JK’s are not exactly known for having massive amounts of cargo space, and once you install a fridge and drawer, it get’s tough to fit
chairs, beds, 50 gallons of water, showers, and toilets an “overlanding” load out into the truck.
For almost a year and a half, I ran a GOBI Stealth roof rack on the JK with mixed results (a comparison is in the works). Long story short, I no longer own the GOBI and have decided to replace it with a Slimline II from Front Runner Outfitters.
Purchasing a rack from Front Runner is straight forward (aka customer service is awesome) and shipping on all of their roof racks is free. The rack itself comes professionally packaged in a single box, and a FedEx guy would have to drive over the package itself to cause damage. Be aware though, the rack does arrive in the form of a giant erector set, so assembly is required.
The first step of the install is for you to read the instructions, I’m serious on this one. You’ll be drilling holes in your hard top and now is not the time to screw up. So sit down, have a thorough read through and then organize your parts/hardware to make sure you have everything. If you decide to ignore this recommendation, have fun crying into your Ed Hardy t-shirt.
Be advised, I’m going to cover the installation process of the roof rack, but in no way should this replace the factory directions.
What You’ll Need:
- 13mm Wrench and Socket
- T40 Torx
- 6mm Drill Bit
- 22mm Hole Saw
After you’ve gotten organized, you’re going to start by installing the rear and middle support arms for the rack. Line them up on the roll bar (don’t make them 100% tight yet), mark your holes, then drill some pilot holes. This is probably the part of the installation where you want to take the most time, screwing up here can leave you with a hard top looking like Swiss cheese.
After you have your pilot holes in place, put the tray support in place and double check everything. Then go to town drilling out the holes. After the holes are drilled, tighten the interior brackets and bolt down the tray supports using all of the included hardware. The Front Runner kit includes foam washers to keep water out of the truck, so far, everyone I’ve talked to hasn’t had issues with leaks. I’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on this though.
Pro Tip: When drilling the holes, have a partner hold a shop vac under the roof to catch all of the debris.
After you’ve completed the rear, you’ll need to go work on the front support arm. This part of the installation is easy and straightforward. You’ll start by removing the bolts from the plastic corner plates and then position the new pieces from Front Runner over them. The corner plates stay on the vehicle, but make sure not to drop them as you line everything up. Finally, make sure you apply the tape in the correct places so you don’t destroy your paint.
Once all of the support arms are in place, you’ll need to install the tray. Start by assembling the tray (you can do this before or after the install of the arms) and then with a friend or forklift, position it on top of the truck.
Once you bolt down the tray, make sure everything is tight and take your Jeep out for a shakedown cruise. After driving a few miles, torque the rack down one more time and you’re good to go.
The total install time is about 3 hours, and can easily be done with 2 people. Let us know if you have any other questions and keep an eye out for the initial review in the next few weeks.
Photos and installation courtesy of Forge Specialties.