Steel verse alloy roof racks

Submitted: Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 17:53
ThreadID: 9797 Views:12120 Replies:15 FollowUps:10
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Hi,

One of the biggest reasons you hear for buying steel over alloy in roof racks is the ease of welding steel. You also hear horror stories of peoples alloy racks cracking up or breaking on rough roads. How much of this is true or based on old designs and materials is what I'd like to find out. Does anyone have first hand experience whether brand name modern alloy roof racks can handle the rigours of off road touring as well as steel?????

Thanks
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Reply By: stillthinkinaboutit - Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 18:35

Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 18:35
I am also interested in this subject as I am looking to buy a luggage rack, steel or alloy ? Or roof bars and basket, steel or alloy ? What do the experienced users have to say ?

David from ExplorOz might like to comment as I believe he uses the Rhino Rack basket and bars that I am considering

Regards,
Mark
AnswerID: 43258

Follow Up By: V8troopie - Saturday, Jan 17, 2004 at 00:39

Saturday, Jan 17, 2004 at 00:39
If its a roof rack it must NOT be too stiff. The whole car body, including the roof, twists and flexes in rough terrain driving and if the roof rack is trying to prevent that something is going to give.I made my own roof rack for the troopie, out of 16mm square hollow steel tubing and steel mesh floor. It has 4 feet per side, for gutter mounting. It stood up to rough treatment and heavy loads so far. Its strong enough for two people to sit on and enjoy the elevated view when camping.
Problem with steel is rust. Had the lot electro zinc plated but there are still rust spots which need fequent paint retouching. No rust problem with alloy.
Klaus
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Reply By: jeff-wa - Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 18:39

Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 18:39
I am also considering a set of Rhino Racks and a basket... To me it seems perfect, but I'm sure there must be some bad points that I'm unaware of.
AnswerID: 43259

Follow Up By: stillthinkinaboutit - Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 18:46

Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 18:46
The reason I am looking at this is for ease of one man installation( at least I hope it is easy ), you can fit the bars and use these as they are. This would allow me to get the vehicle under the carport. When required I can attach the basket. Should be easy enough to handle as you could just slide it across the bars whereas the one piece luggage racks are quite awkward to remove and replace. Anyone got any comments ?

Regards, Mark
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FollowupID: 305563

Reply By: Phil G - Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 18:51

Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 18:51
Ideal roof rack for me:

#1 flat platform rack mounted close to the roof, so it goes in garages and car parks and no sides to have to lift stuff over
#2 steel with the feet bolted (not welded) to the rack (allows a little movement)
#3 steel mesh platform to attach straps etc wherever you want
#4 weighs say 20kgs, so one person can lift it on and off
#5 3/4 length or less set back (less noise)
#6 Never load more than say 50kgs of weight in it (usually tent + casing for me)
#7 open tubing at rear end for light pole etc

No one makes such a rack, so I've made my own. Its 1600mm long, 1200 wide and uses 25mm RHS for the frame, 100mm steel mesh for the floor, and the feet are primarily 40x5mm steel bent to the shape required with 25x5mm legths for the feet. I use safety 10mm octopus straps to hold things down - bend one end over so they can't come off.
AnswerID: 43262

Follow Up By: jeff-wa - Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 18:53

Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 18:53
It's harder when you have no roof gutters! ;-)
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Follow Up By: stillthinkinaboutit - Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 19:02

Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 19:02
Good idea Phil, I had not really thought about having to lift stuff over the sides of the basket, suppose this could be awkward. I probably couldn't make up the complete unit as you have done but I could probably fit the Rhino Bars and make up a removable flat platform made from 25mm RHS with the mesh welded to it, it's a thought anyway.
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Follow Up By: Phil G - Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 19:14

Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 19:14
Jeff,

gutters make it easier, but I was looking at a new Prado the other day and the grooves on the roof have 6 captured nuts/bolts each side for attaching a rack with 6 feet. Looks easy.

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FollowupID: 305573

Follow Up By: jeff-wa - Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 19:20

Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 19:20
Yeah, I've got a Surf without the those groovey little grooves. Have to go for the Rhino racks that bolt over and around trough the door seals, looks ok though. But then again, like was said earlier, could probly make somthing up to sit on the rihno racks, be cheaper than buying one of those bloody over priced baskets!!
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Reply By: Herve - Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 20:09

Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 20:09
If you load an ally product so that the strain causes continuous (even very minor) flexing, it will crack and give way eventually. The type of products and joints etc that will fail would surprise most folks. Far as I can see, the ally bullbars are designed to have no flexing at all and that is why they last. Far as I know, if you can rule out flexing, ok, but if you can't, go light steel. Bye the way.... in a road prang I witnessed once (Patrol and a truck swiping) the ally bullbar on the patrol was ripped off like a sardine can lid and sent skittering along the road...easy as pie. All other issues aside (and there are many in such circumstances I now), it was not a good advert for ally. People have told me they see ally roofracks abandoned in rough places.. just can't handle the punishment apparently."This is a situation, up with which, we should no longer put ! (W. Churchill, on plans to reduce 4WD access in some parks).
AnswerID: 43269

Reply By: Truckster (Vic) - Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 21:24

Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 21:24
CALLING AWILL4X4....

He makes Roofracks, and is a wealth of knowledge on alloy racks.
AnswerID: 43276

Reply By: Lyds - Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 21:49

Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 21:49
I used to have rhino roof bars & tray on a pajero and now have an arb steel rack on a patrol.

the arb seems to get more wind affected with noise and buffeting, I didn't even notice the rhino. - could have something to do with the vehicle shapes too.

but, as the beams on the rhine are relatively wide it was a bit of a nuisance when tying things down.

the arb looks better (on my car anyway).

Cheers,
Stuart
- To err is human, to moo bovine -
AnswerID: 43281

Reply By: Will - Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 22:10

Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 22:10
I've got the Rhino Bars (3) on my Pajero NL with the view to adding a Rhino Alloy basket on my next trip. The bars are great for me as I am always using them to tie down timber etc as i'm doing up our home at the moment. Personally i think it is a big advantage to be able to add/remove the basket component when not is use - thats why i chose not to go the full arb rack. I think the exploroz crew have the rhino setup also? I brought from 4wdparts.com.au at a good price.
Will.
AnswerID: 43287

Reply By: Allfour4x4 - Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 22:15

Friday, Jan 16, 2004 at 22:15
Ray,
Don't know about mass produced racks, however having had a "tradesmans" type alloy rack built for a sng. cab Hilux -supported by the well body then up & over the canopy. This rack has carried obscene loads frequently and never even looked like fracturing! has broken 2 of the steel bolts where attached to the body though.
Personally I'd have alloy every time - NOT for the bullbar however.
Glenn B.
AnswerID: 43289

Reply By: cokeaddict - Saturday, Jan 17, 2004 at 02:52

Saturday, Jan 17, 2004 at 02:52
Hi Ray,
I have a TJM alloy full length rack that ive owned for over 11 years now..it has 4 points per side and is very easy to fit. All i do is carry it to the back of my GQ and sit it on the edge of the gutter rails. Then i jst lift it up and it slides down the gutter rails towards the front until its in position. I run 2 water tanks bolted to it ..1 on each side totaling 22 litres of water.

It had carried heavy loads indeed without any problems. It is now a happy part of my new GQ I just purchased a few weeks ago (see Pic). And believe me when i tell you it carried some very heavy loads over some very rought places. I am happy with it, but then again i dont abuse things i own, always thinking ahead when possible. But whatever you get, you wont have problems if its a good brand name.
Regards AngeloI love it when you talk DIRTY !
AnswerID: 43307

Follow Up By: stillthinkinaboutit - Saturday, Jan 17, 2004 at 09:27

Saturday, Jan 17, 2004 at 09:27
Hi Angelo,

Is the fitting of the rack something you can do on your own or do you require an extra persons assistance ?

Regards, Mark
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FollowupID: 305621

Follow Up By: cokeaddict - Saturday, Jan 17, 2004 at 11:03

Saturday, Jan 17, 2004 at 11:03
Hi Mark,
Yes I do it on my own. Its very easy.

I forgot to mention that where the 4 points of connection are on each side, it also has a length of aluminium welded that runs along the gutter rail for extra strength, what this does is, when i bolt the rack down into its tighening position, the rail acts as a stopper so that the arms slide out and stop on the gutter rail lip at the edge.

Very easy to carry by grabbing the horizontal bars that are the floor bed of the rack. So im carrying the rack in a vertical position with my hands grabbing 2 bars as i walk it to the rear of the car. Sit it on the floor and other end is sitting on the edge of the gutter at rear of car. Then I just lift the floor side and slide it down. NO scratches either as it slides as wrapped around the base is some rubber to stop it from taking paint off the carI love it when you talk DIRTY !
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Reply By: Member - Eskimo - Saturday, Jan 17, 2004 at 08:01

Saturday, Jan 17, 2004 at 08:01
I use rhino racks and basket....
I use car for for work and being able to remove basket to carry ladders and other stuff is good.
but....
if i did it again i would have removable ends on basket and that way I could leave it bolted to racks permanently and I would still be able to carry ladders.
Found out after the event that it would have only cost an extra $150 to have removable ends fitted. Wow! am I cute
If yer ain't fishing, Yer ain't livin
Richard
AnswerID: 43311

Follow Up By: stillthinkinaboutit - Saturday, Jan 17, 2004 at 09:23

Saturday, Jan 17, 2004 at 09:23
Hi Richard,

Are you saying that Rhino make a basket with removable ends or are you talking about another brand ?

Regards, Mark
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FollowupID: 305620

Follow Up By: Member - Eskimo - Saturday, Jan 17, 2004 at 21:23

Saturday, Jan 17, 2004 at 21:23
good evening Mark

No Rhino to my knowledge dont make one but the company (adelaide) I got mine (modifed for what I thought I needed...a couple of extra supports in the bottom to hold the mesh) said they could have made it with detachable front and rear sides.

This would have allowed me to permanently bolt it to rhino racks and allow long stuff to be carried and able to be tied down easily.Wow! am I cute
If yer ain't fishing, Yer ain't livin
Richard
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FollowupID: 305661

Reply By: Member - Bob - Saturday, Jan 17, 2004 at 11:00

Saturday, Jan 17, 2004 at 11:00
Ray,
I had an ARB steel rack on the Pajero and it certainly got a hammering with some big loads up top. One of the support arms fractured.
While aluminium may be lighter, and that is a huge consideration, I believe it would only be useful for carrying very light objects, and much more prone to failure than the steel equivalent.
Now I use a trailer, and I have added a steel basket mounted on four corner posts. So the trailer has its own roof rack. It is still below the roof line of the tow vehicle so drag is not a big factor.
So in summary, steel for strength, but aluminium for lightness. Maybe someone could make a carbon fibre, kevlar or titanium one.Bob
AnswerID: 43326

Reply By: Phil G - Saturday, Jan 17, 2004 at 11:03

Saturday, Jan 17, 2004 at 11:03
I have nothing against alloy racks, but when you load them with a little too much weight, get them on corrugations, drive over 1000 dunes then you will find out whether they fatigue and crack. They are generally fine for most 4wding, but its the desert trips that kill them.

Got to be careful with the baskets too - check that their bolts are not working loose from the rough roads, corruations etc. Not a nice look when they separate from the bars.
AnswerID: 43327

Reply By: awill4x4 - Saturday, Jan 17, 2004 at 17:20

Saturday, Jan 17, 2004 at 17:20
As someone who builds alloy roofracks as an afterhours interest I think I can comment. It all comes down to design and engineering and welder skill.
Every rack I build is Tig welded not Mig welded, it's much slower but gives a far better job. Where the tubes are joined together on the cage I internally sleeve them. The mesh I use is the heavy duty 7mm thick which is welded wherever it crosses a crossmember. (they don't rattle)
The legs are bolted on allowing some flex, fully welded alloy racks WILL FAIL over time. I make custom stainless steel clamps 3mm thick.
I generally build for the club members of my 4x4 club and the last thing I want is a failure when my friends are in the middle of nowhere. My racks have been everywhere including Cape York, Gunbarrel hwy, Gibb River Rd, Canning stock route etc.
I'm not touting for business (too busy at my day job anyway) but you often hear blanket claims that alloy racks aren't any good for outback touring, they certainly are if built correctly.
Regards Andrew.
AnswerID: 43349

Reply By: Ray - Monday, Jan 19, 2004 at 12:05

Monday, Jan 19, 2004 at 12:05
Hi,

Thanks everyone for your thoughts and comments.

Ray
AnswerID: 43498

Reply By: Landcruiser - Sunday, Feb 01, 2004 at 23:08

Sunday, Feb 01, 2004 at 23:08
I have been using a Rhino Rack system on my 100series....

it has the 3 bars and a 1200 x 2100 basket...

the advantages that i see with the rhino are the fact that they are light weight, have no wind noise and have not altered my fuel consumption... the slats forming the base of the basket are also an advantage... it is much harder to damage things (like roof bags) if there are no bits sticking up in your payload area!!!

I have a friend that has a tradesman brand rach (steel) on his patrol and he complains about the noise and added fuel usage (about 15 to 20% more)... he takes his off most of the time!!!

if i had it to do again, i would definitely go rhino!!!
AnswerID: 45116

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