Trailer Cross Bar Padding

I’m just finishing up my canoe/kayak trailer and the last detail is the padding on the cross bars. The racks are made from 2" 11GA square steel tubing.

Rowing shell trailers use a cool rubber extrusion the section of which looks a little bit like the back of a bactrian camel. The pop-rivets then go between the two humps. The problem is, I can only find it in 8 foot lengths, which are both very expensive and leave me with a lot of waste.

What have all of you used to pad your racks? I want durability and mountability, so the age old pipe insulation is out. I’ve considered fire hose, but I’m not sure how I would mount it. I can’t find just the right profile from the powerboat rub rail makers either.



Rubber pipe insulation
Foam is not durable enough unless you can get roll cage foam from a racing shop.

Race shop
Interesting. I did all the welding in a race shop and the mechanics failed to offer that solution. I’ll check into it.

this might work
Might be too small for 2" sq. steel tubing but I’ve used these on my roof rack crossbars - surfboard roof rack pads. They’re a foam tube inside a riptop fabric jacket. Some examples:

How about pool noodles?
They’ve got two sizes at the evil WalMart.

Doubt if pool noodles would hold up
any longer than pipe insulation. I have a raft/kayak/canoe whatever trailer that I don’t use that often, but when I do I have one end of a canoe resting on the top of the gate. For padding I slit some stiff rubber hose (forget what kind) lengthwise, forced it onto the top of the gate, then wrapped it with paracord every two feet or so. Still looks nice (IMO) after two years, hasn’t shifted at all and protects my ash gunwales very well. You might even be able to do the same thing substituting adhesive for the paracord.

Gunnel Guard

– Last Updated: May-15-13 11:13 AM EST –

Stuff wears like iron.

Attach flaps to sides of tubing w/ SS sheet metal screws @ 6" O.C.

pool noodles
Cheap, effective, cheap, easy to cut to length, cheap, hollow ones can be cut open length wise, cheap.

but they age very quickly
So unless you pull and store them - not so cheap in the long run.

Since you mention hose

– Last Updated: May-15-13 4:58 PM EST –

I've made a couple of racks, and have used "washer hose," from Lowes. 7/8 inch ID, 1-1/4 inch OD. Very tough, but with some give. It's been on my primary rack, outdoors all the time, for 3 years, with no degradation, aside from a little fade from original black.

For attachment, I use a 1/2 inch Forstner bit to make holes through the top surface, at intervals. Then, drill 1/4 inch holes through the bottom. 1/4 inch x 20 phillips pan head, stainless screws drop through the big hole, down through the small holes, and into threads that I have tapped in the rack. Apply thread locker, and it's hassel-free.

Since the wall thickness of the rack material (14 gauge, in my case) doesn't leave a lot of room for threads, you need a good touch on the tap; wobble could leave you with not much thread.

The washer hose is surprisingly expensive! For that reason, I would not mind finding an alternative, for future racks. But, this stuff has really done the job, so, I can't complain.

ok, I like that idea
Sounds very durable. I’m gonna price washer hose tonite.

Forstner holes
…I do those on a drill press. Not sure if Forstners can be effectively used with a hand drill.

Minicell foam
You can buy it in different thicknesses and cut/shape to fit your application. Glue it on the bars. It lasts much, much longer than pipe foam insulation and compresses less.

I agree with the minicell foam
I was having trouble finding it around here. But I found some at home depot, 3/4" thick, in aproximately 2’x 2’ pieces, in the form of these interlocking floor pads, with puzzle piece shaped edges.

rack padding
I tried several things that weren’t very durable, but then used old fire hose a suggestion in Rollin Thurlow’s book I think it was, and it works great even for wood boats.

An idea I use.
I’ve used firehose, not much padding and it can catch sand. I have been using 2" discharge hose, the kind that lays flat when there is no pressure in it. I cut holes in one side and slide a carriage bolt & fender washer in taped to a stick. Then I slide in two bicycle inner tubes with the valve stem exiting through a hole in a lower corner. Cut the ends long enough to wrap under be caught by the first bolt. Four bolts are enough for a 4’ crossbar. Firehose would work too but it’s a bear to get inner tube into.

The discharge hose and tubes will last about five years.



Old Fire Hose
I found some cheap old fire hose at

I’m going to sew it into lengthwise thirds and put vinyl tubing into the outer channels and pop-rivet through the middle. Then seal the vinyl tubing with RTV or epoxy to make a little air mattress for my gunwales.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks for all the suggestions.