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  #1  
Old October 12th, 2017, 11:17 PM
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Alex Lapidus
1994 D90 ST #1716
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Total Novice Builds a Roof Rack

I haven't been super active on the board in a few years, but thought I would document my attempt to build a roof rack. Winter is looming in the Pacific Northwest, and I've been itching for a project to carry me through the gloom. I told myself the next time I needed some welding done, that I'd bite the bullet, buy a welder, and teach myself how to weld. I'd like to do all or part of the Washington Backcountry Discovery Route (Washington Backcountry Discovery Route (WABDR)) in my 1994 D90 ST with a friend and our 9 year-old-daughters in summer of 2018. So, in theory, that gives me enough time to sort things out and make a roof rack.

The first step seems to be tooling up...

After looking at all the options and talking with a few friends who weld, I tracked down a Hobart 220 MVP MIG welder, and had a 220v circuit run to my micro-shop.
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  #2  
Old October 12th, 2017, 11:19 PM
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Alex Lapidus
1994 D90 ST #1716
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Sorting through design options

Now on to design ideas. Feel free to chime in, but here are a few pictures that I have collected to help think it through.

https://www.pinterest.com/adlapidus/nice-rack/
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  #3  
Old October 12th, 2017, 11:30 PM
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Alex Lapidus
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Here are few pictures of the truck. I think I am leaning towards using the light mounts on the roll bar over the windshield to connect the front of the rack, instead of the standard clamps on the bars over the doors. This will give me a good place to mount a wind deflector and hopeful avoid some the wind noise. Also the Badger Surrey top that I use in summer wraps around the bars over the doors, so I'd have to modify the top to work with a rack that used that bar to mount cross bars.
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  #4  
Old October 17th, 2017, 10:04 AM
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Len Bruffett
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HI - I attached a couple images of my wind deflector I made for my truck after I installed a Hannibal rack - I have since painted it white - but it knocks down the wind noise at freeway speeds. It is made of aluminum sheet metal, with aluminum support struts attached to the "A" pillar roll cage. Good luck on the project.
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  #5  
Old October 17th, 2017, 10:39 AM
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Bill Adams
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Looks like a very nice welder. You should be able to make pretty joints with that!
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  #6  
Old October 17th, 2017, 10:46 AM
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Len, are you planning on helicopter landings?

Don't attract the black hats!
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  #7  
Old October 17th, 2017, 11:15 AM
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I installed a cargobear on my 90 from SDO


For illustration purposes. It fits so close you don't need a wind deflector, I left the front plates off like in the photo so I don't get any buffeting.

I get you have a soft top but thought I would add this since it wasn't present on your pintrest board.
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  #8  
Old October 17th, 2017, 12:01 PM
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Gerad Davis
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I was in your shoes a few years back. I bought a little Hobart 135 as I don't have 220 in my garage. Here are a few things I've learned along the way that will hopefully help you out.
  • Replace the ground clamp. The stock clamp is trash. It's hard to get that good sizzle without a proper ground. Make sure the surface is clean too.
  • Get an angle grinder and a grip of cut off and flap discs.
  • A proper chop saw or horizontal bandsaw is a definite nice to have, especially if you're building something big like a roof rack.
  • Get a few of those angled magnets. They're great for fabrication, but they'll mess with your weld if you get too close to them.
  • Lastly, be sure to study up and practice practice practice before diving into your big project. Lincoln Welder offers a little fabrication kit that's perfect for this: Metal Project Kit
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  #9  
Old October 18th, 2017, 12:26 AM
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Dane Walker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NPT90 View Post
I installed a cargobear on my 90 from SDO





For illustration purposes. It fits so close you don't need a wind deflector, I left the front plates off like in the photo so I don't get any buffeting.



I get you have a soft top but thought I would add this since it wasn't present on your pintrest board.


Where is the light bar from pictured?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  #10  
Old October 18th, 2017, 12:42 AM
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Len Bruffett
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Factoid View Post
Len, are you planning on helicopter landings?

Don't attract the black hats!
I shoot a lot of my large format fine art landscape black and white film based photographs from my truck platform. I frequent Owens Valley between the eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada, the White and Inyo Mountains., as well as the Mojave and Death Valley deserts. The areas I photograph are remote and I am usually by myself. (no one else will go with me on these trips because I can wait for up to 2hrs for the "light" to be just right). The Defender sticks out like a sore thumb to anyone flying overhead. The Inyo mountains and bordering Death valley are two locations that you can regularly watch air combat training (dog fighting).(Both day and night) Most of the time they are hard to see - but you can definitely hear them. In fact many of the scenes in the Top Gun movie show many segments of the Inyo mountains and northern death valley. So when the pilots are not training they practice low level terrain following flight skills. When I am out there on a weekday I regularly get "buzzed" by the pilots.... most of the time they are naval F 18s. But I have been buzzed by A4s and F 4s as well. The first time I saw a Raptor I was parked at the western edge of the Inyos looking for a location on my map. I noticed a small glint of light in my rear view mirror. By the time I could open the door and step out of the truck the raptor had descended down to about 100 ft above the the truck. What was impressive was the sound of the aircraft's engine as it passed overhead. It rattled my truck and my cloths were vibrating! As soon as he flew over me he headed vertical passing through the sound barrier before he was out of site. So.... as an extra treat to the pilots that buzz me, I painted the reticule on my platform. They have something to target when they descend on the truck and then talk about when they get back to base.- I would to tell my wife about the encounters and she never believed me. On one trip I took her out to Titus canyon in death valley. (That canyon is always busy with 4 wheel traffic) not my cup of tea.... but I thought she would enjoy it. After we left the canyon I headed out on a dirt road away from the paved access road. We spotted a couple F16s flying in a tight formation about 1 mile away. They spotted our truck and took a bearing directly to us. Within 30 seconds they passed directly over the truck at about 200 ft.....She got quite a kick out of the flyby and shares her story with her friends - she never questions my stories when I come back from a trip and talk of the jets.
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  #11  
Old October 18th, 2017, 08:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliffman View Post
Where is the light bar from pictured?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Tried to find it to no avail, trying to remember who makes the cargobear rack
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  #12  
Old October 18th, 2017, 09:57 AM
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Alex Lapidus
1994 D90 ST #1716
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LenB View Post
HI - I attached a couple images of my wind deflector I made for my truck after I installed a Hannibal rack - I have since painted it white - but it knocks down the wind noise at freeway speeds. It is made of aluminum sheet metal, with aluminum support struts attached to the "A" pillar roll cage. Good luck on the project.
That wind deflector looks great! I had Yakima bars on the roll bar over the doors and the chinsy Yakima basket on my truck for about a month, and couldn't handle the extra noise. I'm going to try to make some kind of deflector. If I attach to the bar over the windshield, I can integrate something like that. I am going to try to keep it as low profile as possible.

------ Follow up post added October 18th, 2017 08:03 AM ------

Quote:
Originally Posted by NPT90 View Post
I installed a cargobear on my 90 from SDO


For illustration purposes. It fits so close you don't need a wind deflector, I left the front plates off like in the photo so I don't get any buffeting.

I get you have a soft top but thought I would add this since it wasn't present on your pintrest board.
That's super tight. I am going to try to keep it low like that. I think I'll start by putting my Yakima bars with the XTerra clamps back on the roll bar over the doors for reference, and then build the rear ladder section to define a horizontal line as close to the roof line of the soft top as I can. A lot of the racks that I have seen seem to have multiple layers of structure stacked on top of each other, like a tall basket sitting on top of bars. I'm not going to use the Yakima bars permanently, just to get a sense for what to build. I'm going to try to build the legs that clamp to the bar over the windshield or the door directly onto lower section of the basket/platform as opposed to building cross bars and then dropping the basket/platform on top.
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  #13  
Old October 18th, 2017, 10:08 AM
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Russell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by floyd650 View Post
I haven't been super active on the board in a few years, but thought I would document my attempt to build a roof rack. Winter is looming in the Pacific Northwest, and I've been itching for a project to carry me through the gloom. I told myself the next time I needed some welding done, that I'd bite the bullet, buy a welder, and teach myself how to weld. I'd like to do all or part of the Washington Backcountry Discovery Route (Washington Backcountry Discovery Route (WABDR)) in my 1994 D90 ST with a friend and our 9 year-old-daughters in summer of 2018. So, in theory, that gives me enough time to sort things out and make a roof rack.

The first step seems to be tooling up...

After looking at all the options and talking with a few friends who weld, I tracked down a Hobart 220 MVP MIG welder, and had a 220v circuit run to my micro-shop.
I was in kind of the same boat a few years back and picked up a Hobart that runs on 110. Makes great welds, and learning wasn't too difficult. I watched a couple of YouTube videos and no problem. I will say that unless the spot you are welding is shiny shiny shiny clean the weld will suck. Also wherever you clamp the ground needs to be just as clean. Other than that get the speed of the feed and heat right and your welds will be great.
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  #14  
Old January 11th, 2018, 07:53 PM
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Alex Lapidus
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A few months have gone by, and I've been slowly plugging away on the project, but haven't had the time to update the post. So here goes...

I'm going to lay out the details of what I've learned in a way that consolidates the process and might be useful to someone else starting with very little of the knowledge that I've had to accumulate. When I started, I didn't know how to weld. I didn't know how to notch tubing, and I didn't know how to bending tubing. Those are the basic ingredients of actually fabricating the roof rack. When all the bending, notching, and welding is done, I suspect that the majority of the time will not have been spent in fabrication, but rather on researching designs, measuring, and planning.

I read a thread from a few years ago about roof racks, and conversation quickly turned to plagiarizing designs. My disclaimer early on is that I have spent a lot of time looking at other people's rack designs. There are some great racks out there, and I thank all those who have poured time and thought into the things that they have made. Safety Devices, East Coast Rovers, and Wolf Fabrications had designs that I really admired, and I will draw on those heavily.

The first thing I had to do was actually hold some metal tubing in my hands and get a sense for what the material actually felt like. It was hard to find the information about what other people used for their racks, but I did find some info about lumber racks. The Wolf Fabrications racks were 1.5 inch tubing and it looked like the ECR rack was 1.25. I couldn't find the wall thickness of the tubing listed anywhere, but 0.065 inch felt right. 0.120 and 0.095 felt too beefy, and 0.058 felt to wimpy. Here's a picture of 0.120, 0.065, and 0.058. I had a little scrap of 0.095, but couldn't find it for the picture.
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  #15  
Old January 11th, 2018, 08:08 PM
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Alex Lapidus
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After I settled on 1.25 x 0.065 tubing, I set about teaching myself to MIG weld. Assuming you are a total novice like I was, here's the scoop on MIG welding. MIG welding takes a spool of steel wire in the welder and feeds it down this long housing where it comes out at a gun that you hold. You put the ground on the pieces of steel you are trying to weld together and the welder then creates an arc between the wire in the gun and your pieces. This melts the wire while it simultaneously is fed through and out the gun onto your pieces. Think of it like a hot glue gun. The molten metal then fuses the two pieces together. Because that fusion is subject to oxidization from air, you have to either use a wire that is coated in this stuff (flux core wire) that melts and creates a little invisible area around the arc that displaces normal air or you have to have a tank of gas (CO2 and Argon) that blow out of the end of the gun while non-coated wire is fed out. Flux core MIG seemed to leave a lot to be desired in terms of the final weld quality but is apparently better if your are outside where a little breeze might blow your welding gas away from where you are welding. I chose to go with welding gas and try to keep most of my welding inside my shop. The other two variables that you have to adjust to get it right is the speed the wire is fed out of the gun and the amount of electricity that is used to melt the wire. In general, when you are welding thicker material you need more wire and electricity. After about two hours of just goofing around, I felt like I had advanced from absolutely awful to mediocre.
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  #16  
Old January 11th, 2018, 08:11 PM
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I think it is pretty cool that you are learning to weld for this project. Thanks for the update, and please keep us posted. Will be intersting to see how your attachment pans out.

NPT90- CargoBear is a Nakatanenga rack, Lav carries a bunch of their stuff. If you do not have front panels on it, do not stand on the crossmember, it will bend. Ask how I know.
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  #17  
Old January 11th, 2018, 08:16 PM
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Alex Lapidus
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In addition to the welder, I was also lacking two other tools that I was pretty excited to have in my shop. I need a tube notcher to make nice joints between round tubing and I needed a way to bend the tubing.

I spent a lot of time researching the different ways to do these two things. I found many tools that seemed very low quality and cheap. Amazon is full of tube notchers in the $70-100 range that look like crap, but might actually get the job done. I finally found one that was a little more expensive, but looked legit. The identical design is available from Eastwood and elsewhere for a lot more money than on Amazon.

This tool takes no learning and is a blast to use.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...productDetails
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  #18  
Old January 11th, 2018, 08:28 PM
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Alex Lapidus
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There are not nearly as many tube bending options as there are tube notching options. First off, tubing is not the same as pipe. Tubing is measured by it's outer diameter and wall thickness. Pipe is measured by its inner diameter and wall thickness. There are a lot of cheap pipe benders, but tube benders come in three flavors: 1) Pipe bending hacks, mostly based on Harbor Freight's pipe bender; 2) The Affordable Bender (www.affordablebender.com), which uses a car jack; and 3) The JD Squared Bender (https://www.jd2.com/p-32-model-3-bender.aspx). The hacked benders looked not-so-great, and the JD squared bender was super expensive and required that you mount it to a stand. I looked everywhere for a used JDS bender and thought maybe I'd mount it to my military trailer, but ultimately couldn't find one. I settled on the Affordable Bender. It doesn't need to be mounted to anything, but will only bend up to 90-degree angles. I couldn't think of where I might need to bend beyond that, and also accepted that if I did, I would just take my tubing somewhere here in town to have it bent. So far the Affordable Bender has been great...
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  #19  
Old January 11th, 2018, 09:49 PM
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Alex Lapidus
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So we've got all our tools and some basic, but likely adequate skills. Let's make a rack. As I said earlier, I've spent more time researching and planning than actually working with metal. Now is the time for planning to meet fabricating.
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  #20  
Old January 11th, 2018, 09:51 PM
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Most people build a welding cart as their first welding project!
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