An innexpensive, drop in bed rack.. - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


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Old 07-20-2005
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An innexpensive, drop in bed rack..

Overview
Recently I've entered into a few discussions about how best to carry things like kayaks and canoes on a Ranger. I would like to present my solution. The intent of this rack is that it would be very cheap (~$50), be collapsable for easy storage, be wide enough to handle two kayaks or one large canoe, and be sturdy enough to hold the same.

This is a simple rack fabricated from standard 2x4 stock. It consists of two 'racks', one for the front and one for the rear, with removable cross braces connecting them. The assembled rack is aprox 50" wide, 70" long, and 48" tall. This permits it to be dropped into the truck bed w/o attaching to the bed itself in any way. The height permits it to support boats, ladders, lumber, or any long loads well over the cab.

Construction
The front and rear racks are assembled by securing the top and bottom horizontal 2x4 sections to the upright sections using a strong wood glue or epoxy and self taping screws.

The cross braces are simply held together w/ machine bolts (Hardware B). No glue or faseners are used so that the cross braces may twist about the bolt/spacer block freely. This permits them to be colapsed as illustrated in Fig 1 below.

The hardware is as follows:
  • Hardware A (x8): 3 1/2" x 3/8" bolt, two 3/8" fender washers, 3/8" wingnut
  • Hardware B (x2): 5" x 3/8" bolt, two 3/8" fender washers, 3/8" wingnut

Assembly
Assemblying the cross braces to the front and rear rack sections is done w/ bolts (Hardware A). I recommend using simple wingnuts whenever possible. This lets you remove the bolts and disasemble the rack w/o needing tools. Each cross brace goes diagonally from the top of one rack to the bottom of the other. One cross brace is attached to the inside of the rack section uprights while the other is attached to the outside. The spacer block spaces the cross braces enough so that they easily line up.

When disassembled, I can store my rack in a simple 10'x10' storage locker at my apartment. It could easily fit in a garage or in an attic space as needed.

Figures and illustrations
Fig 1 below is a diagram showing dimensions of the parts of the rack. Fig 2-7 show the rack in use carrying two kayaks. Fig 8 & 9 show in detail how the cross braces are attached to the front and rear rack themselves.


Fig 1. Dimensions for rack


Fig 2.


Fig 3.


Fig 4.


Fig 5.


Fig 6.


Fig 7.


Fig 8. Front driver's side top detail


Fig 9. Front driver's side bottom detail

Thoughts for improvements
  • The front and rear rack sections may benefit from being taller. At 48" tall, most loads easily clear the cab. However some boats, particularly those w/ very tall fronts may come close to or touch the cab, as is illustrated in Fig 4 w/ the white boat. Simply fitting a live-vest or seat cushion under the boat tip to prevent it from damaging the cab is an acceptable workaround.
  • Do not drill the holes for attaching the cross braces in a manner such that the end of the cross brace comes up flush against the horizontal sections of the front/rear rack sections as illustraged in Fig 8 & 9. The wood will shrink, expand, and twist over time. Having the cross brace ends flush makes for a very tight fit and very difficult assembly. There is no need for them to be flush like this. At some point I will correct this issue by cutting ~1" off each end of each cross brace. Alternatively I could redril holes for the bolts ~1" closer to the ends of the cros braces.
  • Because the rack is not directly attached to the truck, care should be taken when loading it. I have found that the weight of the rack assembly by itself is more than enough to hold it in the bed even at Interstate highway speeds. However w/ a load on top and a strong enough crosswind, it could become an issue. I highly recommend using ropes or straps to attach the rack to the truck. In the case illustated here I used the same straps as I used to secure the boats to the rack itself. I simply extended the straps down to the tieoffs inside the truck bed.
  • Some sort of padding could optionally be added to the upper horizontal sections of the rack sections. Notice that I used PFDs as padding for the long red kayak to protect it's finish. Padded rack sections would eliminate the need for this.

Welp, there it is. It isn't pretty, it isn't gonna hold together for all time, but it does the job. And when I'm doing playing w/ the boats I can just tear it down, shove it in a closet, and forgetaboutit for a while. If you're a contractor and carry ladders everywhere all the time, this probably won't cut it. But if not, the price sure is right.

Questions and comments are welcomed..

Last edited by NHBubba_Revisited; 07-20-2005 at 11:10 AM.
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Old 07-20-2005
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Thats pretty creative! Would you care if I made it into a How To so it can live on forever?
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Old 07-20-2005
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'Createive'! Uh, yeah, good 'word' for it!

Sure.. Wasn't sure it was 'how-to' material.. Just a quick and dirty solution.
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Old 07-20-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NHBubba
'Createive'! Uh, yeah, good 'word' for it!

Sure.. Wasn't sure it was 'how-to' material.. Just a quick and dirty solution.
Definatly How To material! How many other Ranger sites can tell you how to build a kyak rack?
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Old 07-20-2005
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looks good, any ideas on buliding a bike rack?
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Old 07-20-2005
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Bike rack.. I actually did such a thing just this year. Maybe I need to post photos and such for that too.. That is stupidly easy though. Go to your nearest Thule retailer and buy two of these low-rider assemblies, my local shop sold them for just under $20/ea. Bolt them to a section of 2x6 and call it a day. Get yourself a section of cable for locking the mount and bikes into the bed for extra security.
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Old 07-20-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rngprerunner
Definatly How To material! How many other Ranger sites can tell you how to build a kyak rack?
Like I said, goferit. I presume you need to tweak the format or something.. If you need me to do something lemme know. The one concern I'd have is the images. Is there any way they can be hosted by rf.com? I can't promise they'll be on my site forever. ..The more I look at them, a resize might be in order too. 1024 pixels seems pretty big suddenly.
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Old 07-20-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NHBubba
Is there any way they can be hosted by rf.com? I can't promise they'll be on my site forever. ..The more I look at them, a resize might be in order too. 1024 pixels seems pretty big suddenly.
Yea I'll host them on RF and resize them to 800. I can host them now if you would like to get them off your server...
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Old 07-20-2005
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No hurry, I was just thinking for the sake of posterity.
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Old 07-20-2005
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a few suggestions,

you should make some way of attatching it to the bed, whether it be strapped in at the anchor points or more wing nuts, if the wind catches a boat and lifts the front, there MAY be a chance it will flip the whole thing out the back of the truck

also, you really should use a lock washer on the wing nuts, whether it be a split one or star, the vibrations may cause it to loosen up. also, temperature could cause the wood to swell and shrink, so say its 95 degrees out and humid, and you tighten them. if its gets to be 70 degrees and dry, your bolts will be loose.

that being said, it looks very good! dont take what i said wrong, i think like an engineer and i find pleasure in thinking up tiny tiny faults, so take it as constructive criticism!!
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Old 07-20-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoundPer4mance
you should make some way of attatching it to the bed, whether it be strapped in at the anchor points or more wing nuts
Yes, I agree. As I mentioned, it is not much of an issue unloaded (as there is nothing for the wind to catch), but an upside down boat isn't that much unlike an airplane wing. My dad's neighbor helped me load it up last week on our way out of town. He is a real outdoorsman that has an old aluminum canoe on the roof of his full-size pickup 100% of the time. He drives all over the country (and Canada) hunting and fishing from that thing and told me some horror stories about being way the hell out in the middle of nowhere and loosing the boat on a highway!

So yeah, I agree. My best solution is to strap the frame into the bed by way of the tie downs in the four corners. Actually, no my trip up to Maine last week I only strapped down on two opposite corners. That seemed to do the trick though. The frame weighs enough that I don't think all that much is needed to secure it.. but you are definitely right, it does need to be secured somehow!
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoundPer4mance
also, you really should use a lock washer on the wing nuts, whether it be a split one or star, the vibrations may cause it to loosen up. also, temperature could cause the wood to swell and shrink, so say its 95 degrees out and humid, and you tighten them. if its gets to be 70 degrees and dry, your bolts will be loose.
Not sure I'd worry too much about that myself. This rack is intended for relatively temporary use-meaning a day or weekend trip-not permanant use. Hand tightned wing nuts have yet to back out on me at all. Don't forget, those joints don't see much of any stress at all.

That said, one of the nuts could come loose, fall off the bolt, then the whole bolt could back out and the rack would still be self standing.. Ask me how I know! As I mentioned, the wood I used twisted and deformed while in storage because I did not use the rack at all last year (sadly). When assembling it last week I was unable to get the passenger's side front bottom cross-brace to line up w/ the front rack. This is because I made the cross-brace ends extend flush up to the horizontal sections of the front/rear frames. The frame was supringly still quite sturdy w/ just three of the four bolts attached on the front bracket.

So in short.. it has not been much of a problem for me.. yet!
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoundPer4mance
dont take what i said wrong, i think like an engineer and i find pleasure in thinking up tiny tiny faults, so take it as constructive criticism!!
Of course! I wouldn't dream of it! As always, thanks for the post..

FWIW: This mount was 'designed' by myself (a Computer/Software Engineer) under the direct supervision of my father (a Civil Engineer). Although fabrication of an innexpensive bed rack for a Ford Ranger is most decidedly outside of both of our 'normal realm of expertise'!
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Old 07-20-2005
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Very nice,Simple yet effective construction. You gonna stain or paint the stock at all? And is that a life jacket your using for padding? Do you remember how many 2x4's you used? I have about ten 8' 2x4's in my garage dying to get used.


nice drawing btw, autocad?
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Old 07-20-2005
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awesome job!
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Old 07-20-2005
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thas a big kayak!!
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Old 07-21-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Draimen
Very nice,Simple yet effective construction. You gonna stain or paint the stock at all? And is that a life jacket your using for padding? Do you remember how many 2x4's you used? I have about ten 8' 2x4's in my garage dying to get used.
I have no plans to paint or finish it. I store it indoors, out of the elements and could really care what it looks like.

Yes, as noted in the 'improvements' section, I did not padd the rack and instead tied PFDs down as padding instead. I actually only bothered for the sea kayak. That thing cost my dad more than one of my paychecks! So I figured I should at least try to take care of it. The white boat is a '6-hour special' he built from plans in the back of a 'Wooden Boat' magazine. He really isn't happy w/ the boat and so doesn't care as much about it, so it didn't get any padding. Although it probably should have.

How much lumber? Geez, I don't remember. By my count I used:
  • 2 x 60"
  • 4 x 48"
  • 4 x 81"
  • 2 x 3.25
  • 1 x 51"
  • 1 x 45"

By my count that adds up to nearly 62' of lumber! The hard part is most of the peices are longer than 4'.. So you'll end up w/ quite a bit of scrap if using 8' stock. If my memory serves, I used 12' stock. It wasn't a lot of lumber though. As I mentioned, the whole rack, including hardware, couldn't have been more than $30-50. But I built this rack nearly 2 years ago.. so I could be mistaken.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Draimen
nice drawing btw, autocad?
Nope.. MS Paint!

I should probably add that the drawing is most definitely NOT TO SCALE!
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Old 07-21-2005
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Originally Posted by TippnOver
thas a big kayak!!
Yeah it is! The boat is the 'Extreme' built by a Canadian company called Current Designs. The boat is 18'10" long and only 21 1/4" wide! That makes for one hellaciously fast boat. Unfortunately it also makes for one very tippy boat. As I mentioned, I borrowed the boat from my father for a week's vacation on a lake in Maine last week. I'm fairly experienced as I've been kayaking since I was a small child.. but this boat is too much for me to handle! The first day we were up there the wind was blowing pretty good. The place we had was at the far end of a 13 mile long lake and the wind was blowing right down the length of the lake. This gave us 3-4' swells w/ white-caps on this little inland lake! My buddy and I took off at 7 AM one morning, he in his LL Bean $400 special rec-boat and I in papa's OMG tourer here. ~300' away from the beach I relaxed for a half a second, got caught off balance from the side by a wave and rolled! It was shocking how easily this boat rolls like that. To add inslult to injury, I lost a Nalgene bottle that was not properly secured when I went over.

Like I said, waaaay too much boat for me. I gotta find me an intermediate rec-boat..
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Old 07-21-2005
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that is so cool. and you can still see really well out of your back window. good job.
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