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Franken-Rack

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Project by Paul Bucalo posted 09-15-2014 06:03 PM 1636 views 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve been spending over a year acquiring needed tools and machinery to extend my present business to include various facets of woodworking. The budget is tight and resources for the time being are limited. I needed a lumber rack that could safely transport 8’ long boards and 4’ x 8’ sheets from the stores to my home. A utility trailer will be purchased next summer, but for now a handmade wooden rack was the only option. Enter: the Franken-Rack.

The Franken-Rack was designed like many of my projects: ad hoc on the spot; only an idea of what I wanted and trial-and-error as the build went. I started with construction-grade 2” x 4” x 8’ lumber for the initial framing and braces. Cross-braces, which sit atop of the cast metal rack ends fore and aft of the vehicle’s roof rack, were notched and fastened to the opposing notched side rails with carriage bolts, nuts and washers. Plastic runners used in screen doors were the perfect width to protect the bottom edges of the cross-braces when being slid over the aluminum vehicle rack. I then added three 1” x 6” x 8’ boards to make up the ‘floor’ of the rack. A 53-inch 1” x 6” is hinged and latched to the side ends at the back end. Two padlocks using the same key keep the door safely latched while traveling.

Since the rack needed to be able to handle 8’ material lengths, I needed to find the least damaging method of supporting the weight of the overhang beyond the factory roof rack’s limit. A couple of old rubber roof mounts for cross-country skis provided the answer. The fact that only the front foot of each rubber mount touches the front corner of the roof is no error. I wanted a two-stage support that would increase contact with the roof as material weight warranted it. There isn’t any sensation of it lifting, nor any sound of wood stressing from the wind forcing it to flex upward.

I opted not to put in a full floor to keep the weight down and minimize the effects of the elements on the structure while in use. At highway speeds of 55 mph the rack is silent and very stable. The only noise I hear is of the two padlocks banging against the wood on hitting bumps.

Franken-Rack mounts to the vehicle’s roof rack via eye-bolts, nuts and washers using a dual wooden mount. One mount is double-bolted to the cross-brace at an angle that rests against the inside of the cast rack ends on the roof. A second mount nearby uses a single bolt that slides within a short vertical slot in the mount. By pressing down on the mount while tightening the bolt I guarantee the horizontal face of the eye-bolt rests up against the underside of the rack edge. Once the eye-bolts are threaded and the secondary mounts snugged and tightened, lifting on Franken-rack is as solid and secure as lifting on the factory roof rack. Removal of the rack entails removing the nut, lock-washer and washer from each eye-bolt end, loosening the secondary mounts, swiveling them up and locking them against the braces, and pulling out the eye-bolts. It was all I could think of that would be cheap, durable, take the weight and be safe. It works.

I haven’t weighed the rack yet, but I would guess it is easily over 100 lbs. While I have horsed the rack on by myself, I really need a partner to get it on and preferably one to get it off – gravity does help in getting it off if help is not around.

The tally? My guess, considering all but the rubber mounts were purchased, is about $120-$140 in lumber and hardware. Was it worth it? Definitely. When I get my Harbor Freight folding utility trailer next year I will be able to easily adapt this to it. Meanwhile, I can transport sheets and boards from the box and lumber stores without the need for a $25-$75 delivery charge. A few trips and I will have paid for Franken-Rack in money saved on deliveries. And I like the looks I get from people while on the road.

-- -- Paul Bucalo, Norwich NY USA





6 comments so far

View Underdog's profile

Underdog

899 posts in 1495 days


#1 posted 09-15-2014 08:57 PM

Hey Slick! That’s a great rack. I bet you learned from your former escapades:

Just kidding!

http://www.swapmeetdave.com/Humor/Workshop/Overload.htm

-- "woodworker with an asterisk"

View Paul Bucalo's profile

Paul Bucalo

619 posts in 820 days


#2 posted 09-15-2014 09:15 PM

Hey! That’s my car! And that happened to…wait a minute…

Thanks. Glad you liked it, Underdog.

You know, I got some razzing from some DIY neighbors that thought all I needed was to bungey cord the lumber to the factory rack and fly like the wind. I still have nightmares of flapping plywood and an arm out the window holding down a sheet. Not that I ever did that. Oh no. Just imagining it had me seeing a therapist.

-- -- Paul Bucalo, Norwich NY USA

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

5721 posts in 2828 days


#3 posted 09-16-2014 01:36 AM

I have seen videos from some third world countries that make that picture in post #1 look normal.

I like your rack … I mean your Franken-Rak, another example of nessacity is the mother of invention.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Paul Bucalo's profile

Paul Bucalo

619 posts in 820 days


#4 posted 09-16-2014 11:53 AM

Thanks, oldnovice. It’s true that we try to make due with what we have and can do. However, the less fortunate may have to improvise beyond the limits of safety and even common sense. Or so it would seem to us who are fortunate to live in a first-world country. The joke my be in some areas of the world that the owner of that vehicle should have cut the load in half and made two trips.

The only disappointment I have in my finished Franken-Rack is in its weight. I’m in my late 50s and a bit overweight. I also have to be careful not to overdue the lifting or incur the wrath of the Back Daemon, who visits me from time to time, thanks to a lifting injury a couple of decades ago. Already the rack has started to pay for itself and in that aspect I am thrilled about having built the monster. When the time comes to mount this to the metal framing of a utility trailer, I will be even happier and my back will thank me, profusely.

-- -- Paul Bucalo, Norwich NY USA

View DonB's profile

DonB

489 posts in 2152 days


#5 posted 09-17-2014 12:51 PM

Heck, that guy could make it home as long as his gas tank didnt grind itself apart on the road. I’m sure that third world country could have this load on the top of the infamous bus and having just the people on top hold it in place. Then you’d have built-in labor to off load it! Anyway, nice planning for necessary trips to the big box.

-- DonB

View Paul Bucalo's profile

Paul Bucalo

619 posts in 820 days


#6 posted 09-17-2014 02:13 PM



Heck, that guy could make it home as long as his gas tank didnt grind itself apart on the road. I m sure that third world country could have this load on the top of the infamous bus and having just the people on top hold it in place. Then you d have built-in labor to off load it! Anyway, nice planning for necessary trips to the big box.

- DonB

Thanks for the compliment, DonB, and I am sure you are right about the third world possibilities. There can be a notable level of freedom in placing need over sensibility. ;)

As an aside, yesterday I filled up the inside of my Blazer with several pallets, provided free of charge by our local Lowes. More important was that I could load two pallets (wide side going in) onto the rack and they fit with an inch or so to spare. Awesome. I’m really liking this. :)

-- -- Paul Bucalo, Norwich NY USA

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