Painless Roof Rack

Earle A. Jones

After many years of bruises and language that probably condemned me to eternal damnation. I decided that my 72" roof rack had to go. I had the only reliable "bush car" in my small circle of paddling buddies and was always volunteered to carry the mountain of boats. To achieve this I had purchased a gutter mount industrial roof rack from a local hardware store. It consisted of 4 shackle mount gutter supports and 1" square steel tubing. Since they extended at least a foot on each side of my car I could expect one intimate encounter of the cranial kind per trip. Well it only took 3 for me to eliminate the problem altogether. And in doing so I created a rack that could hold up to 5 canoes.

Here's my plan

roofrack.jpg (14677 bytes)    I took the original bars that came with the rack and cut them down to 52" ( the width of my gutters. While they were off I drilled a 3/8" hole through the center of each bar. I then installed a closed eye bolt through each hole and bolted it with large washers. I ordered 4- 26" pieces of 3/4" square tubing from the welding shop and drilled another 3/8" hole in one end of each piece. I again mounted a closed eye bolt to each hole repeating the above process. Then each of the 26" pieces were painted to match the center bar. I reassembled the original rack, attaching the suports with the shackles, placed it on the car and tightened everything down. I then slid the 4 3/4" bars into the ends of the main bar. By pulling them out I placed one canoe on each side of the center eye bolts. Then I slid the extension bars back in till they were against the gunnels of the two canoes. Ropes are attached to the eye bolts using marine carabiners. One suggestion; attach the ropes to the center eye bolts before putting the canoes on. Then lay the ropes along the hood and trunk of the car. That way once you've got the boats on you just have to grab the ropes and throw them over the hulls and tie on to the end eye bolts. When you get to your put-in or the trip is over simply pull the extension bars out and put them in the trunk along with the ropes. There is no need to construct any type of locking device for the extensions since they are only on when needed and the ropes holding the canoes on keep them from coming out. Finally don't forget to attach the bow and stern of the canoes to the bumpers for safety. If I am carrying more than 2 canoes I place a length of carpet covered 2x4 on top of the first canoes. This piece of wood also has eye hooks mounted on the ends and middle. There is one hook on each end. I then place a canoe on each side of the center hook as I did on the first layer. I tie the canoes on the same way at the center but instead of tying them on the ends I loop the rope through the eye hooks in the 2x4 and through the eyes in the steel rack. I tie a trucker's hitch at this point an I'm on my way. You can place a 5th on top of this but take it easy on the corners and don't be surprised if you become an attraction driving down the road. Just remember to smile when they take your picture. For added effect you can stuff the packs up under the canoes. OK, maybe that's overkill but I tried. If you'd like more complete info or a photo of the rack in use let me know by e-mail

Happy paddling

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