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Building A Rack For Hardcore Overlanding

Posted in News on September 27, 2012
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Contributors: FourWheeler Web Editor

I agree with John Cappa. And by that I mean that camping should be camping, as he stated (and I just paraphrased into one sentence) in his October 2012 Editorial (here). But on a recent outing with my off-road truck I decided to build a rack to carry some gear, and not just any gear, but my ARB Fridge/Freezer and a BBQ. Maybe we call it 'Overcamping'. The idea started innocent enough, build a rack to carry some gear for a weekend camping trip over Labor Day. Because of the roll-cage and seats the Ranger has about 8 cubic-feet of cargo space, and half of that is full of spare parts and tools. This is all fine and I've gotten very creative for packing the truck for a weekend or week of camping on the trail, but this time we were going overcamping (see, there's that word again). We were going to park in one place for the weekend which meant we could leave the cooler, tent, gear, at camp while we went wheeling. But we needed a way to get the stuff there. After deciding what I wanted on the rack, grabbing some quick dimensions off of the internet, and doodling a sketch it was off to the metal shop's surplus rack. The rack is overkill. I wanted it to be able to hold many hundreds of pounds, for future expansion. So I grabbed up some 2" .120 wall square tube, some 1" round tube, and some expanded metal. And to complicate things even further we had a garage renovation project going on at the same time, which meant dragging my tools out to the front yard to build the rack (I love good neighbors). Thankfully I had my Miller Arc Station portable welding table handy. I set the table up in the drive way and it made a perfect platform to measure, cut, and tack weld the rack together.  Unfortunately the Arc Station wasn't quite big enough to work the frame for the main platform of the rack. So I used the driveway and a framing square. Good enough. Thankfully my Miller 211 MIG welder will work on both 110 and 210 volts because we don't have 220 in the driveway. The first test fit went well, but boy was it big! The rack was built to the proper dimensions but once on the truck I could tell it was bigger than most off-the-shelf units.  Once all the cutting, test fitting, and tack welding was done I drug the Arc Station and MIG back near the garage so that I could get 220 for the final welds.  Meanwhile, back at the front yard, I broke out my handy Miller Spectrum 375 X-Treme plasma cutter and a straight edge to cut out the expanded metal floor for the rack. The auto-refire function of the Spectrum 375 X-Treme makes cutting things like this expanded metal a breeze!   Final welding took place late into the evening, working under the lights, with the gas regulator indicating an empty bottle just waiting for it to quit. But it didn't!  The last pieces welded on were side rails to use as tie down points and to keep items from sliding off the rack.  Before we hit the road I added reflectors to the rack to make sure that it is mostly 'legal-ish' for highway use.

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