|Project by Paul Bucalo||posted 09-15-2014 06:03 PM||1592 views||1 time favorited||6 comments|
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, Upstate NY USA