Building Truck Ladder / Kayak Rack

I recently purchased a kayak and am looking at alternatives for
carrying it in my pickup other than just tying it down in the bed of
the truck... I was thinking about building a ladder rack that was
slightly higher than the cab of the pickup so that I could carry the
kayak up and out of the way of whatever else I might want to be
carrying in the bed of the pickup... The kayak is 14 ft long and the
bed of the pickup is 6.25 ft long (Dodge Ram 1500 QuadCab 4x4)... I've
seen some ladder racks that seemed to be just sitting on the sides of
the bed and others that seemed to be supported on the floor of the
truck bed... Anyone around here created one and if so, what sort of
mounting methods did they use for attaching it to their truck? I
don't want to leave this in the truck permanantly, so having something
that could easily be removed would be nice... I was thinking about
perhaps creating one that was freestanding that could just slide into
the bed of the pickup and attach to the existing tie down spots with
cargo straps or turnbuckles...
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I have a single bar roof rack made by Yakama and a "hitch extender" device that mounts on the trailer hitch. the trailer hitch part is the same height as the roof rack. With the use of a few ratchet straps to control wobble I can load it with 20' lengths of pipe,round,square ect. All the parts can be removed in about 5 min. I have never put a kayak on it but would if I had one to move.
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For basic use like you indicate I'd just check the area classifieds / trader papers / craigslist. Truck ladder racks should be a pretty common item and typically at "just get it the hell out of the yard before the wife kills me" prices. I'd only consider building one if you had unusual requirements.
Pete C.
Reply to
Pete C.
More importantly, put some serious thought into a fail safe manner to secure th' kayak to yer rack.
A few years ago we were riding (motorcycles) up Hwy 101 in western WA. Th' guy in front of us had a canoe on a homemade rack. It blew off. Three bikes went down and four of us were seriously injured. Th' oblivious moron whose truck it blew off of kept on goin' for a couple miles before one of us pulled him over.
Please don't do that... it still hurts.
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My idea may sound radical. Start by putting a front trailer hitch on your truck. Then weld up a front vertical support that attaches to your trailer hitch. Then use any old rack in the back.
I made fore and aft vertical supports like this, just tall enough to line up with the luggage racks on top of my Explorer. Here's a pic of them loaded with 450 pounds of steel:
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Grant Erwin
In the mid 80's, I had the first front brackets on a truck rack that I had ever seen in the Las Vegas Valley.. I was carrying 20' sticks of material, and the front of my truck rack was sagging. So, I made a truck rack that came to the front bumper, welded some supports on, and took them down to the bumper and bolted them on. Within a short time, they had flexed and broken. Modification #1. I made tabs on the end of the supports, and U shaped receivers so that all four corners of the support rectangle could flex. I had a cab and a half at the time, and a long rack. The first time I went out through a gutter, and saw how much the top flexed, I knew I had done the correct thing. After that, I had many guys look at the rack, and comment on it, and compliment me. After that, I started seeing more and more of them, and now they're common.
As Grant did, you can make a stiff support for temporary short loads. Or, if you are going to haul more weight, or for longer periods of time, you might want to consider the flex option.. It is really amazing how much a truck rack moves, even when it's just attached to the bed of the truck.
As mentioned before, a support system is vital. When I had my kayaks, I took lumber and band sawed it out to match the bottom of my kayaks, where they were cradled by 3+" each. Then I stapled heavy carpet on them. Then I used the ratchet type hold downs. Never lost one, never had one work loose. But I would check them every time I stopped.
As with so many pictures posted on the Internet of overloaded vehicles, it is amazing what people try to haul on their vehicles, and how they try to do it. If you can weld or metalwork at all, it's easy to make a strong safe system that will save a lot of grief for you AND the people following you. When ANYTHING comes off a truck rack, it ain't pretty.
Reply to
Steve B
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I've seen something similar where vertical members are round pipe inside of another piece of pipe so that it could swivel... You would turn the front one to the side, put the canoe / kayak on it, and then walk the rear of the canoe / kayak around to the rear support...
I'm headed on a long trip with the kayak in a little over a week and don't have time for anything too elaborate...
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Although I usually see the kayaks in the specialized carriers being carried in the top up position, I was thinking that perhaps it might be easier to carry it in the bottom up position... That way, I have a relatively flat area of the kayak going across the horizontal members of whatever rack system I come up with... Hell, I'm even thinking that some steel plumbing pipe and a few fittings to basically make a rectangular cube shape and using foam pipe insulation on the parts where the kayak rests on it... I figure that I could weld some loops into the rack and hook a steel bar between each loop, a turnbuckle, and the bed's tiedown point...
The kayak is only 60 lbs or so, so the rack doesn't need to be that strong for just the weight of it... I'll overengineer it so that it can handle a significant wind load in addition to possibly being able to use it for other things over the years... I don't want to permanently modify my truck to hold it since normally I have a bed cover that I prefer to keep on there...
On the other hand, I could just remove my tailgate and build a new one with a hole in it that was exactly the size of the cross section of the kayak at that point... That might be good for a few laughs on my way down to Florida...
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I like that idea. Take the regular tailgate, or get a duplicate from the salvage yard. Carefully make a template to match the kayak and then plasma cut the section out of the tailgate. Should only take an hour to make.
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Pete C.

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