Unanticipated icy conditions on even major roads have extended rush hour backups and delays north and northeast of Baltimore Friday evening.
That’s the understatement of the year. I left work in Hunt Valley at 5:45p. I pulled into my drive (a little ways over the PA line) at just before 8p. My commute normally takes about 20-25 minutes.
I spent a lot of the drive home in 4×4 with two wheels over on the (grass) shoulder of the road. I still slid all over the place. You could have four wheel drive or 8 wheel drive…. doesn’t matter. Ice is ice. Lots of people sliding off the road or stuck at the bottom of hills.
I actually tried to help someone at first… but she freaked out and started screaming at me when i approached her car. Learning once again the lesson that no good deed goes unpunished, I returned to my Jeep and concentrated on getting my now selfish ass home.
I saw my first (and last) SHA salt truck at 7:20p on Old York Road. This thing obviously caught everyone off guard.
Holy flipping shit, what a f**king pain in the ass.
That about sums up the quality and install of the Olympic Top Hat Roof Rack for my Jeep Cherokee in a nutshell.
As mentioned before, this rack arrived a little over three weeks ago. I have spent a large portion of the past three weekends getting this… thing installed on my jeep. It got the to point this past Saturday when I ‘lost it’ (just a bit) and attacked the bastard with various implements including, but not limited to, a dremel armed with a collection of carbide bits, an angle grinder and the omnipresent BFH**. The wife suggested I return it. Actually, it was more like ‘For the love of God! Will you just take the goddam thing apart and send it back!’. She just didn’t understand; By this point it had become all about the principal of the thing.
I knew I had a problem when I first opened the box. There’s just too many parts for a roof rack. Another suprise lies in the fact that the front of an XJ roof is wider than the rear of an XJ roof. Olympic knows this, they even mention it in the install directions (which is all ambiguous text and very few pictures). Do they do anything about it? hell no. The crossbar they give you for the back (which is too wide for the back) is the same size as the Crossbar for the front (which is too short for the front). In fact, they’re the exact same crossbar. This leads to even more fun later in the install.
The basket assembly was almost as fun. The holes rarely lined up so many had to be re-drilled and otherwise ‘adjusted’. Then I ran across something which makes me wonder if Olympic ever even bothered to assemble the product themselves. The top and bottom of the basket are connected by 10 support bars. The instructions call for each support bar to be installed in this order: Eye bolt, washer, top basket bar, washer, spacer, washer, bottom basket bar, washer, nut. Problem is, and its a fairly decent problem, with all those washers and the spacer, there’s barely enough thread left to install the nut. Barely doesn’t sound too bad until you realize that 6 of these support bars have to attach the basket to the crossbars as well. It just doesn’t fit. The eye bolts are not long enough to reach. in the end I had to lose the two insides washers on all 10 bars and grind all the spacers down to get enough thread for the nuts.
The next challenge was getting the bolts in the basket to line up with all 6 holes in the crossbars. That sucked.
I had to resort to using ratchet straps to compress the bars and attempt to bring the holes into alignment. Not an easy thing to do since a couple of the support brackets where just welded on wrong. A good composite shot of the ratchet straps, hole misalignment and really bad welding job can be found right here. No seriously, this picture shows just how bad the product is. Go look at it. I’ll wait. This is pretty much the point where I said screw it, broke out the dremel and wound up about 30 minutes later with a jeep covered in metal shavings (and a installed roof rack).
(side note: that reminds me… While working on the rack I had a bit of a slip while using the dremel on high speed which caused it to kick back into my hand. It travelled from about midway down my pinky finger until it bound up in the leather near the palm of my Craftsman mechanics gloves. What would have easily been a trip to the emergency room (or at the very least a lot of duct tape) was avoided by a $20 pair of gloves. Boys and girls, never, EVER skimp on tools or safety equipment. It just ain’t worth it).
The paint sucks also. A tool so much as touches the rack and you’ve got bare metal. Good thing I happened to have a pint of Rustolem flat black laying around (would have preferred Por-15 but oh well).
Final verdict: Come on, if I actually have to tell you….
If you’re even actually still considering this product, give olympic about a year to work out the bugs and be sure to check the return policy before you buy it.
The photos of the install have been uploaded to the Gallery.
** Big F**king Hammer
edited 9-6-06 to correct broken image links.
edit3-8-09: image links broken since I took the Gallery site offline. They’ll be added to this post or placed on another image gallery soon.
edit 6-5-11: Didn’t realize people were still reading this post. I’ve added the photos to a new imgur album which can be found here. Added bonus is an image from a few years after the install where you can see the rust stains you can look forward to from this rack.