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:

Relaunched HikeTheCanyon.org on OpenBD and GAE

Around a year or so ago, I inadvertently took hikethecanyon.org offline in a server move.  Considering that it is a very low traffic site that is little more than a scrapbook of hiking pictures and descriptions, there is no active user community to send me nasty messages begging for me to bring it back online.  Finally this past weekend, I spent a bit of time and revived the code base off an old server, moved all the images out to Amazon S3 and brought the site up running under OpenBlueDragon on the Google App Engine.  Other than a very rudimentary Lightbox drop-in I did on the gallery to replace a no-longer functioning Flash image gallery, I didn’t actually touch the codebase or the design.  So if it looks dated to you, that is because it is!

For those interested in hiking, you may want to give it a look.  It documents a hike of the Grand Canyon that I took with my dad in 2005 with a very detailed trip report and over 300 pictures.  Enjoy!

HikeTheCanyon.org – Rim-to-Rim through the Grand Canyon on North Kaibab and the Bright Angel Trail

Back from paradise

Wow…. like splashing icy water on my face, my alarm clock went off at 5:00am this morning solidifying the fact that I was back from one of the most awesome and surreal weeks of my life. After being pampered and catered to as we hopped around the Caribbean, I am back at my desk. I will probably have to make at least one more blog entry about the trip after I post my pics and video so please bear with me, but I wanted to at least post that I was back.

Leaving Albuquerque

We are over 500 miles into our trek to the Grand Canyon.  It is Sunday morning and we are just about to leave the Comfort Inn in Albuquerque, NM, where we stayed the night.  Yahoo Maps says that we have just over 400 miles to go so it looks like we will be at the canyon with plenty of time to do a little rim sight seeing.  Tomorrow morning a man will be taking us on a 4.5 hour shuttle trip around to the North Rim.  We will be crossing the canyon at Marble Canyon.   It is the only place that cars can actually cross for hundreds of miles.  It should be a pretty cool view!.  Tomorrow night we will be sleeping on the North Rim, then dropping down on Bright Angel Trail on Tuesday morning.  I will update when I can.

Grand Canyon… It’s on!

My father and I decided that this was the year that we would hike the North Rim to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. I know this seems crazy, but it is actually a paperwork challenge to be able to hike the Grand Canyon. There is an application process in which you have to fax your request in the 1st day of the month 6 months before the intended date of your trip with a detailed itinerary, including where you will be sleeping and when. We sent faxed our paperwork in and held our breath on the 1st of April, 6 months before we hoped to go in September. After no word for a month we finally contacted them, only to find out that we had been rejected. Discouraged, but not beaten, we laid out the calendar to see if there was another time that would work. We decided that November would be acceptable, albeit a little colder. It should be in the 60s in the bottom of the canyon though where we will spend the majority of our time. Once again, we laid out our itinerary and faxed in on July 1. My dad received a letter today dated July 6, 2005 telling him that they were sorry, but they were unable to accept out application. He spent a good hour walking around the house cussing and feeling terribly disappointed. A bit later my mom noticed there was another letter from the Grand Canyon dated July 7, 2005.

Dear Mr. Shuck, we have accepted your request to hike the Grand Canyon on the dates of November 1, 2 and 3, 2005. Enlcosed are your passes, which you will need to affix to your backpack and carry with you in the canyon. There is no need to stop by the back country headquarters before departing on the trail.
So in 3.5 months, I will be taking this in….