Our intention all along with Klondike has been to be more of an overlanding and longer exploring trip type of rig. Even so, we have found ourselves in situations that we think may put the KL Cherokee’s limited ground clearance and lower approach/departure angles to the test. A good way to help with these situations is to build ramps or bridges over things and our Maxtrax are certainly up to this task. This said, we currently only have mounts on our trailer “Ehu” and there are times we will need them on Klondike without the trailer in tow.
This is where the need for some roof rack cross bars comes in. This seems like an easy enough thing to buy, and in truth it is, but we didn’t really like any of the ones we have seen on the market so we decided to just make our own. A decision made easier by the fact we already had some DOM tube in the shop that could be put to use.
To kick off this little project, I cleaned up and cut the DOM tube to length. I also used a shape jig to get a feel for what would be needed to mount the tubes to the KL Cherokee’s factory rails.
Next, I got to work on the plates that I would weld to the bars to mount to the rails.
Because the factory rails are far from straight, I had to do a little tweaking to get them shaped for a good fit.
Now to mock them up on Klondike. I was pretty happy with the fit but realized the only real way to make sure everything was lined up in the end was to tack everything in place on the Jeep. I’m not going to lie, I was scared to death that a rogue spark/ember would scoot across the white paint leaving a trail of burn marks behind it. But thankfully all our masking and blankets worked out and protected everything.
The bars themselves were only part of what was needed to carry the Maxtrax. I needed tabs to bolt on the Maxtrax mounting posts.
Here is how they looked all welded. I did put some filler around the bar to plate joint just to smooth it out and make it a little more aesthetically pleasing.
Time to get these things painted, but first they needed to be cleaned, sanded, cleaned and primed.
Rather than watch paint/primer dry, I used this time to get the Riv-Nuts installed in the rails that will hold the bars. The metal here is actually pretty thick compared to other places I have used Riv-Nuts so I am confident this will be more than sufficient to hold them.
Once all painted, I put some 1/8″ adhesive foam on the mounting pads after bolting on the Maxtrax mounting posts. This will help seal up any gaps and hopefully prevent wind whistling on the interstate.
…and here they are installed and in service with one set of our Maxtrax. The posts will hold another, but I was really just testing everything out.
Here is a close up of the mount to the factory rail.
It’s funny, we know the KL Cherokee is a love hate and most “purist” Jeep enthusiasts are on the hate side of things, but this rig continues to be the one that we put more “built, not bought” parts onto. I think the tides may be turning a bit but I’m not sure this vehicle will ever be really well supported by aftermarket companies. It’s too bad too because we are certainly on the love side of the KL and think more would be if they gave them a shot.