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This write-up provides two options for removing the roof rails from the FX, commonly referred to as a "railectomy". The first involves cutting the bolts which the rails attach to, while the second requires removing the interior headliner to unscrew the bolts.

OPTION 1 - Cutting the Bolts

Materials Needed
  • - Hex keys
    - Socket wrench
    - Dremel tool w/ #420 and #407 or #932
    - Needle-nosed pliers
    - Duct and/or masking tape
    - Molly grease (petroleum jelly may substitute)
    - Eye protection
    - Touch-up paint (just in case)
    - Color-coded roof end caps (4)
    [list:2bz7z3ei]#73882-CG003 (Liquid Copper)
    #73882-CG007 (Diamond Graphite)
[/list:u:2bz7z3ei]

Removal Procedures
  • 1. Remove crossbars if necessary (straight-forward process)
    2. Remove rail covers (see below *1)
    3. Remove nuts holding down the rails
    4. Remove and set aside the roof rails
    5. Remove the plastic roof mouldings (simply snaps off)
    6. Remove the black gromets from the bolts (light twist with pliers will break the adhesive)
    7. Prep the area against scratches and nicks (see below *2)
    8. Cut and grind down the bolts sticking out (see below *3)
    9. Apply Molly grease to the remaining bolt nubs to prevent rusting
    10. Replace the roof mouldings
    11. Install end cap pieces into the mouldings
*1 - Pop off the rail covers with a small pry or crowbar (if using a metal bar, wrap the end in duct tape to avoid scratching the paint). Gently pull toward you and then lift up. The other side can be removed by hand then simply slide the cover off the rail.

*2 - Taping off potential impact areas of the roof with several layers of masking or duct tape to help prevent nicks and scratches.

*3 - A Dremel with several heavy-duty cutoff wheels (#420) and a grinding attachment (#407 or #932) is needed. The sparks won't hurt the paint, but wear saftey glasses for eye protection. I nicked the paint in two spots (D'oh :x ) since I wasn't being careful and taking my time -- this is where touch-up paint becomes handy! Cut the bolt 30-40% on one side and then same on the other side. Trying to cut all the way through may shatter the cutoff wheel and create collateral damage to your face or roof (think huge stone chip). Then use a pair of pliers to wiggle the bolt off. Cutting the bolt as low as possible will save time, but isn't necessary. Just grind down down the remaining bolt nub afterwards, as close to the bracket as possible, so the end caps will fit into the roof moulding later.



OPTION 2 - Unscrewing the Bolts

Credit goes to AfterFX for this approach.

Time: approximately 2 1/2 hours from start to finish with no damage to the headliner. Please note that the entire headliner does not have to be removed.
  • 1. Remove the crossbars and roof rails as directed in Option 1 above. Option 2 merely describes how to deal with the remaining bolts and brackets sticking out of the roof.
    2. For the front brackets, remove the sunvisors, pillar covers and the front assist grip.
    3. Lower the front of the headliner enough to gain access and remove the bolts with ease.
    4. The rear is slightly more difficult. Remove the rear plastic section which houses the cargo area lamp.
    5. Remove a section of sound proofing to gain access to the rear brackets bolts.
    6. Use 3M weather-proof tape to cover the remaining holes. Check it occasionally to make sure it stays sealed. Or screw in new, shorter bolts and apply Molly grease to the bolt heads to prevent rusting.

Sample roof bracket (AfterFX)


Sample end cap (PINITI-FX)


The end result -- aren't they beautiful? Lower the FX to complete the look!
 

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BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVO! :D Very Well Written! We All Thank You & Applaude your MUCH NEEDED efforts. - We did the "snip the stud" method. 8) The RAIL-LESS Community is growing, as is its acceptance - almost equal to those into Lowering. :wink: ......this ain't your father's Station Wagon Baby! :lol:
 

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OPTION 3 - The German way

Just before I de-railed my FX, I asked myself "What if I want to put the rails back on?". So I came up with an idea how to remove the bolts, that hold the roof rails, but still be able to put the roof rails back on. Here we go (I hope the pictures are in the correct order):

1) First I had to "macgyver" a little tool, that would help me with my doings. On one end it has a 6mm thread to fit on the bolts, on the other hand it has a 4.2mm shaft to support a 4.1mm drill.
 

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2) Once the rails were removed I covered the car with a big piece of fabric (old bedspread). After that I pulled off the little "spacer".
 

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3) With the new tool screwed tight onto one of the bolts, I carefully drilled a hole in the bolt. It is very important to go all the way through the bolt and the bracket underneath. This takes a while since everything gets really hot and needs time to cool off once in a while.
 

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4) ATTENTION: Don't drill a hole in the roof of your car!!!
 

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5) Now the bolt can be easily broken of with a plier.
 

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6) Carefully widen the hole in the bracket with a 5mm drill and then cut a 6mm thread in the bracket. To prevent the bracket from rusting touch up the thread with primer and later with some paint. After installing the four end caps into the moulding the "Railectomy" is complete.
 

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Putting the roof rails back on is as easy as 1, 2, 3:

7) Take off the four end caps, use 6mm screws to reattach the roof rails and your are back in business. Don't forget the little "spacer" that was teken off in step 2.



I can only say "Vorsprung durch Technik" :wink:

Axel
 

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Here's the overview from the service manual which might help in understanding some of the above methods.

Note: the manual describes how to remove the rails (or install them) by removing the headliner (which is a lot of work).



Thanks everyone for taking the time to document this. :thumbup:

[moved to How To section by me]
 

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Getting ready for the surgery. A couple questions:

1. Any clearer instructions for removing the caps? I haven't tried, but from the directions, I'm afraid I'll mangle them.

2. Instead of using a dremel, do you think regular bolt cutters will work? Just seems to be lower risk and less time.
 

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bazooka said:
Getting ready for the surgery. A couple questions:

1. Any clearer instructions for removing the caps? I haven't tried, but from the directions, I'm afraid I'll mangle them.

2. Instead of using a dremel, do you think regular bolt cutters will work? Just seems to be lower risk and less time.
bolt cutters may be a challenge getting the right angle to cut the bolt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I think Bolt cutters and hack saws could work, but you'd still have to grind the remaining nubs down to clear the moulding.

Be careful with the hack saw. There's 8 bolts to cut and you'll need a steady hand.
 

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I just confirmed that bolt cutters will not work, and a piece of cutoff bolt can chip paint further away than you might think......just in case anybody is wondering. However, kept the touch up paint out to paint the ends of the freshly cut bolts, should work as well as molley or other grease.

Took one hour for the first side and 1/2 hour for the second side. Looks great! And, will look even better once the bare spots get some zaino on them.
 

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So what's the deal with getting caps off? Sounds like you just pop
'em off with a small crowbar between the roof and the caps? Would a large screwdriver (wrapped in duct tape except for the tip) work? And do the caps get mangeld?
You just pry them UP? If so, from the front? Or do you have to pry them forward or wiggle em?
ANal I know, but if anyone would understand... ;)
 

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dislexicFXnaf said:
So what's the deal with getting caps off? Sounds like you just pop
'em off with a small crowbar between the roof and the caps? Would a large screwdriver (wrapped in duct tape except for the tip) work? And do the caps get mangeld?
You just pry them UP? If so, from the front? Or do you have to pry them forward or wiggle em?
ANal I know, but if anyone would understand... ;)
I understand completely, and just did it this morning with a screwdriver wrapped in duct tape. I put a towel between the car and the screwdriver. It is from the side, not from the front, then wiggle the other side free. At first it seems like they'll break or something, one of my clips did slightly, out of 16(4 per cap) did.

10mm socket for the nuts, and then cut off the bolts "flush" just like the instructions.
 

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Ok- got my roof rail hole caps. Debating between cutting bolts & unscrewing them from under headliner. Leaning toward headliner route sos' I can put em back if needed. For taking the headliner off, the instructions say:

2. For the front brackets, remove the sunvisors, pillar covers and the front assist grip.
3. Lower the front of the headliner enough to gain access and remove the bolts with ease.
4. The rear is slightly more difficult. Remove the rear plastic section which houses the cargo area lamp.

So what are we talking about here- is the headliner just held up with clips? Once I unscrew the sunvisor, pillar covers & grips, what am I looking at to get the headliner down? And then it just pops back into place? Do I need onea' them slim-jim tools to pop the headliner out? I'd hate to have to drive to the dealer with the thing hitten' me in the head the whole way... Just being extra careful because I hear the headliner is a biatch to put in right... Thanks mucho!
 

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Very good write up. Am now railless. Most difficult part, suprisingly, was removing and reinstalling the roof moldings- those long strips that run the length of the roof.
I've reinstalled the moldings, and the clips are seated in the molding properly, and are also cliped into the posts on the roof, but the moldings appear to be at a little of an angle in the middle. The ends are nice and flush, but it seems like they twist a little toward the outside of the car in their centers. Both sides do this. Anyone else have this?
 
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