Roof Rack for a Kayak - DIY

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by upchurchmr, Aug 31, 2011.

  1. upchurchmr
    Joined: Feb 2011
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    upchurchmr Senior Member

    I am making a kayak for my son and need to provide a roof rack for transportation. Thule or Yakima products are very good but cost around $600 for all the new components - thats what I plan to spend on the Kayak (assuming I don't make any more mistakes).

    Does anyone have a concept or know of plans for DIY racks which can be tied to a typical car - no guttered roof attachments? Everything else will be homemade so why not the roof rack. I am not partial to blocks of foam that require straps running thru the passenger compartment windows.

    If it matters, the car is a Mitsubishi Eclipse, the kayak is a Laughing Loon Northstar.

  2. Poida
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    Poida Senior Member

    Go to a car accessory place and look at the roof racks designed for your car to get an idea of how it is done.

    If you don't like straps through the windows take them right under the car.


    Slide the kayak through the passenger windows.

    Don't forget the "wide load" sign.:rolleyes:
  3. upchurchmr
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    upchurchmr Senior Member

    Obviously what works in Oz might not work in texas. Do you live in the outback where 18'4" wide is OK?

    I have a Thule for my Honda van. I like it. It just cost a lot.

    I built my first kayak kit in Japan in my living room, so I do understand "alternate" methods of doing things.
  4. Easy Rider
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    Easy Rider Senior Member

    Ther'e are inexpensive car top racks like "Quick and Easy". I think they need a gutter but I'm sure you will find something. If not get creative. Use cradles shaped like the deck of your kayak and carry it inverted. Inverted orients the kayak as close as possible to the contour of the top of the car and hence most parallel to the airflow. Minimal airflow forces will be transmitted to the kayak. No need for a cover to keep the rain out either.
  5. Submarine Tom

    Submarine Tom Previous Member

    Well, a rack would be best but if it's too much money then a piece of carpet sticky underlay, you know, the ones for your hall rug so it doesn't slide around (some call it "scoot guard"). Put that on the roof under the kayak and cross-tie the ends under the bumper.

  6. Jeremy Harris
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    Jeremy Harris Senior Member

    I don't know if it's available in the US, but I have an inflatable HandiRack ( and it is superb for carrying canoe-size boats on the car roof. I've even transported 18ft long folded hang glider wings on mine without a problem. Best of all it only takes a couple of minutes to fit, will work on pretty much any car and when not in use can be stowed in a small bag in the car boot (trunk in US-speak). Not expensive either, I think mine cost the equivalent of around $60 or so when I bought it a couple of years ago.
  7. thedutchtouch
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    thedutchtouch Junior Member

    i have a yakima rack, highly reccomend a real rack. that said, why not just get a few of the foam blocks for canoes/kayaks and strap it directly to the roof? tie straps through the doors (with the doors open so you can open/close them after it's all tied), and one to the front/back bumper, good to go.
  8. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    what year is the car?

    I gotta agree with the other posters, those Thule/Yak racks are worth it.

    Stay away from that weird "short roof kit" if that is what is called for on your sports car.

    You can have niffy permanent 'lugs' drilled into the roof by any good retail rack shop, and the rest of the rack clips on. Just get lugs in rear and use normal 'towers' in front. Bonus: you can make the rear bar into a massive "wing" like all the ricers in "Fast and Furious".

    I wouldn't worry about buying the special kayak stuff, but the two bars come in so handy for so many things, and wont devalue the car massively and are easy to take on and off, etc.

    Plus at least the bars can be used on your other cars.

    You can make your own racks for 1970 Ford Econoline van with sturdy steel rain gutters and exposed visable interal roof framing. Eclipse? not so much.

    Maybe find out where the 'hard points' on the roof are where a shop would drill in lugs, then get your own hardware with point for standard strap S-hooks, if you REALLY don't want a strap through the cab. I'm guessing the window sill dont have enough negative slope to allow flat 'hooks' to grab in opposing fashion across the roof?

    Maybe drill a couple of holes into the sills at the roof to allow hooks to grab and have a tighten-able strap across the roof. The holes could be plugged when not in use or when selling the car(hee, hee) by plastic or rubber stoppers and most people wouldn't even think twice looking at them, with the right looking plugs.
  9. upchurchmr
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    upchurchmr Senior Member

    Thanks everyone. The Eclipse is a two door with a very short window section so the Handi racks might not work well, in addition the roof is very close to your head, not like a van and straps will probably go straight thru you head.
    I've never seen anyone drill holes in the roof unless they are doing commercial work, no thanks.
    There must be enough "negative slope" to put flat hooks since that is what Yakima and Thule do. I just wondered if anyone had actually done it and had a design.

    Still Looking.
  10. dinoa
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    dinoa Senior Member

    I bought a multipurpose roof rack then modified it.

    Make a sandwich blank by glueing 2 faces of 1/4" ply with epoxy to a Dow roof mate insulation core (or similar extruded polystyrene product) that is as thick as the cross bars of the rack. Leave enough overhang on ply faces without core so they straddle the cross bars plus an extra inch where they will be clamp bolted below the cross bars. Cut out the profiles of the sandwich blank to accomodate the section of the boat in the position it will be carried. Encapsulate the sandwich cut outs with two coats of epoxy. Cover cut outs with a waterproof rug above the foam core line. Place the sandwich cutouts so they straddle the cross bars and bolt below the cross bars so they are clamped in place. Drill holes for rope loops or bungeys to secure boat. Always add a bow and stern tie down to front and rear of car for safety. Many are the boats whose aerodynamic stabilty have been tested after inadvertantly parting ways with the car roof.

  11. waikikin
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    waikikin Senior Member

    That "wing rack" is the coolest idea........... your right, it's gotta be fast & furious, not "joe dirt style"........... if you can build a canoe you can build a wing!
  12. pistnbroke
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    pistnbroke I try

    you will find prise out stips in the roof joining line where a rack can be fitted. see your handbook .
  13. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

  14. upchurchmr
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    upchurchmr Senior Member

    Thanks again for the suggestions, but, there are no plastic seam joining strips for a 2001 Eclipse, there are no factory mounting point at all, and I was trying to be cheap so I didn't want the factory made towers for $140 to $180 which require another $70 clip (Thule), a set of bars ($70) and some kind of cradle or cushion ($180 Thule). I already own a Thule system for my Honda van and I have a set of towers for gutter attachment (Thule).

    DIY was my interest. I know I am somewhat or completely picky.

    Thanks again. Still looking.


  15. Submarine Tom

    Submarine Tom Previous Member


    Does this not address your needs?
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