I've been planning to put a roof basket on my XK for awhile, but the price kept me away. For $500, I could've bought a basket that would cover the rear section of the body, but nothing would follow the lines of the Jeep all the way to the windshield. I've seen baskets on Land Rovers that follow the lines of the truck, such as the Baja Rack for LR3 and LR4, and I've wanted something that fit the XK similarly. So I decided to build my own.
The first steps involved a lot of measuring and designing. I measured the roof to be 52" wide and 100" long. I also noted that 72" from the rear of the Jeep, the curve of the roof rails began, and the curve was around 6" long with a 3" drop. With these measurements in mind, I started designing my basket.
To start, I took an aerial view of the XK and drew some lines for a basic design. To simplify my bends, I decided to create two hoops and stack them on top of each other to create a basket. In the actual build, most of this design was simplified to speed up the process, but future iterations will likely incorporate more of the complexities.
With a basic design laid out, I made a list of supplies. I decided to make the outer hoops out of 3/4" EMT, and the inner rails out of 1/2" EMT. I figured on needing five 10 foot lengths of 1/2 EMT and six 10 foot lengths of 3/4 EMT. In reality, this build could be done with less, but I wanted to allow for some error in bending and cutting. I also used couplers to join the stretches of 3/4 EMT since I don't currently have access to a welder.
After picking up the supplies, I started bending the 3/4 EMT to form the outer hoops. The lower hoop incorporated some offset bends to follow the lines of the roof, while the upper hoop did not. It took some trial and error to get the bends exactly right on the lower hoop, but eventually it turned out to follow the roof pretty well.
The next step was to add the cross rails. I decided to run the 1/2 EMT inside the 3/4 EMT and use sheet metal screws to hold everything together. I used a 3/4" bi-metal hole saw to create holes to run the 1/2 EMT into. I also carefully tapped holes for the sheet metal screws to make sure everything was as precise as possible.
Once the cross rails were installed into the lower hoop, I tried another test fit. At this point I figured out that the roof of the XK isn't perfectly square. The front of the rails measures 52" wide, but the rear measures only 49" wide. To accommodate for this, I simply tapered my design down to 49" wide at the rear, cutting as needed to keep everything lined up. Another test fit revealed that everything worked out very well.
The next step was to join the upper and lower hoops. I used 1/2 EMT to join them, adding braces as I saw necessary. Unfortunately, by this point in the project I was tired and careless, so the braces didn't line up as I wanted. However, just wanting to finish the project, I kept going anyway.
With the hoops joined, the basket was starting to come together. The next step was to figure out a mounting solution. I decided on EMT hangers to grab the rack, with washers and bolts to grab the rails on the XK. I also added 2" wood spacers to prevent some rattling. I installed 4 on each side to ensure the basket was secure.
With my design complete, the final step was paint. I decided to use Plastidip for now, since I expect to be making more modifications in the future.
Finally, it was time to mount the basket. With everything secure, it definitely added some presence to the Jeep. An added benefit is that I can keep my spare fully inflated on top rather than deflated and shoved into the stock space. Interestingly, the spare tire sensor still seems to pick the spare up, since I don't have a low tire pressure warning.
This design ended up costing me less than $100 in materials. It's still the first iteration, and I expect future iterations will use stronger tubing and welding to hold everything together, as well as accommodate the sunroofs. However, for now, it's still a perfectly functional basket and I've already used it a few times to haul my surfboard and bike, as well as some bags.