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Old 05-24-2016, 09:07 PM   #1
TremonteHB
 
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Default How-To: Gen1 Frontier rack to Hardbody

Here's a quick How-to on mounting a Frontier Crew Cab rack on a King Cab Hardbody. The pictures are after the fact and for a general reference on what I did to achieve this.

The rack factory dimensions are: outside length 51", front pad width 44", rear pad width 42".

Parts needed:
2ft - 1.5in EMT (lowes, home depot, etc)
20 - 3/16" aluminum rivets
8 - 1/4-20 steel rivnuts (Fasenal or Amazon, 100qty for $10)
8 - 1/4-20x1.25 buttonhead or sockethead bolts
8 - 1/4 stainless washers
8 - 1/4 stainless lock washers
All-weather silicone
23/64 drill bit
duct tape
rivet tool
threaded insert tool for rivet nuts(Harbor Freight, $20)

Start by placing the rack on the truck to check alignment and to get a general measurement on how much to cut out. In my case, 11 inches was perfect and the feet ended up straddling the rain channel for clean mounting.



Make sure to cut at least 6" in front of the last radius. See above. You only need to remove the rear crossbar once ready to cut and modify.

Cut two 12" lengths of 1.5" EMT. File all ends of tubing on the rack and EMT to deburr.



Put 2-3 wraps of duct tape on each end and in the middle of each piece of EMT. This is to make up the difference of play when inserted into the rack tubing for a tight fit and support.



Insert the EMT all the way to the rear radius, then fit the front section.



Place the newly shortened rack on the cab.



Take measurements and line up evenly. I had 3" from the air deflector consistent to the windshield, and 1.5" from the front feet to the edge of the door frame. This was on an 86.5 HB. Make sure to press down on the rack to seat the rack feet flush to the cab if needed.





Mark a centerline across the splice section and mark each mounting hole on the roof. Make no mistakes here!

Take the rack down and pop rivet the sections together with the 3/16" rivets, on the inside and bottom out of view.





Now it's time to disassemble the crossbars and air deflector to do your sanding and painting. If your cuts do not line up nice and flush, you can use automotive body filler or JB Weld to hide the gaps.

Roof mounting.....

Use a center punch to set your drill points on the roof, or a small pilot bit if no punch is available. Drill out each of them to 23/64, which should be the general diameter of the rivnut. TEST BEFORE DRILLING!!! There will be 2 layers of metal to drill through. You can cut a small piece of tubing or pvc pipe to use as a drill stop if you are not confident on avoiding the headliner.

Also, make sure to deburr your holes so the rivnuts fit flat to the roof.
When ready, simply thread the rivnut onto the tool, insert in the hole, and squeeze the handle. They don't completely compress all the way in one shot with this tool, so you may have to squeeze twice. Just lightly press the handle, turn the rear knob until it snugs back up, and squeeze again.

Here is how they work.......









Once you are ready, put some antisieze on your SS bolts and mount the rack. Do not fully tighten at this time. Leave enough play incase you need some wiggle room. Once all is good, remove one bolt at a time and fill the slot with silicone and re-tighten the bolt. Repeat on all 8. Now reinstall your crossbars and air deflector.

You now have a genuine Nissan rack installed on your Hardbody! Enjoy!



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Old 05-24-2016, 09:51 PM   #2
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note: if you take a good measurement of the inside you can find actual tubing or pipe that is true OD that equals the ID of the rack. thus, no need for that duct tape and what not.


or for that matter, if you can get the tubes out of the feet, you can probably get the right diameter tubes pre-bent at the proper length.
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Old 05-24-2016, 10:44 PM   #3
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The rack tubing is 1.83" ID. No such OD tubing, unless you want to special order 46mm OD tubing, for still a less than snug fit.. 1.5" EMT is 1.75" OD. Trust me, I checked. Plus, being an electrical contractor, I have an entire rack full of the stuff. All the tape is for is to prevent twisting while you drill and keep things lined up.

I thought about rebending the pipe as well, but it's just doesn't fit that great in the bender. That was my first means, and I was afraid of kinking the aluminum since the compression shoes just didn't give me a firm enough bite.
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Old 05-24-2016, 10:53 PM   #4
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what is EMT? 1 1/2 nominal pipe is 1.900 OD. id assume you can sand down .06 or use some grease to get a nice tight fit.
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Old 05-24-2016, 10:59 PM   #5
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A good tip when drilling into sheet metal is to use a unibit (also called a step drill bit), they don't grab the metal like standard bits want to do.
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Old 05-25-2016, 01:15 AM   #6
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EMT is electrical metallic tubing. Thin walled like regular tube, but steel and galvanized so it is resistant to rusting. Very common, fairly strong, and very affordable. The point of the tube doesn't have to be extremely tight, just a snug fit to help handling until it's permanently fastened. If you want to spend 2 days sanding a larger pipe down to a perfectly round, tight as hell fit, go for it. Like stated at the beginning, this is a general how-to. I would love to have welded if i had the skill and confidence to do so with such thin aluminum as the rack is constructed of. Maybe next time. You can see by the photo, the rack is perfectly lined up and can barely tell where the joint is. This was just a quick sand and spray, no patching. A horizontal/vertical bandsaw does that for ya. If i can stand on the rear crossbar without flexing the rack, I think it will do. (just shy of 200lbs)

Unibits are great little tools. I use them for cleaning up and countersinking when needed. Although, it's not a good choice for drilling in the locations where the rack ends up. The roof is double lined at these points and spaced about 3/8" apart. Just a hair too narrow for the rivnut to seat all the way down. So, you have to use a regular bit to finish the job. A steady hand, slow drill speed and sharp bit will always leave a nice, clean hole. But, I have to assume that a lot of people will either not have the right size bit and try to ream it to the right size, or will drill full speed ahead and leave boogers on the edges.
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Old 05-25-2016, 01:19 AM   #7
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I used to have the rivnuts that had the knurled outside, the seem to grip better. They also make 1 piece and a 2 piece rivnut. The 1 piece one's seem to work better.
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Old 05-25-2016, 02:23 AM   #8
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I must say, I was pretty impressed before you did the how-to. Now it's just downright admiration. Excellent workmanship, thank you for taking the time to share.
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Old 05-25-2016, 06:12 PM   #9
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Hey now, it was my idea for him to do the write up! Yes though totally agreed, excellent job.

I still wonder how the hell did you sand / paint to get it to look like there is NO LINE where you cut. It looks like bended stainless!
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Old 11-20-2016, 11:40 AM   #10
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Nice job on those racks. I also had the idea of using the running boards off an 02 frontier . since I cant weld aluminum I haven't done it, now I can. That's a pretty clever way of joining the two halves together.
They look great on the truck.
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