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PostPosted: June 8th, 2020, 12:10 pm 
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Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 1827
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
martin2007 wrote:
I am pretty sure that carrying canoes on car and truck roofs was simpler and easier in the good old days, i.e. when vehicles had rain gutters and microwave ovens hadn't been invented yet.
Now for Step 2: roof racks ON the roof of the vehicle. WTF! How can it be so complicated?!

Option 1: Old Thule system (but purchased new out of elusive old stock)
Thule's declared max. weight for this configuration on my vehicle: 88 lbs. What!? My paddles weigh more than that! Cost: around $500-600 CAN. tax in.

Option 2: Thule "Top-Tracks" TP 54" installed with screws and sealer on minivan's bare flat roof to provide the vehicle with rails. Price installed__GULP! : $1282 CAN. from the Rack Attack.

So am I missing out there the REASONABLE version of a modern-day roof rack that stays on the minivan most of the year and carries a narrow ski-and-paddle cargo box with plenty of room beside it for a 36" wide canoe with all the trimmings?


Martin, a roof racker’s life sure was easier back when vehicles had rain gutters*. We bought our last Dodge minivan specifically because it was the last model year with rain gutters, and when it died bought a full sized Ford van for the same reason.

BTW, I think, but am not certain, that the Thule/Yakima weight ratings are per crossbar. I’d check that though.

The new style vans, Ford’s Transit, Dodge ProMaster and etc, favored by contractors, do at least have attachment points for roof racks. The available contractor racks are much stronger than Yakima or Thule stuff. We put three Vantec crossbars on a Ford Transit, those are made to fit the roof reveals and bolt into an existing factory receiver. (Three because we needed the spacing for a bike rack, rocket box and canoe).

ImagePA171251 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

There is some serious interior structure in those Vantech crossbars, not just a hollow core. That is some contractor sturdy stuff.

ImagePA221280 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

As far as Yakima or Thule stuff my overriding concern, especially using long crossbars, if that the racks be easily removable. The Thule Tracker II towers and crossbar on the truck’s Leer cap are the same repurposed ones we used for 10 years on a Honda CR-V. Those go on and lift off in literal seconds (we do use locking cores). Once off they leave nothing on the roof but the 2” stainless steel bars to which they attach. On the CR-V or Leer cap this is all that remains when the racks are lifted off.

ImageP5100009 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

In frustrating contrast my wife bought a Subaru Forester last year. She did a bunch of research and settled on Yakima racks that attach to the raised side rails. With the foot packs, towers and rails those were in the $500+ USD range. At least they are not flush side rails; that really limits the solutions.

She maybe should have done a little more research, or watched some installation videos. The towers have a strap-like feature that tightens around the raised side rails. Those straps, one per tower x 4 towers, tighten using an Allen wrench.

The installation instructions read “Tighten each strap by turning the Allen wrench approximately 100 times”. Times four straps.

What a ridiculous engineering solution, and the reason you see so many people driving their commuter cars with empty roof racks; no one wants to take that nonsense off and put it back on, so they install them once and leave them on forever. (Not Yakima’s fault, but the Forester has a “spoiler” atop the hatch door, which will hit a roof racked canoe before the hatch is even partway open. Thanks Subaru)

I don’t know what, if anything, is on the roof of your Grand Caravan. Even if it has no racks or side rails it might have the attachment points hidden under covers or trim for that factory option.

Have a look at Vantech racks and see if anything works/fits on your minivan.

https://vantech.us/

Or look at Inno racks. Inno “clones” some Thule-style towers and crossbars at less outrageous prices.

http://usa.innoracks.com/

Good luck. I haven’t owned a rack-less vehicle in the last 40 years, and can’t imagine travelling without racks.

As a last resort I’d find a welder/fabrication shop and have them custom craft something that attached directly over the Grand Caravan roof pillars. There are a lot of DIY custom roof rack videos to give you some design ideas.

*Or, hell, maybe simply have them weld rain gutters on. We still use the Quick & Easy brackets on the Ford van that were on the two previous rain-guttered minivans. Actually we have eight Quick & Easy crossbars, set up in different ways to carry different boat and gear arrangements, including four canoes or four decked boats side-by-side.

Eleven feet of rain guttered flat van roofline is a thing of DIY’ers beauty.


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PostPosted: June 19th, 2020, 5:24 pm 
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Joined: April 6th, 2007, 8:42 pm
Posts: 421
Thanks for your input , Mike.

I checked out Vantech on line, but there doesn't appear to be a dealer anywhere in Ontario. Ditto for Innoracks.
Rack dealers hereabouts are now reporting a big backlog of unfulfilled orders of Thule products, and ridiculous wait times if the product isn't in stock locally. For now I just got my old canoe-hauling trailer re-wired and ready to go, and my hitch installed. I don't love hauling canoes behind me, though. Will have to do so for now, however.

Dodge service dealership says, albeit with a certain lukewarm level of confidence, that my vehicle has NO pre-ordained attachment points and emphasized that installing factory-level rails after production is extremely, yes, extremely, labour intensive. And I'd always looked with undisguised scepticism at those flimsy, mainly for show, itty-bitty silver rails.

The quest continues...

... but for now I believe it's time to crack open a tall can of Muskoka Mad Tom IPA. Goddammit, I've earned it!!


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