Saturday, November 05, 2016

How I built my Kayak Rack!

step by step pictures & info on how I built my kayak rack

UPDATE - After 10,000 miles at highway speeds, the kayak rack has had no problems. I did just replace the bottom boards because they warped a little from being stored outside, but it was a simple job. 

I finally built a kayak rack, and it's been an unqualified success. I've had a lot of people ask how I did it -  I initially built 2 racks, one for each end of the kayaks as shown in the photo above.

But I found that instead of 15 MPG towing the camper, we got 9 MPG when we had the kayaks over the cab of the truck.

We even carry a Hobie Tandem Outfitter Kayak this way and still get great gas mileage.


When we bring our 10' kayaks, they ride side by side.

step by step pictures & info on how I built a simple, sturdy kayak rack

If we have them pointing up like that, we get 15 MPG when we are pulling our camper! and even better MPG when we're not towing. 

I did a lot of looking around at Kayak Racks - 








But I decided to build it myself, because that's the way I roll! I am in no way telling you to do this. As a matter of fact, I recommend you buy one of the racks above. If you build your own rack from my ideas, it's on your own head, I take no responsibility.

Here is what my racks look like: (excuse the old foam pool noodles) 

THESE RACKS MUST BE SECURELY ATTACHED TO MY TRUCK - EITHER WITH TIE DOWN STRAPS OR BY BOLTING SECURELY TO THE TRUCK.

step by step pictures & info on how I built a simple, sturdy kayak rack

And here is how I built them. I am not posting exact measurements, because it depends on what truck you have and the size of the bed.  But it is easy to figure out :)

step by step pictures & info on how I built a simple, sturdy kayak rack

Except for the angular bracing, they are made from treated 2x4's. You could make the braces from a 2x4 but I didn't have any left. Because of the odd angles that I made on my rack, you really have to finagle the brace to fit right. If you don't make the top angled, the brace will be simpler.

step by step pictures & info on how I built a simple, sturdy kayak rack
  
Since our original plan was to use two racks, the top is angled to match up with the front rack, which is higher than the back rack. 

step by step pictures & info on how I built a simple, sturdy kayak rack

The notch in the end is to run the ratchet strap down. This works fine when if you use the eye-bolt. Since we run the ratchet strap down to the bed of the truck, it doesn't line up with the notch. Not a problem, but don't bother putting a notch in the end of the top bar if you're going to hook the strap to the truck.

step by step pictures & info on how I built a simple, sturdy kayak rack

I notched out the bottom board to make the uprights very stable.
The long part slips into the stake pocket on the back of the truck. 
When it is mounted on the truck, I drive a screw into it through one of the holes in the stake pocket. This holds it securely to the truck.

step by step pictures & info on how I built a simple, sturdy kayak rack

The uprights are bolted through the bottom board. I drilled the holes out a bit so that I could use short bolts that don't stick out and stab you as you are loading the truck.

step by step pictures & info on how I built a simple, sturdy kayak rack

The eye-bolts are there to attach the ratchet straps, but we don't use them. We just run the straps down to the bed of the truck. If you want to use eye-bolts, make sure to put them at a height so the ratchets won't rub on the kayaks.

step by step pictures & info on how I built a simple, sturdy kayak rack

The top board is notched to receive the side boards, and screwed from the top.

step by step pictures & info on how I built a simple, sturdy kayak rack

There is a U bolt in the middle of the top board that is used to secure the ratchet strap hook. Each kayak has its own ratchet strap that goes from the U Bolt to the bed of the truck. I also put a strap across the center of the rack to hold it separately. I'm sure this isn't necessary, but it makes us feel better :) We have driven over 15,000 miles at speeds up to 75 MPH (yes, the speed limit in west Texas is 80 MPH) with absolutely no problems. And, no, we don't pull our trailer that fast on PURPOSE . . . . it just seems to happen.

To be clear, we strap the kayak rack down to the truck with a sepaate ratchet strap and we strap the kayaks to the bed of the truck. That way we are sure that the rack cannot come loose from the truck. I have considered drilling through the bed rail of the truck and bolting it down, but I didn't do it for two reasons. 1) I don't want to drill holes in my truck and 2) it makes it more difficult to put on and remove.

step by step pictures & info on how I built a simple, sturdy kayak rack

Here's what it looks like going down the road

Changes I would make - 
I would angle the top bar to fit the kayaks as they are now, or even just make it square.
Don't bother notching the end of the top 2x4
Don't bother with eye-bolts for the straps, just run them to the truck bed.
I may get some truck cab clamps to hold the racks to the bed sides, but so far this works great!

Now go play outside!!


Cute dog Kayaking - step by step pictures & info on how I built a simple, sturdy kayak rack


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