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 Post subject: Roof Rack Improvement
PostPosted: April 1st, 2018, 7:11 pm 
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Joined: April 6th, 2007, 8:42 pm
Posts: 405
I'm tired of my old system. It was beyond ugly. It may even have been a conversation piece for some, but people in my town are diplomatic. It was a boat-hugging comfortable, easy-loading, secure system: a Sport Rack with 78" crossbars that I shortened to 70" (I was tired of heads smacking__mine and passengers'__and the ensuing risk of litigation). The crossbars were wrapped in linoleum flooring which itself was wrapped around closed cell foam. Yep. Butt ugly. So time for a change. I stripped off the linoleum, zip ties, foam padding, and yes, discreetly positioned duct tape (I told you it was ugly!). I still want the ski/paddle cargo box on the passenger side, canoe on the driver side configuration. I began researching "gunnel brackets" and "load stoppers" to ensure the canoe doesn't float around on the slick naked surface of the bars. Thule has a kit, $160 CAN for for 4 moveable gunnel brackets. Yep, almost as expensive as some boats I've loved. Thule "load stops" run about $90 CAN. Are there any cheaper solutions for a load-stop that can be moved easily along the crossbars to accommodate different boats?


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PostPosted: April 2nd, 2018, 9:05 am 
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Joined: March 17th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 1772
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
I use this method... https://youtu.be/Ox2vkHxTX78

It's pretty easy to set up to carry more than one boat but is easy to put away to avoid that bonk yer head problem.


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PostPosted: April 2nd, 2018, 9:35 am 
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Joined: May 23rd, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 249
Location: Ottawa, Ontario Canada
Not sure how this would work, but have you tried just using a set of four C-clamps? Certainly, they'd be easy enough to move or remove. I guess I'd want to ensure that they could be mounted such that they offered enough of a lip to prevent the canoe from being bumped over the lip, although if the boat was tied down tightly....


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PostPosted: April 2nd, 2018, 10:36 am 
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Joined: December 20th, 2003, 9:27 am
Posts: 943
Do a Google search for "pipe clamps" and look at the images. Perhaps something there will work for you.


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PostPosted: April 2nd, 2018, 1:42 pm 
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Joined: July 21st, 2004, 7:58 pm
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OK, a dumb question. Why do you need these things anyway? I've been cam-strapping or trucker-hitching boats of all descriptions to bare bars for over twenty years and, sure, a couple of times I've had to get out and retighten the straps (my bad), but never had any serious problems with boats sliding on the bars.


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PostPosted: April 2nd, 2018, 5:20 pm 
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Joined: March 17th, 2002, 7:00 pm
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Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Peter K. wrote:
OK, a dumb question. Why do you need these things anyway? I've been cam-strapping or trucker-hitching boats of all descriptions to bare bars for over twenty years and, sure, a couple of times I've had to get out and retighten the straps (my bad), but never had any serious problems with boats sliding on the bars.

I agree, never saw any need for things to keep the boats from moving, though I will note I've never had a problem with ropes and trucker hitches but I did have a boat come loose with cinch straps one day it was raining. The original poster asked about ways to avoid the bonking your head problem with racks long enough to carry two boats. The youtube video I posted works very well for that and the wood I use has more friction than metal bars.


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PostPosted: April 2nd, 2018, 7:16 pm 
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Joined: April 6th, 2007, 8:42 pm
Posts: 405
Thank you, Peter, Rolf, Ralph, and Darryl, for your ideas. I've never transported boats on the naked bars, and de-nuded, to me they look almost as slippery as the water slide at Wally World. My old system of padding allowed the boats' gunnels to sink into the padding. In hundreds of outings over the years I've never had a boat slip on my DIY padded linoleum. I've also never significantly damaged any of my boats' wooden gunnels during transport, but maybe I wouldn't have anyway if I'd been using bare crossbars. The padded monstrosity made for very easy solo loading and unloading of some heavy wc canoes and vintage folding skin-on-frame kayaks. Head-banging is no longer a concern; for sure a good editor wouldn't have allowed me to include that detail of limited relevance. But it's still about the "load-stops". Thanks, everyone, for your ideas. I'm now considering 1) asking: "yeah, who says I need load-stops at all?" (Answer: Thule, Yakima, and their monopolistic minions!) 2) Finding some alternate-purpose c-clamp or pipe-clamp that will do a similar job for a fraction of the price, and 3) re-doing my quaint old bars with fresh linoleum and pipe insulation of which I have a healthy supply from recent home renovations. The truth is I never lost sleep over the appearance of the rack__it wasn't without a certain DIY charm__ but I did hope to be able to free up the crossbars for intermittent use of kayak cradles. And I haven't ruled out #4: just buy the $160 sliding bits of plastic and be done with it!


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PostPosted: April 3rd, 2018, 7:34 am 
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Joined: August 8th, 2017, 9:14 am
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My Thule racks have a thin rubber or plastic coating on them and that's good enough for me. That said, I'm not sure I'd want my canoes going down onto bare metal either though what you had on there before sounds pretty ghetto. I would not be worried about sliding around more about getting dings from the bars.

Why not just use the standard foam block removable gunwale protectors?


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PostPosted: April 3rd, 2018, 8:30 am 
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Joined: March 17th, 2002, 7:00 pm
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Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
FWIW... I've never had a problem tying down canoes on metal racks with ropes, but you do need to use good knots and it sure helps if you wrap a bunch of turns around the bar before you tighten the last knot. As long as the canoe is secure and doesn't move around it won't damage the boat even if it has wood gunnels and might be a more flimsy construction. A strip of foam between the rope and the hull can lessen any chance of damage. That said, the extension bar I posted in the youtube link is a great way to reduce friction and lessen any chance of damage to gunnels. Most roof racks these days come with the slot in the middle intended to house a rubber strip but its a great way to add a wood buffer or extension. I added some nylon straps under the hood to make it easier to tie the bow down properly, it provides better support and its a heck of a lot easier than trying to find a tie down point on or under the front bumper. When not needed, the web straps can be tucked back under the hood.


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PostPosted: April 3rd, 2018, 1:22 pm 
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Joined: January 30th, 2018, 12:46 pm
Posts: 81
Martin, if all you want is more friction between the rack and your boats then you can buy some one inch diameter clear plastic tubing at a hardware store and cut it into one foot sections and then slit each piece lengthwise and you'll have grippy plastic covers that snap onto the gunnels of any canoe. Foam pipe insulation also works well but they don't stay on as well plus they try to fly away on windy days.

For load stops you might consider a pair of u-clamps from a hardware store. If you mount two sturdy u-clamps on the outboard driver's side against the towers then you can pull your boat against the stops using rope or straps and it's already quite stable and secure. Add bow and stern lines and you should be in great shape. With just two load stops you never need to adjust them.

Or if you want genuine canoe gunnel brackets you can send me your mailing address in a PM and I'll send you some Yakima ones that I no longer use...they work on round Yakima bars or square Thule bars. But you have to promise to send me some sort of cool little paddling tidbit in return.


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PostPosted: April 4th, 2018, 5:30 pm 
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Joined: April 6th, 2007, 8:42 pm
Posts: 405
Thanks for the generous offer, daypaddler. I might take you up on it once I've tried one or two configurations that I think will work. I'm going to start the season with load stops only on the passenger side of the crossbars. The stops will, in fact, be old-style kayak cradles that will ensure that the boat doesn't slip towards the cargo box. I'll be using the side of the cradle as a stop, not actually placing the gunnel on the cradles. I'll leave the driver-side of the crossbars unimpeded with hardware to allow for easy solo mounting and dismounting of boats. Tying off snugly to the driver-side gunnels should suffice to prevent any slippage. The driver-side kayak cradles can then be added only when needed for kayak transport. What I learned long ago is that if the solo on-and-off-the-car boat hauling system isn't simple, easy, and instantly accommodating of various boat sizes one's boats don't get taken out much for day-trips. Any palaver with hardware risks becoming an annoying deterrent. I'll update this post once I've tested things out. First paddle of the season was to be this week, but today's snow, wind and general mayhem are wreaking havoc on my plans.


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PostPosted: April 4th, 2018, 11:12 pm 
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Joined: October 31st, 2016, 9:32 pm
Posts: 100
Location: Missoula, Montana
Here's the roof rack I've been using with Thule racks for about 25 years: 1" x 4" oak boards, sealed with spar varnish, held onto the roof rack with carriage bolts, thumbscrews, and metal plates; padded with closed cell foam, and covered with cordura nylon. A pipe base is screwed onto the center of each bar, to hold a removable section of padded pipe for leaning kayaks against. This system works well for both canoes and kayaks, protects them from the roof rack bar, and keeps them from sliding around.


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PostPosted: April 5th, 2018, 6:20 am 
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I just have the Thule bars and have never had an issue with canoes sliding around.

I'm not sure what you mean by this - do you have any photos of it? "A pipe base is screwed onto the center of each bar, to hold a removable section of padded pipe for leaning kayaks against. "


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PostPosted: April 5th, 2018, 5:39 pm 
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Joined: January 30th, 2018, 12:46 pm
Posts: 81
Well Martin, it sounds like you have figured out a fine set-up for your needs. I agree with you that it's critical to have an easy to use yet secure system to make sure the boats get out. I had a nice paddle today even though it was short.


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PostPosted: April 5th, 2018, 6:25 pm 
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Joined: April 6th, 2007, 8:42 pm
Posts: 405
Nice set-up, Pete. Thanks for sharing that. Where are you located, daypaddler? I'm in London, Ontario, where the snow prefers to fall only AFTER the ski season has safely terminated :)


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