I was unable to find a van with a roof rack, or to find a decent secondhand rack at a reasonable price, so I got a friend to fabricate one for me. This was no bad thing since it allowed it to be custom-made to fit the space on the rear of the van behind the roof light and to enclose the flue from the hot water boiler thus offering the flue some physical protection form low-hanging branches etc.
I opted to use mild steel, as opposed to aluminium for the rack, primarily due to price. Despite the aluminium being about 1/3rd the weight of steel the marginal weight saving wasn’t that significant.
I then took the rack to a local company to powder-coat it. At £40 it seemed a ‘no-brainer’ compared to the cost of primer and paint, plus the time it would take to paint and get a good cover and finish on mesh, especially since I don’t possess a spray-gun.
The van when ‘clean’ did a pretty consistent 34mpg. With the solar panel and roof rack fitted, plus a fuel can and push-bike loaded on it, the economy is now a consistent 28mpg.