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Old 12-23-2007   #1
Warren's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 122
Your Dream Truck Rack?

Been building racks for my Toys for a few years and now the time has come once again. What have you seen out there? What have you done? Limits of straight tubular steel being abandoned, what would you do if you could do anything? Steps, baskets, extensions, side mounts, attachment points. Boater, Contractor, Camper. Looking to upgrade which is becoming hard as each one seems about perfect. What ya got? Be descriptive and pics are great. If I do use a new idea (to me) I will definitley buy ya a couple cold ones. Be creative.

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Old 12-24-2007   #2
Spits Hot Fire
N. Cascades, Washington
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 978
Good question, I was thinking about asking the same thing of paddlers on here. I just got into a new Tacoma and trying to figure out the best topper/cage set up. I'm a big fan of the contractor cage type dealy's. I'm totally open to ideas too. I know alot of you dudes like Taco's & Tundras so throw some suggestions out there.

Cutch has a a sik looking set-up I noticed in the New Testament.

I like the idea of a cage over the topper with a basket type area that extends over the cab.

Your opinion doesn't matter when you're already biased.
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Old 12-24-2007   #3
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 9
Check out Josh's company, index
He makes some of the best racks I have seen. The company is back east, but plenty of photos on his website, great for getting ideas. Could hit him up if taking a spring trip to West by God Virginia.
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Old 12-24-2007   #4
Dave Frank's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,727
If you really want to carry everything for a big trip, you'll need one for your trailer too.

This was one of the only shots I could find of the truck. The rack is great, but it is way too heavy for anything toyota sells in the states. The rack is on its second truck, and is constantly being upgraded, though it is well past need of new paint or better yet a line-xing.

Unfortunately the rack more often carries lumber or ladders, than boats, so may of its features have construction as their primary function and boating as fringe benefit. Lets face it, my boating is not paying the bills.

It does however manage LOTs of boats. Two lines of 5-6 come easy, without any creativity. Lines of seven or eight involve a little more creativity.

The sides each have L-shaped hooks, that carry step ladders, without even strapping them on. The same rack can hold lots of paddles or some smaller play boats.

There is expanded metal decking over both the back 2 feet as well as the entire cab. These are good for loading random gear and also keep your slacker friend's feet of of the truck. Be careful how much of this you put on. It does have some drawbacks: it makes it harder to get straps around a bar, and it does chew up straps a bit. Its also heavy and requires significantly more line -x to cover, if you choose that route. That is the main reason, I have not coated mine yet.

It was originally made by remuda racks, but it has been cut apart and added to a few times.

Note the reverse flood lamps. While these are pretty cool, I really don't end up using them that much. Be sure to wire them, so you can flash tailgaters (way illegal to have them wired that way).

It is made mostly out of 2" square pipe. I would go with round if I were to do it today. it does not need to be this tough for boats only, but I've carried in excess of a ton up there.

Think carefully about your bar placement, and consider contributing your own Thule or Yak bars to the project so your other part will bolt right on. A common error i've seen is to make the bars too far apart and boats tend to slip off of straps when the strap don't make it out to the skinnier parts of the boat. Seems 4 feet is about right, but mine are only 3'. I will lose boats on this spacing, if I don't do stern/bow lines.

The whole trailer was originally for work. I "borrowed" it for a raft trip once, and never returned it. Same type of rack, without the decking. 5 frames and all the oars go on easily. The trailer is pretty maxed out with all the gear and coolers for a full trip, but it works.

Back to the main rack. on the outsides of the cab-over rack are spots for my 2 boats. It looks a little silly when that is all that's up there, but it leaves the whole main rack open for work, which unfortunately happens more than boating.

You can also get a fully rigged gear boat up there if you have strong friends, or a winch.

I'll try to add a better pic of the truck and rack later.
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Old 12-24-2007   #5
Badazws6's Avatar
The Road, Colorado
Paddling Since: '07
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 612
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Speaking of winches you may want to make sure you put a STRONG attachment point on it. You never know when it might give...
Life: Live it!
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Old 12-24-2007   #6
El Flaco's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,879
I'll add a couple of suggestions to Dave's thorough post-

1. Be careful about where you place the over-cab bar if you extend the rack forward. If the bar is in the wrong place, you can wind up with some serious wind resistence and it increases the decibels in your cab so that you can't hear yourself think.

2. Just to reiterate what Dave mentioned- Definitely bring what you need to the welder's shop and have him add items. I brought a couple of extra Yakima bars and had Ramuda weld 4 six-inch pieces to the outside of the frame, so I could attach the Y-clips or a bike tray. Very handy & I highly recommend adding Yakima or Thule bars to the rack if you have those attachments already.

3. Don't overbuild to what your needs are. If you're not using the rack to haul construction equipment like Dave is, or your truck bed walls shouldn't be supporting a 600 lbs rack with 200 lbs of boating gear on top, then use a smaller dimension tube. You'll probably save yourself 1-2 mpg with weight and wind resistence savings. I overbuilt for my T-100 and the bedrails actually transferred too much weight to the frame mounts, and the metal cracked around that attachment. Plus the rails themselves were dented after a few years of use.

4. Add walkrails. Absolutely critical for getting the heavy stuff up there. Consider placing a mount for bikes along the walk rail- that was the easiest place to put bikes with the bed full and the top of the rack full of boats. I have a picture of this somewhere; I'll upload all my rack pics when I get home later this week.

5. You can have the welder add a cotter pin set-up with your cross-bars to leave them off when you don't need them. Not critical, but just a suggestion. I did this on the front half of my rack (over the cab) and that kept the aforementioned wind noise down until I had to fill the rack to capacity, which was rare.
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Old 12-24-2007   #7
Repa's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 75
As a fabricator who has made a few over cab racks in my day and seen even more and i must say that the most common mistake in custom racks is to overbuild them with heavy gage steel. All you do by building exclusively with this material is add a whole lot of unnecessary weight to your rack and strain the suspension of your truck. A good design using lighter materials will carry more than you think, trust me. In the end if the finished rack weighs more than 2 people can manage easily, it weighs too much.

Use lighter gage steel for all the uprights, top runners and supports. Use the heavier gage for the cross bars, rail runners and pop outs (were the rack meets the bed of the truck and extends away). I would strongly urge you to use square tubing for several reasons.
1. easier to walk on than the round bar
2. 1x1 accept Thule components (no round stock accepts Yakima, I've tried)
3. generally cheaper

Expanded metal catwalks are cool but again they add a bunch of weight that you most likely won't be using in most applications. If you think you need a catwalk make it removable. I.E. have welded hooks on the ends to receive the cross bars.

Flaco's advice on the removable front cross bar is a good one. His worked great but this type of feature will likely add a bunch of $ to the total build. If I were to do this for a client I would tack on an extra $100-$200 just as a pain-in-the-ass charge. (If you must know why it's a pain in the ass PM me)
The sound issue that he raises is a significant one but you won't know if you will have an issue until after the rack is installed. Some racks make noise, some don't. It all depends on the exact placement and configuration of your rack and truck. There is just no way to tell ahead of time if your truck and configuration will generate the horrible Taos Hum. However, that said I have always been able to offset this problem with a little foam pipe insulation which generally dulls the sound by well over 70%.

Foot rails are a must. But again DO NOT OVERBUILD! They do not need to run the entire length of the bed. Really they only need to be extentions of the upright pad pop outs. (don't forget the grip tape for slick days).

My advice really boils down to one thing. Keep it simple. All the bells and whistles are used infrequently, cost $ and add weight. You'll be surprised how much shit you can carry with a good supply of boat straps and a little determination.
Stay Wet
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Old 12-25-2007   #8
El Flaco's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,879
You can trust Repa- he's a big-time corporate suit from Dallas.

But once, long ago, he rode with the "Plaid Stallions". Even did some modeling in his time:

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Old 12-25-2007   #9
The next zone, .
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,200
Start with a new truck!!!

Start with a new truck... For you warren a F-650 would be nice!
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Old 12-26-2007   #10
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 9
Nice monster truck, and I thought my V6 was overkill.

I've thouhght about building up a removeable rack around my topper out of extruded T-slot framing materials. AluFab sells any shape tube and fitting you could ask for, web sight here: aluminum extrusion fabricator, manufacturer, designer | structural aluminum framing profiles | extruded aluminum accessories

I've used this stuff to build platforms to hold telescopes and it is very ridge and super light weight. You can even buy it from the online merchant McMaster Car ( McMaster-Carr Look under "structural frame system") and cut it to lenght yourself, or order pre-cut lenghts from the manufacturer. A couple lenghts of this stuff, some aluminum bar stock (again from McMaster Carr to an aluminum scrap yard) and some tamper resistant allen head screws and you could wip together a removable rack in an afternoon.

Anyone have some tips on attaching the bed rail or getting under the topper without creating leaks?


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