Homemade Truck Rack

I just picked up a used A.R.E. commercial cap for my Tacoma. The top of the ladder rack is heavily worn, sharp & jagged. I’m thinking about building my own rack out of wood, and I’m looking for suggestions. How long should the cross bars be to hold 2 tandem canoes? What type of wood and finish would best hold up to the elements?

I’d appreciate some links to pictures / designs - can’t seem to find a lot on the net.

Quik N Easy racks
If you have a topper you can get “fake rain gutters”(I can’t think of anything else to call them. They are only about 3" long and you bolt them to the cap. They are made by the two main rack manufactures. I think they cost about $25-$35. Then you can get the Quik-n-Easy towers, add you own 2x4’s and have a very solid rack you can remove for very little $$$.

Mine is
6 ft. wide at the top rack (I typically will haul only 1 tandem with a kayak or solo canoe but could haul two tandems if needed) and I used treated 2X4s. I padded the top of my rack with pool noodles and used eyebolts to strap. I can haul up to four boats with my rack. Hope that helps. Let me know and I will be glad to send you some pictures.

Steel or stainless steel would hold up better to the elements, make the crossbars 6 1/2’ for two tandem canoes, otherwise it can get tight. This is the one I built:


I don’t know what the ladder rack on your cap looks like, you might be able to bolt a new crossbar right over the existing one.


Often you can put wood right over your…

– Last Updated: Jul-17-10 1:29 AM EST –

...existing crossbars. Doing this is easy if the bars are made of metal that's 1/8 of an inch thick or so. Just drill and tap. It might also be easy to bolt all the way through the crossbars with no tapping required. A strip of half-inch plywood right over the existing bars, held down by flush-head bolts (with cone-shaped, flat-topped screw heads, like giant machine screws), works great. I've seen it done on a great variety of different kinds of metal crossbars.

It’s a DCU

– Last Updated: Jul-17-10 6:34 AM EST –

I picked up an older A.R.E. DCU similar to this one, but it doesn't have the middle support / stops. I'd have to cut off the ladder stops but adding 2x4s to it is an option. Thanks for the advise, and yes... I'd love to see some pictures of your boat hauling contraptions.


I’ve seen that rack
When I was searching I cam upon your rack. Looks real nice but way out of my league since I have no welding experience.

Since you know about welding, would a shop be able to tag on some new material where it was worn through and smooth everything out? The cap store wants $300 for a new rack.

new crossbars

– Last Updated: Jul-17-10 2:41 PM EST –

I'd drill some holes straight through both bars and bolt them on with 1/4" carriage bolts. You should be able to find 1" square tube at a metal supply company, they'll cut it to length for you. You could use aluminumm, I prefer stainless, although it's pretty expensive right now.
The ladder rack you have is probably aluminum, unless it just needs to be smoothed out (DIY with a grinder, file, or sander) it wouldn't be worth the labor cost to try to clean them up.