Second Generation Nissan Xterra Forums banner
1 - 20 of 118 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,853 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Just another unistrut crossbar project, with a way to mount Rotopax and many other items to them. Inspiration / blatant copying from the following threads:

https://www.thenewx.org/forum/23-exterior/141697-roof-rack-clamps.html

DIY Rotopax factory roof rack mount - Toyota FJ Cruiser Forum

I wanted a way to mount some Rotopax fuel cans (and other things, including traction boards, a shovel, etc) to my roof in a low profile fashion, without a lot of expense. This method keeps the items as low as possible and between the roof rails.

The unistrut is low profile (13/16") stainless, cut into sections to span the width of the roof rack. A 10' section happens to divide equally into three pieces about the right size, though I'm only using two at this time.

The ends of the strut channel can be a little sharp, so you can use end caps to prevent scrapes and cuts. I got these from Mcmaster Carr
https://www.mcmaster.com/cadinlnord/3312t11

I used the vibration damping clamps from McMaster Carr
McMaster-Carr Damping U-Bolt Clamps

and drilled through the strut channel to mount it directly to the clamps.

I did need to add just a little thickness to the rack so that the clamps were tight. Some have used a thin piece of silicone but I just cut some strips of rubber from a bike inner tube and that worked fine too.





So now we have crossbars with infinitely adjustable mounting locations. You can use the 3/8" spring nuts:
Superstrut 3/8 in. Channel Spring Nut (5-Pack)-ZA1003/8EG-10 - The Home Depot

and then you can mount pretty much anything to the strut with a 3/8" bolt.

In this case I wanted to mount some Rotopax cans. The fuel cans are great, but expensive... luckily I was able to purchase a couple factory blemished ones at <1/2 price.



Using some 3/8" rod, 3/4" PVC, washers and nuts, and 4" round electrical box plates, I made some mounts similar to those pictured in the FJ thread above. The cost was around $30. The main difference is that I am using the strut channel rather than drilling through factory crossbars. This allows much more flexibility in mounting. Also, since I have the 4GL Rotopax I created two sets of mounts rather than the one central one shown in the thread.








Depending on use, the strut crossbars can be mounted above or below the side rails of the stock rack.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,724 Posts
Cool! I love working with all the possibilities the strut channel affords.


BTW - like the olfa mat, also :) (I have a 24" x 36" with their rotary cutter and other odds and ends)...nice Japanese quality.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,853 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Cool! I love working with all the possibilities the strut channel affords.


BTW - like the olfa mat, also :) (I have a 24" x 36" with their rotary cutter and other odds and ends)...nice Japanese quality.
Thanks guys. I will update with pictures of it actually mounted up in use, hopefully soon.

The Olfa mat is a hand me down from my wife's cutting table, it is a great work surface!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,853 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)


We got out on a day trip to play on some dirt roads this past weekend and tried out the roof mounted Rotopax and shovel. We didn't really need the extra fuel but wanted to test everything out and make sure it was solid.

The setup worked well. I picked up some Quickfists for the shovel and bolted them to some 1/4" channel nuts. I didn't notice any wind noise from the shovel, and it sits level with the roof rails so I don't think it's causing much extra drag.

The Rotopax stayed securely in place, but I did experience an occasional rattle where the tail side of the fuel can would vibrate slightly on washboard road. The mounting points on the Rotopax were very solid, but I think there's just enough flex in the fuel can where the tail end is cantilevered and bounces slightly... maybe it's worse when the walls of the can swell from the fuel expanding.

Overall I'm really pleased with the setup but would like to eliminate the rattling.

EDIT: Turns out is was the front bolt of the rear roof rail mount that was loose, working on fixing that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,825 Posts
I'd bet a straight bar perpendicular to the strut with some foam on it would take up that extra "slack" that lets it vibrate. Maybe just wrap the bar (either flat or round) in fuel or radiator hose to act as a cushion.
Or at worst, an extra cross bar with a foam/rubber block on it... might be useful for mounting other stuff closer to the rear hatch later (dirty snatch strap, hatchet, traction boards).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,853 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'd bet a straight bar perpendicular to the strut with some foam on it would take up that extra "slack" that lets it vibrate. Maybe just wrap the bar (either flat or round) in fuel or radiator hose to act as a cushion.
Or at worst, an extra cross bar with a foam/rubber block on it... might be useful for mounting other stuff closer to the rear hatch later (dirty snatch strap, hatchet, traction boards).
Great suggestions, thanks! I actually have a third crossbar that I cut (a 10 foot strut piece conveniently divides in 1/3rds that are just the right size for this) and I have two more clamps as well, so it would be easy to add. The third bar in the back would definitely help and will probably be necessary later when I get my Treds, which are almost a foot longer than the Rotopax.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,401 Posts
Man you are a genius. Thats a great way to go and not have to pay the stupid prices for rotopax mounts. Great setup my friend. Are you going on the Pony Express run today? I just finished putting my rotopax on top of the X for the spare fuel. Again. Great job and hopefully Ill see you out there today.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
82 Posts
Looks awesome! Dumb question though, and im hoping i didnt blatantly miss it....but what size vibration dampening clamps did you use?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,853 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Looks awesome! Dumb question though, and im hoping i didnt blatantly miss it....but what size vibration dampening clamps did you use?
Not a dumb question at all. It's this one:
McMaster-Carr

You may need to put a thin strip of silicone or rubber around the roof rack for a tighter fit as these are just a hair on the large side.

I will update the link on my previous post to be more specific. Thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,853 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Man you are a genius. Thats a great way to go and not have to pay the stupid prices for rotopax mounts. Great setup my friend. Are you going on the Pony Express run today? I just finished putting my rotopax on top of the X for the spare fuel. Again. Great job and hopefully Ill see you out there today.
Hey, sorry I just saw this post now. Ironically I originally bought the Rotopax fuel can for last years Pony Express run. But then we had friends come into town to go skiing, so we didn't go. This year we went down to Moab for the weekend, so unfortunately couldn't be in both places and didn't make it to Pony Express. Looks like it was an awesome trip though, I've seen some photos that people have posted.

I'm hoping that the Utah Xterra crew gets out on some more group trips because I'm way overdue to meet some other forum members in person!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
82 Posts
Awesome thanks! Now I can get a little creative.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
417 Posts
Nice setup! Super low profile too!

Might be over thought but since the gas tank and all the steering column is on the left side of the truck, I would put that extra 4 gallons on the right side to even up the weight distribution.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,853 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
outback97,

Where did you get the cross bar?

Great idea btw!

Thanks,
Fredy
Thanks Fredy. I got the strut at a local surplus freight place that sells a lot of random industrial stuff and metals, and I lucked out because it was really inexpensive.

You can find strut channel at industrial, electrical or plumbing suppliers, Grainger, McMaster Carr, etc. It's used in a lot of applications.

McMaster-Carr

Even Lowe's has it, although their selection is more limited and I've only ever seen the slotted material there.


Nice setup! Super low profile too!

Might be over thought but since the gas tank and all the steering column is on the left side of the truck, I would put that extra 4 gallons on the right side to even up the weight distribution.
Thank you, the low profile was something I was aiming for.

Good idea on the weight distribution, I hadn't really thought of it since the fuel isn't very heavy (under 35 pounds), but there probably is more weight on the drivers side. The good thing is that it would take just a few moments to swap sides, just slide the channel nuts over to the passenger side.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,853 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
After installing a third crossbar, I realized it was one of the bolts on the rear roof rail stanchion that was causing my rattle. Noticed it about five minutes before we took off on a day trip. As a temporary fix I shoved some rubber from an old bike inner tube around the roof rail to keep the rattling down.

I wish it had been my design that caused the rattling, that would be easier to fix than the loose bolt on the roof rack mount that just spins and will not tighten nor loosen :frown:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,853 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Well I haven't taken the time to tear into the roof and tighten that bolt up, but the rubber is still keeping it pretty stable, with no rattles. So it's good enough for now.

Here's the setup with two 4GL Rotopax plus shovel, getting ready for a big weekend trip and needed to extend the fuel range a bit more.



Sorry for the lame driveway cell phone pic, will get some better ones in a few days!

The shovel brackets are just a 1" pipe bracket, and I used coupling nuts rather than wing nuts since the bracket interferes with the wings. May still have some room for improvement on this but it didn't rattle, didn't loosen up, and is quick and easy to put on and take off.
 

·
TNX Veteran & LPM
Joined
·
7,842 Posts
Well I haven't taken the time to tear into the roof and tighten that bolt up, but the rubber is still keeping it pretty stable, with no rattles. So it's good enough for now.

Here's the setup with two 4GL Rotopax plus shovel, getting ready for a big weekend trip and needed to extend the fuel range a bit more.



Sorry for the lame driveway cell phone pic, will get some better ones in a few days!

The shovel brackets are just a 1" pipe bracket, and I used coupling nuts rather than wing nuts since the bracket interferes with the wings. May still have some room for improvement on this but it didn't rattle, didn't loosen up, and is quick and easy to put on and take off.
Clever idea on mounting the shovel with it! Looks good!
 
1 - 20 of 118 Posts
Top