1997 Jeep Wrangler TJ Roof Rack - Project Teal-J IIPosted in Project Vehicles on June 1, 2006
One of the most common complaints about our project Jeep has to do with the limitations of cargo space. Like a double-edged sword, this lack of storage allows the Wrangler unrivaled maneuverability both on and off the pavement. However, it comes at a significant price. The interior of a Jeep TJ has less than 46 cubic feet of space for amenities such as camping equipment, tools, pets, and people. Perhaps that's why the aftermarket has so many storage solutions for Jeep Wrangler owners. From theft-deterrent interior lockers to exterior-mounted rack systems, bolting on additional space in a Wrangler is super easy-especially if you know what additional gear you want to bring along. Our recent list included a cooler big enough to hold a weekend's worth of food and drinks for two people, two 5-gallon jerrycans of fuel, and camping gear. So follow along as we update Teal-J with two very multifunctional rack systems that add valuable area for additional equipment, while keeping in tune with the adventurous look we were after.
Storage for Teal's Caboose
Our first upgrade comes from Hanson Enterprise. Hanson has a long-standing reputation for premium quality bolt-on bumpers and cargo racks for Jeeps and early Broncos. We fit Teal-J with one of Hanson's tried-and-true 60-inch-wide rear bumpers. Aside from durable double-welded construction, and a attractive black powdercoat finish, this bumper features a robust swing-out style spare-tire carrier that serves as the foundation for a variety of well-thought-out cargo-carrying options. The bumper also comes with all the options we'd expect to see on a trail rig, and then some. From inch-thick shackle tabs to an integrated 2-inch receiver hitch, the Hanson unit delivers. This picture shows the rack setup we chose for Teal-J (PN JC5-B). It was designed to accommodate one 5-gallon gas can on each side of the tire, and up to a 50-quart cooler on the platform above the tire. We liked this arrangement because it doesn't protrude out past the spare tire, and when fully loaded, the tire carrier still functions properly to allow easy access to the Jeep's rear storage compartment. This rack removes easily when a less adventurous look is preferred. Two bolts secure the rack positively to the swing-out tire.
A Rack Above it All
When considerably more space is required, whether it's for camping equipment, or home improvement supplies, a roof rack is the best solution. So we tracked down the old factory hardtop that came with Teal-J. Some of you may remember back in 1997 that then Feature Editor Ben Stewart added a roof rack to this particular hardtop. Well, we found it, and unfortunately Ben had left it out in the salty air of Malibu, California, for the past six years. A close inspection of this roof rack revealed significant surface corrosion and tons of what we'll just describe as barnacles.