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 Post subject: C/D pillar utility rack
PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:11 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2009 5:45 pm
Posts: 550
Location: San Diego, CA
A quick update, now that I've finished the build on my utility rack that spans the rear quarter window between the C and D pillars.

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The primary motivator for this was to relocate some of the weight from the forward end of the pop-top. In years past, I've overloaded the front end a little bit by putting the slide-out solar panel and recovery mats on the forward rack. The goal was to make these things easy to each by standing in the open forward door area, but the side effect was that raising the pop-top was significantly harder, due to the extra weight way out on the long lever arm of the hinges/top. As a nice bonus, the TRED recovery mats are now even easier to access, without the precarious tip-toes reaching from the passenger door. (Yes, I'm short.)

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The bottom rail is aluminum L-track that's fastened via a host of RivNuts through the body skin. Skipping to the end, you can also see I've added a pair of right angle "tabs" that let me sit the recovery mats up on the rack so I don't have to hold their weight while I thread in the eye-bolts that hold them down.

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The top part of the rack is more complicated. Like most of my projects, I started by mocking up in paper. This helped me figure out how to get all the bends I'd need to match the curve of the top and get these two "arms" out from underneath the pop-top.

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Then I moved onto steel. This bracket connects to two of the holes that go through the roof for the pop-top hinge on the drivers side. These are secured into a thick backing plate with tapped holes that is bonded to the roof on the inside.

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The arms protrude out from the body, and are connected by another piece of L-track. I couldn't use RivNuts here because there's a second piece of sheet metal at an angle behind the outer skin here (from where the "wall" and "roof" panels were joined at the factory) - so it would have been hard to get a clean seat on the nuts. (I'm glad I suspected this would be the case and eventually double-checked by drilling holes on a junkyard van body.)

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You can see that the hold-downs are 5/16" stainless eye bolts. I used a pair of nuts to jam a fender washer at just the right depth along the bolt threads so that they tightly hold the mat to the rack without protruding too far through the back. I could have used the supplied TRED mounting plate that gives you a pair of protruding "studs" to mount the rack on, but then these would be sticking out all the time, and I wanted this to sit fairly close to the van when I don't have the mats mounted.

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Obviously I have plenty of real estate for mounting other tools. It's nice to not have to try to stand on the rear tire to get my shovel down anymore.

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"My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
2003 Astro AWD Astrolander/ZMB - GTRV Top Transplant, 4" OLV Lift, NP233 T-case, evolving interior
1995 Safari GTRV Organ donor - gutted and gone.
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