Building a Custom Roof Basket

by: Beau Johnston

In 2009 I set out to design and build a roof basket for our 4Runner.  We chose to add a basket to the roof because we were about to embark on a 1600 mile road trip where we would be sleeping inside the 4Runner.  Because we would sometimes be getting into camp late, we wanted to reduce the amount of stuff we would have to shift around before we could sleep on the rear platform.  Moving our light/bulky items to the roof was a natural step.

I had some extra 1” x .049 wall 4130 Chromoly tubing lying around from a college project that would work perfectly.  I ran a quick calculation to determine the deflection of one tube if it were loaded as a simply supported beam and found it would deflect 1/16” under a 30lb load.  Since the cross tubes are fixed, they would deflect much less.  I figured the design would be able to handle the weight a full-size tire with out an issue.

I used SolidEdge to sketch up several itterations of the design before I was happy with how everything looked.  The design utilized the 4Runner’s factory roof track and would be bolted in the four corners.  I had planned on running either a pair of Hella 700FFs or cheap HIDs, so I made the light hoop able to accommodate these lights.  The HIDs are 8 1/4" in diameter and the Hellas are 7 1/4".  The basket sits about 1" to 3/4" off of the roof and is 6" tall at the back and raises 9-1/2" up at the front to protect my lights. It is 42" wide outside to outside and 60" long

The outside two are representative of the Hella 700FF, and the center one is representative of the HIDs from Checker Auto Parts.

I was lucky and had access to fabrication/welding equipment at work and a friend helped me weld everything up.  We used a 3/4" conduit bender to make the bends.  While we did have a couple kink on us, we were able to make all eight of the bends needed for the basket.  It did take both of us ‘hanging’ on the bender to get the required 90s.  What a pain!

After everything was welded and cleaned up, I applied a couple of coats of black spray paint.  Eventually I may coat it with bed liner, but  the black paint is easy to touch up.

Here you can see a detail of the feet that attach to the track.  I used the factory track nuts and new 6mm bolts with lock washers to hold everything in place.

I ended up modifying my IPF harness in order to lengthen the wire to reach the roof.   I ran the wires behind the weather strip on the A-pillar to above the rear door before where I then ran up to the basket.  Here is how I ran my wires:

I used an old Thule fairing to deflect the wind over the top.

Here are a few photos of the rack in use: