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Old 09-14-2016, 12:44 PM   #1
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Roof Rails- Yakima vs Thule.. Thoughts?

So the time has come to put crap on the roof. What do you all prefer for the rail system + cross bars. What have you been happy with, and what do you not like. My plan is to put a solar panel up there and maybe a bike or two. I have an electric top.
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Old 09-14-2016, 12:50 PM   #2
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SWhat have you been happy with, and what do you not like.
I do not like rediculously overpriced steel pipe or square tube, such as the apparently gold plated stuff both Yakima and Thule sell. Granted, I have and have had a ton of Yakima and Thule roof bits. On my old van I went to the steel supply house and got 1" square tubing, painted it and installed with L brackets I made from 1" sections of angle iron. It's no heavier than a Thule or Yakima setup and it is flat and more streamlined. No noise on that roof and I probably have $25 in it.

If you do go Yakima or Thule save yourself a ton and look on Craigslist first.

Also, I recommend 3 bars vs. 2. These vans are LONG, even the regular body ones.

Here are my homemade bars. I would like to do them out of aluminum next time but they weren't very heavy


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Old 09-14-2016, 12:51 PM   #3
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I like my new system.. Ten foot sections of Unistrut P1000EA (Aluminum) running down both sides. Then I have the ability to add whatever I want, wherever I want, without any further holes. Moving solar forward or back, change solar panels, adding antenna with a ground plane (as I just did), etc, is super easy.

You could also add Yakima or Thule bars to the Unistrut if'n you wanted.

And it looks super clean.. you can barely see the Aluminum on my silver van:
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Old 09-14-2016, 12:53 PM   #4
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Note: The P1000EA isn't gold plated, but not far off! If I recall correctly it's like $150 for a 20' piece.
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Old 09-14-2016, 12:54 PM   #5
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On my old van I went to the steel supply house and got 1" square tubing, painted it and installed with L brackets I made from 1" sections of angle iron. It's no heavier than a Thule or Yakima setup and it is flat and more streamlined. No noise on that roof and I probably have $25 in it.

Great advice!

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I like my new system.. Ten foot sections of Unistrut P1000EA (Aluminum) running down both sides. Then I have the ability to add whatever I want, wherever I want, without any further holes. Moving solar forward or back, change solar panels, adding antenna with a ground plane (as I just did), etc, is super easy.

You could also add Yakima or Thule bars to the Unistrut if'n you wanted.

And it looks super clean.. you can barely see the Aluminum on my silver van:

That is a perfect looking setup. I forgot to mention my recovery boards which I will throw up there too!
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Old 09-14-2016, 12:55 PM   #6
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Seems that Yakima and Thule offer pretty much the same items with the main difference being square crossbar vs. round crossbar.

I was going to install rails when I had an SMB but never got around to actually doing it. But I was also a little bit discouraged when I found out that the rails weren't 100% parallel or something with the way they had to be installed on the top. I was then looking into installing the bolt on rain gutter mount (like what a lot of the Westy guys use). You just can't adjust where the bars go once they are installed.
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Old 09-14-2016, 12:58 PM   #7
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I went with gutter mount Yakima for my 10'6" paddle board for now. Full walk on Aluminess rack is in my far future.

Nice ride rallypanam! Hood vents?
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Old 09-14-2016, 01:00 PM   #8
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I had the Yakima tracks on top. The sun made the plastic covers over the bars crack. I also had an issue with tracks vibrating loose. The end caps also cracked and fell off of a few of the bars. Maybe there is a new design since 2006. Finally had an Aluminess rack put on top & put the Yakima stuff on my trailer. I wanted off road lights all around the van anyway. Never looked into the Thule products.
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Old 09-14-2016, 01:02 PM   #9
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Nice ride rallypanam! Hood vents?
Yes. Not super useful hood vents, but there's no going back!
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Old 09-14-2016, 01:10 PM   #10
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That is a perfect looking setup. I forgot to mention my recovery boards which I will throw up there too!
It's clean and easy.. and flexible.

I added this antenna earlier this year, couple aluminum sticks and some sheet metal, and now I have a ground plane on my fiberglass roof:



And if anything ever changes, a couple bolts can remove any piece and replace it with something else.
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