grommets between the slat and the rooftop when so loaded.

My concern was that this would come off "Clampett-ish" after the Beverly Hillbillies, but I'm more pleased that it's a bit cross-culturally reminiscent of a Woody or surf culture and I'm fine with that.

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