Custom Roof Rack Metal Size?

Badairman

New member
I'm building a custom roof rack for my Sprinter. I'm new to metalworking/welding, so I really have no idea of what size metal to get.

Round or Square tube?
Size?
Thickness of the metal?

Any input or advice is greatly apricated!
 

Midwestdrifter

Engineer In Residence
1" square tubing is a good place to start. 16 gauge thickness in steel will weld okay, and is strong enough for most applications. Round tubing works fine too, its a bit more challenging to cut and weld corners/joints, especially for a beginner.
 

Shawn182

Active member
There are so many variable and possibilities to your question it is difficult to give you a straight answer. Need a lot more info like size, application, mounting plans, anticipated loads, objectives...

While not impossible, that level of fabrication is far from a beginner level project for a full blown roof rack
 
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Cheyenne

UK 2004 T1N 313CDi
While not impossible, that level of fabrication is far from a beginner level project for a full blown roof rack
And the liability if it goes wrong while travelling down the road can be huge! For a first project try something simple like a bed frame or kitchen cabinet for inside.

Keith.
 
I'm building a custom roof rack for my Sprinter. I'm new to metalworking/welding, so I really have no idea of what size metal to get.



Round or Square tube?

Size?

Thickness of the metal?



Any input or advice is greatly apricated!
In the same boat as you. I was going to weld using aluminium tube based on this design:-

https://www.flatlinevanco.com/store/fvcsr

But, I have changed my mind. Instead I am planning a rack made from 80/20. Not as nice looking as round tube imo, but easier to make, fit bits to it, adapt later on.
 

Badairman

New member
And the liability if it goes wrong while travelling down the road can be huge! For a first project try something simple like a bed frame or kitchen cabinet for inside.

Keith.
I just finished making a custom bed frame. It's more was more complicated than any bed or roof rack I have ever seen. So I'm looking forward to this next challenge of building a roof rack.
 

Badairman

New member
There are so many variable and possibilities to your question it is difficult to give you a straight answer. Need a lot more info like size, application, mounting plans, anticipated loads, objectives...

While not impossible, that level of fabrication is far from a beginner level project for a full blown roof rack
It's for a 170 ext 4x4 high roof. I want to build the rack high enough on top that I can fit a maxxair fan under it. I believe that is 9" of clearance. This will allow me the maximum space for solar while still being able to have multiple roof fans.
 

OrioN

2008 2500 170" EXT
It's for a 170 ext 4x4 high roof. I want to build the rack high enough on top that I can fit a maxxair fan under it. I believe that is 9" of clearance. This will allow me the maximum space for solar while still being able to have multiple roof fans.
How many watts of solar are you anticipating?
 

hein

Van Guru
You might be better of building a solar panel trailer with tracking panels that deploy when you park. You could even place it in the sun while you are parked in the shade. Then you can leave the trailer at home when driving the van around town.
 

kcshoots

VanTripping.com
As a reference point, I have one 300 watt panel and it is more than enough to recharge my previous nights usage within a few hours of sunlight. To understand my usage, I have 400 amp-hours of lithium battery, a 7 cubic foot fridge, an induction stove, two fan coils, and several large lighting circuits (two at roughly 20 amps). So the number of panels you are planning to install begs the question: are you electrifying the drivetrain or using this to charge some electric racing motorcycles? Because you have way more generation than you'll use without a load much greater than the typical Sprinter camper.

As for building your own roof rack, as others have said, it really does matter, but I agree that building with aluminum extrusions would be fairly easy and require no welding skills, just wrenching. If doing this, really think about your design and how to connect all of the pieces in a way that will create the right balance of strength, usability and weight. The key to weight, cost and usability is on the connections more than the overall design. Welding one as others have said is going to be a lot easier with square tubing than round, or bar. You can also bolt together square tubing or bar fairly easily and perhaps at a lower cost and greater functionality than bolting extrusions together.
 

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