PVC Carrier for two or three kayaks
Got a pickup truck rack that won’t properly handle two kayaks because it’s too narrow? Well, me too. Boy was I getting tired of my yaks thrown up there, one stacked half on top of the other. But I’ve finally come up with a truly workable solution.
Build yourself an easy-to-install and easy-to-remove PVC brace that will allow you to transport your yaks tilted up at 45 degrees. You can now put one kayak on each side without them interfering with each other at all. Take one boat off the rack, and leave the other one there if you choose. And, as an added bonus, you can slide a third kayak in flat on your rack. (under the two angled boats) All three yaks ride conveniently up there on your rack, leaving the entire bed of the truck open and available for whatever else you need to carry. You can easily open the top on your big toolbox, too.
This will work as shown in the pics if your rack has round tubing and vertical side rails (most standard work racks do). With some modifications, it can also be used on a rack with no side rails, or on top of a trailer, but it is then a bit more complicated. If your rack has no side rails, I would suggest that you just plan to add longer rack top pieces till both your kayaks fit. This idea is really for those of us who have limited width on our racks. I happen to have only 50 inches between the two horizontal lower rails.
The beauty of this add-on brace is its pure simplicity. Simple to build… simple to slip on and off the truck… and simple to use. Takes less than six seconds to put on or take off. It doesn’t even take any serious measuring ability. And, it will require less than an hour to make.
As designed, the brace only carries a small portion of the weight of the kayaks. Most of the real weight is handled by the rack, itself. I use just one brace on my truck, but you could build two if you felt you would be more comfortable with two contact points. They only cost about $15 apiece, even if you have to purchase everything new. Most of us have a lot of these PVC parts lying around the garage… or we can scrounge them somewhere.
On a side note: If you do choose to construct two braces (or three or four) they can be used as “gable rafters” on your rack so that you can bungee a big blue tarp across them for a roof when you need to sleep in your truck bed. Hide from a storm under there, too. Sheds rain great!
Even though this is mostly an “eyeball, mark and cut” project, I would highly suggest that you “dry fit” everything before using any cement. Use a marker pen to assure original alignment fit, then glue it all up in-place on the truck. Accurate and relative alignment to your truck rack is pretty important on this project. This accuracy is something that will be especially difficult to achieve if you try to do it on the workbench. Glue it up on the truck. Remember, your rack may or may not be exactly square, and you have to fit the brace to that rack. Again, fit and glue ON THE TRUCK.
Naturally the PVC “T” fittings that clamp onto the rack rails will need to be sized to fit your particular diameter rack tubing. (See the photo to the right.) Mine is 1-5/8” OD, so 1-1/4” PVC fittings worked perfectly. Cut the notch carefully on a table saw.
Do NOT cut it too wide. Better to cut it narrow, and check for a nice snug fit two or three times, (The “T” should “snap” onto the rail with firm pressure), rather than get in a hurry cutting it too wide. This firm, tight fit is very important to the rigidity of the brace. It should not be a loose fit.
(Never use Schedule 20 for any project)
USE ALL SCHEDULE 40 or 80 PVC
( These measurements work on my 50” rack.Yours may be a bit different.)
- 2 Pieces of 1-1/4” PVC Tubing, about 29” long
- 2 Pieces of 1-1/4” PVC Tubing, about 3” long
- 3 90 degree PVC Elbows (1-1/4”)
- 2 PVC “T”s (1-1/4”)
- PVC Cleaner/Solvent
- PVC Cement
- Table Saw ( necessary for good, clean notches. This can be done with hacksaw, but it’s a lot of work, and not very accurate for these notches )
- Hacksaw (to cut tubing to length if you don’t cut them on the table saw.)
- Some 100 grit sandpaper ( helps in loosely fitting the pieces )