THE "J-MOOSE" RACK by Johnny Lange
A thrifty, yet stout alternative to a costly aluminum rack for your 80 Series Land Cruiser!
Let’s talk roof racks!
Interested in a strong, lightweight, cost effective roof rack for your 80 series Land Cruiser? Well you have come to the right place!
I’ve had my FZJ80 for a few weeks now but have been thinking about mod’s for it for quite some time. Many sleepless nights I laid in bed with thinking of how this or that would work. One item on my mind was the roof rack.
I wanted something that was lightweight and sturdy. I love the look of the ARB roof racks, but they are hard to come by, expensive, and even more so, extremely heavy. The other option I really have been eyeing are the Hannibal racks. Aluminum so they are lightweight and a great look to them. The downfall there is cost.
Then one day, I had an epiphany. While shopping at my favorite over-goods warehouse, I noticed something and suddenly the light came on upstairs. A set of MOOSE brand bi-fold ATV ramps in full aluminum. I studied the package and was impressed with the 1250 lb. load capacity. But, what I was even more impressed with was the measurements. Could it be? The exact width of the ARB roof rack? Yep!
Now, there are plenty of ATV ramps out there. They range in style and size. The warehouse I was at had a few different brands on hand. All them had funky sides or weird sizes, this MOOSE brand was a perfect match for what I was about to do! The sides are roughly 2" wide and are box aluminum. Here is the ramp, as it comes from MOOSE!
MOOSE ATV RAMPS - Part number MUDRAMP4871
|Durable and lightweight ramp is weather resistant
and comes with a sturdy aluminum frame.
||E-Z grip rubber truck rests and nylon safety straps.
||Ramp is 48"W x 71"L.
||Maximum load capacity of 1250 lbs.|
So, my purchase was made (in fact I bought two sets out of excitement) and my mind started racing.
First off, the feet or clamps. I pondered making my own (which probably would have been more cost effective), but after looking at all different types of clamps, I decided on a going with a great clamp, the Bulldog Clamp from Con-ferr. The Bulldogs come in black only now and can be purchased in bulk sets. You can purchase directly from Con-ferr online, I found the eight that I purchased at 4Wheel Parts for a little less. They worked out great!
First step, a very easy one. Your new MOOSE bi-fold ATV ramp is just that, bi-fold. MOOSE has welded two easy aluminum hinges that hold these two together. Unwrap your new ramps and fold them out in the extended position. Then, simply drill some holes between the two inner beams and bolt the two sides together with some grade 8 bolts. I went in-between every other section instead of every section. This was ample and there is NO flex between the two. Once bolted together, you can cut off the hinges, or heck, leave them if you will. The round hinges will on the bottom of your rack as it sits on your roof.
Ok, as mentioned the rack is 48" wide, the perfect width in my mind for the 80 series Land Cruiser. The ATV ramps come in a length of 71". If you wish a 3/4 length (compared to the ARB) rack, this will do you just fine! I personally wanted a full length rack (87") so I extended mine a little. Also, another reason for extending them, is that the ATV ramps are square. I needed to smooth out the corners and get that round rack look that all good roof racks have!
So, to accomplish this, I went to the local hardware store (Lowes) and purchased a couple lengths of 2" flat aluminum in a 1/8 thickness. I also purchased a few strands of 90 degree "L" shaped aluminum strips that will act as reinforcements later. Hardware stores are about the most expensive places to purchase aluminum, so if you can, it will save you money to go to a special place such as Metal Supermarkets or similar.
The edges. I simply bent the 2" flat aluminum with my hands and created a 90 degree smooth turn. Work it a little, this is not hard at all and the smooth turn will turn out great! No bender needed! Obviously you will need to figure out your measurements on how long you wish to go on the extension. My front extension is NON load bearing, I basically wanted the look of the full rack, but I enjoy my sunroof tremendously so I didn’t fill the extension with anything. Once wrapped around the front or rear, mark your bolt holes and then cut off the rest of the 2" aluminum that you will not need.
Once you have bent your front and rear extention/round corner pieces simply bolt into place. Yes, you can have them welded. I was shooting for easy and cheap here.
I added the "L" (or angle) aluminum strips to both front and rear extensions (on the inside) for strength. I used aluminum two-part screws that have a clean face on the outside. Also available at Lowe’s. (See pic).
Your MOOSE ramps will come with four thick nubs on them. These are the nubs that rest on a tailgate as one would be loading a ATV. I simply cut these off and smoothed out the cuts with a grinder with sanding disc on it. I also used the same to smooth out the cuts after I cut off the hinges. This is where I really appreciate working with aluminum, it took no time to smooth these out!
Ok, on the front extension, just peek at how I reinforced the front. I used more "L" aluminum to secure it to the main portion. This once again will be strong enough to hold some lights to the front, but otherwise is non-load bearing.
For the floor. The floor is simply, yet time consuming. Break out your rivet gun and drill and get drilling. For the floor, I used (6) 3" flat pieces of 1/8 aluminum cut to 69" each. I drilled a hole in each section and cross bar and riveted each one. This took sometime and your hands will get sore from riveting, wear some gloves. Hopefully you have been wearing your eye protection this entire time too!
So, peek at some of the photos and see how I connected the front and rear extensions. You see in the rear, I used a piece of flat stock to join the extension and the main rack together, I riveted this too.
Once you have your rack all built, place your Bulldog clamps on your gutters where you wish to have them. Remember, it would be best to have these spread out on the load-bearing portion of the rack to distribute the load weight.
Place your rack on top of the Bulldog clamps. Position your rack accordingly. Pay attention to the rear section, you will want to lift your rear window up and make sure it clears the rack when open (I have the spoiler thing on my rear window, you may not).
Once you have your rack in position where you want it. Place some tape on the side rails where you will drill some holes on the inner side rails to mount the hardware to the Bulldog clamps..
Next, you will need to drill your Bulldog clamps. They come with two holes in them already, you will need to drill a third as pictured. This is the hole you will use to secure the rack to the Bulldog.
Next, mount your Bulldog clamps! Don’t tighten them up all the way just yet, wait until you have the whole thing placed on your rig. Another nice feature of the Bulldog clamps is that you can raise and lower them too. They actually even adjust a little sideways for roof lines that turn slightly.
Powdercoat or Paint? Originally I was looking at powder-coating my entire rack. That changed rather quickly when I got an estimate of $200. I pondered just leaving the whole thing aluminum natural, but then thought the outside edge in black may look the best. I roughed up the outside edge, cleaned, primed, and painted with several light coats of Professional Gloss Black spray paint from Home Depot.
I have mounted a CB antenna mount on the passenger side and also mounted the Hi-Lift rack mate mounts on the drivers side. I used some fairly large grade 8 bolts and washers to mount that to assure a sturdy mount.
There you have it, a sturdy aluminum rack for about a 1/3 of the cost of a real one!
My cost run down:
MOOSE rack ( I paid a lot less since it was at a over-goods warehouse, but they retail for about $130).
Bulldog Clamps (x8)- $130 - 4Wheel Parts
(100) 3/16 5MM Aluminum Rivets - $10 - Lowe’s
Two 1/8 x 2" flat aluminum pieces - $40 Lowe’s (cheaper at metal place)
Four angle aluminum pieces - $30 - Lowe’s
(6) 1/8 x 3" cut at 69" each, $70 - Metal Supermarket
RANGE - $300 - $400
ENJOY YOUR J-MOOSE RACK!!!