One of the things about the van that was always awesome, was the uncanny ability to fit an amount of items in the back of the tiny looking body. Especially noticed since I have been driving around setting up pop up hoodie shops In 2018. But with the progress of the coffee equipment ever so slowly making its permanent place in there, some of that space has been shrinking. The only place to go was up.
It took me a while to decide on the style of the roof rack at first, but by looking at other ones and taking note from those I could start to envision.
Some Escort panel vans I have seen with a rectangular frame from small tube that is bolted to the roof. On on more modern cars, some are just 2 swift rails that follow the longitudinal lines of the roof from the front to the back. It didn’t take to many drop down menus before I realised I wasn’t going to buy an off the shelf product for my van.
It was really an exercise of trial and error, one step at a time scenario. The first step being ordering material. I chose to use stainless tube for aesthetic value.
I used 32 mm stainless tube to make up the frame members across the car and 38 mm 1-1/2 for the lengths along the car.
After cutting it to length and placing the members on the roof, I realised how much of a curve there was in the roof line. length and width wise.
So I rolled the members to a large radius to match the roof. I don’t know exactly but at least 20 mm rise over a length. other wise it would have an exaggerated sea saw appearance. like placing a straight line over a circle.
Once they sat right, I cut some 90 degree tube bends so that a 90 degree angle could be established with about a 10mm gap to the resting face. it looked good and ended up being the same height as the air duct on the roof.
I welded some mirror finish mounting plates to the base and prepared to drill some holes in the roof. Even marked the holes on the roof itself.
But I just couldn’t bring myself to hacking into the body like that. So it was back to the drawing board.
The next brain wave was to make it more removable and perhaps to use It as a display prop to hang some merch from it once it was parked and the roof rack was upturned 180 degrees outboard.
I fabricated some little clamps that pick up the gutter rail and extend up to the rail to a set of pipe clamps which I fabricated out of half-pipe shapes. Undo the bolts, slide the captive clamp across and lift the rack off.
However lack of sleep bit me in the butt when for the first time I tried to unfold the rack, the very mech that allowed it to unfold also bound it from opening past 50 degrees. Back to the drawing board.. again.
Not all was lost as I could still use all but the saddle clamp things.
I purchased some 3/4 bushes and sockets. they fit right into the 37 mm tubes. One for each corner was welded in, And then the male sockets were welded to the and of some 20mm nb pipe. These hold up the rack when tightened, allow it to pivot when one side is loosened and can extend the racks unfolded length about one meter.
I think the coolest thing about this, is I can choose what side I want the rack unfolded to if parking was to be an issue.
Now I just had to make the tensioning possible without the aid of a tool. Which is where the spikes come in. From the leftover tube I cut off some slithers , kind of the shape of the orange slices, and bent them in to a spike, to tig weld in place.
I rattle canned the mounts black and set up a shop the next day (surprisingly the paint just dried in time) . It felt great that the first outing, while most of the gazebos flew away, my little untested roof rack display held up. RIP gazebo. (disclaimer, I did do a 160km run on private road ).
Next thing will be to powder coat the spiky ends in mannex black before calling it finished and moving on to the custom fridge.
Thanks for reading