FVC Safari Rack - 2020 144 Passenger 4x4 with factory AC

Pharkas

Active member
I received my Flatline Van Co Safari rack on Monday 3/8 via freight tractor trailer. The truck had a lift gate that allowed my wife and I to unload from the truck with a little help from driver. The crate was about 5' x 12 ' and documented as six hundred pounds. The driver slid the crate out the back and my wife and I supported the weight of half the crate. The driver then lowered the other end with the lift gate while my wife and I lowered our end to the ground. It was not bad at all. From that point I used my tractor with pallet forks to move the crate over to my garage so I could begin my work. If someone did not have access to heavy equipment you can remove rack from crate and then it is an easily manageable 200 lbs. Men like toys and I have a tractor so that made the job more fun for me.
 

Pharkas

Active member
Once next to the garage we uncrated the rack. I grabbed a few crow bars and got ready to get physical. I started by removing the shrink wrap. Much to my surprise once the shrink wrap was removed the top of the crate lifted off. No prying required! With the kids home from school we had one person on each corner and lifted the rack from the crate and carried it into the garage. We put the crate top on the garage floor and the rack on top of it to protect the rack from scratches. FVC gets an A+ for packaging.
 

Pharkas

Active member
Okay, I got the rack in my garage. Now it needs a big hole to accommodate the factory ac. I took many measurements and then used a large peice of cardboard to create a template. I then put the cardboard template on top of the van to check the fit. During this process I became aware that my aluminess ladder had one side that attached to the roof rail at the exact same location that one of the FVC racks feet were going to land. The template fit perfect on top of the van and around the ac. I marked the location of the aluminess ladder mount on the cardboard template while I had it on the van. I then put the template on the FVC rack and used a silver sharpie to draw the cut line. I also used a black sharpie to mark the location of the aluminess ladder on the rack.
 

Pharkas

Active member
Next I started the cut on each side with the cut off wheel on my Dremel tool. I then used my Dewalt jig saw with a Diablo "thick metal" blade to make the cutout. I am planning on using the piece I cut out to make a platform over the ac unit so I didn't want to ruin either side of the cut line. With some experimentation I learned the number 5 speed on the jig saw worked best for the 3/16" aluminum rack floor with the diablo blade. It made a very clean cut. I then used 1/8" aluminum angle 1"x1" to fabricate a frame around my cutout. I painted the frame with Rust-Oleum bedliner spray. It gave a similar finish to the factory powder coat finish of the rack. I drilled 1/4" holes around the perimeter of the frame and secured it to the rack with 6mm x 20mm 304 stainless bolts. I also drilled holes to relocate the FVC rack foot that had a conflict with the aluminess rack.
 

Pharkas

Active member
There were no directions that came with the rack, but FVC has a short video on their web site. I have been emailing them throughout the planning, buying and installation process. After studying pictures from the web I looked at how the rack feet were installed. All the pictures had the rib facing outward and the flat side inward. In that configuration you would see all of the mounting bolts. That makes installation easy but IMHO looks crude. I chose to install them flat side out. This required reaching in the small area between the rack and rooftop to bolt to the roof rail.
 

Pharkas

Active member
I have a hoist system in my barn consisting of 4 ropes with pulley blocks that I use to install and remove the fiberglass cap on my F350. I used that to lift the Safari rack up ten feet. I then backed in the van under the rack. We then lowered the rack onto the van. I had wrapped each rack foot with burlap feed sacks before hoisting it up. This gave protection to the van paint while positioning the rack. My 11y/o son was able to start the bolts into each t-nut in the van rails. I then was able to snug them up with a wrench.
 

Pharkas

Active member
The rack went up and fit great. The feet I relocated around the aluminess ladder mounted up perfect and the rack legs worked great with the flat surface outward and hide all the mounting bolts. The ac unit is just a hair taller than the top rail of the rack. I will now design a second tier with the cutout piece to go above the ac unit.
 
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Pharkas

Active member
So my original plan was to get the double loop perforated rack from aluminess to go with my aluminess ladder and nerf bars. I then saw a post mentioning FVC Safari racks. The big selling point for me is the built in L-track cutouts. These allow me to attach L-track accessories directly to the rack surface for securing various gear. When not hauling gear I have a nice flat surface for lounging. It makes the configuration very modular to attach different gear for different situations. I am so happy I went this route even though the installation was a little more involved than the aluminess rack.
 

Pharkas

Active member
The only negative I found during installation was very minor, but it did annoy me. 50 % of the t-nuts that slide into the factory roof rails had burs along the edges that would not allow the nuts to get past the black brackets on the rail system. I had to stop the installation process, get off my ladder and bring the nuts to my workshop to grind off the burs with a bench grinder. For a high quality rack I was disappointed with the sloppy finish on the nuts that made them not fit. For me not a huge deal, but if you just purchased this and we're installing it without modification and you didn't have a grinder you would not have been able to proceed. Other than that small annoyance, I cannot be more pleased with the rack.
 

w15p

2019 144 HR 4x4
The only negative I found during installation was very minor, but it did annoy me. 50 % of the t-nuts that slide into the factory roof rails had burs along the edges that would not allow the nuts to get past the black brackets on the rail system. I had to stop the installation process, get off my ladder and bring the nuts to my workshop to grind off the burs with a bench grinder. For a high quality rack I was disappointed with the sloppy finish on the nuts that made them not fit. For me not a huge deal, but if you just purchased this and we're installing it without modification and you didn't have a grinder you would not have been able to proceed. Other than that small annoyance, I cannot be more pleased with the rack.
I had a very similar issue with the FVC roof rail system - I contacted support and they sent me a whole new set of nuts - the new set were very different from the first - much better finish, rounded corners... almost like they had come from a totally different supplier. I sent them back a couple nuts at their request. I also have an Aluminess side ladder and found that one of the brackets overlapped a rack foot. I made an aluminum spacer out of 3/16" plate for the other bracket and mounted the ladder using the same hardware as the rack.

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