Custom Truck Roofrack

Custom Unistrut roofrack for my Nissan Navara

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Summary

Since moving to a rural smallholding I’ve had no end of use out of my Nissan Navara pickup truck. It’s hauled ton after ton of random objects and building materials wherever I’ve needed it to, (even my remote cabin site!). The chassis almost split in half, but it’s been repaired and continues to be a key workhorse.

As part of extending this use I built a custom roof rack for it and installed a winch. This project details the roof rack build.
Custom Truck Roofrack
Status: Completed
Updated: May 23rd 2023

Tagged: Maker, Welding


Custom Unistrut Roofrack

Unistrut is a great thing. It comes in many forms, but for this project I chose 40mm C channel as it means I can use lots of different fittings to connect things to my truck roof.

I started out by laying out the steel in the dimensions which made sense for my Nissan Navara. I wanted to be able to carry long loads (4m+), so I ended up with this design which is just over 3 meters long. I also made sure that the interior dimensions of the back rectangle were just larger than an 8×4 standard sheet – this means with the legs (below) in place you can sit several sheets of ply/board in the recess for a more secure load.

For the front end I used 40mm box section welded completely to avoid the whistling noise some roof racks produce when driving fast on the motorway, (this worked, to an extent).

Truck Roof Rack Project: Image #1

Once welded I coated the frame with scratch resistant black spray paint. (If I was to do this again I’d use marine paint, as I’ve found it much hardier to knocks and weather.)

Truck Roof Rack Project: Image #2

To connect the roofrack to the open bed of my pickup truck I decided to build a set of legs which would sit on the bed and connect to the existing C channels in the truck.

I made some very simple brackets by bending some flatbar. This way I could use existing tie-down fittings which allowed quick release if needed.

Truck Roof Rack Project: Image #3Truck Roof Rack Project: Image #4Truck Roof Rack Project: Image #5

These I coated in marine paint.

Truck Roof Rack Project: Image #6

Here are the legs all welded up.

Truck Roof Rack Project: Image #7

Time for a test fit – the secure attachments to the truck bed worked well, so I went ahead and painted these legs with marine paint after this shot.

Truck Roof Rack Project: Image #8

The finished roof rack. I have since carried all manner of things from heavy beams to long timbers. It’s lasting well and shows very little wear and tear, (mostly scratches on the unistrut paint so far).

Truck Roof Rack Project: Image #9

Things I’d do differently if I built another

I am happy enough with this roof rack that I don’t think I’ll build another anytime soon. But if I did, I’d change a few things:

  • Use marine paint or galvenise the whole thing
  • Rethink the back legs to avoid blocking use of the bed if possible
  • Design a better attachment to the existing roof bars

See also: Truck Winch build

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I’ve made a lot of things in my life, and I intend to make a lot more. My biggest goal is to make a good and happy life.

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