DIY Roof Rack: The H-Moose! (3 Viewers)

Joined
May 7, 2005
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South Jordan, UT
I recently realized that hauling my family and camping gear for more than a few days would be pushing the limits of my cargo capacity. I decided that I needed to get some kind of real safari-style roof rack to replace the beloved factory rack.

Enter the J-Moose by Johnny Lange, aka Wildyoats.

The J-Moose is an all-aluminum roof rack made from a bi-fold ATV ramp, some aluminum strips and angles, and commercial roof rack clamps.

J-Moose: "Moose" brand ATV ramp and Johnny's personal touch. The result is a functional, lightweight aluminum roof rack for a fraction of the price of the average aluminum rack.

The J-Moose concept was perfect for my needs and budget.

Introducing: The H-Moose:

Top.jpg


My version of Johnny's rack is only slightly different.
I used a bifold aluminum ATV ramp, #48697 from www.discountramps.com, which has dimensions of 48" by 69" unfolded. The dimensions are perfect for a 1/2 or 3/4 rack. The rails and rungs are simple square section (more or less) extrisions.
I paid $130 for the ramp, shipped.

The%20ramp.jpg


1. Cut off the hinges.

2. I wanted a rack that stopped at the sunroof (is this 1/2 or 3/4?), so I cut off one section (the section with the "fingers"):

First%20cut.jpg


3. Bolt the halves together:

Bolted%20uncut.jpg


Although the ramp is rated to 1200 pounds, when it is used as a ramp, the none of the load is transferred to the hinge.
When used as a rack, the hinge is unsupported, so it will ultimately be the weak point. I used 7 5/16" (grade 8) bolts to connect the halves:

Bolted%20closeup.jpg


4. To get the "rounded look" I cut off the corners of the ramp:

Bolted%20cut.jpg


5. I then followed Johnny's lead by riveting (5 mm aluminum rivets) a few strips of 1/8" by 2" aluminum to the ramp to provide more surface. The aluminum was purchased from Metal Supermarkets:

Riveted.jpg


6. To make the rounded corners, Johnny bent 4 strips of 1/8" by 2" aluminum and attached them to the corners. I pretty much followed his example, but I used two longer strips that would run completely around the perimeter of the rack.

The 6061 T6 aluminum is easy to bend. I created a jig to bed the aluminum around. The strips were far too elastic to actually keep the radius of the bend, but the bend did give me something to work with when I actually attached the strips to the rack:

Bending.jpg


One half of the perimeter attached:

One%20rim.jpg


The "perimeter strips" are attached with 1/4" buttonhead bolts. I positioned the seam between the two strips on the sides of the rack so that the bolted connection of the two halves (formerly attached by a hinge) would benefit from the vertical width of the strip:

Seam%20closeup.jpg


Corner%20closeup.jpg


COMPLETE!

Complete.jpg


Finally, I painted the rack with Plastidip. I used 5 aerosol cans, and the finished appearance is very nice. I'll keep you posted on the long term durability of the Plastidip.

Painted%20top.jpg


Painted%20closeup.jpg


I attached the rack to my 80 with six Con-Ferr Bulldog clamps. I ordered the clamps from Off Road Unlimited, who is filling all the orders for the now-dissolved Con-Ferr. I paid $150 shipped for the clamps. I'm sure that less expensive clamps could be found.

The Con-Ferr clamps are certainly burly. I think the six clamps weigh as much as the rack! I did have to drill new holes in each of the clamps to get it lined up with ramp rails. The ramp is bolted onto the camps with 3/8" grade 8 bolts:

Bracket%20closeup.jpg



The total cost of the rack was around $400.
The final product is very sturdy and looks great. I'll be using it this weekend to take the family to Canyonlands for 5 days. I'll be sure to report back on the rack's performance.

Rear%20three%20quarter.jpg



Hayes
 
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Joined
Sep 13, 2003
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Wichita, KS
Very nice! Excellent craftsmanship. I like your idea of the Plastidip for the coating. I'll keep an eye out for your next post on the durability of the coating.
 
Joined
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Shufflin' Through the Texas Sand
I've been watching these homemade rack threads with interest. They look cool and I am a big fan of DIY if it saves good money. But I am going to play the devil's advocate. I have owned two ARB 80 Series racks and between the two have logged a lot of miles around the rough parts of Texas and Mexico, New Mexico and the Rocky Mountain states. I generally carry all of our hardside luggage wrapped inside various 1000 denier waterproof nylon bags. I also usually carry a couple of wolf-type boxes full of parts and tools. All in all, I generally average 200-300 lbs of gear up top and its all strapped down very securely and then covered with a huge elastic net for added control.

In my opinion, these homemade aluminum racks are not capable of handling much payload safely. The racks I am seeing fabricated are lacking sufficient architecture to control the load in the event of a hard turn or collision. And the lighweight aluminum is not going to support a lot of pull from tie-downs or ratchet straps. When offroad with my racks I have encountered some tree limbs that would have cleaned my cargo off of the rack had it not been for the front and side rails. Of course, its easy for me to be critical, I already have an ARB rack and they are scarce and expensive as hell. If all you are planning on doing is hauling Home Depot payload home or a lightweight duffle bag or two on a trip to Mom's, I think you'll be fine. And I am not trying to be negative, I just want to convey to newbies on this list and guys fabbing some of these racks that in my experience, they are going to be very limited in payload and payload control. I think for what Slee is charging for his Outback racks, I'd think long and hard before I built my own just to save $250-500. I will be very anxious to see the long-term performance of these projects.
 
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Joined
May 7, 2005
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Excellent point, and I think you're right.

I wouldn't trust more than a couple hundred pounds up there, maximum. In fact, my intended usage would put 100 -150 pounds up there--the light weight bulky stuff like sleeping bags & sleeping pads, the portable toilet, the bag o'trash, and one gas can. With a second row of kids, the interior cargo space is quickly used up.

I figure that the more weight on top of your vehicle--even with a burly steel rack--the worse. I'll keep my center of gravity as low as possible--water cans and coolers inside, space-hogging low-density bulk up top.

Hayes


elmariachi said:
I've been watching these homemade rack threads with interest. They look cool and I am a big fan of DIY if it saves good money. But I am going to play the devil's advocate. I have owned two ARB 80 Series racks and between the two have logged a lot of miles around the rough parts of Texas and Mexico, New Mexico and the Rocky Mountain states. I generally carry all of our hardside luggage wrapped inside various 1000 denier waterproof nylon bags. I also usually carry a couple of wolf-type boxes full of parts and tools. All in all, I generally average 200-300 lbs of gear up top and its all strapped down very securely and then covered with a huge elastic net for added control.

In my opinion, these homemade aluminum racks are not capable of handling much payload safely. The racks I am seeing fabricated are lacking sufficient architecture to control the load in the event of a hard turn or collision. And the lighweight aluminum is not going to support a lot of pull from tie-downs or ratchet straps. When offroad with my racks I have encountered some tree limbs that would have cleaned my cargo off of the rack had it not been for the front and side rails. Of course, its easy for me to be critical, I already have an ARB rack and they are scarce and expensive as hell. If all you are planning on doing is hauling Home Depot payload home or a lightweight duffle bag or two on a trip to Mom's, I think you'll be fine. And I am not trying to be negative, I just want to convey to newbies on this list and guys fabbing some of these racks that in my experience, they are going to be very limited in payload and payload control. I think for what Slee is charging for his Outback racks, I'd think long and hard before I built my own just to save $250-500. I will be very anxious to see the long-term performance of these projects.
 
Joined
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NY and AZ
I haven't enjoyed the experience of using an ARB but I built a similar aluminum rack with a 1500lb rating having both horizontal and vertical cross bars already welded in. It has five mounting brackets / side and is very sturdy. Two people 180+ plus jumping up and down is no problem. I can see your point regarding some of the ATV ramps, but you have to remember there is a considerable difference between the quality and load bearing capability of the ramps out there. Mine weighed in over 60 lbs. and like I said is definately strong enough to carry the loads you suggested. I will admit though that the rounding of the corners with the straight aluminum made me a little worried about how that would hold up. I definately like the way it looks but didn't think I would be able to put ratchet straps around it. When I can figure out how to fab something that will support heavy ratcheting then I will do so. Pics of my rack are on the other recent aluminum rack thread however there isn't an aerial view to discern the strength of the rack. When I get back to AZ I will post some.

chris
 
Joined
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To me, the BIGGEST asset of these types of racks, besides the slightly lower cost, is how easy it must be to handle. Even with the positives of the ARB, it is an absolute moth^r$#c%e@ to handle and requires at least two adults to mount and dismount. It looks to me like one adult could easily handle these ATV racks with nothing but a ladder.

The COG is just something you get used to. By no means can you run a laden ARB without a lift. I am building up an M4216 trailer and if I can ever get it done, I may actually sell my rack altogether. Especially is gas stays this high.
 
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Joined
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on the right coast
Nice work Hayes! Good job. I went to Northern Tools and they have a tri-fold ATV ramp for 149 bucks. I was thinking of building one too. Plastidip is looking good though.
 
Joined
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I had the same thoughts Jim. I have (had) a full length ARB rack. After spending some time dinking around with Johnny's, I have no doubt about the strength. Only changes I'll make on mine is to TIG weld the thing together.
 
Joined
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That's a nice looking rack, but I'll also comment about commercial alternatives.

I have a Thule setup - 2 towers and 2 crossbars for $150. I bought the longer crossbars so I have a wider setup which means for instance I can carry 6 bikes across the roof, or push one crossbar across while camping to hang a solar shower, etc. I also bought a Sears 20 cu foot roof box for $160. I like this box because its shape is far more practical than everyone elses. It's tall and short, so you can put things like gas cans, rolled up thick foam pads, and even full milk crates in it and shut the lid. So, for $320 I can carry a whole lot of stuff in weatherproof comfort and arrive with no dust in my gear, etc.

In addition, I have a hitch platform which I spent $75 for which can carry rough/bulky things like firewood, tarps, etc and adds 48" X 20" down low. Obviously for actual trail use this would be left at camp, but when I'm on the trail I also don't carry a lot of stuff with me.

So, for $385 I can carry a bunch of stuff with commercially made durable racks, and it's a setup I can attach a bunch of various things to like kayak brackets, lumber brackets, bike attachments and ski attachments to tailor it to my needs. The Thule crossbars are sturdy enough I can stand in the center of a single one and jump up and down (usually only once before I'm in danger of falling on my a$$ - heh). It's also easy to install and extremely light weight. I keep the crossbars and towers attached and can put both of these 20lb units on in 10 minutes and they store in a corner of the garage. The roof box takes another 10 minutes to install (just remember to put it on in the driveway, NOT in the garage. Ask me how I know this). The hitch platform installs in 30 seconds as you just shove it in the trailer hitch and take off for an errand needing it. It stores in a corner also.

The full floor racks are nice for a variety of things, but I think some of the systems many consider 'light duty' like the Thule and Yakima systems are way more than adequate for most people and provide an ease of use and flexibility of application not found in a bulky full rack. Most of my friends are heavy rack users (bikes, wheeling, skiis, lumber) and I've never seen anyone so much as bend theirs in use.

DougM
 
Joined
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As a hybrid to Idougs system, I think a J-Moose/H-Moose rack bolted to 3 Yakima/Thule crossbars would be pretty nice, gives you the option to carry the rack or use specific accessories instead (or both, I suppose).
 

e9999

Gotta get outta here...
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very nice job.
these racks are very attractive.
The one thing that makes me hesitate building one is that I would feel much better if there were some sort of "raised railing" around it to prevent things from falling off. That extra bit of safety seems like a good thing to me considering what could potentially happen if you drop something with a vehicle following close.
 
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e9999 said:
very nice job.
these racks are very attractive.
The one thing that makes me hesitate building one is that I would feel much better if there were some sort of "raised railing" around it to prevent things from falling off. That extra bit of safety seems like a good thing to me considering what could potentially happen if you drop something with a vehicle following close.

Yeah. I thought through that part of it.
On one hand, if your crap isn't secure (via ropes, straps, nets, etc.) it probably shouldn't be up there in the first place.
On the other hand, raised rails would provide an extra margin of safety should something come unhooked.

At this point, thinking through my packing scheme, I've got all my roof-rack crap compartmentalized into large sacks or duffels (example: four rolled up sleeping pads combined into one big nylon sack, camp chairs in another single sack). That way, I have fewer items to secure and less to worry about. I'm also keeping the heaviest items inside the cargo area (water cans, coolers, crates).

I'll have all kinds of photos and reports about this and that piece of gear or mod, and lots of photos of scenery when I get back from our 5-day trip to the Maze over the holiday (been anxious for this one for a long time). You can be certain that I'll give a full report on how the rack holds up as well.

There are many good observations and ideas in this thread already. I particularly liked Idaho Doug's point about the real functionality of "low duty" commercial racks, and Firetruck's idea of adding some kind of J-Moose to Yakima/Thule rails.

Another important point: Almost any rack is better than the factory rack and there are a wide variety of options for a variety of applications. The cannibalized ATV ramp method may not be for everyone.

Hayes
 

Cruiserdrew

On the way there
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Looks great! I think you are on the right track putting your light and soft stuff up there. Canyonlands is one of my favorite places-how about a report about the Maze when you return? I want to go there before the gas is all gone.
 
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elmariachi said:
Man Mot, I am sorry about that. :eek: I fixed it for you. :flipoff2:



How kind of you! :D
It reminds you of me whenever you see a moth? :D
LOL!!

Mot :hillbilly
 
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The other advantage to my far superior solution to this dilemma is that upon arriving a camp, I can haul my huge box down in about 15 minutes and use it on the ground for a secured (has locking latch) garage to leave tools, bulky spares and food - again immune to weather and dust. With that, I don't think any of your measly suggestions even come close. Send my trophy, or medal, or whatever it will be.

Rgds,

DougM
 

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