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My DIY Ghetto Fab Folding Lightbar.

18070 Views 25 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  shack
They say idle hands are the devils playground. I don't know about that, but I do get restless if I haven't done anything to my FJ in a while. Plus, I'm a tinkerer. I like to do one-off projects just to see if I can. I'm constantly doing and redoing mods, just because I get bored with the look or function. Case in point: Roof racks and lightbars.

I've gone back and forth on whether or not I want roof lights/rack on my truck. I started off with the OEM rack, the went to a Bajarack, then bald, then back to the Bajarack, then bald again, then back to the OEM rack. On one hand, I've used roof lighting once, but on the other, I like the look. I had a Bajarack with lightbar for a while and sold it, keeping the lights and harness. Then I decided I was going to do a retractable roof light system with an OEM rack and Ricochet airdam, which I still plan on, but money is super tight these days. This is more of a "proof of concept" to see if I even like the look.

So, back to the Hellas... They've been staring at me for a long time, so today I decided to do something about it. I started off with an OEM crossbar and a loose plan in my head, and away I went.

Taking one of the longer OEM crossbars, I moved it as far forward as it would go. Wasn't far enough. So, I took it off, unscrewed the non adjustable side and slid the mount off enough to use one existing hole and drilled a new one. The extra length allowed me to move the crossbar almost to the very front of the rack before it turns down.

Next, I got out I figured out what spacing I would need for my Hellas. I had a piece of perforated flat iron laying around so I put that on the bar and used the holes as my unit of spacing. After I figured out where the holes were going to be, I used a step drill bit in my drill press and drilled out my holes.

Then I threw all 4 lights on the bar and test fit it on the roof rack with the airdam in place... they were way too short. So, off to the hardware store.

Picked up a few things including 1.5" steel spacers, carriage bolts, wing nuts, nuts, etc. Sometime during my trip at Ace, I had a bright idea on how to make these lights fold down. I bought a 3 ft piece of 5/16" threaded rod, nuts and wing nuts. My theory was that I could run the threaded rod though all 4 Hella light bases with a nut on one side and a wingnut on the other. This would keep the lights all on one plane, add rigidity to the whole setup, and provide an easy way to fold the lights down manually.

I was worried that the stock crossbar might prove to be too flimsy, so I added a piece of perforated angle iron to the bottom of the rack. This adds rigidity and also gives me a location to zip tie my wiring harness to. You can see the steel deflecting upward where I tightened the bolts down. Not a big deal, but just wanted to point that out.

Now, before I go on, the OEM crossbar's major fault lies in its connection to the rack proper. There's only a hand tightened screw going into plastic on either side. I'm aware of this and am trying to think of a way to reinforce that area. I'm leaning towards 2 part epoxy in the crossbar joint, but I'm still thinking about it.

Anyway, after all that was said and done, time to mount it up for the test run.

Drove back to Ace (forgot something) with the lights folded down. Zero added noise. One the way back, I flipped them up to gauge noise, resistance, etc. Not much, I must say. I hit about 50 mph coming home, averaging about 30. The lights didn't budge at all. I know its not going to take a serious hit on the trail and come out unscathed. My thought is whatever does get hit by a branch, assuming the lights are up, will just get folded back. Overall, I'm pretty happy with how this is turning out. All I need to do is paint the angle iron and spacers, clean up my harness and reinforce where the crossbar meets the rack and I should be good to go...

... til I get bored with it anyways.
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nice job!
wow. that looks outstanding
That really looks good - I like that you can fold them back and they are mostly hidden by the Ricochet air dam...and a good way to protect them when not in use!
Nicely done. I thought about doing something like this long ago but then just decided to forego the roof lights. In fact, the only way I would add roof lights is if they could fold back or at least be aerodynamic. This makes the only sense to me since I'm not big into the "cluttered / tactical / show off look" and, as few people care to admit, most roof light setups are rarely used anyway.
Thanks for the compliments guys. I've been thinking about some slight adjustments to make this work a bit better.
Nice work. :bigthumb:
Awesome! Nicely done. When I have access to my tools again I'm gonna copy this...I hope you don't mind.

Sent from my Autoguide iPhone app
wow great craftsmanship looks amazing :bigthumb:
Awesome! Nicely done. When I have access to my tools again I'm gonna copy this...I hope you don't mind.

Sent from my Autoguide iPhone app
go right ahead.. I'd like to see any refinements you might have.
Awesome! Nicely done. When I have access to my tools again I'm gonna copy this...I hope you don't mind.

Sent from my Autoguide iPhone app
go right ahead.. I'd like to see any refinements you might have.
This, my friends, is how great partnerships in business are developed. :cheers:
well, last night after I took my pics, I pulled everything apart and painted some of the parts with flat black rustoleum after a quick shot of brake cleaner.

While doing that, I wasn't paying attention and was inadvertently tightening a bolt rather than loosening it, causing the crossbar to dent in. It's only aluminum, and its not too thick, so it can be squished rather easily. To prevent this, I had a few thoughts on how I could add reinforcement. What I settled on was a scrap piece of lumber that I hammered through one end.

I left a bit, about an inch, of overhang on each side and trimmed the rest off. As anyone with the stock rack knows, the plastic ends have a bit of wobble to them, even when fully tightened. To prevent this, I was planning on filling the area between the aluminum bar and plastic bracket with 2 part epoxy. But, I decided in true ghetto fashion to just wrap the end of the bar with a few layers of Gorilla tape, then wedged everything together. No pic of this, but we're all aware of how tape works

This took care of the wobble in the bar itself, really well in fact, but there is still some wobble where the crossbar attached to the rack itself. It's not a lot, but noticeable. I really don't think anything will happen, but I like to over-engineer when possible. In this case, I grabbed a few washers, my soldering iron and some heavy duty picture frame wire I had laying around and made up some safety wire thingys.

and here's where they go.

Remember how I added in that extra inch of wood on each side of the crossbar? I drilled a screw on each side and used that for an anchor point. Then, I anchored the other half to the top thumb screw. I measured out the length I needed, then gave each washer about 4 or 5 wraps with the wire, then pulled it tight and soldered the wire together. I don't think I used the right kind of solder... it kind of puddled up on top more than usual. I just kept the tip on it and eventually the wires bonded together. The wire isn't overly tight, but it's tight enough to prevent the bar from popping off while riding down the road in case the thumb screw fails. Due to the tension on the wire, and the fact that the lower anchor is attached to a long ass piece of wood, I don't see how this could possibly fail before I was able to stop.

After all that was said and done, it was time to redo my wiring harness. I'll admit, the first one I made for my Bajarack was made like a brick ****house, but it was ugly as hell. So, time to redo everything.

Used up the last of my black zip ties too. :flame: But it looks good.

and finally, reinstalled everything and here are a few more shots of everything.

and here's one showing the overall profile.

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Oh, one other thing. I already had the harness, lights, wiring, and Ricochet Airdam, but I did the rest for about 30 bucks.
Nice work!
This, my friends, is how great partnerships in business are developed. :cheers:
I only think it fair to share with the forum, since everything I know or have done to my FJ, I've learned here.

Just trying to pay it forward.
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