My New Roof Rack For My Annual Trip To Oregon

2 pieces of angle iron, welded into a "Z" There is a piece of rubber I used to reduce vibration that is wrinkled/wavy in the picture above. The aluminum tube has expando foam in it to reduce whistling as we drive.

Square aluminum tubing makes the crossbars and rails. The bungees are there to disrupt wind flow and reduce the noise the rack makes when driving over 40. There is NO noise with the bungees.

Cool little cleats on the rails

I don't have much money. To buy the stock roof rack for my car costs about $200. In order to put one of those fancy bike racks on the roof (that you see in pictures I got used for $60 for the pair), you need a rack and another rack to attach to your rack. The rack that attaches to your rack costs about $200-$400, then you have to buy the special bike racks that mount on the rack you buy to go on the stock rack on your car already, or the one you bought.

Sound convoluted? It is. A Yakima or Thule rack that attaches to the roof of your car costs too much money, as does the Honda stock rack upon which the Yakima or Thule bike rack will mount.

I decided to make my own. With some angle iron, aluminum square tubing and an incredibly nice guy with a welder, I was able to make my own rack for about $40 in parts.

I found some plans on an Element owner's forum. I was originally going to drill holes in the 2 pieces of angle iron that make up the mount that attaches to the car and secure them together with bolts (as in the original plans linked above). This was going to require drilling 2 holes in each of 2 pieces of angle iron 4 times, not to mention the 3 smaller holes in each bottom piece of angle iron that gets screwed into the roof. I tried to drill them with my cordless drill, but getting them spot on and drilling through iron proved nearly impossible for my cordless drill, even with a $5 titanium bit.

I realized I was going to need a drill press. I put an ad on Craig's List begging for some drill press time on anyone's drill press. I didn't really expect much.

I got a response that day from a dude named Stephen Powell. He told me to come by his shop in Concord, CA and we can drill my holes (get your mind out of the gutter).

I got to Concord in 20 minutes, showed Stephen what I was trying to do, and then watched him decide my plans were not so great; he decided to weld the 2 pieces of angle iron together rather than bolt them. Saved time and was much more secure.

What was originally supposed to be about 20 minutes of drilling turned into about 90 minutes of Stephen being anal and making my mounts perfect. What a guy. He is a handy man, jack of all trades, master of none, as he put it. He was thorough, patient, nice, thoughtful, and enjoyed playing rock n roll trivia as we listened to the shop radio while I watched him work. He was awesome. If you need a guy like Stephen to help you out, let me know and I will put you in contact with him. Technically he is a mechanic/machinist.

And here is my car with a bike on top. There will be 2 bikes on the roof and 1 on the back rack. I will tie down lots of other stuff to the new rack, making our annual trip to Oregon--this year with a Frustrated Friend to accompany the Frustrated Son--much easier on the inside of the car. We used to fill it up, but with an extra body and extra bike, I needed the rack. I love it, I made it (mostly) and I am proud of it. The Frustrated Son is tired of hearing about already!

So as of Monday, June 14, blogging will be light as we will be hanging out with family and friends in Portland, Oregon, then on to our friend's cabin in the woods near Crater Lake. Wish you could be there!!

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