CubbyChowder

Custom One-Off Roof Rack Build for a BMW 2002

22 posts in this topic Last Reply

Recommended Posts

(edited)
So it's time for an update that I've been working on for the past month or so, it's a long one so be prepared! I recently wrapped up this big project and wanted to share it with everyone. 
 
Last year I designed and built a few custom metal/wood roof racks that were compatible on the BMW E10 (1600/2002) and E30 chassis. In total I built three rack systems but eventually decided to pursue other ventures. 
 
I was recently approached by Andrew Adams at Ireland Engineering who was interested in having a custom rack built for his 2002 project (which is an awesome build by the way, check it out here: http://www.r3vlimited.com/board/showthread.php?t=211891). After a few messages back and forth I was happy to take the project on and decided it would be a good opportunity to thoroughly document every step of the way to shed some light on how I build things the way I do. 
 
Andrew was very lenient and gave me full creative freedom on the design with one request being that it could mount three sets of snow ski's in some way. With this in mind I went to the drawing board, came up with a few renderings and got to work. I used the same mounting solution that I designed last year for this build, but everything else is custom and one of a kind. This project was a lot of fun and VERY time consuming. I'm really looking forward to seeing this rack on the completed 2002 project in person in August! A big Thank You to Andrew for being so easy going and open to my ideas.
 
A quick note I'd like to add: while I was happy to take this project on, I am currently not taking on any other custom roof rack projects at this time. 
 
To show where this build is headed, here are a few renderings I came up with which gave me the general design that I wanted (feel free to make fun of my ski's I drew haha):
 
24834423386_08247afaec_c.jpg
24860678705_38e60c7c52_c.jpg
24834423546_6970a84f8f_c.jpg
 
So now, let's get started!
 
The very first step is to bend these tabs into the shape pictured below. They start off as flat CNC plasma cut pieces that get bent in my press brake, I carefully measure them out so they are all the same:
 
23846862584_086f9d82cc_c.jpg
24475045205_c04e968993_c.jpg
 
This random little tool I made serves two purposes and it helps me make sure every mount and bracket are exactly the same:
 
24475034835_1f67f83274_c.jpg
 
For one, it helps me set the "sleeve" coupler on the main mount. I line the bottoms up, clamp it onto the mount body and then set a 5/16 coupling nut in the right place:
 
24179449690_ce86ebf571_c.jpg
 
From there I clamp the 5/16 coupling nut to the mount body, it is now ready to weld into place:
 
24107258169_d9a5b0e550_c.jpg
 
Welded up on all four mount bodies:
 
24448809646_aa38359f10_c.jpg
 
Then come the CNC plasma cut pieces that make up the sides of the mounts:
 
23846802504_c7a369e1a9_c.jpg
 
I create a very simple jig that helps me set them in the correct spot for welding:
 
24474984585_e6a6a1b3e5_c.jpg
24366682722_70ac11b7d9_c.jpg
24474962945_61c914f3ca_c.jpg
 
Once both sides are welded on, the mounts look like this:
 
24179369350_f278d8fc35_c.jpg
24448739146_e2027ef6ee_c.jpg
 
Now that the mounting feet are done, it's time to move onto the mounting tabs. They actually secure the mount to the roof of the BMW by clamping around the rain gutter. They start off as flat CNC plasma cut pieces:
 
23846731274_deb0ba7cb1_c.jpg
 
I custom built a simple brake out of some scrap 3" angle iron to create the profile of these mounting tabs. Here's how it sits before and after the bend:
 
24448714676_7751657b31_c.jpg
24392397251_783c77ca40_c.jpg
 
4 mounting tabs bent up:
 
23846711934_af5e9e1313_c.jpg
 
Here's where that random little tool from earlier comes back into play, it helps me set the mounting tab coupling nut. I clamp it in a specific spot so it acts as a guide for the coupling nut to sit perfectly centered on the tab, which then gets welded up:
 
24179321760_929302106f_c.jpg
23846699764_18361e23c6_c.jpg
24107128659_eff3320579_c.jpg
 
After some clean up the mounts and tabs are complete and ready for powder coat. I'll show how they actually work at a later time when they are mounted on a car:
 
24107114899_0408d4cff1_c.jpg
 
Now that the mounts are finished up it's time to actually build the rack itself, so I started off by cutting up these pieces. This is 1"x0.5" rectangle tubing and these will act as the main basket "runner bars". 
 
24179288080_9464fa09f1_c.jpg
23846661934_42035fd3c5_c.jpg
23848042923_dcd20c3a09_c.jpg
 
I then welded everything up and ground all the welds smooth to achieve a seamless look:
 
24179258400_91d3e23f9c_c.jpg
24179251840_232f5a5d7e_c.jpg
 
Cut a few pieces of 1"x0.25" flat strap:
 
24107066339_aee86abdc7_c.jpg
 
These will act as supports for the runner bars. Welded them in and ground everything smooth:
 
24366524692_39b157e57c_c.jpg
23848007693_91db4e76c5_c.jpg
 
Next up, I built this frame out of 0.5" square tubing:
 
24430371781_fa088398f8_c.jpg
 
This connects the runner bars and creates a basket:
 
24430288261_5160f9806b_c.jpg
 
Added top bars and ground all the welds smooth. The basket is now complete:
 
23885936613_292e1638c1_c.jpg
24430362781_ee62b31e0f_c.jpg
24217172460_1c8f7900b7_c.jpg
 
Now it's time to create the cross bars which consist of two pieces of 1"x1.5" rectangle tubing, each having 8 precisely measured and drilled holes in them:
 
24217168320_fe80e99181_c.jpg
 
I welded these bars to the bottom of the basket:
 
24486511896_dcc2d03455_c.jpg
 
Flipped right side up. Here you can start to see why the holes are drilled the way they are:
 
24404412732_688f774b43_c.jpg
 
It's time to build the ski mounts. I cut up two pieces of 1.5"x.025" flat strap:
 
24217162670_b3ea1c2360_c.jpg
 
I put a rounded 90 degree bend in them with my compact bender:
 
24144956089_7eb99302fb_c.jpg
23884526704_12fc33cb38_c.jpg
 
The ski mounts will be integrated into this part of the roof rack:
 
24144937389_e245f02bb2_c.jpg
 
Clamped them into place, ready to weld:
 
24144931919_90f57eb603_c.jpg
 
Welded up:
 
24430315641_741e0f8a9d_c.jpg
 
I needed to figure out a way to strap the ski's down to the bars, so I tossed some ideas around and eventually came up with these little hoops that I bent on the compact bender:
 
24404391682_6d42e658ea_c.jpg
 
Which eventually led to this:
 
24430304971_b92cbbb857_c.jpg
24512663465_09b6bcaa3a_c.jpg
24404380442_9f8ccf1134_c.jpg
 
At this point, the roof rack is finally complete and ready for powder coat!
 
24404361142_7c6a8009b1_c.jpg
24486452286_ccffec1633_c.jpg
 
With the metal working portion of this build done, it was time to send everything off to the powder coater for a shiny metallic silver finish and set my focus on the wood working segment, which requires a whole different set of tools and consumables. I chose redwood because it is lightweight and handles the elements pretty well. After figuring out what I needed, I went out and bought two long boards of it:
 
23921365794_f7ef58c2d9_c.jpg
 
I needed 4 wooden slats at a specific length, width and thickness, so I started to mill them down. The first step was to cut each board in half so I had 4 separate pieces, and then I ran them through the planer so that everything would be 0.5" thick:
 
24181775429_77f3865b20_c.jpg
 
Once the thickness was spot on, I ran each board through the jointer to create a perfectly straight edge:
 
24441247962_fb302704b8_c.jpg
24523357816_0bd7da0d80_c.jpg
 
The straight edge allowed me to achieve an accurate cut on the table saw, bringing every board to the desired width:
 
24523352906_5808905993_c.jpg
 
Alas, I have 4 properly sized boards:
 
24549547855_ef29e33bf6_c.jpg
 
I wanted to put my new router to use, so I busted it out:
 
24549545395_b95d915290_c.jpg
 
I then proceeded to give all the top edges of the wooden slats a 45 degree bevel to add some detail:
 
23921350304_17f25a0c37_c.jpg
24549540165_2dfb242fa6_c.jpg
 
Carefully measured, drilled and countersunk the holes to mount the wood slats to the roof rack:
 
24523340636_97bef494f9_c.jpg
 
Gave everything a final sand and applied a coat of stain to the redwood to get the color I was after:
 
24181757909_28f39482ae_c.jpg
24253983750_1e7f3a2855_c.jpg
 
Protection. Now that I had the color I wanted, I needed to protect it while not compromising it's appearance. I purchased an oil-based exterior grade polyurethane and created a "wipe-on" application by diluting it 50/50 with mineral spirits:
 
24115513034_eed9b307b2_c.jpg
24448133920_12e8717599_c.jpg
 
Applying this is a VERY tedious process. Since it's goes on thin, you have to put on extra coats. In total I laid on about 10 coats over the coarse of the next 2 weeks. This is definitely not the most efficient way to do this, but I wanted a hand rubbed finish. If I were to produce these on a more consistent basis I would figure out a better solution to this step:
 
24650142641_9959ba53b1_c.jpg
 
This concludes the wood working portion of this build!
The rack came back from powder coat and looked great, I personally love this metallic silver finish. 
 
Since a wood slat sits over the driver's side mounting feet, I have to mount them from the underside of the rack so that all of the wood looks cohesive on top. This is why I have these two larger holes drilled in the cross bars pictured below:
 
24116755843_abe7d6f723_c.jpg
 
These are rivet nuts, and they are the solution to my problem:
 
24375940939_fc96fd223e_c.jpg
 
To install a rivet nut, I thread it onto the tool and place it into the hole as shown:
 
24448051070_35af5610c6_c.jpg
 
I then pull the handles together, which crushes the rivet and forces it to clamp itself to the wall of the steel tubing very tightly, leaving a threaded insert:
 
24650056891_7fd05abe17_c.jpg
 
This allows me to bolt the mount in from the underside only, so there are no signs of a bolt on top. You can also see here how the mount is designed with a slot to adjust the width of the rack for different sized roofs:
 
24448007050_96b4a91dab_c.jpg
 
At last, the time has come to install everything and see it all together for the first time! Very happy with how it turned out and I cannot wait to see it on Andrew's awesome 2002!
 
24845758055_af7cfce200_c.jpg
24752306041_51df3d4fc7_c.jpg
24727892122_8b254efc7c_c.jpg
24217581944_6e72f1bd30_c.jpg
24727893552_45bb220ba7_c.jpg
24727893012_1a1a37f0f2_c.jpg
24217583234_90d936d5e1_c.jpg
24845753325_ce1de4681b_c.jpg
24217582294_4dae58f26a_c.jpg
 
Thanks for looking and please let me know what you think!


This post has been promoted to an article Edited by CubbyChowder

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for sharing !!  I would like to know if you did the photography ?  It's nice to see some high quality images to go along with a write up.  

 

I'd also be interested in any insight and details about what lighting and/or modifiers you might have used.  I have collected quite a bit of lighting gear over the years and always interested in learning different ways to put them to use.

 

Lastly what a nicely done job on the rack !!

 

Ken

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I had one of these I'd probably stop turning around to look at my car when I leave it. To turning around to look at my roof rack.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fantastic. Really nice work, great creativity, and a very nicely documented write up. Bravo all around. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mikey,  I am thrilled and simply cannot wait to put this to good use.  Thank you so much for taking the time to make this happen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Take a bow. Both the rack and the thread are works of art. Andrew is a very lucky guy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Love the thought you put into this from head to toe -- those anchor loops kick ass, very functional and just look great -- your attention to detail really comes thru... and as others have said the photos are top notch! And that's coming from a guy who stares at photo imagery day in day out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now