Roof Rack Design Considerations

Metcalf

Expedition Leader
:unsure: ... Hmm, just what size vehicle do I need to carry a 105 pound 20' Old Town Canoe XL Tripper? ... :cool:

...

I'll agree that avoiding carrying things on the roof is a good practice, but sometimes the roof is useful for other than keeping the rain/snow/sun/... out of a vehicle.

My "roof rack" on my 98 Jeep Wrangler TJ ran front brush guard to rear bumper. 1" tubing (.120 wall) and 3/4 #9 flat expanded metal mesh combined with a welding gun be quite useful. :cool:

I could carry 24' lengths of steel, canoes, lumber, and/or 4'x8' sheets of plywood. Yes, I was careful about how much weight I carried and how I drove, but that Jeep carried things in to places that large vehicles couldn't.

The rack sat high enough to be able to remove/install my hardtop and remove/install/use my softtop.

I also had a small tent I could set up on the expanded metal mesh. Camp in 6" of standing water? Sure, why not? :cool:

The hood could be lifted and supported the usual way.

The rack was removable without the need for a metal saw. :)

:unsure: ... Hmm, I even managed to include a few design thoughts. ... :cool:
It sounds like you are aware of the negatives of weight of up high. For me, it is never worth the trade-offs. I don't think it is a good practice to encourage.
 

1000arms

Well-known member
Don't mount stuff on the roof.
If you need to carry stuff on the roof, or even in excess on the rear bumper, you have the wrong size vehicle.
:unsure: ... Hmm, just what size vehicle do I need to carry a 105 pound 20' Old Town Canoe XL Tripper? ... :cool:

...

I'll agree that avoiding carrying things on the roof is a good practice, but sometimes the roof is useful for other than keeping the rain/snow/sun/... out of a vehicle. ...

My "roof rack" on my 98 Jeep Wrangler TJ ran front brush guard to rear bumper. 1" tubing (.120 wall) and 3/4 #9 flat expanded metal mesh combined with a welding gun be quite useful. :cool:

I could carry 24' lengths of steel, canoes, lumber, and/or 4'x8' sheets of plywood. Yes, I was careful about how much weight I carried and how I drove, but that Jeep carried things in to places that large vehicles couldn't.

The rack sat high enough to be able to remove/install my hardtop and remove/install/use my softtop.

I also had a small tent I could set up on the expanded metal mesh. Camp in 6" of standing water? Sure, why not? :cool:

The hood could be lifted and supported the usual way.

The rack was removable without the need for a metal saw. :)

:unsure: ... Hmm, I even managed to include a few design thoughts. ... :cool:
It sounds like you are aware of the negatives of weight of up high. For me, it is never worth the trade-offs. I don't think it is a good practice to encourage.
... Towing something is always an option, put people rule it out because they think it will be 'worse' than having stuff on the roof. The majority of times it is likely the better answer if you are pushing the vehicle size and/or GVW. Especially if you are doing any off-highway activities. ...
Yes, I am aware of the negatives of placing weight up high. For me, having the "roof rack" on my Jeep was well worth it, but I drove my Jeep remembering that the rack was there plus whatever I might have strapped to it.

Trailers can be quite useful
. I even built one to tow behind my Jeep, but I took my Jeep, with things strapped to the rack, in to places that I would not have wanted to tow (or couldn't tow) a trailer long enough to handle a 20' canoe or 24' lengths of steel. I'll admit, I could have cut the steel in to sections and welded it back together on site, but, I couldn't do that with the 20' fiberglass canoe. :cool:

I respect that you have made a decision that a roof rack is never worth the trade-offs for you, and I hope you encourage people to think about why a roof rack might not be the best choice, but please don't dismiss it out of hand for everyone. I think ladder racks, canoe/kayak racks, and RTTs are useful tools that can work for some people with some vehicles. Yes, there are trade-offs, but there are trade-offs to which tire tread someone chooses for a vehicle. I'm not thrilled to see fuel cans mounted up high, but, I'd rather see them securely mounted high then securely stored inside a sealed vehicle, especially on a hot and sunny day. :)

A while back, I designed and built a small camper trailer to tow behind my Jeep. 45 degree angle at the back for departure angle. Same size rims and tires as on my Jeep. Same track-width. Torsion axle stubs. I welded up my frame with a receiver hitch front and rear on the trailer. Pintle ring inserted in to the front receiver on the trailer. Pintle hook in the rear receiver on my Jeep. Tongue long enough that combined with the pintle hook-ring setup, I could turn with the tongue more than 90 degrees from straight ahead towing, without Jeep body to trailer body contact. The trailer body was built out of 2x layed flat and 3/8" plywood, with 3/4" plywood floor. Silicone on every joint and sheetrock screws. No insulation or interior sheathing, so very easy to see how all the joints held up. I painted the outside with Rustoleum white metal paint. I towed it across the US. It spent a lot of time in the Pacific Northwest rain (and some snow), but had no leaks when I sold it 5 years later. :)

I "glued and screwed" every bit of the perimeter, on every panel, to something solid. The "glue" did the sealing and the screws pulled the panels tight and clamped them until the "glue" cured. I was careful to avoid pushing all of the "glue" out of the joints.

I painted multiple coats of Rustoleum metal paint (white) and let the ACX plywood soak up all it could, especially the edges. It was just ACX plywood from the store with the cheap orange buckets. :cool:

The camper trailer was easy and cheap to build and seal. :)
 
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Metcalf

Expedition Leader
so if i drive my vehicle 100% of the time, and put something on the roof 1% of the time, i should buy another vehicle?

i better get to shoppin' . . . . . . .
For me, it would depend very much on how much extra weight had to be added to the vehicle ( the rack system ) that would be carried around every day to take that 1% weight.
I think pretty much everyone knows that carrying weight on the roof is a bad idea.....they just ignore it because it's the easy answer.
 

1000arms

Well-known member
so if i drive my vehicle 100% of the time, and put something on the roof 1% of the time, i should buy another vehicle?

i better get to shoppin' . . . . . . .
Make sure you have a solid roof rack, then securely chain a beater canoe to it, leaving enough slop to allow the canoe to twist and shift a bit in the breeze at highway speeds. Attach knotted and frayed ropes to canoe and roof rack, and watch how most people stay far away rather than tailgating. :cool:

Do pay special attention to anyone who tailgates with said canoe so mounted. The driver is likely an oblivious-idiot and/or texting-while-driving. :)
 

thebmrust

Active member
According to
Don't mount stuff on the roof.
If you need to carry stuff on the roof, or even in excess on the rear bumper, you have the wrong size vehicle.
You must ignore the features of said vehicles. The designers know not of Metcalf and his decree. We must now acquire different vehicles. His Highness Metcalf has spoken, it is now the law of the land.
/sarc
 

pith helmet

Well-known member
I like a rack that is easily removable. That is the best way to minimize road noise when you aren’t actively using it.
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When the rack issue gets settled, maybe we need a jazz video thread.
 
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Metcalf

Expedition Leader
According to

You must ignore the features of said vehicles. The designers know not of Metcalf and his decree. We must now acquire different vehicles. His Highness Metcalf has spoken, it is now the law of the land.
/sarc
Pretty much all the people that do serious off-road and expedition work will tell you something similar. 🤷‍♂️
Nobody thinks that running lots of weight up high or far back is a good idea.
Most people just don't really care.
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
Stock racks are fine for light stuff 150lbs etc. But most once a yr roof bag mini van Families are at minimum 2x over the limit and banging off bump stops. Its more often than not that those are the vehicles I see rolled into the center median on a 3 day weekend with kids, and stuff strewn all over the place. It’s common enough to see the yukon /suburban in the same situation that its very fair people issue legitimate warnings about the built roof rack trend where the assumption is its good for more than 150lbs👍.
My Subarus handled the roof gear well but even over loaded they ran circles around my trucks regarding handling characteristics, so it didn’t bother me much about roof stuff.
But on my trucks I really try to avoid it all together or just run my narrow/ long ski box with light junk doubt I ever get more than 130lbs in it.
I have a 4x6 trailer that has three modes, tent mode, tent-with deck over it for gear, and high side utility trailer mode. Its impact on my mileage in my Expedition is nearly zero, it goes anywhere the TV can go and due to its beefy setup and being nose heavy and low profile it has done 1000’s of miles at 70-80mph without so much as a wobble. I fit in a two car parking spot easily, can pull a U-turn as if its not there. Yeah at times I kinda wish I had a larger trailer but honestly its such an awesome flexible size it makes no sense to upsize. Currently it’s getting a “ 2x4 A frame rack strapped to it” for hauling 2 of my kids 45lb 8ft Jr sailing prams to the club on Sundays and hopefully future regatta trips with the 310 inflatable bagged up under the prams, and some sort of mount solution for the 9.9efi Suzuki ob. That way ma and pa can go watch and serve as a safety boat if needed. If dad gets smart maybe rack a race boat on the Expedition roof and get some regatta action him self👍.
 

R_Lefebvre

Expedition Leader
Are you going to suggest that no other Defenders have rolled?

Your original statement is just not reasonable. I don't think anybody would argue that putting weight up high is undesirable. But sometimes it's the only way. Drive accordingly. But high-CG short-wheelbase vehicles can roll at any time, roof load or not, particularly when used off-road.
 

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Metcalf

Expedition Leader
Are you going to suggest that no other Defenders have rolled?

Your original statement is just not reasonable. I don't think anybody would argue that putting weight up high is undesirable. But sometimes it's the only way. Drive accordingly. But high-CG short-wheelbase vehicles can roll at any time, roof load or not, particularly when used off-road.
My original statement is VERY reasonable....simple even.

It ( weight up high) is never the only option, it is just the compromise in design safety that some are willing to accept.

There are LOTS of other options out there for making vehicles, even 'short' ones, perform much better off-road. The best place to start is not making them have a high center of gravity. The best way to do that is not mounting things on the roof ( or even above the belt line of the body for that matter ). This isn't rocket science. The further the added weight is above the CoG the more effect it has on chassis dynamics. I'd much rather have some margin in the design, allowing the vehicle inspire driver confidence, than being a wallowing unpredictable dynamic mess.
 
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