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Tech and Tools Roll Cages – with “30Pack” Matt
M: Today we are going to be talking about roll cages.
C: Where do you want to start?
M: In terms of safety there are a lot of different options out there for roll cages. There’s everything from bolted together cages assembled in your driveway and weld it yourself kits which come pre-fabricated, all the way to getting a custom roll cage fitted to your vehicle and even tied to the frame for extra safety.
C: So we have three different types of roll cages; why would use use one over the others?
M: Everyone shops with a budget. If you look at the price of a custom roll cage it’s going to be higher, but it’s also going to be a nicer product in the end. The bolt-it-together or weld-it-together options will save your life, but they are going to be wrinkled after it is all said and done.
C: What do we want to look for when purchasing a pre-fab or bolt-in?
M: You really want to look for reviews to see if people are happy with the product. If you do see a bad review, you want to stay away from that [product].
C: What about when we are talking to the guy who is going to fabricate our cage for us?
M: If you have someone working on your vehicle, you want to make sure they use deal end tubing instead of welded seams. Deal end tubing is a lot stronger, but we will get into that more later. You want to make sure to look at their work closely. Imagine if the roll cage gets hit in one part; you need to make sure there are tubes there to transfer the load throughout the whole thing. When two tubes connect this is called a node. If you get hit in the front corner you want the impact to transfer throughout the whole cage. You don’t want to get hit and have it fold like a factory cage would.
C: Explain the node a little more. How does it transfer the load?
M: If you have a junction with a perpendicular tube, where the tube comes in at a right angle, there’s not much support there. However, if you added a second tube off that junction (so that you have a T shap) and it came out of the corner diagonally to another section of the roll cage, you’re going to add triangulation – which will really strengthen the roll cage. If you’re worried about a multiple roll situation, that is definitely what you’re going to want to do. If you are planning on hard core wheeling or using the roll cage more than one time you are going to want to make sure it has some triangulation.
C: There’s multiple types of tubes out there and different weights. Can you explain the difference and what a person should be looking for?
M: Weight is always a killer, because the more weight you’re dragging up the trail the harder the obstacles are going to seem. The general rule of thumb is 1 3/4-inch 120 wall. The standard tubing size is 1 3/4-inch round diameter tubing with a 1/8-inch wall. t’s really safe because, as far as weight to strength ratio, it’s real strong but not that heavy. You could go to a 2-inch or 1 1/2-inch but the 1 3/4-inch is perfect. There is welded seam tubing which is cheaper but it’s real soft and not nearly as strong. There is also DOM tubing which is going to be a little more expensive, but you can hit it multiple times and it won’t dent.
C: Is DOM tubing what race car vehicles use?
M: Not quite, race car vehicles use chromoly tubing. I would say, for a Jeep you don’t need to go get chromoly tubing. It’s much more expensive. Howerver, if you want it, it’s there.
C: What are the price ranges for the different types of tubing?
M: Welded seam tubes typically go for $2.50 a foot, DOM tubing goes for about $3-$4 a foot, and chromoly for about $8-$10 a foot depending on what you are buying. You have to keep in mind that a typical Jeep roll cage is going to be 80-100 feet, so it will add up quickly.
C: So my last question about roll cages, is there such a thing as too many tubes or angles?
M: Yes and no. I guess if you’re going after the rock bouncer look it’s fine, but you have to remember that all those tubes are hanging lower than your roof. If you start packing tubes above your head you are basically compromising headroom, and if you start bouncing all around during a rollover you are going to be bashing your head on everything. So no, there isn’t a limit, but yes they are kind of unneeded. You don’t need a ton to be safe.