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Hello all, New to the forum, had the Fj for 5 years but just took the plunge into RTT world and placed the order for a smittybilt xl tent. I will mount on the stock rack for now and would like to thank all for this thread, very informative and very, very helpful. I can always count on the on the collective wisdom of these forums and I hope I can contribute soon helping someone else.
 

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OK! Just got the ball rolling.

My XL Tent will be delivered in 2 days but I started getting the rig ready for it. Since I got my FJ I wanted to level it, just kept putting off, with the tent on it's way, can't put it off any more.

Went and got me a pair of Belstein front shocks (under the advice of the good people of this forum).

Have read a lot of reviews, watched a lot of videos, looked for advice, called Smittybilt for pointers and went hunting for rack options. The best advice came in the form of posts and pix from this thread. Looking to mount my RTT on the Stock Rack and have come to some conclusions:
  • The tent (mine and seems almost all of the others with similar design) come with 2 rails that get attached to the bottom platform and are the link to attaching the tent to your roof (or trailer), a kind of aluminum "unistrut" channel.
  • Those are supposed to be installed lengthwise, they add some rigidity to the platform but mainly connect the platform to your roof or rack. Seems that the rigidity is not the main point cus' the 2nd platform (the one you unfold) does not get rails put on.
  • If you put the rails as it is recommended you will need cross bars of some kind unless your tent is set to open to the back of vehicle (then length wise and across the roof is the same thing).
  • If you put those rails across they act as your crossbars themselves and you only need to attach or connect them to your stock rack dealing with the slope at the point of connection due to the curve of the side rack elements.
  • The height of the rails is enough to cover the height change on the middle of the curve (the sidebar curve totals out to 1.25" or 30 mm height difference if you consider the total length in a leveled rig). You only have to account for the crocked point of connection with a shim/spacer (really minimal at that slope) so you don't put the rail under torsion stress.
  • This does away with those aftermarket crossbars (those Yakima R $$pen$ive) and the corresponding height adjusters (also pricey).
  • If you want to put more than 2 crossbars (or more than the 2 rails included with the RTT as crossbars ) you will have to deal with spacers of some kind to compensate for the curve.

As soon as I start install I will update just to put my conclusions and solutions out there for members to comment and take into account.

:laugh:laugh
 

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Re: Roof Top Tent on OEM Rack? THE PLAN

My RTT arrived without problems, the cardboard was pretty banged up, showed several impacts and tears, some of them looked like they went well into the packaging. I got a bit worried the tent base might show some damage but the thickness of the foam and the cardboard did the trick. The only damage it got was a nail that missed the pallet and dove into the aluminum sheet metal floor, no biggie.

Analyzing the way the tent is structured and some bad reviews (not recurring but still I notice they appeared more than once) the two aspects of the tent that have me worried are weight bearing capabilities of the floor panels (I am a heavy guy but I assure you that has nothing to do with my worries) and the fact that the stairs can slip the floor and kick out letting the section of the floor that folds out to drop to the side of your car and over-stress the hinges on the tent.

THE PROBLEMS TO SOLVE:
The tent only has 2 rails to be fixed to the bottom, and only to the part of the floor that gets attached to the roof rack, so to reinforce that floor panel I decided to install a third (possibly a 4th) rail reducing the distance between supports, additionally that would give me more points of contact/attachment to the roof rack (having only 4 points of attachment was also worrisome for such a big thing that could potentially catch air). After I talked to Smittybilt (very helpful and responded right away to e-mails too), I found they can sell me additional rails and hardware to match the ones I got with the tent.

Working out that plan got a bit complicated b'cus I have to deal with

:grim: THE CURVED RACK :grim:

I also want to find a way to reinforce the 2nd floor panel by some means, possibly putting telescoping legs at the 2 corners to help the ladder in supporting the weight on the inside of the tent (yes, my weight again). Just fixing the ladder slip will help but still it only supports the middle of the whole cantilevered panel.

:blueblob::blueblob:

THE PLAN:
I will substitute the original rails with 20 mm-14 Ga Unistrut rails (thinking 3 pieces would do the trick), these are readily available from any hardware store and there is a large variety of attachment pieces for many uses, they are somewhat inexpensive and, because they are cold form from steel, they are fairly stronger than aluminum (although also heavier). Because they are steel they will allow for easier adaptation to the curve via minor/simple welding. Also, extending the rails beyond the side edges of the panel will allow for attachment of accessories and and making sure the 2nd panel will not go beyond horizontal when opening the tent (it will give support to the panel to panel joint).

I want to use the remaining 2 aluminum rails to somehow improve the strength and rigidity of the 2nd panel, the corner poles are still being worked out.

Will keep updating the progress while I stack up my number of posts so I can get better access on the forum.

:grin:grin:grin
 

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My tent is finally mounted, I still have some details pending but overall is set.

During the process I found out a few things:
* Because I was adding a third crossbar, along with two extra mounting points, I figure to mount the middle rail right at the center and move the 2 other rails outside a few inches (closer to the edges). This DID NOT worked out, the inner structure of the floor panel leaves some areas with nothing but two thin aluminum sheet filled with insulation foam, no way a connection would worked, just installing the screw would have crushed the panel and/or ripped the panel off at those points at a minimal applied force. I found this out after drilling some holes that I will not use. I moved the rails back to the "pre-drilled" holes where I was sure the panel had some type of reinforcement and added a hole in the middle of the rail so each rail would have 3 screws instead of 2.

* I opted for using the supplied rails after all, just adding a tird one made of steel in the middle.

* I did make some connection brackets that both adjust the height differences and slope and at the same time help me distribute the weight better to the round bars to insure they would not easily buckle when tightening the supports. Here are some picks os the fabrication.

On the included pix you can see how I improvised curved plates (cut from 1-1/2" electrical pipe connectors) witch allowed space for rubber gaskets. Cut some in 1/3's for the underside and some in 1/2's for the top side then welded (badly welded) to the extra rail and to the height adjustment pieces of metal for the top parts and to the supplied conector plates for the bottom side.
 

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Yes you can, I did for two years before switching over last spring to the BajaRack MG rack for my Maggiolina.

IMO the tent sits to high on the stock rack, and it lets to much wind underneath to make it stable on the highway.

It sits several inches lower on the new rack.

The factory rack can take over 600 lb sitting on it when sitting still.
Most racks including aftermarket ones can take 150 lbs when the vehicle is moving.

My factory rack







The BajaRack model MG









Thank you, super helpful. The rack Gobi rack I really want is on back order for 22 weeks. I wanted to know if it will hold a tent plus me.
 
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