Roof rack Part 1

posted in: Camper Van Builds, Roof Rack | 0

This van will have a large heavy duty roof rack with the primary responsibility of carrying two boats. The first boat is a 16 foot long Hobie Adventure Island sailing trimaran kayak. This will be carried on the driver’s side almost every time the van ventures out of the yard. There will also be a standard sea kayak on the passenger side when required. Under the cross bars on the passenger side will be a 12 foot straight ladder to give me access to the roof. Under the bars on the driver’s side will be a 12 foot ramp used to get boats on and off the roof. Both boats will sit in aluminum cradles with plastic runners and will be accessed from the back of the van. I need to be able to do this alone and in any weather so the whole procedure must be under control at all times. The boats will be strapped into their cradles  (and the Hobie covered) before they go up on the roof.

The roof plus rack is too high for me to get past the balance point on a 17 foot sea kayak to put it up, and getting it off could be a disaster. The Hobie would be even worse!

I’m 63 now so this will not be getting easier with time!


Cross bars are 2″ square aluminum tube and I made the towers from 5 x 2 channel. I cut the channel at 6 degrees on the chop saw to give it some taper and was going to remove part of what became the lower leg but then remembered that it would not be readily visible anyway. Each tower will have an eye bolt to start. The cross bars look big but if I am up there and put my 200 pounds on them, plus 200 pounds of boat etc…..

On the first attempt I had the parts welded together but the shop did not line things up correctly for tacking so I had to cut the towers off and chose to clamp it for now with u-bolts. Under the towers are feet made by VanTech which attach to the factory studs on the roof.

Next step is to install 12 foot long angle sections to the cross bars. These will lay on top of the crossbars and use u-bolts to go around the bar and down through the ladder guides… hopefully make more sense when i get pictures! In the mean time I will get the short cradle welded and the ramp made so that I can test this with the smaller lighter package first!






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