To get it done right, you have to do it yourself. That couldn't be more true than in the case of building a rollcage for a truck that's not common enough to have a kit available through the aftermarket, or if you have custom demands beyond the realm of a bolt-in cage kit. The problem is you need to buy a lot of tools to do it yourself, then you need someone to show you how, or you need a trusted fabricator.
The Ramcharger already had a Smittybilt bolt-in rollbar, but we wanted a full rollcage wit
We've been lucky enough to work with a shop that does right-priced work the right way and was gracious enough to show us how to do tube fabrication at home. The guys are Rod Foutz and Scott Hancock of Foutz Engineering, a home-based business specializing in fab work and race prep for desert-race trucks and buggies. Foutz did a slick cage for an early Bronco we used to have, so we made the desert trek in a Ramcharger to visit his Arizona shop.
However, the vehicle specifics don't matter much; once you've mastered the fabrication skills required, you can build a basic rockcrawler/mud-runner rollcage provided you have the time and the tools. In fact, the low-speed, no-rules trail trucks are usually the easiest to build cages for because they rarely have the tubes tied to the frame, they don't require trick materials like chrome moly, and you can build them really strong because you don't have to worry too much about weight. The initial investment in tools for bending, fabricating, and welding can be intimidating, but it quickly becomes recouped if you build more than a few 4x4s, or if you do jobs for club members.
If those don't apply, then frankly, finding a shop like Foutz Engineering that will work with you sans attitude is your best bet. But to get started with your own hands-on tube bending and fabrication, read on. For ideas on cage designs and materials, see "How To Build a Rollcage" in the Sept. '96 issue, or "Tubular Tips & Tricks" in the June '97 issue.
Once the plan was set, Rod Foutz marked the center of the vehicle (arrow), then measured,
Lockable angle gauge
Next, Foutz transferred his measurements to the tube to be used for the halo bar. In this
This shows how to determine where to place the tube in the bender to begin the bend. If yo
Now you get to play with the tube bender, which is like an oversized brake-line bender. Fo
Once the tube is fed into the bender, you should line up the start-of-bend mark on the tub
Foutz uses his angle gauge and bends the 2-inch tube until the angle matches that on the g
Also crucial when putting two bends in a tube, such as a halo bar or main hoop, is to make
Once a hoop is bent, careful measuring along a straight edge will help in double-checking
It's also helpful to frequently recheck the fit of the tubing to the vehicle before you be
When fitting a tube to mate with another tube, such as the hoop-to-halo connection or the
Here's a complication you may run into when using the Jig-a-Joint. When adding a triangula
Once the tube is coped with the Jig-a-Joint, the tube will still be kinda ratty.
You need to clean up the cut by grinding it smooth. Don't forget the distance of the cope
Another commonly overlooked variable is the thickness of the foot plates, which are usuall
Since welding the foot plates is often considered questionable (but was the only option in
They also helped prevent the cage from shaking as we drove down the road. The photos show
With the fabrication done, Foutz held the cage together with ratchet straps and checked th
In addition to the basic cage, extras included Foutz' signature sprint-car-type corner gus
Here's the finished cage, the result of about $90 in tubing, two long days of labor, much