For along time I looked online for a good deal on a roof rack. New they where just very expensive and I knew that one could pickup a good secondhand deal somewhere. However the Frontrunner is a very popular roof rack and they would always be sold before I could get my hands on one.
Then one day I found a damaged Front Runner slimline 2 roof rack with some accessories for a good price. It was previously installed on a Jimny which had rolled over. Surprisingly the rack was unbent and in decent condition. Yes it had scratches and damage to the paint work however structurally it was good. So I said I would buy it.
Once I picked it up I noticed that the feet / roof rails where bent from the roll.
My initial plan was to simply just bend them back, however on closer inspection I noticed that where tiny cracks / breaks in the rails folds. They must have taken the grunt of the roll. Slightly disappointed about this as it was clearly not going to be a days job. I left the rack in the garage and carried on with life for a few weeks. I searched online for a second hand pair of rails etc however it wasn’t something one generally sold without the rack.
I eventually decided this would be something I could design on CAD and get laser cut myself. Rather than paying a premium at Frontrunner and it would add a nice custom styling element to the car.
The design was primarily based off of the original front runner rails. However I thought while I was busy resdesigning them, it would be a good time to go and over engineer them. So the idea was to add a 5th leg in the middle which would bolt onto the basket. This would create strength and provide a nice platform for some NOMAD branding. Next in line we added a linear bend / fold the whole way down the bottom of the rail, this significantly increased the rigidity of the part. Lastly we opted to make the part out of 4mm mild steel. In hindsight with the linear bend I think 3mm would have been more than enough…
Another nice feature is that we raised the roof rack 3-4 cm from the standard height. The reasoning for this is so that I can install a solar panel under the rack as well as a camping table under the solar panel. The solar panel is about 3 cm thick and the camp table 4-5cm thick. This height does also change the look and feel. Some might feel it looks too tall some might like the more aggressive stance. (Keen to know you thoughts in the comments)
Getting them made
We opted to get the rails E-coated (electrocoated). This helps with rust prevention. They then powder coat over that to give it a hardly and good looking finnish.
Installing the new rails
The rails looked really good when we opened them up. With the new modifications they were very strong and sturdy. Next was the big moment to see if the holes actually lined up with the cars bolt studs and if they fitted on the roof.
Testing if it fits
Making rubber feet
When you buy a new roof rack it comes with nice rubber spacers that prevent the metal rails from damaging the roof. I did not have these and had to DIY make some. I happened to have a bike tube hanging in my workshop and it turned out to be absolutely perfect. It was very easy to cut to shape and I just cut two slits in it for where the bolts must go through. The tube provided a double layer of rubber protection and it ensure a good tight fit.