My DIY Canoe Rack

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Observer
I just retired/replaced my old canoe rack. It was mounted on a traditional two-cross member rack with slots.

Figure 1: cross member canoe mounts. The top mount fits in the front rack position and cradles the bow from the outside of the gunwale. The bottom mount fits in the rear rack position and cradles the stern from the inside of the gunwale.
1658976692983.jpeg

The key thing to understand about this design is that the top mount (shown above) is custom fitted to the outside dimensions of the gunwale of my canoe near the bow, while the lower mount is custom fitted to the inside dimensions of the gunwale of my canoe near the stern. The point is that their is exactly one location in the rack that is "correct". The reason I use the outside dimension on the bow is that the canoe will stop moving forward when I slide it into place because the bow is narrow and widens up to this point. And then the canoe will also fit the inside dimensions of the stern mount. The out side guides on the rear mount just keep the canoe from slipping off of the rack.

There are several advantages of this design:
1: It eliminates the task of centering the canoe on the truck since the rack is fixed and already centered.
2: Each canoe cradle has two fasteners securing it to the truck rack. So that if one comes loose, the canoe is still held securely by the other bolt.
3: The canoe slides easily over the HDPE plastic which also does not abrade the canoes parts at the mounting mount.
4: If a whole cradle is lose, the canoe is still secure on the cradle, it just slides from side to side. But the canoe is still held secure by the 1" webbing that is wrapped over the canoe.

Figure 2: Here are the new (improved) canoe mounts
IMG_2549.JPG

Instead of wood, these are 100% HDPE plastic. The canoe slides much easier now & this will last much longer than the wood version. Also, the wood would expand and shrink and the bolts holding it to the rack would come loose. I think the HDPE will perform much better in this regard too.

Figure 3: The alternative is to use four separate gunwale mounts like this
1658981103765.png
Aside from costing $200, at least the rear mounts have to be adjusted separately every time you load the canoe. And each represents a single point of failure.

As you can see 10 years has really warn down the wood and Galvanized fasteners are at end of life.

So I recently upgraded to using HDPE plastic (instead or wood) and stainless steel hardware (Instead of Galvanized) on my new Tacoma.

Figure 4: The forward mount holds the bow gunwale from the outside.
1658981292906.png

Figure 5: The rear mount holds the gunwale from the inside.
IMG_2556.JPG

With this design it takes only a few minutes to unload or load the canoe. It takes a few hours to build but still cost less than half of the Yakima parts. So it pays for itself in safety and convenience.

Figure 6: Canoe strapped in place. Big River, Mendocino California.
IMG_2553.JPG
 

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NatersXJ6

Explorer
I like this, as I’ve been trying to figure out something similar. I have a few questions:

1: Do you load solo?
2: How long and heavy is your boat?
3: Did you consider a roller at the back?

I assume you load by lifting the bow onto the back of the vehicle then sliding the boat forward. If so, how to you keep the bow from dragging down the roof?

I could see it working okay for 2 people, but I’m struggling to figure it out solo on my mildly lifted Jeep… but I also have a 17’ aluminum canoe that is probably just too heavy and won’t bounce nicely off things like a plastic one.
 

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Observer
I like this, as I’ve been trying to figure out something similar. I have a few questions:

1: Do you load solo?
2: How long and heavy is your boat?
3: Did you consider a roller at the back?

I assume you load by lifting the bow onto the back of the vehicle then sliding the boat forward. If so, how to you keep the bow from dragging down the roof?

I could see it working okay for 2 people, but I’m struggling to figure it out solo on my mildly lifted Jeep… but I also have a 17’ aluminum canoe that is probably just too heavy and won’t bounce nicely off things like a plastic one.
1: Do you load solo?
Yes, I load this myself. One of the thwarts is located at the center of gravity of the canoe and is shaped like a yoke. So it is very easy to carry and move with the canoe up-side-down on my shoulders. I've seen kayaks with retractable wheels but I have never felt the need.
My wife moves the life jackets and paddles :) .
2: How long and heavy is your boat?
It is 17' long It weights about 80 pounds.
3: Did you consider a roller at the back?
The HDPE makes a roller unnecessary. But I do need to put some protection on the camper shell to keep it from getting scratched up right on the edge where the canoe sometimes makes contact.

"I assume you load by lifting the bow onto the back of the vehicle then sliding the boat forward. If so, how to you keep the bow from dragging down the roof?"

The bow never contacts the roof. The height of the rack prevents that.
 

Switch

Observer
I just retired/replaced my old canoe rack. It was mounted on a traditional two-cross member rack with slots.

Figure 1: cross member canoe mounts. The top mount fits in the front rack position and cradles the bow from the outside of the gunwale. The bottom mount fits in the rear rack position and cradles the stern from the inside of the gunwale.
View attachment 734245

The key thing to understand about this design is that the top mount (shown above) is custom fitted to the outside dimensions of the gunwale of my canoe near the bow, while the lower mount is custom fitted to the inside dimensions of the gunwale of my canoe near the stern. The point is that their is exactly one location in the rack that is "correct". The reason I use the outside dimension on the bow is that the canoe will stop moving forward when I slide it into place because the bow is narrow and widens up to this point. And then the canoe will also fit the inside dimensions of the stern mount. The out side guides on the rear mount just keep the canoe from slipping off of the rack.

There are several advantages of this design:
1: It eliminates the task of centering the canoe on the truck since the rack is fixed and already centered.
2: Each canoe cradle has two fasteners securing it to the truck rack. So that if one comes loose, the canoe is still held securely by the other bolt.
3: The canoe slides easily over the HDPE plastic which also does not abrade the canoes parts at the mounting mount.
4: If a whole cradle is lose, the canoe is still secure on the cradle, it just slides from side to side. But the canoe is still held secure by the 1" webbing that is wrapped over the canoe.

Figure 2: Here are the new (improved) canoe mounts
View attachment 734865

Instead of wood, these are 100% HDPE plastic. The canoe slides much easier now & this will last much longer than the wood version. Also, the wood would expand and shrink and the bolts holding it to the rack would come loose. I think the HDPE will perform much better in this regard too.

Figure 3: The alternative is to use four separate gunwale mounts like this
View attachment 734254
Aside from costing $200, at least the rear mounts have to be adjusted separately every time you load the canoe. And each represents a single point of failure.

As you can see 10 years has really warn down the wood and Galvanized fasteners are at end of life.

So I recently upgraded to using HDPE plastic (instead or wood) and stainless steel hardware (Instead of Galvanized) on my new Tacoma.

Figure 4: The forward mount holds the bow gunwale from the outside.
View attachment 734256

Figure 5: The rear mount holds the gunwale from the inside.
View attachment 734844

With this design it takes only a few minutes to unload or load the canoe. It takes a few hours to build but still cost less than half of the Yakima parts. So it pays for itself in safety and convenience.

Figure 6: Canoe strapped in place. Big River, Mendocino California.
View attachment 734845
I just found a way to make this rack even better by storing the paddles too! Those darned paddles. They were either leaning in a corner in the garage or banging around in the back of the truck. Two weeks ago, we almost forgot to pack them...

No more!

What I needed was a set of these:
1660097495738.png

I couldn't find the right size online so I just designed and printed them with my Prusa MK3S printer
1660097587778.png
Now the paddles are stored with the canoe. The grip is so tight I'm not worried about the oars coming out & the canoe is upside down on the truck anyway. Bonus is now I can carry the paddles with the canoe to the put in so there is one less trip to make.

I carry the canoe on my shoulders - there is thwart located at the center of mass of the canoe which works like a yoke. The center of mass of the paddle is about where the front paddle mount is attached on the yoke so the balance of the canoe on the yoke is also preserved.

1660097438194.png

I wish I'd done this years ago!
 

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