We decided it would be good to upgrade a few things on my car before we drove out to California. The engine is one (that’s a biggie…more on that soon.) and there are a few not so big things we thought would be fun to do. One of those is rebuilding my roof rack, this is that tale.
I purchased my roof rack from a friend 6 years ago, who purchased it from Chirco about 8 years ago. The rack sees a lot of sun cause it’s blazin hot here in Tucson, AZ and my car is a true daily driver. That being the case the wood was worn and the finish on the rack was a bit faded. Now…I could have easily just ordered a new rack from Chirco, but I liked the look of the old wood and wanted to try something different….for me at least. So the first thing I did was take the roof rack off the car and then I had the guys in the shop help me remove the rivets. I did number the slats and put a direction indicator on the frame so I knew which slat went where.
It actually wasn’t too difficult. We just got a drill and put in a bit that was a little smaller than the rivet and drilled them all the way through from the bottom. The first couple I did went slow, but by number 4 or 5 I had rivet heads popping off like corks on New Years.
Next I took the wood slats home and sanded them a little. I used a fine grit which worked well for me. I wanted to keep the texture of the wood intact. The age was the coolest part to me. After sanding I wiped the slats down with a moist cloth to get the dust off, then I let them dry.
While the slats dried (2.2 seconds here.) I ran to Lowes and picked up some stain. It was like $5 which was cool. I picked a stain that had a golden touch to it, but I knew my slats would come out darker. The wood was so aged, unless I wanted to add a layer of light primer then stain it just wasn’t going to be light anymore and I was fine with that. (Note: if your neck is hurting it’s Minwax Golden Oak Stain.)
I did a few tests on the backs of the slats just to get my technique down. I tried applying with a brush and I also tried getting startled by my dog and pouring stain on. (I do not recommend this method.) In the end though I liked how it went on with just dipping a rag and wiping it on the wood.
Here’s a before and after look. You can see how the golden stain comes out a little while enriching the entire piece. I was pretty happy at this point. I apologized to my dog and he accepted. (I always apologize with bacon!)
I stained each piece front and back, and let them dry for about an hour, then I did a second coating and hung them up to dry overnight. (Yes, I need to trim my palm trees…leave me alone. )
The next day I took the slats and gave them a healthy healthy urethane coating. It’s cool cause this stuff sprays on white and dries to a crystal clear. I was going to stop after the first coating but Frank, (Chirco sales associate) suggested I go heavier so it would be more durable. Frank was right.
Now I had to get the frame ready. I knew I wanted to use carriage bolts so I had my buddy Ed open the holes a little bit more on the top side. That way the carriage bolt head would sit flush on the frame. (…those are “Safety Flip-flops”. )
I scotch brite scrubbed the frame…a little ghetto, but then again, that works for me. I didn’t want to powdercoat it, I just wanted to get it back on the car. I had lost 2.7% of my cool factor so I decided to go with just paint.
I used a basic spray paint I got at Ace. It only cost me like $6 and a lengthier than it needed to be story about dating a girl who had a VW in high school but left the guy for some other kid who just got a new Camaro z28, but he crashed it and the girl came back, but it was too late because he was dating her friend, but her friends mom didn’t like him….. (If you own an aircooled VW, you totally understand this strangers telling you stories phenomenon.)
I laid down some newspaper very carefully and began to paint.
It was a bit windy that day and in retrospect, newspaper like milk, was a bad choice, however…I got it done.
The carriage bolts fit perfectly and it went back together real smooth. Once again, I did number the slats and put a direction indicator on the frame so I knew which slat went where.
Here’s a couple “Ka-Chow!!” shots.
Overall I was pretty happy with the finished look. I did the same thing to my decklid rack and they both look great!