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Safari / Roof Rack install


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I recently bought a used rack from another forum member (vengeful). Thanks for the prompt shipping Dan. :tongue: No worries man. :itsallgood: I had been thinking about which style rack to buy for looks and function. Part of the reason I got the rack from him was because judging from it's design I figured I could mount it down by using my stock cross bars to hold it down on the factory roof rack and if they didn't work I was planning on making something out of steel that would work. I started by getting the rack in my possession then deciding how to mount it to the roof. Luckily it worked out exactly as I planned and the factory crossbars fit over the two main supports of the rack and hold it down very snug on my roof. Then I decided on the height I wanted. The rack was about 8" tall when I got it. Here's what it looked liked before I started.





I decided it was too tall for my taste so I took my angle grinder and cut 4" out of it then welded it back together. Here's a pic just after welding before any real prep began.




Next I took my grinder and cleaned up all the welds every where to make them all purdy. The paint was absolutely terrible it would just scrape right off with a putty knife. For some reason the original primer didn't bond to the metal very well at all and would release cause all paint to release. This is very common because most people don't know how to properly prep material before paint especially when it comes to bare metals.. I decided for the best bond I'd need to start over completely so I got out my trusty angle grinder with a wire wheel and proceeded to remove ALL paint down to bare steel.






I have to say that it took me a fair amount of time to remove all paint from the entire rack. Don't get discouraged when doing prep the better you prep the longer the paint will last. When painting, PREP means EVERYTHING!!


After I finally got the whole thing stripped I need to make some brackets for the lights I had in mind so I decided to use some flat bar material. You could use anything similar just be sure it will support the weight of your lights.




I measured how long to cut them then I cut em and used a torch to heat them so I could bend them to the right angle. last I drilled the hole where the light mounts. I needed 8 so that's how many I made.




After getting the brackets all made and drilled it was time to decide where exactly I wanted all my lights.




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I wanted to keep this as inexpensive as possible so I bought all my lights at harbor freight (I will replace them as the die off) I got all my lights except the LED's for under $80 out the door!




While on ebay I found some really cool LED's that were totally waterproof and were designed for some type of marine use so I bought them. I then figured I wanted to find some unique way to use them on or in my truck. The original idea was to put them inside for lighting in the back for cargo type uses but I changed my mind and decided to find a way to use them in my new rack project.476444778_bBvht-XL.jpg476443136_ttm9m-XL.jpg


To get them mounted to the rack I'd need somewhere to mount them so I figured ABS plastic would be my best bet. So I measured where I was going to place them then cut plastic and drilled it big enough for the lights.






The plastic has a smooth side and a textured side I wanted the textured side showing because it looks more dull and goes with the flow of everything else and the matte finish on the rack and wheels.



Now back to the rack itself...


Now to weld up the light brackets.




Now that every thing's welded in place it's time to finish the prepping. So taking my angle grinder again with the grinding wheel cleaned up the rest of the welds. Now swapped and get the wire wheel for a final look over for anything I had missed checking very very closely. Next is to use some sort of cleaner. I like this product, we use it at work and have had good luck. You want to make sure you use plenty of it and rub every inch of steel. If you don't use a product like this then it's very hard to get a good bond to bare metal. Use heavy duty shop type paper towels or rags and be sure to turn your rag often. Make sure you wipe til you can't get any more black off. Believe me this will take some time. Don't just wipe it once and call it good.





Next I used high end automotive caulking and sealed every weld or imperfection I could possibly find. I caulked everywhere water could sit and caulked in all the light brackets around their welds. I didn't want rust to have a chance!




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Now it's time to paint! I take the rack to my work where there's a spray booth and hang it up. I painted it first with a product called CRE epoxy primer (on the right). It's an industrial/automotive coating that has to be mixed with catalyst and reducers.


After letting it have 15 mins for what's called a flash coat I sprayed a different product over the primer called AUE-400LG (on the left) which is an automotive matte black hence the "LG" in AUE-400LG. It has to be mixed with a catalyst, reducers, and an accelerator. These are the same exact products I used to paint my wheels. I wanted my wheels and rack to match.




Let the rack dry for a day then go pick it up.


After picking up my rack I need to fit all my lights and get them ready for wiring. I started with the 4 that face forward. After getting them bolted up I put the 2 side facing and the 2 reversing. Now I've got to fit all my ABS panels to the rack and wire the LED's up. I'm using AUTOMOTIVE GRADE double sided foam tape to fasten them to the rack.





Now the REAL fun begins, the wiring!!




For the wiring first thing I needed to do was make a plan. I wanted to run 14 lights. 4 main front facing, 2 off each side, 2 for reversing, and 6 LED cargo/running lights. I decided the safest bet was to run each set of 2 on a relay then to a switch except for the LED's which I ran all 6 off one relay and switch. I already had a huge fused main power ran straight off the battery for my audio amps. So I unhooked the main power from the amps and ran it to a fused power distribution center I put behind the panel in the rear compartment. The power center has 10 fused outputs. I ran 6 main powers to the relays and from there up to the roof to the lights. I was going to just ground my rack to the body then ground each light to it but I spent so much time painting it I couldn't justify drilling it and making a spot for it to rust so instead I ran 2 10 gauge wires up to the roof and bridged off from there. I wanted there to be just as much ground as power. I pretty much followed the tips on this website and used what was recommended or bigger.





Main power at the battery -


Fuse for Main power -


Main power enters firewall here -


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I wired pretty much the same as this diagram except for the power to initialize the coil (86 on the relay) I used power that was only on when the ignition was on so that way if the keys weren't in I couldn't accidentally run the battery dead by forgetting to switch something off.


The only way to get power up to all these lights was to drill the roof. So I did it! I decided to drill in the back almost directly above the passenger rear speaker. To gain access to this spot I took the headliner down partially. Then ran the wires down from the roof into the rear compartment where I wanted my relays. All the relays I mounted to a small piece of ABS with rivets then after I wired them up I just stuck them to the inside of the rear compartment with the same AUTOMOTIVE grade double sided tape. That's also how I mounted my fused power distribution center just stuck to the inside of the fender!







After I finished up all the wiring and tested all the lights I ran wire loom over all the wire on the roof and siliconed the hell out of the wires from the top and from underneath. Then I cable tied in various places and also used rubber tape (similar to electrical tape) Then I cable tied the whole thing to the rack so that it would rub the paint off my roof. I also protected the rack where I cable tied with the same rubber tape so it doesn't get rubbed the wrong way too.





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Another thing I did was put quick connects everywhere there is a light so that if one bites the dust it's easy to replace or if I wanna upgrade to better.










I ran 5 small wires from the relays (85) up to the dash that would be the control wires for the switches.


This is where I mounted the switches. It's an easy place to get to only one panel under the dash has to come off to gain access to this spot.

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That's pretty much it..









Well this is the first time I've ever attempted to do a write up like this so please if there is something left out don't kill me!


The main reason I wanted to do this was because I've got so much helpful information from this website that I thought this was my chance to make a stab at trying to give back.


I hope you enjoy it!




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Looks cool. Looks like you did a lot of work on it.


I have a question for you, how big is that rack overall? I like the general proportions of it.





Thanks man, I have been working on it alot!


About 62" long by about 42" wide by about 4 1/2". These are ball parks off the top of my head.



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thats the kind of thing i DREAM of!


Imagine being in a movie, and everything is pitch black. Then here comes a wd21 down the road lighting it up every which way!


A moment for the story books! :D



LOL!! I love it!! :)

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Thanks for the all the compliments guys it means a lot after how much work it's been!


Reminds me vaguely of the rig from I Am Legend...LOL. Killer job there Colby. You've definitely done `er justice!



I am legend LOL that's funny cause one of my closest friends says the same thing :laugh:




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Thanks for the all the compliments guys it means a lot after how much work it's been!

I am legend LOL that's funny cause one of my closest friends says the same thing :laugh:




how much did it cost you to bore out the center holes in your Titan wheels?

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thats the kind of thing i DREAM of!


Imagine being in a movie, and everything is pitch black. Then here comes a wd21 down the road lighting it up every which way!


A moment for the story books! :D



Is that an UFO ? No, it's a WD21! :lol:

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Very nice and very detailed work. I bet it took you quite a bit of blood sweat and tears. Very nice. you should throw up some pics of it with the lights on


:D Yeah, but worth every bit of it now.


I'm workin on getting some. I'll post them when I get em for sure.



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  • 2 weeks later...
Very nice and very detailed work. I bet it took you quite a bit of blood sweat and tears. Very nice. you should throw up some pics of it with the lights on

Here's a few from this weekend in Lava Hot Springs, ID










Wow dude. I'm impressed. I'm pretty anal when it comes to wiring, and that has my seal of approval Very nicely done!




Thanks man!

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  • 2 months later...

thats exactly what i want mine to look like. i have 2 KC's on the original roof rack. i havent had a chance to wire them up or anything. a mechanic told me that the dome light would maybe have enough juice to run them. what do yall think about that idea?

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Look at the size of the wires of the dome light and compare them to the wires of the 2 KC's. I myself would go straight to the battery since there might be a chance to overload the wire and cause wire harness fire. My 2 cents.

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