Home-made kayak rack - Mountain Buzz

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Old 03-10-2012   #1
WetExit's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 72
Home-made kayak rack

Has anyone here made their own car rack to carry their kayaks? I'm somewhat frugal (some would say cheap), and I can't bring myself to spend the cash on a custom Thule or Yakima rack to carry at least two boats around.

I drive a Jeep Liberty Renegade with the extra thick side rails (like the Xterra), but I don't have crossbars yet either. I checked out some Jeep mod forums and there's some good ideas for crossbars, but nothing specifically for kayaks...

Anyone have any experience with building their own car rack?

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Old 03-10-2012   #2
Fort Collins
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 249
I have found that the black gas line pipe(1" I think) at Home Depot or Lowes is just a scosh smaller than the yakima bars, and if you put them into Yakima towers, you can clamp the towers tight enough to secure them. This means you can get a 10' pipe, cut it in two, and have 2 60" cross bars for $20 instead of $70 if purchased form Yakima. Also, Home Depot will cut pipe for you (saved me from the hack saw), and they can even thread the shorter peices.

Right now, I just have a couple of bike trays mnounted to it, but I figure if I ever need to, I could cut my cross bars in half, and insert a T-Fitting, so I oculd put some vertical bars in like stackers to secure more boats. This is mostly in thought mode as I have not actually tried it yet.

Good Luck.
"If I'm not there, it means I'm dead...or late!" General W.R. Monger
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Old 03-11-2012   #3
Columbus, Indiana
Join Date: Aug 2011
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Best way to do it cheap is to buy the towers, bars, and Stacker used on craigslist or eBay for cheap. Then just buy the adapter kit for your car new.

It's difficult (almost impossible) to diy a truly safe and reliable carrier that also won't damage your car. I've tried..... Ended up with a Thule system.

Or buy a truck
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Old 03-11-2012   #4
bobbuilds's Avatar
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your cheapest option.

your jeep liberty already has bars that run front to back, you just need cross bars.

you can use gas pipe, wood or EMT (electrical pipe) for the cross bars and tie it all down with cam straps.

It does not have to be fixed to the roof, you just need to learn how to tie it the same each time, and do everyones boat untill you are sure they did it right. (i've had people tell me they did it "right" and 2 miles in to a 6 mile shuttle, twice we lost their boat) thank god it was not on a highway.

or for added security, you could bolt cross bars to the existing jeep bars by drilling holes, or using "u" bolts around the jeep bars and drilling the wood. i recomend wood because it is more plyable and you can sence stress in the system better than steel in a diy situation.

it might sound confusing, but if you want some help, send me a pm, and we can meet up and i can give you better understanding and more ideas.

mine generally cost less than 20$ and have been super bomber for the vehicles i have retro-fitted.
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Old 03-11-2012   #5
hullflyer's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
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Quick-n-Easy Brand. I made em for less than $60.00 . they are strong and durable. Just make with two by fours or they will accept old yakima bars.

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Old 03-11-2012   #6
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
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I used 2 X 3's and tube clamps on my xterra... Been up there for 4 years with no problems. Should probably replace the wood this summer though.
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Old 03-11-2012   #7
WetExit's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Sep 2011
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Bobbuilds: thanks for the tips. I'm glad there's at least a few inventive/innovative kayakers out there. I was starting to think that everyone was just rich. I know racks aren't all that expensive relatively speaking, but there's plenty of other priorities that have my money's name on them unfortunately.

I've found a few ideas online for crossbars (below). I was hoping someone had fabbed up a kayak-specific rack, like homemade J-holders or stackers. Crossbars would work, but two kayaks flat on top take up a lot of real estate..

here's one home-brew made out of one-inch square steel tubing and some u-bolts:

I just don't like the way the bolts jut up. I'd probably scrape my kayak to hell.
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Old 03-12-2012   #8
Akron, Ohio
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Mar 2012
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I recommend grabbing a bunch of pool noodles and roll of duct tape and creating a mattress for the kayaks to lay on. This is to protect the roof of the vehicle. From there, google "tying down kayaks" or similar search to find detailed drawings and pictures of the ways to securely tie down the kayaks. I recommend buying the tie down kits at Home Depot that people use to tie down dirtbikes and whatnot into trailers because they are able to be hooked on and no knots are involved.
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Old 03-12-2012   #9
norcal, California
Join Date: Mar 2011
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Originally Posted by WetExit View Post

I just don't like the way the bolts jut up. I'd probably scrape my kayak to hell.
You could flip the u-bolt over and use a rectangular one like this.
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Old 03-13-2012   #10
WetExit's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
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I managed to find a set of Thule Stackers on craigslist for $30. Looks like those will clamp on to just about any crossbar. I'm thinking some U-bolts and steel bar from home depot will do the trick for the crossbars. I'll just cut down the bolt ends and put a cap over the bolt head to keep it from scraping up any plastic while loading.

It still amazes me that Thule and Yakima can price a hunk of aluminum and plastic so high. Truly seems like a rip-off for what it is..
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