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Impressive Rola XL Luggage Tray boosts icon Falcon wagons camping flexibility

November 21, 2012
Impressive Rola XL Luggage Tray boosts icon Falcon wagons camping flexibility

GoSee is impressed with Rola's approach to engineering a Commercial roof rack and Vortex luggage tray for the icon Aussie all-rounder the BA Ford Falcon.

Four members of the GoSee team made a barbecue day of fitting a Rola XL Vortex tray roof top cargo carrier to the Mk11 BA Falcon station wagon which provides the easy horsepower to haul the GoSee camper. It is the second BA Falcon we have used as camping power, the first was written off when hit by an erratic driver while parked.

As we like the practical, economics of the Ford which is easily available on the second hand market we got another. So that is how four GoSee team members came to be fitting the impressive Rola gear to a 2004 Ford Falcon Mk11 automatic station wagon.

The Commercial model and comes with three crossbars Part Number CTM33-3 and a rated carrying capacity of up to 100kg. GoSee has experience with fitting Rola racks and trays to our HJ60 Toyota Sahara Land Cruiser, Colorado dual-cab auto diesel and now the Falcon station wagon.

There is a common theme with all three Rola experiences. It is essential to read and follow the instructions. It is essential to unpack, lay out and cross-check all the fittings before starting the job.

The HJ60 jobs crossbars clamp to the gutters of the retro Toyota but in the case of the Colorado and the Falcon twin track mountings must be carefully measured and placed on the vehicle roof before being pop-rivetted into permanent place.

As we have been there before GoSee was fully prepared with serious rivet and silcon guns. A sharp knife is handy too and a trade standard battery drill and sharp bits need support from a Phillips screwdriver and socketwrench set.

A practical aspect of the Rola kits GoSee has worked with is that they cope with a variety of vehicles. (universal mounting kit).

But that is a trap for first-timers. The instruction sheets often deal with more than one assembly option. In the case of the Falcon it's Commercial and Sports. Which also means that it is usual to have more bits than ause can be found for.

Essential parts check before starting.
Essential parts check before starting.

The smaller set of U-bolts in the kit are for use with 32mm Sports bars and are not part of the Commercial job.

Following the Commercial directs reveals that the six crossbar end supports slide into the channels on the three crossbars. It is a tight fit and force is needed. The end supports have wedge blocks which determine the seating angle of the support foot as they clip on.

Pay attention to clipping them on the right way around. They have an Edge A and Edge B and that matters. It is A side out that is needed. The locking bolts which slide into the aluminium roof strips are a fiddle to fit, but patience pays in this case.

Another must do is to fit and lock the end support crossbar lock bolts before fitting the crossbars to the twin roof mounts. This is a fiddle and requires careful set up on the Ford's roof to get everything square.

GoSee measured from constant fixed points on the Ford door tops to get this right. Check there is clearance for the rear hatch door on a wagon to be lifted without hitting the Vortex tray. We measured twice and then taped the roof mounts in place before rivetting.

The roof mountshave an adhesive face which is revealed by pealing off a film protection before they are pop-rivetted to the Ford's roof. We used a waterproofing sealent for each hole we bored to mount the aluminium tracks. Leaks are not on our agenda and some pop-rivets are bad news in the wet.

There are also insert strips for the crossbars which must be cut to length when the job is done They help cut wind noise. The crossbars are rounded on the leading edges to make them more aerodynamic and reduce drag. This is a significant factor in reducing wind noise and aiding fuel efficiency. The trick with fitting the inserts is to work from one edge of the strip until both edges, which are grooved, clip into place.

U-bolts come in two sizes.
U-bolts come in two sizes.

The main benefit of Rola bars is that they cope with a multitude of tasks without the hassle of hooking up and handling a trailer. They also mean that potential tyre troubles are limited to the vehicle and the Rola bars are easy to adjust or remove.

Heads up on using roof racks: The roof rack and roof load must not project beyond the body of the carrying vehicle. The load must not extent beyond the sides of the Roof Bars. Long loads should be positioned centrally on the roof rack and securely fastened at the front and at the rear.

Check your vehicle owner manual for maximum rated roof loads. Check the security of your load and the tension of the bolts and fastenings of the roof rack before departing and at regular intervals during your journey.

Maximum permissible load = weight of the Roof Rack + weight of accessories + weight of load (cargo).

The mounted and loaded roof rack will affect a vehicle's handling characteristics, particularly relating to crosswind sensitivity, corners, bends and braking behaviour. Exercise extreme care when driving and adjust for the change in vehicle handling and braking behaviour by always driving safely and at a speed appropriate to travel conditions and the load being carried.

Wind resistance is the number one cause of roof rack failures. Prior to securing a load, consider the surface area of the load to determine the suitability of carrying the load on the Roof Racks. Extra caution should be taken when travelling in high winds, at high speed, or when carrying loads with large surface areas (eg tables, bed bases and mattresses, sheets of wood).

The roof rack should be removed regularly to clean adjoining vehicle surfaces, attaching locations and the roof rack itself.

Job  done. Agnes, Nick and Alan of GoSeeAustralia.
Job done. Agnes, Nick and Alan of GoSeeAustralia.

Regularly check the proper functioning of your roof racks, and tighten all screws, bolts, connections and straps. Immediately replace any worn or damaged components.

To increase fuel efficiency, remove roof rack from carrying vehicle when not in use.

Rola recommends that you store the roof rack security key and fitting instructions in the glove compartment of your vehicle.

Do not use elasticised or occy straps.

The maximum permissible load for roof bar is the lower of the maximum load capacity specified in the vehicle operation manual, or specified as applying to the roof rack. Do not exceed the maximum specified load capacity.

RRP CTM33-3. Three crossbars $545.

Large Vortex Luggage Tray (XLTVX) $499.

Dimensions: Interior size 1507 x 1108 x 110mm

Exterior size 1957 x 1228 x 122mm

Tray Weight: 24kg

About the BA Falcon: The BA Falcon won four consecutive Australia's Best Cars awards.

It has a 11.5L/100km fuel consumption cycle which relates to about 550km per tank of regular unleaded. It is powered by a twin-cam 4 litre 182kW 380 Nm engine. In late 2004, Ford introduced a Mark II BA Falcon update, bringing subtle styling and mechanical changes. The automatic unit features Sequential Sports Shift, a first for Falcon in Australia.

The Ford Falcon BA won the RAAs Best Family Car award when it was released in 2002.

The BA performs well across the board, being easy to drive in the city, covers long distances comfortably and it has an impressive towing ability as the automatic has a 2.3-tonne capacity. In the used-car market look for a vehicle with a good service history and low kilometres. The wagon has heavy duty leaf rear suspension. A transmission cooler will extend the autos life towing. Expect about 19litre/100km towing at between 95 and 100kmh.

GoSee tugs with Rola Vortex tray and  carry bars.
GoSee tugs with Rola Vortex tray and carry bars.
Measure twice drill once.
Measure twice drill once.
Quality battery drill and sharp bits essential.
Quality battery drill and sharp bits essential.
Rola XL Vortex carry tray u-bolts clamp it to the carry bars.
Rola XL Vortex carry tray u-bolts clamp it to the carry bars.
Roomy rack rides the GoSee BA Falcon wagon.
Roomy rack rides the GoSee BA Falcon wagon.
Tight fit requires some force.
Tight fit requires some force.
Presenting the GoSee Rola gear fitting team.
Presenting the GoSee Rola gear fitting team.