Even before settling on the Smittybilt tent, I had decided the roof rack I wanted to go with was the Congo Cage from Kargo Master. I had a chance to see one up close, spotting it on a sweet Rubicon near where I live. For me the first draws were aesthetics. The bars are positioned more inboard than outboard of the jeep body. Rather than hug that outside line, they go over the top of the Jeep. The second factor was the load rating. Boasting a 500 pound rating, I had no worries this rack would be sufficient for the tent and occupants. I do suspect however that similar products with a 300 pound rating may be listing as such because liability and safety. The last thing that provided what I wanted were the mounting options. Forward mounds utilize the Frame pillar base while the rear mounts are a combination of existing mounting holes behind the tail lights and required only two new holes to be drilled in to the tub. This makes for setup that does not attach to the frame of the Jeep and won’t interfere with a body lift (If I ever chose to do so).
As with any package full of steel parts, its probably going to look a little rough when it arrives. This was the case with mine! Lucky for me, I was most interested in the contents of the box. On opening, each part was checked over and looked sufficient.
As I pulled the parts out of the box it became clear that this simple design was great for just about anyone with a basic set of tools. The supplied hardware is SAE.
The biggest concern for most TJ owners that want to install this rack is going to be removing the mounting hardware around the windshield hinge. The Torx head bolts are notoriously difficult to get out. When assembled in the factory a threadlock was used and the fasteners painted over. In my case, I ended up drilling out the heads and using an E-Z-Out extractor. It worked perfect and only took a few minutes. Another option would be an impact driver set. Harbor freight generally has one in the 10.00 range. Coupled with the right size Torx bit this tool should free the bolts with no problem either.
With installation of the front and rear mounts slated for this weekend, I took to assembling the main structure.The directions provided are clear with all components and quantity’s documented well. This portion of the build only requires 8 bolts to be put in. I left them a little lose and will tighten everything up when its on the vehicle.
With the overhead bars assembled I set my mind on the weekend and growing list of necessary work. In addition to the Congo Cage brackets I also have a new upstream O2 sensor to install, differential fluid to check and maybe a CB? We’ll see. I may be getting ahead of myself. Oh… I also bought another XJ…