Mounting a full length rack

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Mounting a full length rack

Postby double moo » Sun Apr 19, 2009 7:30 pm

I have been plannning a rack for m trooper for a while now, waiting for the right deal to come along. I have looked extensively for information on mounting this future rack but not found a lot of info for my needs. I have found some great info that I could not have done without, just nothing comprehensive enough to fill in the gaps.

A couple of weeks ago I was at CruiserOutfitters shop looking at the new Simpson III roof top tent from ARB (very nice, very pricey, another story). While there I was commenting to Kurt - the Owner - that I was having trouble finding a set of rack mounts to accomodate a full size rack for my Trooper. Kurt noted that without gutters the mounting options pretty much boiled down to fit kits provided by the manufacturers. Unfortunately there are no fit kits I could find for a full length rack - ARB used to make one - but I was told that they do not any more. Kurt noted that he had an ARB rack for a Landcruiser 100 that was returned because of the troubles fitting it without gutters... Said he would work me a great deal if I wanted it. We carried it out to the Trooper and set it on top to check the size - a bit short at 73" (ARBs 87" would be perfect) but for 1/2 price I decided I should try it. I told him to give me a couple of days to see what I could come up with for mounting.

I came home and got busy checking everything I could find on the web. It looked like the Surco TR100 mounts would have to suffice. I went back and picked up the rack - mostly to ensure no one else buys it.

I got home and peeled of the rain trim on my roof - broke 3 of the clips in the process of the first one before realizing how they attached.

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As I got it off I noticed that I did not have taped holes... I have bolts with rubber washers in place!

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As I got off the trim I noticed that th mounting points follow the curve of the roof - not in the same plane. This means that the Surco clips won't fit! They will work for short racks that hit either the front and center, or the rear and center mounts... but not all three... unless I can bend the rack! I'm not a patient guy - which paid off this time - I had taken off the trim to get a look without waiting for all the parts to show... in fact I hadn't ordered the Surco mounts yet... plus 1 for the procrastinators!!!

At this moment I invented several new swear words just for the occasion... more like new conjunctions than actually new words - but I felt better all the same.

Now all I have to do is fabricate some custom mounts and I'll have it...
Last edited by double moo on Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby double moo » Sun Apr 19, 2009 7:52 pm

The custom mounts.

I looked at the Surco TR100 pictures to get an idea as to how to fab up my mounts. I decided to use some 1/8"x 2-1/2" bar stock for the mounts. I had some 3" in the shop but the cut outs in the roof seam, as well as the notch in the aluminum trim were 2-3/4" - so off I went to get some 2-1/2" stock.

While driving I was trying to figure out the remaining mounting pieces - the ARB rack has mounting feet attached to the bars but I was convinced that there was no way they would hit all 3 of my mounting points - (I checked later and proved myself right). With the mounting points running transverse to the truck I needed something to transition to the longitudinal direction - then it hit me... Unistrut would be my friend. I picked up the bar stock and headed home to see what I could fab.

In order to get the angle of the roof points to a vertical orientation I decided to make templates. I found some metal stud framing in the back shed and commenced to cut out some templates.

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I mounted up the three templates -all bent at 90 degrees - and needed a way to check measure them for vertical. I got out my handy magnetic spirit level then realized that plumb to the earth was not what I needed - I needed square to the truck! I grabbed a 2x4 and made a line with a speed square - setting this across the truck allowed me to bend the templates to square... not plumb. This is a rather redneck method - but quite effective.

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With the templates on you will notice that the front one leans forward - this is important to remember as it means the bend to horizontal will be rather skewed - thus I needed to make sure to mark all pieces as I went to maintain a right and left side... as well as front, center, and rear peices. Note - all of the angles for the mount to the truck were the same - this helps a lot later! I put the bend at the top of the roof bend such that the trim will cover to the bend - a little less than an inch from the seam welds.

Not having the quipment to move through the next step I decided to get the bar stock ready. I cut 7 peices 8" long and drilled the mounting holes 1-9/16" apart - I left a little gap between the plate and the seam weld on the roof such that when mounted any water could still get past and not get trapped - roughly 1/16" or so as I wanted as much bearing as possible.

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Next - to find a shop to make the plate bends...
Last edited by double moo on Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby double moo » Sun Apr 19, 2009 8:10 pm

I stopped by a sheet metal fabrication shop that is a couple blocks from my office to see if they could help me out. The Owner was very helpful and noted the could bend up to 1/4" stock. He told me to bring my stuff by and his foreman would help me out.

The next day I took the trooper, my plates, my unistrut, some clamps, tools, redneck square, etc... and headed to the sheet metal shop. The Shop Foreman, Russ, came out and took a look at what I was trying to do and said "no problem". He grabbed the template and headed in to make the bottom mounting angle bend.

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I took out the mounting bolts and headed in to find that he had the first angle bent - "Try this before we bend up the rest". I headed out and bolted it up, then got out my handy redneck square - a little bit off, maybe 1/8" in the 3-1/2" square. I took it back in and Russ punched in a little more angle - this time is was perfect... better than my templates. Russ bent up the other 6 (the 6 I need and one spare). Out I went to mount them up.

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At this point I clamped the unistrut from front to back and played with the height until it look satisfactory. I went with 2" in front and back... this makes it about 1-1/2" in the middle. I was trying to keep the profile as low as possible for sturdiness... while needing to allow enough room to get to the bolts with a tool. I clamped the unistrut to the inboard side of the brackets so that when I marked them Russ could see the marks in the bender. It is important to note the the bends are not square to themselves... they need to be 90 degrees from the vertical plane regardless of the skewed angle. I marked each piece by running a sharpie along the unistrut to ensure any angle would be captured. I took them back into Russ who bent them up in seconds.

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Total time for Russ to set up his equipment and do all of the bends was maybe 10 minutes. He continued working on his other projects while I did all the fitting and such. Due to the short length of time Russ didn't charge me for the bends. Great guy that Russ!!

So I headed back to our shop and cut back the long tails knowing they would be in the way. Later I will cut these again to align with the unistrut.

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With my hands full of newly bent pieces I headed home with a smile on my face...
"... Remember, Wherever you go... there you are..."
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Postby double moo » Sun Apr 19, 2009 8:29 pm

Fitting up the rack from here is pretty easy, the thinking is done - time to bolt it up! My son graciously helped with the fit up.

First we put on the brackets.

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Then lined up the unistrut

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I lined up the strut to the outboard edge of the brackets to gain as much strength as possible from the vertical leg. I marked the holes, took the strut off and drilled 3 each 3/8" holes, one at each bracket. I placed the struts back to back and drilled the second piece to match the first. Next I clamped the struts in place, placed a piece of wood under the bracked, and drilled the brackets in place. After bolting up the strut to the brackets we were finally ready to set on the rack!! I slid it back and forth until I liked the look, again the 87" would have been my prefference, but not at twice the price!

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The ARB rack has a lot of holes in their mounting plates... unfortunately none of them lined up with our struts. I drilled 6 new holes in the plates and fastened the rack to the struts using 3/8" bolts.

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I went with the unistrut because there are so many clamps, and attachments, etc... that you can add to it, or to attach anything you would want. I lookled at the aluminum strut but it would have saved only 7 lbs for four times the price... plus the galvanized is easy to paint up and weld if you need to. I also purchased the plastic cap to put in the unistrut to cover it from the elements and reduce wind noise.

I don't like the look of the unistrut in front of the rack - will have to trim an angle on that - and weld up a cover. The rack can be slid forward or back at this point. I think I'll have to make a light bar to fill the space in front of the rack!!

Next - weld and fill the strut ends, paint, and final install...
Last edited by double moo on Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Van_Homan » Sun Apr 19, 2009 9:17 pm

That was awsome of the machine shop to help you out like that.
The rack is coming along nicely. I can't wait to see it finished. I love the full size racks on the Troopers.

Great write up as well
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Postby 94silverbeast » Mon Apr 20, 2009 4:42 am

so ..... how much would a set of thoes mounting brackets cost me? :D
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Postby RodeoRed » Mon Apr 20, 2009 8:21 am

i like thge feet you made, but i don;t understand why the l;ong piece of galvanized square is even needed, just drill and tap a hole in the rack to connect to the feet. the galvanized tube is ugly, especially next to a nice powdercoated ARB rack
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Postby double moo » Mon Apr 20, 2009 9:25 am

The mounting plates on the rack don't match the brackets on the truck, hence I used the unistrut to connect up all the points. You will notice in the photos that the front of the rack doesn't come forward enough to hit the forward brackets. Also the unistrut allows some adjustability forward and back - about 12" total. Now painted it looks mutch better - we'll see how it looks installed in a couple of days.
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Postby double moo » Mon Apr 20, 2009 12:54 pm

Tad wrote:ARB had mounts for that rack for the 2nd gen Troopers:

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-Tad


I had been told that they made them so I called ARB USA. They no longer make or stock them. I had heard somewhere that the trooper roof was prone to 'cracking' with the weight of the loaded racks - I could not find anything definite when researching it. The rep at ARB said they stopped making some of their past rack mounts due to roof damage... but didn't know if the Trooper was one of those or not. I would have preferred to buy these rather than having to make my own...
"... Remember, Wherever you go... there you are..."
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Postby justwork » Mon Apr 20, 2009 2:01 pm

Nice job, lets see some pictures of it all painted up.
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Postby double moo » Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:22 am

It's been a busy week - just got around to the final mounting tonight.

I cut a 45 degree angle on the front of the unistrut so it wouldn't stand out so bad. I then welded end caps on both ends of each strut to close them up and reduce wind noise. Painting included a coat of primer and two coats of the hammered finish Rust-o-leum in black. Dried them in the Wife's green house for a couple days - baked on paint!

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Here are the mounting brackets for the left side. Notice the skewed angle on the front (left) bracket.

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Last night I mounted up the brackets and struts. I placed a loop of silicone around each plate before securing it to the truck - like a silicone gasket - to keep water from getting between the bracket and the roof. The bolts have rubber washers to seal the holes on the tops.

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Notice that the rain trim doesn't quite fit down tight with the bracket in place. I thought I'd try it like this and see how it does before trying to trim the trim...

Tonight when I got home my son helped me install the rack! We set on the rack and installed all the unistrut nuts and bolts finger tight and final aligned it. We lifted the rack back off and installed the plastic cap in the unistrut. We drilled out 3/4" holed over the unistrut nuts so that we would have a little room to adjust if necessary.

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Lifted the rack back over the now coverd up struts and bolted it down. I forgot to use lock-tite so I had to remove each bolt and re-do them. All in all it took about an hour to finish up tonight. It still looks a little goofy having the struts stick out in front of the rack bit it definitely looks a lot better painted up than with the raw metal of the brackets and struts.

Image

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Next step is to mount up the Hi-Lift and get some Jerry Can mounts...
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Postby justwork » Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:50 am

8) nice
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Postby 94silverbeast » Sat Apr 25, 2009 4:38 am

so how much is a set of thoes mounts shipped?
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Postby double moo » Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:33 pm

about $3.50 worth of materials... and way too much on the labor!
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Postby Van_Homan » Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:46 am

Nice job on the rack. I really like your Trooper. You've equiped it with great useful mods and it looks fantastic.
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Postby double moo » Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:15 pm

Van_Homan wrote:Nice job on the rack. I really like the your Trooper. You've equiped it with great useful mods and it looks fantastic.


Thanks!

Now I just need to get some off-road time... :headbang:
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Re: Mounting a full length rack

Postby Johnthegoon » Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:12 pm

I know I'm resurrecting a reallllly old thread, but I just found this post and I'm about to use this idea to mount a homebuilt rack on my own trooper. If you're still reading this board, I have a question for you.

Re: plumb to the earth vs. square to the truck -- if the truck is sitting level, wouldn't square and plumb be pretty close to the same anyway?
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Re: Mounting a full length rack

Postby double moo » Mon Mar 11, 2013 8:58 pm

assuming the drive you are parked on is level, and the suspension is even at all corners,.. yes they would be the same. Both situations are unlikely!.. so make sure you align it with even spacing from the roofline for and aft, and side to side.
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Re: Mounting a full length rack

Postby smote » Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:05 pm

Thanks for the resurrection. Good info here.
A thought on extra strut in front: it would a great place to mount a lightbar separate from the rack.
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Re: Mounting a full length rack

Postby Johnthegoon » Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:35 pm

double moo wrote:assuming the drive you are parked on is level, and the suspension is even at all corners,.. yes they would be the same. Both situations are unlikely!.. so make sure you align it with even spacing from the roofline for and aft, and side to side.


Makes sense... So when you laid your wooden redneck level, you just made sure each side was X distance from the roofline, even if it was not truly level? Was the front-to-back alignment and the actual height of the second bend really just done by eye?

I didn't say it in the first post, but this is an ingeniously elegant solution. I have a set of Thule mounts that hook to the door lip, in a box in the garage, that I bought off ebay about a day before I found this thread. I'll be re-listing them, I think.
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Re: Mounting a full length rack

Postby double moo » Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:47 pm

I put all 3 brackets on the same side, then measured up 2" front and rear from the mounting point and clamped a straight edge fore to aft. I could then mark all 3 brackets. You will get a different length and angle on each bracket. Line each of the marked lines in the press you are bending then with and bend a 90 degree bend. The reason I left all of the bracket legs long was so that after this final 90 degree bend I could cut them all to match the horizontal leg length where I attached the unistrut.
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Re: Mounting a full length rack

Postby double moo » Tue Mar 12, 2013 12:03 am

smote wrote:Thanks for the resurrection. Good info here.
A thought on extra strut in front: it would a great place to mount a lightbar separate from the rack.


I never made the light bar for it. It was one of the reasons I used the Unistrut. There are lots of pieces and parts that just lock in and make mounting other pieces easy. I also looked at attaching an awning to the unistrut off the side... another project I never continued with.
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Re: Mounting a full length rack

Postby foytiX » Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:27 pm

double moo wrote:
smote wrote:Thanks for the resurrection. Good info here.
A thought on extra strut in front: it would a great place to mount a lightbar separate from the rack.


I never made the light bar for it. It was one of the reasons I used the Unistrut. There are lots of pieces and parts that just lock in and make mounting other pieces easy. I also looked at attaching an awning to the unistrut off the side... another project I never continued with.


You've still got time, assuming you still have the Trooper......hopefully you do :D That one is pretty sweet :thumbup:
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'95 trooper limited.....1" hockey puck lift http://forum.planetisuzoo.com/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=66472
'98 trooper.........parts and trans donor
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foytiX
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Re: Mounting a full length rack

Postby BigSwede » Wed Mar 13, 2013 11:47 am

Great job on that rack BTW, especially noticing the curve in the roof before you got too far along.

For those interested here is another homemade roof rack: http://myweb.cableone.net/bcanderson/tr ... frack.html
He didn't install a basket, but the fab of the mounts is the key interest.
95 Trooper LS - 4" lift, 35" tires, 5.38 gears, ARB lockers
Indy4x Revolution 3.07:1 low range gears, Indy4x HD tie rods, homemade sway bar disconnects, Calmini HD sway bars, Darlington diff drop, OME 929 coil springs + 1" poly spacers and 1" body lift, Indy4x HD torsion bars, Indy4x HD rear axle links, Indy4x Kevlar brake lines, ARB bullbar, custom rear bumper with swing-out dual jerry can carrier, rock sliders, Sears Platinum Group 31 battery, ARB mini-compressor, Indy4x kevlar air lines, Warn M8000 winch, Blue Sea 6006 winch cutoff switch, Yaesu FT-1900R 2-meter ham radio, Larsen MHW-150C 1/2 wave antenna, Cobra 18WXST CB radio, Firestik II CB antenna, IPF driving lights, generic fog lights, two (2) Blue Sea auxiliary fuse panels, sleeping platform, and outofrshell Dave's custom 1" shifter extension. (I actually typed this list as a joke but people seem to like it.)
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