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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Xmas Tree on a Model X

How we brought home our Xmas tree on our Model X. The affordable roof system we used, how it worked, and links to buy your own are at the bottom.

Thanksgiving is over and it's the time of year to go get a tree and put in your home so Santa has a place to put the presents after coming down the chimney. If you drive a Tesla Model X, you might be able to fit a reasonably sized tree in the back. But, a tree inside the car means a lot of needles and vacuuming after the hauling is done.

With most cars, the better option is to put the tree on the roof. The Model X does have a roof rack, so how do you haul a tree up there? And it had a glass roof; you certainly don't want to crack or scratch your roof.

Here's the hack that we came up with to solve this.

Tesla Model X with 3 glass grippers
I was looking for a suction cup mounted roof rack and there are several of them out there. Some of them were very expensive. I don't plan on hauling things on top of my Tesla very often, so the idea of spending hundreds of dollars on a roof rack didn't appeal to me.

Looking at other suction cup products, I stumbled on handles that were made for lifting and transporting glass and countertops. These were much more affordable than a roof rack and they were rated for 200 pounds each. I would not be using them for their intended purpose, but it might work. They are rated for use moving heavy granite countertops so a ~65 pound tree would be a lighter load.

Thinking about the entire process, I also bought a cheap moving blanket to reduce the potential of scratching the car as the tree went on and came off the car.

The stuff arrived and soon after it was tree pickup day. I attached the handles to the car before we went to the farm. I wanted to see if they would stay on during the drive there. This would give me some indication if they would stay on or not for the trip home. The handles were easy to use. They have a lever to suck them to the glass. I found it easy to tell if they got a good seal or not with the lever. If it was firm when you moved it, it had good suction. If it was easy to move, there was no grip.

The roof of the Model X is curved; this made it difficult to get a good seal with both of the suction cups. I found it easier if I adhered the far cup first; this allowed me to push down on the near side. Remember, this is glass, to push too hard and break it. Finally, all three handles were mounted. We probably only needed two handles, but they were not that expensive, so adding a third one to share the load and add redundancy seemed like a good idea.

I made sure to place all the grips on the same piece of glass. This way, if the falcon wing door were to be opened (not recommended) with the tree on there, they would all move together. It would have been a good idea to turn on the child-proof lock for that door to prevent accidentally opening it. 

The handles stayed attached for the drive there (so far so good). We picked out our tree (a 7' locally grown Nordmann Fir) and had it bailed. Bailing is key to making everything else easier. Once the tree was bailed, we wrapped it in the cargo blanket. A few twists of twine holds the blanket in place, then up onto the car with the tree. 


We actually forgot our bungees, but it all worked out fine. They had twine to hold the tree in place. Bungees would have been way faster. With the tree strapped down, we hit the road, heading home. The large window of the X allowed us to easily keep an eye on the tree as we traveled.

We made it home and unloaded the tree. Here is the tree ready for lights and decorations.

Xmas tree, ready to be trimmed
If you want to use the same equipment that we used to make your own ad hoc Tesla Model X roof rack, the links to the items are below. If you do this, you do so at your own risk, be careful to not break your roof glass. I would not recommend heavy loads or bumpy roads.