We will see if there is any truth to this title when this thread is all done, so save the flames and hear me out. Its just a headline at this point
I am coming from a Disco 1 with a great Baja full sized adventure rack that would carry anything. The rack was great: full-length, all steel, and 8 gutter mounts. I could easily carry my 14' canoe or 16' timbers, or perhaps a load of lumber. At the very least it carried all my camping gear. Honestly, it was unbelievable what I could haul home from Home Depot with that rack and still have 6 people in the car. I know I had more than 600lbs of roof load on that thing once or twice. It was scary, but it worked if you were careful.
However, as all you Jeep owners know, getting a sizable load up on the roof of a JKU is quite a challenge and not really an intended function of a Jeep anyway. 600lbs on the roof of a Jeep is plain stupid, so don't think I am actually going to drive around that way, but I am honestly trying to get about 300 lbs max in various configurations for my big trips. Several months ago I sold the Disco and got my special ordered 2012 JKUR back in December with the purpose of doing my best to make it serve all my needs. Its been great so far and it is about 1/2 the cost per mile to drive compared to the LR. Its my daily driver and is the all purpose family truckster for hauling 3 kids, towing a boat, and has been decent trip car for family trips (after you tilt the rear seat). Anyway, looking ahead, I have a 2000+ mi 2-week trip planned in June to the 4 corners area with all 5 us with several days around Ouray. Call me crazy, but we are all going in the Jeep or bust. My 97' Disco was great near home, but it would not have brought us home without lots of AAA and one or two electrical fires. I have had enough of CEL's to last me a lifetime.
Anyway, enough background and onto the project. Most of you have all read through the JK Overland build and might be familiar with that great vehicle, which is what really got me to move to a JKU in the first place. Scott Brady did a great job with it and with the adaptation of the ARB roof rack or the comparable setup on the 3/4 flat rack on the Danger Drives episode are great examples of properly done thru-roof racks. Both of those served for my inspiration, but I wanted try something a little different and less expensive than a cage mounted option like the Gobi (great rack btw). While I really like the through roof design, we all know finding off the shelf options are non-existent unless you want a simple and light weight track based system from FrontRunner or Yakima.
My design goals for this project are: light as possible, strong as possible, does not leak, aerodynamic as possible (quiet), easy to remove with the hard top, and of course very inexpensive to build. To get started, I built steel brackets on the roll-bar to provide a mounting pad up under the roof for a heavily modified TracRac. The mounting pads from the TracRac were then machined down create a flush mounting pad, which then sits on 1/4" UV resistant gaskets that are all bolted down with stainless bolts. The end result are two cross bars (65" length), mounted directly over both lateral roll-bar sections. Each cross bar is about 32" apart, and of course the bars themselves are the TracRac standard so all their attachments will work for ratchet straps, etc. These racks themselves are rated between 800lbs and 1100lbs depending on the setup. The added weight to the Jeep is about 60 lbs total.
I don't have the full build pictures done yet, but thought I would start getting some of this together and get some feedback and share the idea with other here. I spent a couple of months taking my time putting these idea together and have worked on it some each weekend for a few weeks now. I will say one thing ... it is REALLY, REALLY STURDY! and doesn't look half bad. I have the back bar totally done today, and have just a little more to finish the front that mount up behind the speaker bar.
Basic parts so far: $365 basic TracRac for a pickup from Home Depot, quite a bit of 1/8" steel, u-channel, some bolts, and lots and lots of time with a welder, grinder, and some machine work: