Roof rack installation on my Jeep CJ5

About 9 years ago I bought a Confer roof rack for a CJ7 I had at the time. I ended up modifying the rear and replaced the stock tail lights with slim LEDs and there wasn’t enough sheet metal left in the rear to use the Confer brackets.

Along with a few other projects that never came to be, I just stuck the kit along the side wall in my garage and figured I would put it up on craigslist eventually. This past year I picked up a CJ5 which I am driving a lot more than I ever guessed that I would. I want to be able to throw my backpack, tent, and canoe up on top and go with ease, so I decided I would mod the CJ7 rack to fit on the CJ5 and install it. To be perfectly honest, I am a little on the fence about how I feel about roof racks on open-top Jeeps, but functionality wins over form with me for the most part.

The first immediate problem was that the rear brackets are designed to mount flush up against the tub sandwiched by the tail lights. On my CJ5, there is no tailgate, and instead there is a support that is raised out from the tub about an 1″ that was creating interference. If I were to cut that support to make it fit, I still had an issue that it would block the bottom of the soft top slot and I would have a hell of a time getting the rear of the top fastened like that. I opted to space the tail lights back 1″ using some square tube like this:

(All pics click to larger resolutions)

The next problem was the somewhat obvious one in that the lengths of the CJ7 and CJ5 are about 10-ish inches different. The lateral tubes are round, but flattened on each end where the bolts go through. I initially thought about taking out a section in the middle, leaving both ends intact, but I decided I would just try cutting off an end, and crushing the open end flat using my vice. Here is the first piece that I cut off.

After flattening the open end on the longer piece using the vice, drilling the, hole and doing a test fit, I confirmed that my mod was going to work perfectly. Here is a shot of a couple of the flattened ends.

Overall, the finished product came out pretty well, although I am still not sure how I feel about racks on CJs in general! Here are some pics: