DIY: Rear Cargo Rack - Second Generation Nissan Xterra Forums (2005+)
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post #1 of 73 (permalink) Old 03-01-2017, 11:04 PM Thread Starter
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DIY: Rear Cargo Rack

So here begins my rear cargo rack epic saga...

In the beginning, I had no need so I pretty much ignored these cargo area things. Hey, with 3 dogs barely fitting back there already why would I want to make them all duck?

Then there was light. Well, at least a good long family trip with no real hope of bringing the dogs along for the ride.

So here I am, what now? My budget isn't zero, but as close as possible would be nice. Metal is cheap, labor at hobby rates is free, and most real products are not likely gonna come close.

I started out by trying to find out what's been done before. I don't like to purely copy anything but I will try and learn from somebody else's mistakes whenever I can get away with it. So here's what I could dig up with my limited searching skill in as good of a timeline as I can manage:
  1. (9/22/09) @StrykerX Cargo Area Shelf (Earliest I could find. A good read and may influence my project.)
  2. (3/5/10) @dr_rick Olympic 4x4 Mountaineer Rack (Think I've seen this before. Hit a link recently and it looked familiar. Ah, yes, I have posted there near the end... )
  3. (6/17/10) @Surf and Snow Rear Cargo Rack (Pic Heavy) @Mr. Bills, your unanswered question near the end goes with #6 below. (Sorry, numbering scrwed up when I expanded the list...))
  4. (7/15/10) @Toy Man DIY rear cargo shelf (Interestingly one of the few not doing utilitrack mounting. Bonus points for the ceiliing zip ties.)
  5. (10/27/11) @XSilver XSilver's Rig & Expedition Trailer Build (First Harbor Freight based build I could find.)
  6. * (11/5/12) @BoonDox MPS: XTF Interior Cargo Rack
  7. (1/16/13) @Toro Cargo Shelf (Uniquely allows the cargo cover to still function. Best part for me was @Mr. Bills asking if it was done 2 years after it was finished. Gives me hope that I'm not the only one that can't find stuff here. )
  8. (5/28/13) @07Xterra_mcf Rear Cargo Shelf - Fits Utilitrack (This is the kind of thing that bothers me from old threads, all I get is a stupid yawning cat photo saying "photo not found".)
  9. (10/5/13) @Monster Cargo "Half" Rack Project EDIT: Finished w/Pics (This one gets credit for inspiration too. I like the single post cantilever and the small tray area for a few reasons. Just looking at pics of kneeling on concrete make my knees hurt...)
  10. (1/5/14) @ThePlasticOne TPO's Lazy Bones Fab: HF Interior Cargo Rack (Very funny thread, glad I eventually found it. Very helpful too. HF rack based conversion.)
  11. * (4/15/15) @krp8128 MPS: Cargo Area Utility Rack I think this is the guy that was making the stock bumper winch mounts but hasn't logged in for 4-5 months.
  12. * (10/20/15) @RockyMtnX Rear cargo rack/shelf This is what I could find as "OP" for the rack @KuanR posted pics of.
  13. (3/24/16) @JeffBett My take on Organizing the Cargo Space (PVC is not my style, but that is an amazing amount of storage while still being able to transform into bed mode.)
  14. (4/27/16) @Longboardr How-to: HF Cargo Rack : Linus Edition (Another entertaining and informative thread based on HF conversion.)
  15. (10/5/16) @TFin04 Discussion on Rear Cargo Storage Solutions (More of a discussion than a build, but also has good links to builds.)
  16. * (2/4/17) @jsexton jsexton's 07
(*) added to list after initial post

With my history lesson complete I'm still not sure I have all my design goals nailed down yet. Here's something worth quoting:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Surf and Snow View Post
...I bought this same rack for $50 w/ a Super Coupon at HF for my hitch, but think about time vs. money. It would take me 3-4 hrs to fab up the basket. At $50 to buy the basket, it's a huge savings when considering what you make at work vs. paying...
True enough. But I also respect this guy:
Quote:
The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.
-Benjamin Franklin
The short version of that is... I enjoy making stuff, and in the end if you aren't making something worth making, what's the point? Might as well work on the old beer bottle cap collection instead. I already know that I could never sell this and cover what I could've made putting in more OT. (I'm already putting in way too much, but that's a rant for another day...)

My usual design rules include:
  1. Don't block driver's visibility if at all possible.
  2. Form should follow function, so clearly define what the functions need to be.
  3. Strength should match the need, all else is wasted money/effort/energy.
  4. Do I have the tools to make it well?

I admit breaking rules 2, 3, and 4. Hey, 1 out of 4 isn't... good? Anyway, I don't have my desired functions decided, I only have certain materials available, and I may be hoping Santa drops a tube bender down my chimney but I don't have a chimney either. At this point in time I don't think there's really anything I could do better than anybody else already has. Except maybe one thing - release fully dimensioned build plans along with whatever it is I end up with. Even then it will require somebody willing to take up metal work as a hobby or profession. YMMV.

This initial model is 1/8" sheet, 1x1/8" round tube, and 1/8" tread plate. May cut the tubes to .06 wall, and maybe as light as 0.080" on the tread plate, if I can source em. It's about 25# as is and maybe 15# as light as I'm willing to go. I'm just guessing off @Mr. Bill's posted dimensions, and totally guessing the track spacing. Will measure up later since it's under the dog rug right now.

So with no further delay, here's what I came up with today anyway. (Hey @roguebuck, I finally figured out how to turn on shiny stuff! )



UPDATE: ZIP #2 contains the updated bent MOLLE floor, leg flange flat pattern, and tube gusset flat patterns.
Oh, and I made the MOLLE floor and tube gussets from 0.080" sheet, not 0.125". With the triple bends near the leg mounts it seems rigid enough for intended use and cuts about 4# off the total. 20.2# I think it was with that center top tube put back. That floor panel compromises a little on full width flat, but for now I'm ok with it. We've got at least 2 months to try it out before the big trip and I can make a new shelf if it's really bad.
Shiny stuff and shadows in SW stopped working, and I don't know why.
Attached Files
File Type: zip myshelf IGES.zip (296.0 KB, 20 views)
File Type: zip DXF 3-24-2017.zip (40.8 KB, 7 views)
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Last edited by 29erClan; 03-24-2017 at 11:53 PM. Reason: add 2nd ZIP
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post #2 of 73 (permalink) Old 03-01-2017, 11:13 PM
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I made mine with 16 ga 3/4" square tube.... plenty strong. I have absolutely no issues putting 100+ lbs on it. Use thinner wall tubing.


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post #3 of 73 (permalink) Old 03-01-2017, 11:33 PM
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It would be awesome if some makes another one like Rockymtnx. He attached the rear support on where the factory cargo cover mounts to, thus leaving more space on the bottom

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post #4 of 73 (permalink) Old 03-02-2017, 06:24 AM
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I like it! Couple ideas that you can do whatever with... The top tray portion could have slots or bars instead of diamond plate, allowing things to be strapped down in certain corners or attaching other items. Also, would be awesome if the legs could be adjustable up/down to increase/decrease height as needed. Just my thoughts

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post #5 of 73 (permalink) Old 03-02-2017, 06:39 AM
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Purdy, I really like the angle of the legs and how they're not taking up a lot of floor space.

Looking at how the legs attach to the sheet I wonder how much flex it will have from (driver's) side to (passenger) side.

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post #6 of 73 (permalink) Old 03-02-2017, 08:05 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsexton View Post
I made mine with 16 ga 3/4" square tube.... plenty strong. I have absolutely no issues putting 100+ lbs on it. Use thinner wall tubing.
Agreed. I only modeled it in 1x1/8" because that's the tube my buddy has on his rack easily available to me. Also, it's supposed to be all aluminum. I guess I forgot to write that anywhere. Anyway, even at super-beefy levels of aluminum thickness it's still ~30% lighter than most HF based designs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KuanR View Post
It would be awesome if some makes another one like Rockymtnx. He attached the rear support on where the factory cargo cover mounts to, thus leaving more space on the bottom.
I couldn't find one he made. Got a link to share and I'll add it to my reference list? The first guy on the list used what looks like electrical conduit in the cargo cover mount spots. Was it like that one?

Quote:
Originally Posted by VMBiohazard View Post
I like it! Couple ideas that you can do whatever with... The top tray portion could have slots or bars instead of diamond plate, allowing things to be strapped down in certain corners or attaching other items. Also, would be awesome if the legs could be adjustable up/down to increase/decrease height as needed. Just my thoughts
Good ideas, all. I put a single flat plate tray because 1) I thought maybe smaller stuff would fall through 4" bar gaps, and 2) it was easy.

I was thinking that the upper tube perimeter should have footman-type loops, but for now the plan is simpler. Just hook the bungee over the tube, or clip a carabiner to it and a backpack or whatever. Tons of retired carabiners that will never climb again are a resource I have available. Another option is make the tray a full molle panel, but tread plate is cool too. An early idea was to make a fully welded pan about 1" deep so it could maybe contain large spills. Seemed like not a very useful feature.

The height adjustability is almost a requirement for something that would be useful beyond my needs. I just haven't figured a good way to make it solid and rattle-free. On a similar note I had considered a 4-bar linkage so you could pull a pin and fold it down onto the backs of the folded-down rear seats. Kinda like a "pickup truck mode". Another idea was a 5-bar linkage so it would tilt-rotate and stow up tight against the backs of the rear seats when up. All these add complexity and places for things to fail so I'm cautious.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Longboardr View Post
Purdy, I really like the angle of the legs and how they're not taking up a lot of floor space.

Looking at how the legs attach to the sheet I wonder how much flex it will have from (driver's) side to (passenger) side.
Um, yeah, the purdyness is a subtle hint that I want a tube bender for my birthday...
The semi-cantilever slanted legs are exactly for that reason, taking up less floor space. I hope it doesn't compromise too much strength. Probably going to be fine.

Good catch on the sheet flex at the tray mount. Maybe a small chunk of 1x2 angle or channel between the leg and tray that spans to the main tray tubes? I think if I swap in a tray sheet thinner than 1/8" it will be necessary.

Thanks guys. I appreciate any and all feedback, suggestions, criticism. I may not make the same decisions you would but I encourage y'all to take my files and modify however you want and then release them too.
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post #7 of 73 (permalink) Old 03-02-2017, 09:13 AM
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I really like how XTF has their rack that's on the Nisstec's site has an adjustable height which is nice for the type of cargo you are carrying.

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Quote:
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I really like how XTF has their rack that's on the Nisstec's site has an adjustable height which is nice for the type of cargo you are carrying.
I do as well, but they are pricey AF!
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post #9 of 73 (permalink) Old 03-02-2017, 09:15 AM
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Yea it's a little rich for me.


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Quote:
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post #10 of 73 (permalink) Old 03-02-2017, 09:38 AM Thread Starter
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To be honest, the pricing of that shelf unit works in my favor. In terms of family budget justification I mean. Wife sees that one, then sees my initial plan, guess which one she likes the looks of better. The bender I want is maybe $50 more than that unit painted and shipped. Materials should only cost me about $20.

She doesn't care about height adjustments as long as the day packs all fit under it and it doesn't block her ability to drive in reverse. (No rear camera) On long haul trips we have 3 drivers taking shifts. It's brutal, but when you really want to be 1200 miles away tomorrow, it works.

Our expected use of it is 2-3 weeks and then its back out again to make room for the dogs. I simply don't need a long term solution. The curvy purdyness is mostly just for fun and a means to get a tube bender in my hands.
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