Workshop – Making Roof Bar Storage

4 min read

The Freelander2 had an option of built-in roof rails, mine didn’t come with them which meant buying roof bars. Sometimes bars are a much better option to a trailer. I actually prefer bars to rails, but they have an obvious downside, storage. Having become sick of falling over them, it was time to fire up the welder and make some roof bar storage.

Designing the perfect storage*

I’ve had a few methods of storing roof bars during my driving career. Thrown in the roof space and buried is quite a common option if a little annoying. Hooking one leg over an edge is a little more accessible but is easily knocked off and takes up a lot of wall space. Ultimately I’ve decided on a stacking arrangement. This gives compact storage, close to the ceiling and out of the way.

Basic 'fag packet' design for the roof bar storage
Basic ‘fag packet’ design for the roof bar storage

With some basic measurements taken from the roof bars, I could start to draw out a design. With no ‘fag packets’ available I sketched out the solution in my head on to some paper.

*Perfect to the extent its worked well enough for me

Cutting and marking up the parts

I took some 25mm x 3mm box section and used a multi-material mitre saw to quickly cut up sections to match the cutting list. Really, I did make a cutting list, honest.

Just how accurate do the holes need to be?
Just how accurate do the holes need to be?

Hammer and punch out, I used the vernier calliper to quickly mark out the location for the holes. These will eventually secure the brackets to the garage ceiling.

Drilling the holes for the mounting plates
Drilling the holes for the mounting plates

With the super-accurate measurement and punch marks made, I could drill out the holes. Remembering, of course, to sharpen the drill bits first. Had I thought on I might have put a slot in the drill bit tip. This would have avoided so much mild steel spaghetti. I’m also using spray grease as cutting fluid, it works but makes quite a mess.

Welding all the pieces together

Good accuracy in the cutting and marking really helped with jigging up the pieces. A couple of magnetic corners and a speed square helped get the two brackets square. The long arms are for the storage of the roof bars while the short arm on the back will store a short ladder.

Accuracy made jigging and welding much easier
Accuracy made jigging and welding much easier

As I was welding the piece together, it became apparent that the fillets in the original design were overkill. The roof rails are relatively light, less than 10kg in total. The bracket would clearly support my weight. The welding was going well until disaster struck!

No welding wire means no more metal sticking for me!
No welding wire means no more metal sticking for me!

For the first time in my welding history, I ran out of wire. I’ve reached the end of reels before, but I’ve always known I was going to run out and had a new reel ready. Not this time. Doh! Fortunately, my favourite online hobby welding stockist, Weldequip, delivers next day.

New wire let the welding resume
New wire let the welding resume

For some unknown reason, I ended up ordering 0.6mm wire (and tips) which meant a bit of setting up to do. But in no time at all the rest of the parts of the roof bar storage system were welded together.

The Finished Roof Bar Storage

I’m quite happy with the finished result. It’s always a bonus when the final article looks like the design, and even better when the design works. The two brackets are screwed through the OSB ceiling and into the joist.

The final product matches the design
The final product matches the design

And of course, there was a strength test that needed to be carried out. The brackets can support my weight while doing one-armed pull-ups. Okay, just one pull up, and more like a one-armed dangle, but they are plenty strong!

M

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