A few times a year I like to do some maintenance and service to the mechanism in my Thule T2 rack to keep it easy to use. The process is really quite simple, but if you wish to do this to your own rack, be sure to stay organized, and remember how it came apart!
– Grease: Slick Honey works, I would recommend Mobil 1 synthetic the most for this application – it’s not too heavy and won’t wash away quickly.
– Friction paste – stop by the shop and we’ll get you a little tube for a few bucks – this will help the ratcheting mechanism obtain a more secure bite and help prevent the mechanism from releasing with bumps in the road, turns, and vibrations.
– Degreaser and/or isopropyl/denatured alcohol.
– Basic tools, #2 phillips screwdriver, 5mm allen wrench (long enough to get some solid leverage on, or an impact driver), flathead screwdriver.
– Red (or blue, red is preferred) threadlocker.
The idea with this process is to not only keep everything moving easily, but to reestablish security with every bolt on the rack, as well as to inspect any parts for cracking that may lead to potential failure. My rack in particular has seen a fair amount of abuse – with and without bikes. It’s shuttled on washboard and even 4×4 roads, it’s driven hundreds of miles with several bikes on it through rough and windy roads, been bumped/smashed into trees, supported the weight of the Jeep on some rocks, and even through a radiator! I want to make sure the brackets that hold the trays to the hitch portion are still in decent shape with no potentially failure-prone cracks or otherwise.
It’s quite simply once you get the trays off, as with anything make sure you keep track of all of the little nuts and bolts and tiny springs. Fortunately there is only one spring in the mechanism, and if you’re working on a bench, chances are slim that you’ll lose it. Apply a small drop or two of red threadlocker to each bolt during reassembly to ensure that the components will not work themselves loose, and tighten everything down securely!
I recommend using a framing square to square up the lowest (and first-to-be-installed) tray, and then a tape measure to ensure all subsequent trays are paralel for the best performance. Center the trays as best suited for your style and size of bikes you’ll be transporting and for best setup on your vehicle. My bikes have fairly long wheelbases, and my Jeep is pretty narrow – so I set the trays up to have the longest bike centered in respect to the vehicle (subsequently, the trays are offset to one side of the centerline marking guide doohickey for me).
This project can be accomplished in as little as half an hour. As always, take caution, and myself, Golden Bike Shop, Thule, Vimeo, nor the interwebs will be liable for your mishaps by undergoing this process. That’s why I say attempt at your own risk. Have fun! Ride safe! And always remember to utilize your built-in cable lock on the rack when transporting a bicycle as an additional security should anything go wrong. I also strongly recommend arranging your trays in such a way that the arm of the tray is facing away from the vehicle when a bike is mounted (additional security factor, the bike can then lean on the arm if the ratchet releases).