Roof crossbars FINALLY!!

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Well-known member
Jan 3, 2017
Southern California
I couldn't take it any more. I wasn't about to drop $500+ on claptrap upon contraption upon plastic for a set of rails for the bolt, so, just this afternoon, this happened.

I bought a $46 set of crossbars from Amazon for a Nissan Pathfinder, striped the paint from the ends, cut them to length and angle, and TIG welded them to some goofy looking aluminum plates I cut from some scrap 6061 with the vertical band saw. No sense CNC cutting these this time. The originals were injection molded plastic, so I wasn't worried. The result? An ugly (uglier than a Yakima?) set of aluminum crossbars that weighs practically nothing and are solid as a rock.
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I had spent a LOT of time trying to find good streamline tubing - Turns out the aircraft people have a lot of this stuff, but it's at aircraft prices. They also have chromoly streamline tube, but at $20+ a foot to buy a single 20' length, I can't hack it. The stuff I'm using is pretty rugged - The extrusion has two internal stiffening webs, which makes it quite rugged, and it's got a .090 wall overall. And it's already roof rack.

I was going to machine some fancy solid aluminum mounts that looked all slick, but decided against throwing too much energy in to something that I might not be able to get the same tubing for in the future. The ghetto way would be round tube, but I won't stand for the wind noise.

Now to see about these supposed "withering" range reductions from having the skybox up there. When I had it on my Spark EV (looked pretty ridiculous / awesome) I have to say I had a hard time seeing this reduced range. It was there, no doubt, but the effects were way more subtle than what most people have predicted, and I think that probably only a small number of people have used roof boxes, so we'll see what happens.

Now, as for the rack, I'm not making any of these for anybody. I'll post measurements if anybody wants them, but I think I'm off by a few mm on one of them, so i'll have to correct that, and compounding that, I think I may have had some issues accurately cutting the ends square since the tubing had a bow, and I just used a chop saw..

Welding was fine, way easier than expected, given all the paint I had to take off. Contamination from that was a huge concern, so I was very fastidious about removing every last nasty bit of paint I could, inside and out, and it paid off.

The design is ugly. I wanted it to be as strong as possible, so I oversized the vertical supports relative to the crossbar so I could blob down a huge weld bead, and it actually looks better than I thought it would.

I'm not going to paint it, at least not yet, because I want to be able to keep an eye on the welds....aluminum being what it is, but I'm hopeful because of how clean they went down that everything is fine.

I have that 1000 mile road trip coming up over July 4th, so hopefully I can stress test everything before.

And thanks to the poster about their recent Oregon trip - I sure wish they'd get that DCFS in Yuba City or one in Oroville - I have to go way up the 70 with no promise of charging when I get there!

Also, GM, get us our OEM crossbars!!!!

Thanks for sharing this! They aren't pretty, but I trust you are keeping an eye on them. Good thinking, keeping paint off for now so you can watch the welds. Shame on GM for not providing an OEM solution, and requiring such custom work-arounds. Good on you for rising to the challenge!
Thanks for sharing. Considering a similar build myself to accommodate a set of older Thule square bars and canoe rack I have on hand.

Things I'd do differently:

1. Make the front bar lower, so the box sits level and doesn't have aero lift.

2. Figure an adjustment to tighten the feet outward against the roof rails and a lock to keep them there.

3. Angle the feet inward so as to follow the flow of the lines of the side of the car.

jack vines
Looks awesome! Is the bottom of the pod level, or close to level? It looks to be tilted up at the front, a bit - which would hurt the drag.

Any chance you could link to the set you bought on Amazon?