2 canoes short crossbars

I have a small problem. I have 2 vehicles,and both take the same factory rack clamp on crossbars. I only have 54" of crossbar. Hauling 1 boat is no problem,but an upcoming Raystown paddling event is drawing near,and I want to bring both my boats.Both canoes measure 30" wide.I have a stacker bar,but it is not long enough to hold the gunnels of the canoes,and I am not sure it is good to carry canoes on their sides. At this point I am thinking of simply adding a 2X4 to my crossbars to get extra width.I have a Thule bar set up,and the clamping mechanism is part of the bar,and they don’t make longer bars. I don’t want to buy another rack system,when I already have a good one. I tried lapping one boat over the other,but their shape doesn’t allow a lot of contact,and seems unsafe to me. Anyone else haul 2 canoes on short bars,and what is your solution. Any advice would be appreciated.

Happy Paddling billinpa

Make yer’self…

– Last Updated: Aug-27-06 12:53 PM EST –

an extensoon. If ye gots de Thule or Yakima crossbars, ye kin cut some 3/4" thickwall EMT (the steel electrical conduit)ta whatever length yer want ta extend yer crossbars to - figger 'bout 12" - 15" or so, add a'nutter 8-10" an' crimp down dem end 8 - 10" sections ta snugly fit inside de existin' crossbars. Waan ah' needs more room ah' jus' pop off de end caps of de crossbars an' shove in the crimped end of de EMT an' there ye have yer extree room. De tiedown straps cause a camming action holdin' it tight inside de crossbar. To play it even safer, ye kin tap a hole wit a screw through both de crossbar an' extension, too. Worked mighty'fine fer me waan ah' used Thule fer a short time. Now ah' gots TracRak an' waan ah's needs wider racks ah made me some wooden extensoons dat plug right inta de ends of dem too.

Fat Elmo

Thule bars
come in 58, 65 and 78 inch lengths.


Copy and paste the whole link. I’ll see your setup at Raystown.


My bars…
have a screw thread running through them from the ends. The end caps are the “bolt” that tightens the back half of the clamp that clamps to my factory rack side rails.My bars are more C shaped allowing the back half of the clamp to slide back & forth. I can’t drill,or screw anything through them ,or they won’t work. Thule doesn’t make my set up anymore in favor of adding longer,or shorter bars. My set up only came in one size 54" My only thought is to clamp something over them.

Happy Paddling billinpa

I’ve done the 2x4’s ontop of crossbars. Works well. Secure them with a couple of u-bolts on each bar.

what I am thinkin. Thanks paddle n fish.

Happy Paddling billinpa


– Last Updated: Aug-27-06 2:05 PM EST –

Never seen a setup like dat one before. Kind'a looks like yer clamp-on idea be de only way ta go. Ye kin' get a piece of hardwood cut ta de size ye want, cut a groove in de middle of de board length-wise so de Thule crossbar fits inside of this groove and fit on a bar or U bolt ta hold it onto de Thule bar. Kin' ye send us a picture of de crossbar setup. Maybe ah' kin' get a better idea an' give ye a better answer.

Fat Elmo

Here you go.

– Last Updated: Aug-27-06 5:20 PM EST –

Some rack pictures. The bar system is at least 8 years old,but still fits many cars with factory racks. I take the rack along when buying a new car,if it fits I buy the car. In this case a 2006 RAV 4. It also fits 2002-2006 Subaru Outbacks. A 2005 Outback is my other boat hauling car.

Happy Paddling billinpa

By popular demand - a translation…

I would take a 2x3 piece of hardwood and cut it to the desired length. Then I would cut or route a groove right down the middle of it lengthwise. The width of the groove would be a hair wider than the outside width of the Thule crossbar - just snug. Don’t go too deep - 3/4" will do. I’d then, of course, varnish or paint it for waterproofness. After you have it fitted, you can attach U bolts that extent around the Thule crossbars and into the wooden crossbars - holding it tight to the Thules. You can even counter sink the bolts and nuts in the top so you have a nice flat top surface with no protruding hardware sticking out. I’d highly recommend stainless steel for your fasteners. Tack some indoor/outdoor carpeting on it to protect your boat and give it a little friction.

Fat Elmo

Translated by Festus Haggins. In turn translated by Gabby Hayes and finally by Miss Crabtree

Sounds good to me…
and that’s what I was thinking. Ok,now what wood would be good for that usage. I want something that don’t warp & twist. I would of course poly seal it for the weather.

Happy Paddling billinpa

Why Seal ?
I just use pressure teated wood and don’t worry about it. Eventually the top of the wood swells and gives the wood a slight upwards bulge. No problems. And I don’t have to worry about spilling any sealant on the car.

Pine 2"x4", hardwood 2"x2", etc work

– Last Updated: Aug-28-06 7:33 AM EST –

fine straped, taped, bolted, etc to the extsting bars. BUT be warned the new pressure treated lumber is not friendly to a lot of things. It is CORROSSIVE!!! I would not want it pressed to or dripping on my racks and vehicle. Probably better off with non treated wood. Protect it with oil or coating or just use and discard it when it gets "old".

Use ribbons/flags to warn you and others to avoid the low extended bars.



Pressure Treated Wood

– Last Updated: Aug-28-06 6:33 PM EST –

Wha Ho, Pilgrim;

In me experience, pressure treated wood dries out, shrinks, twists, warps an' checks after a short time, especially on a hot car roof environment. A'nutter thing is that it usually has alot of sap in it, which will leak out in places wit de heat an' drip dat goop all over your brandy-new car.
But then agin' ye won't git dem termite critters in yer rack...
Ah' wouldn't use it.
Now ah's like ash, yup - give me a nice piece of ash anyday :) - now, ah' dun't knows about yer area, but it's hard as hell ta come by in these here parts (NJ), so any kind'a straight grained hardwood or even pine (southern yellow be great) will be ok. Kiln or air dried be the ticket. Green stuff is gonna warp. Quartersawn warps less than flatsawn too. Ah'd still slap some sealer on it first though. Looking at your photos, me'thinks ye might have ta do a little routing near de ends - widenin' the groove in places to enable those Thule end caps to fit. Mr. McWood be right about protectin' against dem noggin' dentin' crossbar ends - ah's gots plenty o' knots in me noggin' ta prove it..

Fat Elmo

Let Tommy show you how!




Not a lot of help Bill
But, for informational purposes, we hauled three canoes side by each to the BW and back. Pyker put 8’ black pipe thru the yakima towers and we used a rubber 1/16" gasket material taped to the pipe to securely grip. I know the Thule is set up for square bars (which is why I went with Yakima).

My contribution to the topic is this; most states, including PA are ambiguous regarding the width of “attachments” to the vehicle. Trailers are very specific in that up to 8’ no problem.

Our interpretation of the “attachment width” is that no wider than the widest point of the vehicle is OK (side view mirrors). This was not the case on Pykers truck by quite a few inches. That said we drove 15 hours through three states and passed many Law Enforcement types without a second glance.

McWood makes a good point with the flagging idea not only for passers-by but also the occupants of the vehicle…whacked myself several times, good thing it was in the noggin.

second opinion?
I have something like 54" crossbars on my Honda Civic & sometimes need to carry 2 canoes…hmmm…sounds familiar.

(2) 6-foot pre-threaded sections of 3/4"(?) black pipe

(4) pipe caps

(2) 71" lengths of dishwasher drain hose, sized to fit tight over pipe

(4) SS hose clamps large enough to encircle rack crossbar and pipe

(4) bright tennis balls

Slip the hose over the pipe, screw on the pipe caps, small x-slit in the tennis balls and slide over the ends (protects your noggin, eh?)

Then I just center on my existing crossbar, open up the hose clamps and wrap them around both, tighten em’ up and I’m good to go.

Quick clean fabrication,

decently attractive results,

sturdy design,



good friction & protection at the drain-hose/gunnel connection.

I and others who have used this system have lots of miles and good results on Thule, Yakima and Saris racks.

Hints: 1-Get good quality hoseclamps, the cheap ones strip out when you crank em’ down.

2-You’ll obviously wrap your ropes/straps around both bars on the inside edge. (the added crossbar is bombproof, and is all you’ll likely wrap on the outside edge - but always think safety with the hose-clamp connection and at least have the inside wrap around both, along with bow and stern tiedowns))

3-Wrap a section of something (I use a small strip of canvas) around your crossbar where the hose clamp wraps. It will protect your cross bar’s finish

4-Keep the overall width under the width of your side mirrors. If my civic is 72" wide I’m only guessing your rig is gonna easily work with the pre-threaded 6-foot pipe sections

BTW the rack’s held fine over the years (even if the 2-80lb. aluminum tanks I strapped on kinda’ overloaded the car that one time…)

Good luck,


That may just be what i was thinking would work for my two canoe on a Toyota Matrix with 48" crossbar idea…However, I am not quite understanding the 3/4" pipe is used. Do you slide the pipe inside the existing yakima round bars or just parallel to them.

That’s not how ya do it.
This is how ya do it.


Sorry Bill, my solution is to bolt the 2x4s right through the roof.

Oh yeah and plastic boats go on the bottom!

Extension Diagram Available
Anyone wanting a pdf diagram of the system I blathered on about just drop me an email and I’ll get one sent out as soon as I get a chance.

Yeah, there’s photos…someplace. But the diagram has better explanatory text, and clearer layout.


2 x 4s Are the Best

– Last Updated: Aug-29-06 11:24 AM EST –

Man, a lotta you people go to a lotta trouble to solve a relatively simple problem. The effort may be justified if you are going to leave these racks on the vehicle permanently. But I suggest you not do this because of the head-wacking and wind resistance problems.

To begin with, 2 x 4s are the all time best material for racking your boats. One reason for this is that you can take a couple wraps of line around them, and the line sticks and will not spin on the bars, like they will on any type of round bar. Plus, there's just something about rope and 2 x 4s that makes them want to hold fast.

I'd buy the cheap framing 2 x4s, which are usually pine or spruce. A bit of pressure on these and they will indent to the shape or your Thule bars helping them stay in place. Cutting a groove in the 2 x 4 is not a bad idea. Plenty of strength in these boards, so you don't need hardwood. Do not use 2 x 3s! They are cut from the poorest quality woods and parts of the log and they warp and split horrendously.

Throwing some stain or oil on the 2x4s will make them sufficiently weather tuf for your purposes, and if not, how much are you paying for these boards? Just get new ones. They'll last years in their naked state, longer if you store them indoors, so don't worry too much about treating them.

A couple u-bolts will hold em to your bars. They make a more square version of u-bolt that you will probably want for your Thule, which is basically a rectangular bar, right? Don't forget to countersink the top of the board to bury the nuts. Cut off any excess threads so that your gunwhales don't hit em. If you are worried about denting your racks when you crank down the bolts, slip a small piece of wood under the bar so that you mash wood, not bar.

If you are worried about running into the bars, you can cut a mortise into some of those small nerf footballs and glue them onto the ends.

Remove the 2x4s for city driving and local use. 2 boats bottom-up, bottom down, on top of each other works fine for local shuttles. Compress em a bit with the belly lines and tie the stern and bow together, the boats will be fine. They might move a little, but they aren't going to come off.

I used to watch Corbett driving down the road on shuttles with five boats piled on top, and the top boats would be moving all over. I don't think he put much tension on the lines. He never lost any boats in the time I paddled with him.

So....lotta ramble, eh? Bottom line is, you can go to lot of time and trouble, but its hard to beat a plain old 2 x 4.

~~Chip Walsh, Gambrills, Md