No-Drill Cargo Storage - JK Wrangler Roof RackPosted in How To: Body Chassis on August 1, 2010
Let's start at the beginning. Categorically speaking, the purpose of a Jeep is to go places where people with ordinary cars can't, right? Those places often have beautiful scenery, clean air, interesting wildlife, and generally a lack of intrusive civilization. What they don't have is hotels, restaurants, bathrooms, B&Bs, gas stations, or supermarkets. Sounding good? How about bringing some of your family or a couple of friends along?
Suddenly the Jeep is getting a little crowded, because given all of the above that you won't find at your destination, you will need to bring a bunch of it with you if you expect your friends or family to come along without whining. The back of the Jeep is already full. A rack is clearly the answer.
But there are racks and there are racks. Some we've seen are best used for auxiliary lights, but fully loaded they could have problems on the kind of trails that Jeeps traverse. Recently we saw Kargo Master's new "no drill" Congo Cage rack for the '07-and-up JK Wrangler, and it has features that really make it stand out. We contacted Rack & Road in Sacramento, California, and as luck would have it they were installing a Congo Cage that afternoon. Rack & Road has more experience with racks and cargo management systems than anyone we know, so we hurried over to watch the install.
The Congo Cage provides a rock-solid foundation for Kargo Master's Safari Racks, Yakima and Thule bars, and a host of other cargo-management devices. With a 500-pound capacity, it's the perfect Jeep roof rack to carry canoes, kayaks, surfboards, snowboards, and other tools of the trade. Not to mention all that other stuff you might need-like food, tents, sleeping bags, firewood, stoves-and did we mention food?
The Congo Cage rack is constructed from 1 5/8-inch steel tubes. Each section is connected using 4-inch swaged joints for a tight fit and double strength. Button-head stainless steel fasteners are used for strength and corrosion resistance. The finish is a marine-grade powdercoat specifically formulated to resist corrosion and abrasion.
During assembly, which is sort of like putting together a giant Erector set, each connection was sealed with a special silicon sealant to prevent any possibility of rust or corrosion. At the lower end of the rear support tubes, two bushings and a steel insert were installed for the rear pivot mounts. A trick to accomplish this was to lubricate the rubber bushings and use a C-clamp as a press to push the bushings into place.
With the rack assembled, the Rack & Road installers turned their attention to the 2007 JK Jeep. The front downtube brackets were attached to the existing holes used by the lower half of the windshield hinge plates. New, stronger bolts were provided.
At the rear, there is a bracket that attaches the bumper to the chassis. Two lower bolts were removed and the bracket for the rear Congo Cage down-tube was attached with longer and stronger bolts provided. Rack & Road has installed many of these Congo Cages, so they knew a couple of important tricks that may not be in the instructions. By loosening the upper bumper bracket bolts just a little, it allows the bumper to be pulled down an inch or so. This makes it easy to slip the Congo Cage bracket into position. Before bolting everything up underneath, it's important to insert the two carriage bolts on each side that fit through the upper mounting plates. These carriage bolts are later used to mount the pivot plates.
With everything tight, the assembled rack was lifted over the Jeep and aligned with the rear mounts. Leaving the pivot mounting plates a little loose facilitates lining up the threads of the main crossbolt. The front posts attach with a 3/4-inch bolt from the bottom of the windshield bracket previously installed. Two fat rubber spacers on each side assure a tight but cushioned mount.
In case you have lost count, the entire Congo Cage Rack can be removed by taking out just four bolts. If you need to remove or install a soft top, take out the two 3/4-inch bolts up front and the whole rack can be pivoted up and supported by two rods that are supplied for this purpose. The best way to take a hard top off is to pull the two back pivot bolts out and lift the whole rack off. The two sunroof panels on the JK hard top can be removed without even touching the rack.
While the Congo Cage is a great foundation, you will need a basket to carry the pile of small things needed for an overnight trip, and Kargo Master's Safari Rack is the perfect answer. The assembly is best done on a flat floor. The Safari Rack clamps securely to the Congo Cage bars. Aerodynamic beveled crossbars and longitudinal floor tubes reduce drag. Floor tubes are captured within the crossbars to provide a flat floor with a 41/2-inch cargo depth. Accessories are available for mounting a shovel, axe, spare tire, lights, and a Hi-Lift jack.
To see how the Congo Cage and Safari Rack would perform in real life, we loaded it up and headed out to one of our favorite testing grounds along the Yuba River. And since we didn't want our gear scattered on the road behind us, we had the perfect opportunity to test several tie-down options we have been scoping out. Crawling over a rocky streambed with grapefruit- and melon-sized boulders, the Cage moved a little on its rubber mounts, as it is designed to. All in all, it's a very impressive piece of functional engineering and comes with a nationwide lifetime frame warranty as well.
The Congo Cage and Safari Rack are available for '95 YJs, '97-'06 TJs, and '07-and-up two- and four-door JKs.