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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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.
 

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consumedbywater;

I appreciate your hard work, your detailed write-up and your pics;

You did a great job - but you have to resize those images;

The images you posted were over 3,000 pixels each and there were 6 or 7 of them in your post - which take entirely too long to load and bogg down the site, so, they've been removed.

Please don't post anything larger than 1024 x 576 pixels or 576 x 1024 pixels.

Feel free to re-post them, after they've been resized to the above dimensions.

Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
consumedbywater;

I appreciate your hard work, your detailed write-up and your pics;

You did a great job - but you have to resize those images;

The images you posted were over 3,000 pixels each and there were 6 or 7 of them in your post - which take entirely too long to load and bogg down the site, so, they've been removed.

Please don't post anything larger than 1024 x 576 pixels or 576 x 1024 pixels.

Feel free to re-post them, after they've been resized to the above dimensions.

Thank you.
Sorry about that, they've been resized.

For anyone looking for the full sized photos, I've hosted them externally here.
 

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Awesome job on that roof rack, @consumedbywater! I wish I had those skills.
 

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Sorry about that, they've been resized.

For anyone looking for the full sized photos, I've hosted them externally here.
I think you did a hell of a job.

Thanks for re-posting those pics, awesome work really. :thumbsup:

Roof baskets are extremely handy.

My Rola basket is not nearly as long as yours, but, it's the perfect size for my kayak, a spare tire or a couple of pieces luggage.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the compliments.

I decided to build this one because I tend to run out of space inside quickly, especially when I'm carrying passengers and my dog. The ability to store things on the roof will come in especially handy on road trips and when I'm off-roading.

As far as the skills required to build one like mine, I can confidently say that you don't need much. I've never worked with conduit before, so going into the project I had no prior experience apart from using a hole saw. With a conduit bender, a pipe cutter, and a cordless drill, I was able to build the entire basket.

If you're looking to build one for yourself, though, I'd recommend using some sturdier pipe. The 3/4 conduit is holding up well, but the 1/2 conduit is already starting to bow under any weight. I know I'll be rebuilding mine in the future, so I'm not concerned about the strength.
 

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Rigid

If you are going to do it again maybe you could use rigid pipe as then the bend distance and rough size would be the same and you would not have to change any thing, just more weight and harder to bend.

Swanny
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I've definitely considered rigid, and I probably will use it on my next iteration depending on the cost and weight, but I also want to increase the pipe diameter. 1/2 looks a bit small to my eyes, so I might jump to 1 for the hoops and 3/4 for the cross bars.

The main concern I have with rigid is the weight. Even just with around 100 lbs of EMT on top, the Jeep is considerably more top heavy, and as my daily driver I'm not sure I want to add too much more weight. As I continue to test out this design with different variations of weight up top, I'll be able to estimate how the extra 60 lbs of rigid tube will feel, and from there I can determine whether to go for it.
 

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I've definitely considered rigid, and I probably will use it on my next iteration depending on the cost and weight, but I also want to increase the pipe diameter. 1/2 looks a bit small to my eyes, so I might jump to 1 for the hoops and 3/4 for the cross bars.

The main concern I have with rigid is the weight. Even just with around 100 lbs of EMT on top, the Jeep is considerably more top heavy, and as my daily driver I'm not sure I want to add too much more weight. As I continue to test out this design with different variations of weight up top, I'll be able to estimate how the extra 60 lbs of rigid tube will feel, and from there I can determine whether to go for it.
The 1/2 inch pipe does look kind of thin now that you mention it.

Now I'm looking at it in relation the pipe diameter on my Rola basket.

I think you have the right idea for your next iteration with stepping up to 3/4 or 1 inch diameter pipe.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Time for an update on the roof basket. Over the weekend, I had the chance to test it for the first time on some rough terrain. My off road club went out for some fun in the dunes, and while I wasn't trying to chase down the Raptors on the sand, I was still putting enough pressure on the rack that the mounts gave way after only an hour of driving. I'm not sure what my next mounting solution will be, but it'll have to be much more sturdy than this one was.
 

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I took a couple better pictures today. All the stainless steel eye Hooks and Hardware to hold on the lights ,cost more than the actual basket. But I do not want any rust spots on my roof.
You did a nice job on it.

Oddly enough, my ROLA Vortex Roof Basket (Part #59504) which has the dimensions of 48" x 37-1/2" x 4" is pretty small in relation to the size of my Commander's roof - as it was actually designed to fit a WK Grand Cherokee.

Your roof basket looks even smaller than mine.

Also keep in mind, even stainless steel can get discolored with surface rust stains - so, you might consider painting the stainless steel hardware.

Just a suggestion.
 

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Yes it might be small. However I rarely ever use it. And I have a box that fits in there perfect.But I can tell you from experience. I've been in the car business for 30 years.Cleaning and waxing roofs that are covered by a basket are no fun. It was just the right size for what I do. It is pretty much just for looks anyway.
As for painting stainless steel I've never heard of that. Down here stainless steel is polished to a high shine and taking care of. I happen to own a big boat here in Galveston. Everything that I do outside of the boat. Is done with marine grade material when possible. Mother Nature is trying to tear down and destroy everything everyday. With saltwater and ultraviolet rays. So I'm pretty well-versed at keeping rust at bay. What I can't get in stainless steel. Will be painted with PPG paint.
 

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Yes it might be small. However I rarely ever use it. And I have a box that fits in there perfect.But I can tell you from experience. I've been in the car business for 30 years.Cleaning and waxing roofs that are covered by a basket are no fun. It was just the right size for what I do. It is pretty much just for looks anyway.
As for painting stainless steel I've never heard of that. Down here stainless steel is polished to a high shine and taking care of. I happen to own a big boat here in Galveston. Everything that I do outside of the boat. Is done with marine grade material when possible. Mother Nature is trying to tear down and destroy everything everyday. With saltwater and ultraviolet rays. So I'm pretty well-versed at keeping rust at bay. What I can't get in stainless steel. Will be painted with PPG paint.
I grew up on the ocean - and I also work on the ocean a lot to this very day as a U.S. Merchant Marine and I have also owned several small boats over the years and we have the same issues in Florida with the heat, humidity and UV Rays trying to destroy everything.

Any metal surface can be painted - including stainless steel - as long as it's primed with metal primer first.

If you are meticulous in detailing your XK the way I am (which it sounds like you are) and you keep the stainless steel polished, you definitely won't have any problem maintaining the shine.

Most people are not that attentive which is why I brought it up in the first place.

I detail Big Blue religiously when I'm home - usually twice a day - and I know exactly how much of a pain in the arse it is, to clean underneath that roof basket - which is also the reason I have the smaller WK ROLA Vortex Roof Basket instead of the ROLA Roof Basket made for the XK - which is 16 inches longer.

I like the 2-tone paint job on your Commander - that's very original.
 

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full cargo rack

Really like the full length design. I plan on making my own as well. I'll be using 1 1/4" EMT with unistrut as the cross members. Will post photos as the project unfolds.
 
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