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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I decided to upgrade my DIY MOLLE rack, and improve the write-up a bit here.

Background: I was looking for an inexpensive solution for mounting my MOLLE first aid kit bag and fire hydrant in the cargo area of the FJ. The space under the rear, driver's side window seemed ideal, but I found the cost of MOLLE racks a bit more than what I was willing to spend. Looking around on the interweb, I couldn't really find any DIY solution that looked good, so I starting thinking about what materials I could use. I figured a car grill replacement would work if I could find one with 1" holes, and after a little searching came across There, I found a 'brick' style grill made of aluminum that seemed to match my need almost perfectly. It so happened they had a 'scrap piece' for sale for ~$20, so I jumped on it. The rest fell into place, as described below.

I originally wrote this up shortly after the first install. At the time, I left the mesh to the original size of 17x17", even though the top 3-4 inches of grill was not secure enough to ever hold anything with weight. The write-up itself was just a quick "hey look what I did" without any substance. I wanted to remove the mesh and trim it down, and figured while I was at it, paint the parts and do a (subjectively) decent write-up while I was at it.

Here's the original install (notice the bare metal mesh, removal of handbag hooks, and height):


Here's the new install (mesh painted flat black and cut for better fit, with handbag hooks reattached):


I should also mention that before removing and modifying the rack, I had been driving around with it for almost a month with no rattles or issues of any kind, even after loading it with a standard First Aid Kit and a fire extinguisher. So it's proved to be sturdy and functional enough for me to put a little more work into it.

So, without further adieu, here is my DIY cheap MOLLE rack solution write-up, part deux.

Parts and materials list:

CCG "Brick" Aluminum grill mesh sheet or similar (make sure holes are at least 1" wide, and tall enough to easily fit MOLLE straps. You'll need at least a 17" wide piece to fit the spand between the mounts on the FJ. Mine was 17" x 17" that I ended up cutting down to 17" wide by 11 3/4" high. (See steps below)

NOTE: There are other alternatives to the "Brick" style, but I found that they had a scrap piece for sale that fit my dimensions, so I opted for it. Also note that the aluminum sheets are 14-gauge: at this thickness, you cannot snap the straps through the holes, rather you need to weave the strap back through the mesh to fasten back onto itself, which is a very minor inconvenience.

1/16" Neoprene rubber edge trim (I bought 5' for the 17 x 17 mesh, but ended up cutting that down and not needing as much trim as I ordered)

4" bolts for mounting - I believe the tapped holes for the 'handbag hooks' are M8, but may be M6 (I cannot remember)
Note: I chose 4" bolts because I wanted at least a 3.5" offset from the FJ wall. I was thinking of using threaded rods and wing nuts to secure the grill mesh, but Lowes didn't have any the right size at the time.

(4) 1" x 1/4" fender washers for mounting the mesh to the 4" bolts

(2) 1/2" x 1/4" fender washers to fit into the handbag hooks (optional only if you wish to have hooks reinstalled)

(4) nuts to fit 4" bolts

(4) 1" L-brackets (with screws)
for securing bottom of mesh

(2) bolts and nuts to fit through brackets to mount mesh to bottom of 'well arch' area (I had spares: 3/16" x 3/4" will probably work fine)

Rattle can of your favorite color: I had some flat black leftover from another project, so I just used that (optional if painting mesh)

Shop rags, acetone, scuffing pad, and self-etching primer for preparing metal for painting (optional if painting mesh)

(2) lock washers for 4" bolts and washers if you are NOT going to remount the handbag hooks (optional)


Metal cutter (I used a jigsaw) and Dremel tool (or similar) to buff rough cuts out a bit
Note: The cut doesn't need to be perfect: any small flaws along the edge will be covered by the trim!

Clamps for securing the grill mesh while cutting

Phillips head screwdriver to remove 'handbag hooks'

open-end wrench (x2, or one wrench and one socket wrench) for bolt and nut fittings

Drill with small (1/16") bit to drive pilot holes into well arch for L-brackets (optionally, just use screwdriver to drive screws)

Eye protection (for cutting), gloves and a mask (for metal prep work)


For what it's worth, here are my 'plans' for this setup. The red indicates the mesh placement (and the L-brackets); black is the FJ and measurements.



Step 1) Cut mesh into desired dimensions, but no less than 17" wide by 9" tall, and no more than allowed by the space in your FJ!

Step 2) Remove 'handbag hooks' from FJ above 'well arch' and set aside. You have the option to replace them later, or leave them off entirely. I reattached mine because the yellow metal behind all of the black stood out.

The next steps are for fitting only: do not tighten down securely as you will need to disassemble all parts before Step 7.

Step 3) For each 4" bolt, thread the mesh and fasteners in this order from bolt head: 1" fender washer; grill mesh; 1" fender washer; nut. DO NOT TIGHTEN, but secure into place against bolt head hand-tight. Next, thread the nut onto the other end, leaving the distance between that and the mesh at roughly the distance you want the mesh to be from the wall of the FJ. I set mine to 3.5".

NOTE: The placement of the bolts should be 15" apart, and between 8 and 8.5" up from the bottom of the mesh. Mine are 15.5" apart and about 8 1/4" from the bottom. The latter measurement is more about aligning the holes with the bolts and the L-bracket holes once in place than anything. Your exact location may vary depending on what mesh you use, and placement of your L-brackets (there is a slight incline in the wheel arch).

Step 4) Thread bolts through the 1/2" x 1/4" fender washer and 'handbag hooks' (optional), install in FJ and tighten hand-tight. NOTE: If you omit the handbag hooks, you'll probably want to place a lock washer behind the nut.

Step 5) I used two 1" L-brackets to secure the bottom of the mesh to the FJ. You can use whatever you think is best, but I had these conveniently lying around and thought they would do fine. Once the mesh is in place and secure, set your L-brackets in place at the bottom of the mesh on either side facing each other, for both ends, and mark the holes where they will attach to the wheel well arches. (See diagram above for placement.) Remove the brackets, mesh, bolts, etc. and set aside.

Step 6) Remove and disassemble the rack and prepare metal surfaces you wish to paint: clean with acetone to remove any oils, grease and grime. Scuff the surfaces using a scuffing our scouring pad, then spray it with a metal primer/etcher. And then, well, paint them. Cut trim to desired lengths and add to the perimeter of the mesh.

Cleaned, scoured, etched, primed and ready to paint:


Painted and trimmed:



Step 7) Secure the L brackets that face outward (i.e. sit behind the mesh) into the FJ well arch.

Step 8) Reassemble the mesh, as above, securing into desired position away from the wall, and vertical against the L brackets, then place the remaining two L brackets facing towards the mesh, and secure into the FJ well arch. Insert bolt through the front bracket, arch and rear bracket, and secure into place with nut.

Any nicks or marks on the metal surfaces can be repainted with touch-up paint or a magic marker.




As you can guess, the grill mesh turned out to be the most significant cost. You could buy an entire sheet for around $100 and have plenty to spare for the other side of your FJ and, probably, some other applications as well. I only needed the one side, and happened across the 'spare parts' page listing an adequate size and type at a discount. Together with the rubber trim and shipping, I paid $33. I bought the bolts and 1" fender washers, along with a couple of nuts for under $5. The rest I had laying around, including the spray paint from an earlier project. All in, I'm still under $40, but expect to be at around $50 to $60 if you have to buy all of the materials, paint, and prep materials mentioned above. If you don't have acetone and primer/etcher, and you are OK with the bare metal look, you can save yourself more money by omitting those items from your shopping list!

I used the MOLLE straps on my First Aid to attach. Remember you may need to weave the straps back through the mesh to get them to fasten (see image below). I used tie wraps to secure the fire extinguisher mount to the mesh.


Pros: cheap, easy installation, and has held up well, even when weighted with first aid kit and fire extinguisher.
Cons: 14-gauge grill mesh is just a bit too wide to fasten the straps through it: you have to weave the straps back under the mesh to fasten/snap to a bag

Hope this simple and cheap solution is helpful!

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