Monday, May 27, 2013

Rack'em Up!!!

This past Sunday, I finally got around to a project I've been threatening to do for several years now - an outdoor storage rack for the kayaks. The impetus to build a rack stems from where I have to store my kayaks normally. We have a 4 foot crawl space under our house. It has all concrete walls but a crushed stone floor. The furnace and air exchanger are housed under there, so it's very warm and dry. But the 4 foot ceiling makes it a pain in the rump getting boats in and out. Of course we don't have a full door which compounds the problem.

Access in lower right.
As such, these past number of weeks, I've been leaving the boats outside between paddles. Not wanting to put them directly on the ground, I put them on our lawn furniture. I've been alternating between the Point Bennett and the Black Pearl, so that means I've been taking up our only two sturdy lawn chairs. Which means you have to me moving boats should you wish to sit. Not an ideal situation now that the weather is warming up and folks want to suit outside.

The Black Pearl at rest!

On Saturday, I had Cheryl's Baffin out doing some work on her seat. Add one more boat to the mix. Then on Sunday we thought we might get the Glacier (tandem) out for a run so I pulled that one out of the basement as well. Suddenly I had four boats out in the garden - two on the lawn chairs, one laid out on the picnic table and another on the basketball court. This was getting a bit much!! Time to take action.

I quickly doodled up a plan for a rack and we headed off to Home Depot and Princess Auto for some supplies. I started at around 3:00 and by 8:00 that evening everything was all done.

I decided not to go for a work of art but rather a cheap,dirty and sturdy structure. As such, I went with a frame of pressure treated 2x4. I really liked the idea of using webbed slings so I worked that into the design.

As with almost all my projects, I just started cutting and putting it together "as I went along". That golden horseshoe is still in place as things fell together without a hitch.

I figured that a rack to hold four boats was sufficient. We have six but the other two are used much less frequently and can remain in the basement. If need be, my SOF can fit in the middle but I'm not so inclined to store that one outside. One other design consideration was the need to make bottom rack wide enough to accommodate the extra width of the Glacier.

The build was pretty straight forward framing, so no need to go into detail. I will discuss some of the more unique details, though.

Loaded up!
I decided to go with nylon slings rather than solid wood bars with foam or some other cushioning. I knew that Princess Auto was one of the best places for prices on webbing and such. I was not disappointed. I picked up a 3" x 27' tow strap for 24.00.  I could have bought a 2" wide one for 14.00 but I liked the idea of the extra support from the wider strap. I figured that 10.00 could be amortized easily over the life of the rack!! I toyed with the idea of using wide washers and nails to hold the straps in place but decided that small blocks of cedar and galvanized nails would provide a better clamping force. They worked out just grand.

Cedar block to hold sling.

Block #2.

Do you think 5400 lbs is enough??

An empty sling.

Empty sling #2

I really like how slings conform to the shape of the deck or hull depending on the orientation of the boat on the rack. My rationale is that the strap will shape to the deck/hull shape rather than the boat wanting to conform to the shape of a solid beam. Good enough reason for me!!

The Black Pearl

The Point Bennett. Notice the deck is covered in yellow pollen.

There's one more thing that I've been using our lawn furniture for - drying mitts and booties. The back slats on the chairs are great for slipping the mitts and booties over but these pieces of gear tend to smell and who wants that behind your head when you sit down?!!?!?  So why not incorporate a drying function into the storage rack? I had a short piece of plastic conduit - enough to make two mitt dryers. The test worked great so I'll add a few more for other mitts and booties. Just to show you that I think too much, I decided to go with conduit rather than solid dowel because air can travel up the inside of the conduit for better drying!!!

Mitt drying attachment!

Side view!!

A much neater and visitor-friendly back yard!!

So that just about sums up the project. Total cost was under 100.00.  (60.00 for wood and nails, 30.00 for strap).  The next plan is to devise a simple canopy to protect the boats from direct sunlight. But that is another day.

Thanks for dropping by,