Rack options for a fiberglass truck cap?

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Just picked up a nice flat roof fiberglass truck cap for my Tacoma, and will definitely want a rack for it. I've searched the topic a bit and see that some people prefer one rack mounted on the cab, and the other on the cap; but for the moment I'm thinking both crossbars on the cap. Looks like the standard racks (Thule, Yakima, Rhino's) all run around $300-400 or so.

Any ideas about home made, or lesser known brands, as options out there that you know of?
 
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Picked up my Thule racks on Craigslist for $150 I believe. If you aren’t in a hurry you might find a deal.

Bob
 
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I’ve had racks on three capped Toyota pickups, and there are a number of considerations to bear in mind or design for. Foremost to my mind is how the canoe (or canoes*) fit on the rack.

With racks mounted to the cap, at least with a low-rise cap at the same level as the cab roof, there may be issues with the bow of the canoe resting on the cab roof. One solution is to put the canoe on positioned far forward, so the bow tip is out past the windshield.

That solution is a no-go for me. For one thing I want the canoe more centered on the racks, with an equal amount of hull out past each rack, and for another I load our heavy canoes by sliding them on from the back of the truck, and don’t want the bow scraping its way across the cab roof.

I’ve had racks on (or around) two low-rise caps. On one I built “risers” (which also added length to the crossbars*) for both racks, so the bow was elevated above the cab, and I could still slide canoes on from the back. On the other low-rise cap I used heavy duty construction racks that cantilevered off metal plates bolted to the bed rails, those racks went around and over the cap, never actually touching it, an could be height adjusted.

Kinda like these, but designed to wrap around the outside the cap.

https://www.weatherguard.com/products/truck-tool-boxes-equipment/truck-racks/TruckRack/TR801-A

My current truck cap is a mid-rise. I did some measuring and testing to see how high I needed to go for the bow to clear the cab roof using the height of Thule racks and feet I already owned; a mid-rise cap was sufficient.

PB140063 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Another possibility, about which paddlers have differing opinions, is to mount one rack on the cap and one on the cab roof. Some folks believe that any twist between cab and bed will torque the hull, and I can maybe see that damaging the hull/deck seam with composite sea kayaks

But, unless you are rock hopping in your truck, I kind of doubt that is an issue; the back wall of the cab and front wall of the bed on my Tacoma are less than 1” apart. If that gap twisted and flexed enough to harm a canoe I think I’d see sheet metal damage.

With a cap and racks on a Tacoma you will have one of the best canoe tripping vehicles around, and can start tricking out the bed as a live-aboard.

PA010020 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Gear for two guys on a 7 week trip. All of the gear is webbing strapped to tie downs so nothing moves, even on bumpy back roads.

P4151833 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Note: I don’t drink Tequila. Or Franzia.

So nice back there I think I’ll have a rest and get out of the sun.

P4191869 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

*Last bit of (unsolicited) rack advice. If your roof rack crossbars are only long enough to carry one boat you are plumb useless when cross loading boats on a shuttle. Get long enough crossbars to carry two canoes. I’m operate on the theory that if my crossbars don’t stick out past my wide view mirrors I’m street legal, and unlikely to catch a signpost or whack a pedestrian.

If that rack length is a problem get bigger mirrors J
 
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Good input Mike, thanks for that. I've been going with a home made wooden rack the last few years (no cap), and while I'm not wild about the forward overhang, my boat's only 14'6", and the bow ends up just a smidge beyond the windshield. I did have a problem with bow clearancewhen I went to a shorter boat than the Magic I'd had before, which was easily remedied by adding 3/4" height to the cross bars (2x4's).

Might have a set of Thule feet for free, in which case I'd just need crossbars and add-on gutter pieces. I actually prefer wooden bars, so I'm still trying to come up with a DIY version.
 
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For years we had the fake raingutter feet on our fiberglass capped trucks. All the feet were on the cap. We used hi rise towers because we often transported 13 feet boats to Texas from Maine and the low towers would not let the bow clear the truck cab at all. We did add a third bar for longer boats that was mounted to the cab . This allowed for the most security ; a flapping bow with six feet between stem and strap was never a good idea; especially on the Great Plains ( there were several east to west coast to coast trips too). We wanted something secure closer to three feet from the bow. Its all about twiddling what works for you but we found that loading off center with less distance from bow to strap than strap to stern worked the best.
We have always used gunwale brackets.

Buying now is a PITA. Cant find the fake raingutters for a cap, cant find the old fashioned gunwale brackets that are three inches high instead of the ridiculous aerodynamic ones not and the Q towers are discontinued. So our new truck has an Adarac which does have high gunwale brackets but ours is designed for a tonneau cover. The Adarac has two bars for our short boats and we add a third on the cab for the 18 footers. Wooden piers and cross bars work for naked truck beds.. not sure how to adapt for a cap.

Twisting is only an issue for delicate boats. I can see our truck beds twist on our access road to home in pothole and washboard season. ( dirt road..) By not wrenching down on the straps really hard we haven't had issues.
 
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I got a 71” “open box buy” rhino rack HD bar for $18 from etrailer for the cab roof and a Spring Creek T-bar receiver hitch rack. Gives a good spacing for supporting the boat. Both bars include a rubber strip, I feel like I get a nice secure tight load.

8A711F1E-84FF-4327-A001-FF0628B4F4A3.jpeg

Rhino Rack also sell a T-bar hitch Rack.
 
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Woodpuppy's rig is a good starting point but has some drawbacks. If you are also using anything else for the hitch receiver you can't do both at the same time. We take boats and a trailer with us and we had to throw that out right away.. Also with boats of 13 feet to 19 feet we have to have adjustable span of bars.

It works for him of course but may not work for all.

However try not to run bow lines like that. In case of a sudden stop there is a lot of play in that long a line.. Might I suggest hood loops and place them under the hood near the windshield? Much better bow hold down with a short more perpendicular line going down the highway. Canoes tend to lift; holding the bow down really helps.
 
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There is something to be said for construction racks that cantilever off the bed rails and fit around the cap without touching. For starters most of them have a much higher weight bearing capacity than racks mounted directly to the cap.

Even the least expensive ones are rated at 800lbs, like these $139 cheapies:

https://www.amazon.com/TMS-Universa...642081083&sprefix=truck+racks,aps,1307&sr=8-8

Those bed rail plates are not wide enough to bolt on with the vertical supports outside the cap, but you get the idea.

You might need to reverse the orientation of the vertical supports with some construction racks. The WeatherGuard construction racks on one of my old capped Toyotas were designed to be reversed for just that fits around a cap purpose, which also gave me longer crossbars for two-canoe carries. No idea if that can be done with those $139 cheapies.

The downsides of steel construction racks - they will rust in spots, the welds especially. Mine eventually did, but I just hit the rusty spots with a wire brush and some paint and they were still going strong 280,000 miles later. And they are always there, or at least I never took mine off after I put them on, so maybe a little reduction in MPG.

Fiberglass caps with factory rack rails or attachment points usually have some extra structural supports across the roofline. If your glass cap has none I’d be hesitant to load too much weight on racks attached directly to the cap.

I had a greater degree of confidence when stacking a pyramid of RX canoes for group shuttles on those 800lb construction racks.
 
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Woodpuppy's rig is a good starting point but has some drawbacks. If you are also using anything else for the hitch receiver you can't do both at the same time. We take boats and a trailer with us and we had to throw that out right away.. Also with boats of 13 feet to 19 feet we have to have adjustable span of bars.

It works for him of course but may not work for all.

However try not to run bow lines like that. In case of a sudden stop there is a lot of play in that long a line.. Might I suggest hood loops and place them under the hood near the windshield? Much better bow hold down with a short more perpendicular line going down the highway. Canoes tend to lift; holding the bow down really helps.
I didn’t love the bow line, but it was what I had. Back end (not stern; I loaded the canoe bass-ackwards 🙄) had additional retention by a U-lock and steel cable. This was for the journey home from MI to FL. I also set the T-bar up from level a notch to prevent it from acting like a giant scoop.

Regarding bar span, I can move the cab bar fore and aft if needed but there is a certain minimum spacing that could be too short for a shorter boat. This Polaris as it turns out is almost the same length as my Prism; the encounter is actually longer. The shortest bar spacing I can achieve is right around 8’ so it wouldn’t work for a 10’ boat but I think it would be fine for 12’.

@yellowcanoe do you prefer the hood tie downs that secure to fender washers, or the ones that use a piece of hose in the gap?
 
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Woodpuppy I have used both but as we have long and short boats the loops connected to movable plastic pieces are more versatile for me ( the 13 foot boat) and we ( the 18.5 foot boat)
the chief issue is losing track of where we put the removable loops ! Spent an hour this summer looking as we dont leave them on the vehicle when not transporting
 
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Regarding hood tie downs, you can also tie a piece of nylon webbing (I just tie a loop--9/16" climbing webbing--REI e.g.) to the open struts supporting the sides of the hood. You never lose them, and they fall out of the way underneath your hood when you're not using them.PXL_20220113_224901837.jpgPXL_20220113_224919373.jpg
 
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Nice! I have some saved webbing from various things, like high-back child seats that you can’t sell or donate when you’re done with them… I’m part because they’re “out of date” and in part because they’re disgusting!
 
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Carry extra webbing.. The hood hinge sawed through mine when I did it that way and then the bowline was flapping. Doesn't take much room in the repair kit.
 
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I've got Yakima racks on my short box cap and one on the cab at the B pillar.
Works great. The third, middle bar is so I can take two bikes and one canoe if needed for family camping, etc.
The front two are 70" jetstreams and the rear one is a corebar with the extendable boatloader thingee for solo loading of heavier craft.
I use the keelover canoe mounts and my boats haven't moved yet.
Not in these photos are the webbing hood straps bolted into the fender mounts back towards the windshield.
Longer (high speed/windy) trips tied at both hood straps and rear hitch. Jaunts in town to the local reservoir I don't bother with the front.
No issues (so far) with flex between the cab to cap mounting. Rhino ditch tracks on the cab have been awesome.
Bonus - the 70" bars don't stick out enough to smack my 6'2" head (mirror width is about 84")

canoe rack.jpgcanoe rack2.jpg


canoe rack3.jpg
 
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Paulh,
If I get even just a lily pad stuck to my hull, it creates all sorts of drag and noise.
Your boat with that giant maple leaf stuck to the bottom must be unbearable😉
 
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Paulh,
If I get even just a lily pad stuck to my hull, it creates all sorts of drag and noise.
Your boat with that giant maple leaf stuck to the bottom must be unbearable😉
The leaf is hydrophobic...makes my boat hover above the waves although that does increase the windage a touch. ;)
 
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