I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE/INJURIES CAUSED BY ATTEMPTING TO INSTALL A ROOF RACK. YOU ARE DRILLING HOLES IN THE ROOF OF YOUR VEHICLE, THIS WILL LEAK IF NOT PROPERLY SEALED, IT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO CRACK YOUR ROOF, OR RIP IT OFF YOUR VEHICLE WHILE IT IS MOVING. I DID THIS AFTER DOING A GREAT DEAL OF RESEARCH, AND SEEING OTHER PEOPLE HAVING GOOD RESULTS AFTER YEARS OF USE. IF YOU ARE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THIS, DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK. YOU ARE ALSO PURCHASING A ROOF RACK FROM A JUNKYARD WITH UNKNOWN STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY.
We were looking for the best way to carry snowboards/gear in the Jeep. The jeep has limited space as is, then add 4 people, 4 boards, and winter gear for a few days, and its just not going to happen. We considered building something similar to a Helicopter basket for the receiver, however, we soon realized that we would have to add taillights to it because of the size. Then we considered the spare tire/receiver racks from Yakima and Thule, but the boards are at the mercy of road grime/rocks, and frankly spending $400+ on something that is still questionable isn't my style. The SoftRide system is actually well done, but a $400 bike rack +$200 ski attachment wasn't worth it for not having space to carry gear. After a few months of research/planning I decided to go with the Ford Explorer Roof Rack Mod that I had seen on JeepForum. After all, we already have a aftermarket sunroof in our hardtop, so whats a few extra holes?
Donor: 1996 Ford Explorer, $34 at my local junkyard.
The rack is spaced perfectly to be on the outside of the last grooves on the roof(where it really becomes structural) because inside of those is like a waterbed, at least on a TJ. I trimmed 12" off the rack. You want to make sure you cut it off the right end, because the holes in the rails are spaced differently, one end is 18" between holes, and the other is 12".
This was after I cut down one rail, you can see the hole spacing, on the right they are spaced much further than on the left.
This was after I cut both down, the end caps fit right back on, you have to shorten the plastic strip that is under the rail, but that is pretty self explanatory. You do have to cut a new notch in the end of the rails that you trimmed so the caps will fit back in.
A little Semi-Gloss to fix the Arizona sun damage.
The painted rack all mounted together.
Mock Fit, Notice how it sits just outside the last set of grooves.
This was when I mounted it, I centered it on the roof, I matched the furthest point on the end caps of the rails to the back of grooves on the roof. You want to have it completely assembled and tight when you drill the holes. I used the rack as the drilling template. I started with the passenger side rear hole, drilled it, and put the bolt in to hold it in place. Then I did the drivers side rear, and worked my way up, putting each bolt in just to hold it in place. I used M6 3/4" length Domed Allen Bolts. They were a little long, but I plan to put plastic caps on them.
View from the inside when I had all the bolts in to hold it in place.
This was taken after I drilled all the holes, and took the rack off to clean the holes and put Automotive/Marine sealant in all the holes. I put it around each hole on the top.
On the inside, I put Silicone around each of the bolts, then put the aluminum plate, a washer, and a Nylon locking nut. The aluminum plate was a 36" piece of 1/8" thick 1.5" wide flat stock.
The picture with a Yakima SkyBox 16s mounted to it. Plus a little snow for those stuck in the desert
It is completely quiet, I am amazed, coming from using Yakima/Thule roof racks on many vehicles over the years. The rack is silent by itself, but you can't hear the skybox up there either. I drove at 75mph on the freeway yesterday, with 20-30mph wind gusts, and it didn't creak or pull, the roof of the jeep wasn't flexing at all. I attribute this to the fact that the cross bars from the Ford Explorer have a decent amount of flex, and absorb any vibration from the SkyBox. I have no regrets, and so far no leaks.
Roof Rack ~ $35
Misc Parts/Paint ~$40
Yakima SkyBox Used ~$300