Kevin Mark Klughart
PhD, PE, JD, MIP, LLM
Patent Attorney / Engineer
My wife Jean had a 1995 Ford Explorer when we got married and I used it for years to haul material from the local steel yard. It didn't take long for the stock roof rack on the SUV to kick the bucket, collapsing under the weight of one especially heavy load. My solution was to build a replacement roof rack, one that would hold 4x8 sheets of plywood, drywall, 2x4s, etc, but also be sturdy enough to haul full length joints of steel stock. This design is excellent for hauling everything from bats of insulation to ladders and pipe stock a small distance from the hardware supplier. Below are pictures of the rack and some of its features.
Note that the rack is about 7 feet long, and mates with the stock Explorer roof rack slide rails. The rack is constructed of 11-gauge square steel tubing, and bolts together using stainless steel fasteners. To ensure that the frame would be capable of disassembly, the nuts into which the stainless steel bolts screw are also stainless steel, and were ground down from square 1/2-13 nuts to fit into the steel square tubing and then TIG welded with ER316 1/16 rod. The use of stainless here ensures that the bolts will not seize due to rust.
This view gives a good look at the large number of tiedown loops I welded to the frame. This provides ample connections for bungee cords and/or rope to secure the load.
A view looking back illustrating the front support for the rack. I opted for a medium-duty rack in this design, permitting the front 3/8ths of the rack to flex somewhat. Since the Explorer roof rack is only rated at 100 lbs, this hasn't been a problem.
The paint job on the rack was initially high-temp BBQ black, since it didn't need a primer, but given the wear and tear this has taken, it might need a rework soon...
Here you get a glimpse of the interface to the stock Explorer roof rack rail. Note the riser piece is not perpendicular to the rack rail slide. This piece had to be tack welded in place and then removed for final TIG welding. The rack rail slide is comprised of two 11-gauge strips of bar stock between which is sandwiched another 11-gauge piece of 1/2-inch wide bar stock. The seam between the two was then TIG welded and then ground smooth for a sliding fit in the roof rack rail. The SS screw you see is threaded to a SS nut welded to the rail slide and fits into a corresponding indent in the roof rack.
Since building this rack I've sold the Explorer to a friend who does home repair work. His favorite part of the truck is the rack, as it has been a lifesaver in hauling fencing materials, ladders, and other stock to the job site.
Kevin Mark Klughart
Registered Patent Attorney, USPTO
3825 Leisure Lane, Denton, TX 76210-5589
tel: 800-353-1211 / 940-320-0580 - fax 940-320-0581