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DIY bolt together overhead racks for trailers


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jscherb

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#1
"Overhead" racks for trailers seem to be pretty popular - whether it's to carry kayaks or canoes, extra cargo or maybe a roof-top style tent, an overhead rack can provide access to the storage space inside the trailer while at the same time accommodating large cargo. Here's some few examples on both military style and Jeep-tub trailers:

[Image: OverheadRacks1_zpsffcf2602.jpg]

Most of the racks I've seen, including the ones pictured above require some fabrication, and specifically welding, that an average DIY-er might not have access to.

I've been thinking about ways to DIY-build an overhead rack for a trailer that wouldn't require welding or any advanced fabrication skills or techniques. So here is one...

Tent canopies like the ones you can rent for backyard for parties or you might see set up as outdoor Jeep show vendor booths are mostly based on standard fittings that accept common sizes of inexpensive tubing, here's a sample set:

[Image: CanopyParts1_zps8ae7a501.jpg]

They're commonly available to work with 1" EMT (electrical conduit, 1 3/8" outside diameter), and several larger sizes of chain-link fence tubing, both of which are inexpensive and strong. It would be easy and economical to build an overhead rack using these fittings and 1" EMT (or larger tubing if your strength needs dictated). Here's an example:

[Image: CanopyRack1_zps8c959dd4.jpg]

I've done the fittings in yellow; this one uses 4 "flat" corners, 4 tees, and four feet, and everything's connected with 1" EMT (in gray).

The rack would be secured to the trailer frame using angle brackets bolted to the frame that the feet could bolt to. Depending on the feet used and the size of the angle brackets, the base of the feet might need to be trimmed a bit because as designed, they're large enough to sit on the ground without sinking in; for this application the size of the base could be smaller.

The fittings come with an eye bolt which gets screwed against the tube that's inserted into the fitting, which is fine for a static tent, but for a rack that will be subjected to the vibrations of the road or trail, a more positive lock would be a good idea, so a jam nut setup could be used:

[Image: CanopyJamNut_zpsd1e75896.jpg]

The fittings are pretty affordable, and there's a wide range to pick from so many different configurations of rack could be made. Here are a few sources: http://www.creativeshelters.com and http://www.canopymasters.com, and here are some example fitting types:

[Image: CanopyParts2_zps2d7f2d7b.jpg]

Scott

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#2
This approach would work nicely for doing a canvas canopy, although I assuming the 0.057" wall thickness will have a low load carrying capability.

Another idea for using these fittings would be an awning support. Mount 2 feet on the ends, then have a breakdown hoop that is at least 7' off the ground. Assemble it at camp. Your tarp attaches on the other side of the tub, angles up over the hoop, then out to a pair of adjustable poles supported with guidelines.
Scott Chaney - Owner of Compact Camping Concepts
Home of the DIY Explorer Box and Dinoot trailers, also Tent Topped camping

jscherb

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#3
(10-07-2013, 06:18 AM) Scott Wrote: This approach would work nicely for doing a canvas canopy, although I assuming the 0.057" wall thickness will have a low load carrying capability.


The fittings generally come in four sizes (http://www.creativeshelters.com seems to have the widest range), so you can pick a size appropriate to your intended load:

- 1 inch EMT (electrical conduit, 1 3/8 o.d.)
- 1 3/8 inch chain link fence tubing
- 1 5/8 inch chain link fence tubing
- 1 7/8 inch chain link fence tubing

The larger sizes should be able to support any load that would be safe to drive with (trailer center-of-gravity issues considered Smile).

jscherb

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#4
You could get more creative using these canopy parts... as Scott says you could use these parts for a canopy to cover your camp setup. Or, here's a tarp cover frame for a trailer - the difference between this one and the rack I posted earlier is that the corners are 120-degree rise corners, and the cross-tubes have an arch bent in them to crown the roof so water can run off.

[Image: CanopyRack2_zpsbd753b8a.jpg]

Using a tarp, a grommet kit and some zip-ties, a decent cover could be make up pretty quickly:

[Image: CanopyRack3_zpsfcb701c6.jpg]

Scott

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#5
Arching the bow would help a lots
Scott Chaney - Owner of Compact Camping Concepts
Home of the DIY Explorer Box and Dinoot trailers, also Tent Topped camping

Buckled

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#6
Have you looked into unistrut or something similar? There are all kinds of angles and feat. Other than cutting it takes little work besides bolting it together. Here's what I'm familiar with.

https://www.us.hilti.com/installation-sy...EL_SYSTEMS

jscherb

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#7
(12-02-2013, 07:19 PM) Buckled Wrote: Have you looked into unistrut or something similar? There are all kinds of angles and feat. Other than cutting it takes little work besides bolting it together. Here's what I'm familiar with.

https://www.us.hilti.com/installation-sy...EL_SYSTEMS


I haven't look at that type of rack fitting but they look like they could be used as well. How's the pricing of the parts?

The reasons I chose the canopy-type fitting for this design were because there is a good range of angles and corners that should allow lots of flexibility in building a top, they're available from many sources, and the parts are very affordable, but I'm sure there are other systems like the one you linked to that could be used as well.

jays0n

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#8
Another option would be to use 80/20 extruded aluminum strut. It's like an erector set and the fittings aren't super expensive. I plan to use it to mount my solar panel at some point. Fittings can be had fairly cheap on eBay and the strut itself isn't too bad price wise. It's super light and I would expect from it's construction very strong.

80/20.net
2014 Dinoot Compact | Welded Frame w/telescoping rack | 3500lb axle | Nitto Trail Grappler 285/75-R16 | Fuel Wheels | Lock'N'Roll coupler | LED Lighting | Water tanks w/pump/hot water | Dual Marine Batteries | Battery Charger | 100W Solar Panel | ARB Refrigerator | 750w inverter | Extensive Electrical System | Tepui Autana RTT | Awning | Rotopax

Buckled

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#9
(12-03-2013, 03:28 AM) jscherb Wrote:
(12-02-2013, 07:19 PM) Buckled Wrote: Have you looked into unistrut or something similar? There are all kinds of angles and feat. Other than cutting it takes little work besides bolting it together. Here's what I'm familiar with.

https://www.us.hilti.com/installation-sy...EL_SYSTEMS


I haven't look at that type of rack fitting but they look like they could be used as well. How's the pricing of the parts?

The reasons I chose the canopy-type fitting for this design were because there is a good range of angles and corners that should allow lots of flexibility in building a top, they're available from many sources, and the parts are very affordable, but I'm sure there are other systems like the one you linked to that could be used as well.


The strut angles are a little pricey but the strut itself is pretty cheap. It's pretty heavy duty and can hold a lot of weight.
 
 
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