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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'd wanted a roof rack that fit inside the rails since I can't give up much height, I barely fit in the garage.

I'd gone looking for a premade basket but couldn't find anything suitable. I got lucky and saw what @603_X_NH posted as a donor basket idea. I'd already seen a good source for a clamp from @SalmonBob

Put those two ideas together and this is what I came up with.





In May I moved the back brackets to under cross bracing and off of the Xterra sticker.





What I used to build this:


MaxxTow 30x50 Cargo Carrier w/ Pivoting Ramp - 2" Hitches - Extruded Aluminum - 500 lbs


I got this for $180 delivered with a 5% off coupon I found online for eTrailer.

I've since found out HF sells a carrier that looks suspiciously exactly the same. A super coupon could make one nice and cheap.




I used Traveller 2 in. Adjustable Mount to mount the rack to the rails. These are from Tractor Supply, I paid $17 for a set of 2. I used 6 clamps total. These are nice and heavy, they feel quality.





Unfortunately the bolts that came with the rack that could have been used for this project appeared to be plated steel, so I didn't use any of it because I wanted stainless steel/no rust.

9 pieces of stainless steel 1/4"-20 x 1 5/8" bolts with lock nuts and 18 pieces 1/4" stainless steel washers to go on both ends of the bolt. My bolts were 2" because that's what I could get at the hardware store today.

12 pieces of stainless steel 5/16"-18 x 1 1/4" bolts with 12 stainless nuts, sixty (really!) 5/16" washers and 12 lock washers.

3 pieces of 1/8" x 1 1/4" x 1 1/4" aluminum angle iron the cut same width as the rack (29 5/8" for my rack)





Prep the top of the rack first:

The rack comes with a thin piece of aluminum around the top for a place to attach the basket to.



I didn't like it because it isn't very strong so I broke it off. To do this I bent the piece over with a plastic mallet and then bent it back up to fatigue the metal and crack it.



After I got it all broken off I cleaned up the edge with an angle grinder and then a long block.



How I built it:

First step, unpack the box. Cut the sides off the top of the box, this is going to go on your roof while you're installing the rack to keep from scratching things up.

Each piece of angle iron gets attached to the rack with three 1/4"-20 x 1 5/8" bolts. The angle iron also gets two holes drilled in each end to attach to the clamp with two 5/16"-18 x 1 1/4" bolts.

I only used 2 pieces of angle iron because I repurposed part of the ramp to use in the front. I was trying to just use aluminum that came with the carrier but it just wasn't coming out good enough to warrant all the extra work.

So imagine 3 pieces of angle iron in this photo, the third replacing the rectangular piece that's run across the top.



Loosely attach three clamps to one side of the rack. Each clamp gets two 5/16"-18 x 1 1/4" bolts. Start with the bolt, slide one 5/16" washer on, put the bolt through the slot in the clamp, then 3 washers used as a spacer (since the sides of clamp aren't flat), then through the hole in the angle iron, then a washer, lock washer and nut.

Put the rack on the roof, sliding those three clamps under the bars. This is sitting on the cardboard you put on your roof so you're not scratching the paint :)

Now get the other three clamps ready to attach to rack. It's a real pain to keep the washers on the bolt while you're sliding the clamp under the rail and attaching it to the rack. To make life much easier take the 3 washers you're going to use as a spacer on this side and Scotch tape them together, then poke a hole through with a pencil. Now the washers will stay together on the bolt.



Loosely attach the three clamps to the rack. Now loosely assemble the rubber spacer and the top of the clamp. I'd suggest using Never Seize on these bolts since it's a stainless bolt going into an aluminum clamp. Now tighten the clamp onto the rail, then tighten 5/16" bolts between the clamp and the angle iron.




Now that everything is tight see how rigid it is by going for a walk on the rack.



There's plenty of room to get to the wet box handle. If I'd used a piece of angle iron up there instead of the rectangular piece there'd easily be enough room for a key if you've got a locking handle.






Optional:

Cut off the part that sticks out the end of the rack for the ramp to connect to. It's not going to get in the way if you leave it on. I did this on a band saw. If you're using a hacksaw instead cut around the perimeter, don't try to cut through. Riveted inside the aluminum is a U shaped piece of steel you don't need to cut through, it will slide out when the aluminum is cut.



You can see how those pieces that stick out would look in this photo.



Edit 6/1/17: See post #22 for adding lights.

 

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I have been keeping my eye on 603_X_NH's thread also. This is definitely on my list.
 

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Thank you so much for the credit, great job putting it into action! And AWESOME write-up!

Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk
 

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I have been eagerly awaiting the outcome of this idea since @603_X_NH suggested it and it does not disappoint!!! Thank you @Longboardr for posting this up! Just curious would it be possible to mount the angle aluminum to the opposite side of the rack and get it a little closer to the roof so the factory rails act as side walls to keep gear situated?
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I have been eagerly awaiting the outcome of this idea since @603_X_NH suggested it and it does not disappoint!!! Thank you @Longboardr for posting this up! Just curious would it be possible to mount the angle aluminum to the opposite side of the rack and get it a little closer to the roof so the factory rails act as side walls to keep gear situated?
Thanks, glad you found this useful.

The rack as I have it mounted (not counting the angle iron) clears the roof by about 2 1/2" at the closest. If you attached the rack to the bottom of the clamps as I have them mounted now you'd have about 1 1/2" of clearance below the clamp. The rack is about 1 3/16" thick, so there wouldn't be much room between the rack and the roof. If you flipped the clamps and attached to the bottom of them you'd clear the roof by approximately 1 1/2".
 

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I have been eagerly awaiting the outcome of this idea since @603_X_NH suggested it and it does not disappoint!!! Thank you @Longboardr for posting this up! Just curious would it be possible to mount the angle aluminum to the opposite side of the rack and get it a little closer to the roof so the factory rails act as side walls to keep gear situated?
My vision actually utilized the whole basket in the link:
https://www.etrailer.com/Hitch-Cargo-Carrier/MaxxTow/MT70100.html?feed=npn&gclid=Cj0KEQiAl4TGBRDhgvmikdHPsdABEiQAtBcc8Ky1OraVty_STApQ9iw7K6nlwbeKGIHxPUkhOZJ3iKQaAlIK8P8HAQ
(Cutting the ramp down to height)
I just never got around to designing or finding the appropriate L brackets that would steadily hold the basket ¼" or so above the roof.
But it is definitely doable.

Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #9
My vision actually utilized the whole basket in the link:
https://www.etrailer.com/Hitch-Cargo-Carrier/MaxxTow/MT70100.html?feed=npn&gclid=Cj0KEQiAl4TGBRDhgvmikdHPsdABEiQAtBcc8Ky1OraVty_STApQ9iw7K6nlwbeKGIHxPUkhOZJ3iKQaAlIK8P8HAQ
(Cutting the ramp down to height)
I just never got around to designing or finding the appropriate L brackets that would steadily hold the basket ¼" or so above the roof.
But it is definitely doable.

Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk
Fwiw the basket railing and what they were attaching it with didn't strike me as very strong. I didn't assemble it but I wouldn't want to depend on it to hold anything in. The railing is .040" to .050" wall tubing, the smaller support pieces that go between the rack and the railing are 1/16" thick, the larger square pieces are 3/32" thick. Of course it could be beefed up but you'd have to supply your own material to do it.
 

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Fwiw the basket railing and what they were attaching it with didn't strike me as very strong. I didn't assemble it but I wouldn't want to depend on it to hold anything in. The railing is .040" to .050" wall tubing, the smaller support pieces that go between the rack and the railing are 1/16" thick, the larger square pieces are 3/32" thick. Of course it could be beefed up but you'd have to supply your own material to do it.
Oh wow, I didn't realize the material was that thin in spots.
Maybe you wouldn't need to beef it up though, I'd love to get my hands on one to test it!
But typically aren't objects made stronger by connecting them all together to form a structure?
Think one singular framed wall in a home seperated by itself, weak and flimsy, could easily be pulled apart.
But when it's connected to the other walls forming a structure, it becomes much stronger.
Just my .02!

Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk
 

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That looks great!

I'd like to be able to use mine to haul a ladder or lumber or longer stuff like that so I like the dephep rack in that it sits up high enough to clear the wet box. Do you think if I substituted square tube for the angle iron it would raise the rack enough? Alternately, I suppose I could install it just like you did or even lower then install extra cross-bars on top to support the longer stuff.

Thanks for posting up!

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Oh wow, I didn't realize the material was that thin in spots.
Maybe you wouldn't need to beef it up though, I'd love to get my hands on one to test it!
But typically aren't objects made stronger by connecting them all together to form a structure?
Think one singular framed wall in a home seperated by itself, weak and flimsy, could easily be pulled apart.
But when it's connected to the other walls forming a structure, it becomes much stronger.
Just my .02!

Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk
Yep, the rack assembly isn't made of very thick wall tubing either but it's plenty strong as an assembly. With the rail being 3 sided I just got the feeling it wouldn't be very strong assembled but I could certainly be wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
That looks great!

I'd like to be able to use mine to haul a ladder or lumber or longer stuff like that so I like the dephep rack in that it sits up high enough to clear the wet box. Do you think if I substituted square tube for the angle iron it would raise the rack enough? Alternately, I suppose I could install it just like you did or even lower then install extra cross-bars on top to support the longer stuff.

Thanks for posting up!

Tom

If you flipped the clamps it should raise the rack about 1 1/2" higher than the Xterra rails. As mine sits it's about flush with the rails. I intend to just use a couple 2x4's across the rails if I put a ladder or boat on the roof so it clears the wet box.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Also in case anyone wants it, here is the list of Stainless steel Hardware and Aluminum angle from mcmaster.
Great list!

I'd suggest button head cap screws for the 1/4"-20 bolts so you've got a rounded head that doesn't want to catch everything like a hex head does.
 

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Great list!

I'd suggest button head cap screws for the 1/4"-20 bolts so you've got a rounded head that doesn't want to catch everything like a hex head does.
That is a good point! McMaster part for that is 92949A837 at the time of this post they are $7.11 for a pack of 25. I also left the lock washers you mentioned off the list because they seemed redundant with the Nylock Nuts.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
That is a good point! McMaster part for that is 92949A837 at the time of this post they are $7.11 for a pack of 25. I also left the lock washers you mentioned off the list because they seemed redundant with the Nylock Nuts.
I didn't use lock nuts for the 5/16" bolts because I had normal nuts and lock washers in stock. Since the clamps need to be assembled loosely before everything is tightened down I think a normal nut might make things easier but not enough to say either nut is superior to the other.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Also it appears that Harbor Freight has a similar hitch basket available in case anyone is feeling impatient or would like another option to compare prices with etrailer.

Nice find! The dimensions and the look is so close you'd think those are the same carriers marketed under different names. With one of those HF coupons I bet you could get that a lot cheaper too.
 
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