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DIY 8020 Rack for DIY Roof Top Tent

Discussion in '5th Gen 4Runners (2010+)' started by TXKev, Jul 31, 2020.

  1. Jul 31, 2020 at 9:58 PM
    #1
    TXKev

    TXKev [OP] New Member

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    Hey Yall!

    I'm thinking about building a roof top tent for my 2014 SR5. This would require me to install a full rack, which I plan to build also.

    I plan on building a simple, squared, flat rack out of 80/20 t slots, similar to the one seen in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_RrKBXV-Ww&t=110s

    Screen Shot 2020-07-31 at 11.24.24 PM.jpg


    The rack is pretty straightforward, but mounting it might be challenging for me because I don't want to have to do any fabrication work. Is it possible for me to safely and securely mount a flat rack like this directly to the existing factory side rails? Has anyone tried this?

    My inspiration also comes from this thread with the images below: Screen Shot 2020-07-31 at 11.36.32 PM.jpg Screen Shot 2020-07-31 at 11.36.21 PM.jpg

    I plan on putting about 8 cross bars on the rack, 4 of which will sit on top of the existing side rails to secure the rack to the car (similar to the way it's done in the pics above). Do you know if the slight curvature of the side rails would cause a problem?

    As you know, the front 3rd of the rack will not be secured to the vehicle at all. It'll just sit on a couple of rubber bumpers. I'm planning on putting a lot of weight on the front 3rd of the rack, where the tent will sit. Do you foresee any issues with this?


    As for the tent, I'm planning on building a clamp shell style tent with plywood on the bottom. I'm going to cut out an opening in the plywood floor, directly above the sunroof, so I could stand up through the sunroof to open the tent (from the inside of the tent), and climb in without leaving my vehicle. Has anyone tried or seen this done before? I'm wondering what could go wrong and what precautions I should take in building this.


    Any tips and advice would be much appreciated! Thank you.
     
    Thatbassguy and gunsnob like this.
  2. Aug 1, 2020 at 4:18 PM
    #2
    gunsnob

    gunsnob New Member

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    Very cool! It sits up pretty high, are you going to put a wind deflector?
     
  3. Aug 1, 2020 at 6:12 PM
    #3
    Snickel Fritz

    Snickel Fritz This member likes turtles.

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    This is *exactly* what I've been trying to get parts for, now I'm suspicious of you lol...
    Avoid the Gamiviti mounts, they suck a$$ and cost too much.
    Good luck, and welcome to the forum!
     
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  4. Aug 1, 2020 at 6:22 PM
    #4
    Thatbassguy

    Thatbassguy New member? Really??

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    Welcome to the forum! Cool project! Please keep us posted on your progress. ;)
     
  5. Aug 1, 2020 at 9:16 PM
    #5
    Agent_Outside

    Agent_Outside New Member

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    Where are you located? I have a bunch of pre cut, drilled, and tapped 3”x1” 8020 I’d be willing to part with in Colorado.
     
  6. Aug 1, 2020 at 10:41 PM
    #6
    TXKev

    TXKev [OP] New Member

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    It does a bit. No matter what it has to clear the shark fin at the back, so I can't avoid raising it a bit. I would like to add a wind deflector, but I'm not sure where to find the right one that fits my custom rack.
     
  7. Aug 1, 2020 at 10:42 PM
    #7
    TXKev

    TXKev [OP] New Member

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    I'm in Texas, but thanks for the offer.
     
  8. Aug 1, 2020 at 10:47 PM
    #8
    TXKev

    TXKev [OP] New Member

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    Thank you! It's a great forum full of ideas and insights.

    How far along are you on your build?

    I am trying to avoid buying expensive mounts that may or may not fit well with my rack. Just the thoughts of paying $60-90 bucks for 4 pieces of metal kinda irks me. I'm curious why no one makes them from home and sells them for cheap. They're pretty simple to make (with the right equipment) and very easy to ship.
     
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  9. Aug 1, 2020 at 10:52 PM
    #9
    TXKev

    TXKev [OP] New Member

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    I just need to confirm that the way I plan on mounting the rack is safe, then I'm going to place my order for the parts. It should be fun from there!
     
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  10. Aug 2, 2020 at 2:00 PM
    #10
    Snickel Fritz

    Snickel Fritz This member likes turtles.

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    So far all that I have are the Gamiviti mounts, I hope to find a good online source for materials today so I can make my own instead.
    These things cost me $160 for four, which seems insane after getting them in my hands.
    If I had the space and tools, I would definitely be making and selling some!
    BTW, I asked several rack sellers to sell me the mounting hardware but they either ignored me or refused to sell them without the rack... but it was a test!
    Had one of them offered to sell me just the mounting feet (or even entertain the idea) I would have bought their full rack. I've had a few big issues with crap fabricators and vendors lately, so I wanted to test their customer service and conscience a bit.
    I told them that I wanted to build my own rack using their mounts and that I need this so I can mount solar panels and live in my 4R as opposed to full blown homelessness (this is all true, but I was going to buy the full rack and just modify it later if needed).
    Anyone with a conscience would have at least considered my offer, because I wasn't asking for them for free or even cheap- I just asked them to name their price.
    Sadly, they care only about getting the maximum amount of money from every customer, regardless of what their needs or situations are. Unless you want to buy the full rack, they won't help you.
     
  11. Aug 2, 2020 at 10:14 PM
    #11
    TXKev

    TXKev [OP] New Member

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    It's too bad that these sellers are so short-sited. I just looked up the Gamiviti. Those are very expensive! I'm very surprised how difficult it is to find mounts. I can't even find some Z brackets to drill holes through to make mounts out of. Good luck with your searches. I might have to head to the Home Depot to see what's available, then I'll ask my neighbor to cut pieces to length for me.
     
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  12. Aug 3, 2020 at 9:18 AM
    #12
    Snickel Fritz

    Snickel Fritz This member likes turtles.

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    I spent all night browsing through random bits on Amazon and 8020.net, had a lot of ideas but so far everything turned out to be unusable.
    Beware the Sprinter-to-extrusion mounts! These things looked good in the thumbnail, but they are very flimsy on closer examination. The seller is at least honest about the low weight limit, might be perfect for solar panels but still kinda expensive at ~$20 per mount.
    I'll be searching all day, can't do much else with the humidity and drizzle- I'll post any interesting stuff I find.
    Good luck with your shopping!
     
  13. Aug 3, 2020 at 11:14 AM
    #13
    Ironguy

    Ironguy New Member

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    Welcome and good luck with an interesting project
     
  14. Aug 4, 2020 at 7:51 PM
    #14
    TXKev

    TXKev [OP] New Member

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    Thank you!
     
  15. Aug 5, 2020 at 5:19 AM
    #15
    EffinNewGuy

    EffinNewGuy New Member

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    Have you searched for a co-op/shared workspace (DIY center) with tools for use in your area to fab your on mounting brackets? Or have some neighbors with a drill press, or a vice and a BFH? I'm planning my mounting brackets using my neighbor's press and vice. If I need anything beyond that a $50/month membership at the local co-op is a hell of a lot cheaper than buying a bunch of tools.
     
  16. Aug 22, 2020 at 9:20 PM
    #16
    TXKev

    TXKev [OP] New Member

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    I've gone the simpler way and attached the side rails directly to the roof (with metal spacers in between). Check out my finished rack below
     
  17. Aug 22, 2020 at 9:38 PM
    #17
    TXKev

    TXKev [OP] New Member

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    So I ended up removing the factory rack completely, and mounted two new side rails directly to the mounting points. The side rails run the length of the roof. I added metal spacers (from Lowe's) to raise the rails above the unleveled roof.

    For materials, I used strut channels from the Home Depot. I got the deep channels for the 2 side rails, and the half channels for the 10 cross bars and cage. I connected all the pieces using the standard hardware (cone nuts, bolts, washers, L brackets)

    I cut everything using a hack saw. My first cut took 10 minutes, but the last few were done in 2-3 minutes.

    Spray painted everything (except the bolts) black.

    The thing is surprisingly sturdy!


    I've taken the car on the highway a couple of times. From 30 mph and up, it creates this low, deep, humming noise, which sounds like someone's playing rap music nearby. I could get used to it. I didn't mention anything to my family and they didn't notice.

    Next up: Roof Top Tent!!

    1.jpg
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    3.jpg
    4.jpg
    5.jpg
    6.jpg
    7.jpg
    8.jpg
    9.jpg
     
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  18. Aug 23, 2020 at 11:26 AM
    #18
    Snickel Fritz

    Snickel Fritz This member likes turtles.

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    Nicely done, Kevin!
    I'm still waiting for materials, though I may just end up reusing the original feet, after cutting the extraneous bits off... we'll see.

    How are you liking the unistrut? Have you tested for flex, to see if anything could possibly hit the roof?
     
  19. Aug 23, 2020 at 1:14 PM
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    TXKev

    TXKev [OP] New Member

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    The unistrut is fine. I sat on one of the cross bars and it barely bent. I believe it would take 250 lbs for it to bend enough to hit the roof. I have 10 of them on there, so there's no way that's going to be an issue.


    What did you decide to go with for your build?
     
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  20. Aug 23, 2020 at 1:16 PM
    #20
    TXKev

    TXKev [OP] New Member

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    I've completed the rack, if you'd like to see what it looks like. I'm still planning the roof top tent.
     
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  21. Aug 23, 2020 at 2:01 PM
    #21
    Snickel Fritz

    Snickel Fritz This member likes turtles.

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    Good deal, I figured that you'd test a bar but I was curious. I always liked the look of unistrut, especially in black- your's looks pretty dang cool!

    For my bars and rails I'm going with t-slotted aluminum, not sure which sizes yet because there are SO MANY configurations and things to account for, and I am still waiting for some rectangular steel tube and aluminum bar stock to fab up my feet.
    I do plan on having a square rack, with a hair over 48" of inside width.
    My idea is to mount two heavy bars across the roof, then mount the *top* side rails directly on top of those. I'll then decide if I want to have a lower side rail, or just a cover with rubber edge trim (like a fairing).
    What I want for now is a few inches of "wall", which will give me at least three slot rails. I want my solar very near the top, but not over the edge (hidden somewhat). Under the solar panels, I am hoping to have enough space to load at least a couple of plywood sheets or around a dozen 2×4s... but I'll be happy to have room for just the solar, since I can upgrade and reconfigure later.

    Eventually, I plan on building my own RTS (shelter, not necessarily a "tent") with a little storage under it, making some awnings for the entire vehicle, and keeping the solar over the whole shebang.

    I'll keep you updated when I come up with something tangible and useful- even though you're pretty much done lol...

    Thanks for posting, you did good work and it will undoubtedly help others :hattip:
     
  22. Aug 23, 2020 at 8:26 PM
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    TXKev

    TXKev [OP] New Member

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    That sounds like it's a bit more complex than mine. Good luck to ya! I look forward to seeing the finished product. I still have more than half the work to do with my RTT. Still not sure how I plan to build the lid for the tent. Any ideas?
     
  23. Sep 8, 2020 at 12:01 PM
    #23
    EffinNewGuy

    EffinNewGuy New Member

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    Awesome use of strut! I ended up just going with a 10 foot piece of shallow strut, cut in half, with brackets and 1/4' spring nuts (with springs removed) to mount them to the side rails. I haven't painted them yet. There's some wind noise, but it's tolerable.
     
  24. Jan 11, 2021 at 9:13 PM
    #24
    TXKev

    TXKev [OP] New Member

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    I forgot to update this thread after I built my RRT. I actually built a second one immediately after using the first one (green) for the first time. Made a few upgrades. I have some ideas for another round of upgrades, but will wait till Spring time. In the first iteration, I made the sides from one large piece of canvas, which was a pain to set up. In the second iteration, I made the sides from separate pieces of canvas so that I could easily put them on (and remove), as well as store inside the tent before closing it.

    To enter the tent, I have to climb through the sunroof after opening the hatch on the floor of the tent.Screen Shot 2021-01-11 at 11.07.29 PM.jpg PXL_20201114_231232272.jpg PXL_20201204_231743689.jpg
     
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  25. Jan 11, 2021 at 9:17 PM
    #25
    Snickel Fritz

    Snickel Fritz This member likes turtles.

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    Good job, man! I had a similar idea for my own, glad to see that my instinct was right on the separate panels point... keep 'em coming, following!
     

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