Optimizing Interstate roof storage
There have been a number of historical threads about roof storage, including these more heavily-traffic'd topics:
Airstream Interstate roof storage (2016; OP question about storing a dog pen up there (!))
AI roof structure (need to put stuff up there) (2017; specialized ham radio antenna)
Adding roof rack to Interstate EXT with existing awning (2016; how to add roof rack with top-mounted awning)
There have also been threads that deal less directly with roof storage, especially in the context of popular items such as kayaks, for instance.
What I'm posting about now is something of an inverse question. Rather than asking "How can I store item X on my roof?", I'm asking "Realistically, what SHOULD we, or COULD we, store on our roofs?"
Another poster (IIRC Lotus) recently found these clamps shown in the photo mix below. These are particularly important for T1N Interstate owners because they fit our stainless steel OEM roof rack. I do not believe that these were available (or they were so obscure that we could not find them) a few years ago when we affixed our solar panels to that OEM roof rack. LB_3 had to have our existing clamps fabricated, at least in part. And because of the expense and hassle of fabrication, we did not make extras for any other potential uses.
Having mass-produced clamps available at a low price opens up a world of untapped real estate for me. Especially on the trailing edge of the roof, I've got a nice swath of space which currently only holds my favorite aluminum step stool which is attached to one side of the roof rack with a rubber bungee and padded underneath with a small sheet of closed-cell foam - not efficient, not elegant, not an optimized use of that space. It's easy for me to access that area because I can stand on our hitch carrier - I don't even necessarily need a ladder. I'm wasting opportunity by not developing this area further.
With that in mind, what would YOU put up there, if this was your rig?
Also, I'm asking in the T1N context, but sooner or later we are going to see NCV3 owners adding Aluminess and whatnot to their roofs (Alex? Wachuko? :D), so this type of question does potentially have a more global application.
Edit: The referenced clamps are $13.95 per PAIR, not each. I just ordered them for future use... somehow.
I forgot to post the dimensions of the rear target area. Obviously it's an open space, so there's wiggle room, but conservatively, the usable space is about 12" x 12" x 36".
In doing research, where did I find this contender below? Not by looking at automotive products, not by looking at RV products, not by looking at truck products or van products. By looking in the ATV world. This bag is 10.5" x 11.5" x 36". Almost like it was made for that space.
It also has an internal tube metal frame, so it could be securely attached and I could also work up a security device to deter a quick theft scenario. Although I'd be much less worried about a roof bag than a Yeti cooler. It comes in black, so I would not have to deal with that camo. The bag itself only weighs about 10 pounds, so would not add too much weight to the roof.
Anyway, I'm considering it - it's on my Black Friday radar. Could hold less expensive non-heavy "get dirty" gear such as inflatable kayak seats, paddles, BBQ equipment, boots, tarps, etc. (right now, LB_3 stores his big rubber woodsman's boots inside the under-mounted spare tire!).
I wouldn’t store anything on the roof of my Interstate, because of how the bulk up there would affect mileage and because of how easy it is to scratch that paint and develop rust spots.
Just my two cents. :bb:
I've already done that without issue to the roof. I coated our roof with an elastomeric (Bus Kote) and padded the underside of key items with closed-cell foam (e.g., my large aluminum stepstool). I'm not worried about roof damage. I've seen none in almost two years of such use.
I'm not worried about wind resistance in a secure clamping scenario, given how this item will tuck behind our vaulted solar panel array which deflects air in that area. If anything, it might make the rig a microscopic bit more aerodynamic, by smoothing the sharp void space behind those panels (analogous to those rear panels that pop out on the backs of 18-wheelers when they get over a certain speed).
Strapping cargo bags to the roofs of motor vehicles is not a new thing by any means. The main thing potentially different in my scenario is the method.
Ahh, BusKote on the roof would make a difference.
Carry In - Carry out Garbage, collapsible ladder (since you can use the Yeti to reach the top), extra clothing/blankets, coveralls, dirty clothes when on extended trip, extra clothes for extended trip and season change
A DIY fool and her money are soon parted, especially during Thanksgiving week, LOL.
After reviewing the available inventories of that product and finding those inventories to be small at least at the lowest offered prices (i.e., seven left in stock from my target vendor), I ordered it. Should be here Monday.
Initially I was thinking something simpler like an ordinary duffel bag, but it sure would be nice to keep the contents dry (e.g., rubber boots). The reviews on that product (ATV Tek ASEBLK Black Hunting and Fishing Expedition Cargo Bag) are good in that regard.
Those clamps (yes, found them and used for my single solar panel) are pretty slick. BUT I’m not sure I’d use them for all that much weight/stress.
In my case the solar panel was mounted quite low, with part of the leading edge protected by the Fan housing cover.
But for lighter items, it should be pretty nice.
Getting stuff up and down from up there without a good ladder/footing would be challenging. heck- even with a ladder if bulky can be challenging. But of course I’m sure you know all about that, after your solar install. (Much, much bulkier than mine).
I personally probably won’t put anything else up there (except perhaps antenna). But batteries underslung may be in the future. Probably just a couple of AGM, since I don’t want to go the the expense of Li (with all the other changes required).
Something that is light (and I don’t currently have) is the ‘stinky slinky’ storage tube. That could be rather a pain to get back into place on the roof. (The original location is taken up by the leveling jacks on mine).
Perhaps some others storage tube for long stuff? Fishing rods, skis, antennas for use when parked etc?
The roof will take the weight of the bag, which I don't foresee exceeding about 25 pounds total. The clamps will provide a means for me to stabilize it. I could have achieved that same outcome some other way (I did for our inflatable kayak), but the clamps will help make it efficient and a bit more elegant and secure than bungee cords or velcro.
Work in progress, bag positioned on roof, without clamping system as yet to be added.
FIRST THOUGHT: It reminded me of a cat whose hair stands on end so that he can appear like a slightly-larger cat to potential attackers. Maybe if I appear like a slightly-larger Interstate, I can be perceived as a bit more invincible to reckless bum-hats on the freeway.
SECOND THOUGHT: I prefer this finished look to the rear end. Right now, standing at the back of our Interstate allows one to look up at the underside of the solar panels. This is dreadfully immodest, like looking up a lady's skirt. The bag hides the underside from view.
Remember, I can stand on that covered Yeti and reach into this without having to get a ladder or dismount it from the roof. It's a stretch, but I can do it, certainly for non-weighty items like boots and dirty clothes and life jackets and tarps and beach towels.
Attachment and security system pending. (And I need to straighten my magnetic WBCCI numbers obviously... wax job last weekend...).
Looks Nice and fits in
Now, before you crucify me, understand that the Telesteps 1400E is actually tethered to the hitch platform, and the hitch platform has non-skid stair treads on it. And the top of the ladder can be bungee'd to the roof rack as well, for added stability. It's actually safer to use in this application than it is free-leaning on open concrete.
I am SO PLEASED with how this ATV cargo bag project turned out. It was a pain to get it attached properly (see blog post), but very worth it.
ADDITIONAL ROOF STORAGE FOR THE AIRSTREAM INTERSTATE
<< pounds head on desk >>
I'm now packing for my first longer-term, off-grid trip with this ATV bag in place on our roof. We did not have it last year.
A game-changer that (as usual) I am lamenting not having implemented years sooner. Here's what I loaded into it:
(1) The spare 10 foot section of the Rhino dump hose. The regular-use section is contained in a new under-slung carrier for ease of access. I almost never need more than 10 feet, but you know that if I stop carrying both segments, a need will arise and I will be stuck. I sewed a sleeve for the second 10 foot section out of tarp material.
(2) My husband's nasty woodsman's knee boots. Nasty and massive. He uses them while chain-sawing.
(3) Contractor trash bags
(4) My complete large Kelly Kettle kit
(5) Wheel chocks
(7) Canvas firewood carrier
(8) Two PFDs, including one which is conventional foam rather than rip-cord inflatable. One of our two inflatables is inconveniently located 150 miles from us at the moment, and I don't have time to go get it. I wanted to buy a cheapie so that we are covered on the regulation.
Do you know what a cheap regulation life jacket costs? Ten bucks! Compare that to $100+ each for the fancy inflatables.
Point of perspective for those who might not otherwise consider conventional life jackets due to the obvious storage problem in the Class B:
If you are the type of T1N Interstate owner who just wants un-fancy life jackets in your vessel (canoe, kayak, whatever) for compliance purposes, you could actually buy [an ATV cargo carrier and all the peripherals for mounting it on your roof plus a pair of cheapie PFDs] for less money than you would spend on a pair of inflatables.
FYI a new surf rod rack solution:
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