Removing Roof Rails

Removing Roof Rails

Postby Philly758 [OP] » December 13th 2011, 8:05pm

Todays idea... I am thinking about removing my factory roof rails/crossbars. In the past 2+ years the only time I ever used them was for a ski rack, which knocked me down 2-3 MPG's. I know I won't be seeing significant MPG gains with the rails/bars removed, but it couldn't hurt. Plus it would cut down on some wind noise on the highway. I am planning to seal the holes with: new ss or galv bolts as flush as possible, teflon tape on threads, neoprene or rubber gaskets, some black RTV or caulk if needed.

I was going to remove the rails today at lunch, but I did not have the correct size torx bit in my car. Planning to pick up a cheap torx set tomorrow to keep in my toolbox and get the rails off tomorrow. Hopefully I'll have the holes sealed by Thursday when it rains.

So, has anyone done this? Any advice or recommendations for sealing the new holes?
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Re: Removing Roof Rails

Postby FLSafari » December 13th 2011, 10:41pm

My rack is still on, however you could use rubber blanking grommets in the holes, like they do on cop cars when they want to cover up where the numerous aerials, light bars have been. Cheap and real simple to put on. May not be as cosmetically 'nice as sealing up the holes completely, but how many folks do you know venture up on these roofs?
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Re: Removing Roof Rails

Postby 88astroLT » December 13th 2011, 11:10pm

I'm not positive but I thought you didn't need to seal the holes because these vans have "gutters". At least thats what it said on a Astro brouchure i found on the internet.
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Re: Removing Roof Rails

Postby Philly758 [OP] » December 14th 2011, 12:35am

Tried some additional searches today and stumbled across this thread, viewtopic.php?f=11&t=6910#p60881. Would probably be exactly what I needed if the pictures came up. So I take away from this thread; nutserts in roof, T25 torx bit needed, minor MPG gains possible.

Also, if you search google for "Rough road roof rack, what NOT to do", the third option that comes up is a thread with some helpful pictures. After looking at these pictures I don't thing that I need to do much, as long as my nutserts and the metal around them are in good condition.
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- Lifted with 22-687 leaf springs and 2" blocks
- Cooper AT3 30x9.5's on Cragar Soft 8's
- Hellwig Rear Sway Bar
- TruCool Trans Cooler
- Corvette Servo
- Moog steering
- Bilstein HD's
- 3.73 G80
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Re: Removing Roof Rails

Postby alexalexanders » December 14th 2011, 3:40am

I would just go with some hardware that fits the hole well, i dont see any need for any type of sealant.
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Re: Removing Roof Rails

Postby Philly758 [OP] » December 15th 2011, 8:10pm

Removed my roof rails last night. The rails are held on by 12 ‘torx 25’ bolts (6 per side). There are 2 bolts in the front feet, 1 bolt in each of the middle feet and 2 bolts in the rear feet. The middle feet also have a ‘torx 20’ bolt, but this just holds the foot to the rail and does not go into the roof. Some of my bolts were super tight, specifically at the end feet… Since I was working with a torx screwdriver set getting any leverage was unheard of. I ended up using my trusty channel locks on the screwdriver handle and was able to get everything apart. Cross bars are held in place by one phillips head screw on each side.

With the rails off there are now 12 nutserts exposed, they are only a few mm above the roof metal. Under the feet it was a little dirty, the paint was a little scuffed, but I don’t think I will need to hit anything with primer. I picked up some 6mm X 10mm X 6mm set screws to thread into the nutserts. I wrapped them in teflon tape and screwed them in so that they were snug. This should keep them from rattling loose and keep water out of the hole. I went with set screws because there is no head, this keeps the nutserts/screw as low profile as possible. I might go through the car wash tomorrow as a test and see if I have any leaks.

The nutserts themselves are a little rusted/corroded, so as the very least I will need to sand those quickly and hit them with some paint to prevent them from getting worse now that they are 100% exposed. I am also going to search for some small plastic caps that can snap over the nutsert for protection and a clean look.

All in all I am very happy with the new look. Smoother cleaner lines and it makes the van look lower. There is definitely a little less cabin noise and I swear it is easier to maintain speed on the highway without killing my instant fuel economy. I had noticed with my wider/heavier tires and wheels that a slightly higher highway speed seemed to help my MPG’s, that combined with the removed roof rails and I think my new sweet spot for highway driving MPG’s is between 70-75mph. Before with the old tires and racks I was babying it between 65-70 to get similar readings.

Pictures coming soon…
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- Lifted with 22-687 leaf springs and 2" blocks
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- Hellwig Rear Sway Bar
- TruCool Trans Cooler
- Corvette Servo
- Moog steering
- Bilstein HD's
- 3.73 G80
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Re: Removing Roof Rails

Postby Corsemoto » December 17th 2011, 1:08am

On the factory crossbars, was there anything that locked them into the side rails to prevent them from sliding back and forth? I don't have anything on mine and according to the owner's manual, there should be some sort of lock mechanism for the crossbars.
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Re: Removing Roof Rails

Postby 88astroLT » December 17th 2011, 2:36am

Corsemoto wrote:On the factory crossbars, was there anything that locked them into the side rails to prevent them from sliding back and forth? I don't have anything on mine and according to the owner's manual, there should be some sort of lock mechanism for the crossbars.

There are bolts to lock the mechanism. Righty tighty lefty loosey.
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Re: Removing Roof Rails

Postby Corsemoto » December 17th 2011, 2:52am

Yeah, thanks. :clap: Nothing on mine to lock the crossbars in place. I see where the holes are in the sliders of the crossbars where they fit into the rail channels and where the bolts would tighten against the inside of the rails to lock in place.

Don't know why I didn't look up the diagram before now, #14 & #15. M6x1x20 bolts won't be problem. :lol:

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Re: Removing Roof Rails

Postby Corsemoto » December 19th 2011, 2:48am

With some M6x1x20 bolts in hand, I noticed the crossbar brackets inside the rails don't have the threaded blocks (#14) for the bolts to thread into and lockdown. Going to try and fab something up this week to fit as I need to be able to lock the crossbars for an upcoming project!
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Re: Removing Roof Rails

Postby Lumpy » December 19th 2011, 7:24am

Woodworking places sell "T bolts" and T track" and various kinds of nut-knobs
and other fittings.
http://www.rockler.com/c/jig-parts-t-tr ... =t%20bolts

The channels on our stock roof racks will fit all of the pieces perfectly.

I have some of the T track on my Astro ceiling. Mounted to that are
gauges, ham radio extension speakers etc. I can move the gizmos
any time I want by simply loosening a knurled knob, slide to the new
spot, then tighten the knob again.


Blue things running front to back in these pics is the T track.

Image

Image

You can do the same thing on the roof rack or anywhere else external or internal on the van.

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Re: Removing Roof Rails

Postby Corsemoto » December 19th 2011, 4:53pm

Thanks Lump, there's bound to be something on that site I can use, if not it will be pretty simple to cut and thread rectangular aluminum blocks to sit in the tracks and hold the rails in place. It's funny that I've had the van over five years and never noticed them missing before now. Only thing I ever had up there was a waterproof cargo bag strapped down for a hurrication.
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