Modular Truck Rack

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Project by tyvekboy posted 08-05-2010 04:37 AM 6326 views 20 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Aug 5, 2010

For those of you that have a truck with a camper top, this may be interesting to you.

The modular truck rack is the basis to carry anything for which you can make a fixture.

In Picture #1 you see what the modular truck rack looks like. It consists of stand-off and load bars that bridge the stand-offs. What makes this unique are the T-tracks in the load bars. Here you see my truck rack mounted on a fiberglass camper top.

Picture #2 shows the 1/2 inch bolt and nut that attaches the stand-offs to the top of the camper top.

Picture #3 is a top view of the load bar with the T-track. Notice the 4 screws that attach the load bar to the stand-offs.

Picture #4 shows you one of the fixtures I use to carry sheet goods and lumber. This fixture is just a 2 X 4 covered with carpet. The dowels sticking up from the fixture keep loads from shifting off the fixture. Each fixture is attached to the load bar with 2 T-bolts and a star knobs.

Picture #5 shows 2 fixtures attached that carry both my Tyvek canoe and kayak.

Picture #6 shows the fixture that I use to transport my Tyvek sailboat, mast, oars and boom. This fixtures is more complicated that the others and incorporate the use of inline skate wheels.

If you like this idea and would like to make one for yourself, continue reading.



  • Wood
  • (4) 1/2 in X 4 inch hex head galvanized bolts used to attach stand-offs to camper top
  • (4) 1/2 in galvanized hex bolts
  • (8) 1/2 inch galvanized washers
  • (16) 1-1/2 inch stainless steel flat head wood screws used to attach load bars to stand-offs
  • Enough stainless steel flat head wood screws to fasten T-track to load bar.
  • Sheet of rubber gasket material to make gaskets for waterproofing
  • Tube of Bathroom/Kitchen clear silicone caulk (optional … see description below)
  • Spar Varnish (or exterior laytex paint)

1. STAND-OFFS (make 4)

Start by making your stand-offs. I made my out of oak: 2 inches high, 3 inches wide and about 7-8 inches long. Mark out a 3 inch X 3 inch area on the top of and in the middle of the stand-off. This will be the area on which the load board will rest. The front and back were given an aerodynamic shape. (see picture #3)

In each stand off, use a forstner bit that is slightly bigger in diameter than a 1/2 inch washer and drill in the center of the 3×3 area marked above deep enough to recess a 1/2 inch hex head galvanized bolt and washer … about 5/8 inches deep.

2. LOAD BARS (make 2)

The load bars will bridge each pair of stand-offs. Make them about 5-6 feet long and 3 inches wide. The length will be determined by the width of your vehicle. Do not make them wider than your vehicle. The thicker you can make them the better. My maple load bars were about 7/8 inches thick.

Cut a dado down the center of the load bar 1/2 inch deep and wide enough for the T-track.

Except for the area where the top of the stand-off and the bottom of the load bar meet, round off all edges of the load bar. This will be done later after a trial fit.


(4) 3×3 inch 3/4 inch plywood blocks with 1/2 inch hole drilled in the center. Used inside camper top to fasten stand-offs to the camper top.

(4) 3×3 inch rubber gaskets with 1/2 inch hole in the center. Use for water proofing inside the camper top.

(4) rubber gaskets shaped to the bottom of the stand-offs with a 1/2 inch hole to match the hole on the bottom of the stand-off. Used for water proofing outside the camper top.


Locate 4 holes in a structurally strong part of your camper top. This will vary according to your camper top. Make sure to make the front pair of stand-off holes are parallel with the rear pair of stand-off holes. Drill 1/2 inch holes.


Starting at the top, place the rubber gasket shaped like the bottom of the stand off on the camper top upon which the stand off will be placed. Place the washer in the recessed hole and place the bolt in the hole down into the camper top thru the 1/2 in hole.

From the inside of the camper top, place the rubber gasket over the bolt followed by the 3 X 3 inch plywood square. Place another 1/2 inch washer on the bolt and fasten with the hex nut loosely.

Next place the load bar across the stand-offs. Check to see that the bottom of the load bar fits closely to the top of the stand-offs. Adjust the top of the stand-offs to achieve a close fit.

Be sure to mark the position and orientation of each stand off and load bar because everything will be taken apart.

Round over all edges of the load bar except where it will contact the stand-offs.

Give all wooden parts 4 coats of spar varnish, sanding between each coat. After varnish is dry, everything will be reassembled for the final time. ALTERNATIVE: You could also choose to paint the modular truck rack with an exterior laytex paint the same color as your camper top. I personally like the varnish look.

Install the T-Tracks in the dado on the load bar. Be sure to round off the ends of the T-tracks on the ends of the load bar to avoid injury. Drilling and countersinking additional holes in the T-track may be necessary.


Attach the stand-offs to the camper top loosely at first until check with the load bar. Tighten after alignment correct.

Place a bead of silicone caulk around the bolt hole on the top of the stand-off. When the load bar is place on the stand-off, this will weather proof this area. Before the caulk cures, place the load bar on the stand-offs. ALTERNATIVE: You could also place a 3 inch square of the gasket material here. Might be less messy.

The load bar will be attached with 4 stainless steel FH wood screws, 2 screws on each side of the T-Track. Position the load bar and start with 1 screw at each stand-off, pre-drilling for each screw. Finish off by pre-drilling the other 3 holes at each stand off and install the screws.

Now your are done. All you have to do is make the various fixtures you will use with your modular truck rack.

If your truck spends a lot of time parked outdoors, you may want to make a simple cover to put over the load bars when not in use to protect the spar varnish if that’s the finish you chose for your modular truck rack and avoid having to refinish it every few years. This cover could just be painted with an exterior laytex paint (maybe the color of your camper top). Fasten the cover with t-bolts and star knobs.


This idea could also be adapted to a vehicle that has luggage racks already installed. You won’t have to make the stand-offs. All you have to do is figure out a way to clamp the load bars on the luggage rack. Then you can have a compact car that can haul 4 X 8 sheets of plywood and 2 X 4’s home from the big box store.

I hope this gives you some ideas. Thanks for viewing.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

7 comments so far

View BillyJ's profile


622 posts in 4169 days

#1 posted 08-05-2010 04:44 AM

No way! That is probably the neatest thing I’ve seen. That is one SERIOUS rack! I love the use of t-tracks. This is one of those, “why didn’t I think of that!?” Great job – thanks for sharing.

-- I've never seen a tree that I wouldn't like to repurpose into a project. I love the smell of wood in the morning - it smells like victory.

View Abbott's profile


2570 posts in 4270 days

#2 posted 08-05-2010 04:52 AM

Nice one!

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4082 days

#3 posted 08-05-2010 07:33 AM

clever idea and I´m sure it will bee copied alot :-)
two questions thow .
can you bee sure the T-track stays in ?
do you take the T-track board of , considering how much exstra fuel the car use per mile with it on ?

best thoughts

View Ken90712's profile


17919 posts in 4155 days

#4 posted 08-05-2010 10:18 AM

Great rack! Never thought I would say this to a guy! LOL Really though great idea and info on how you did this project! Nice to incorporate some wood working for something like this, instead of buying a rack. A+++++++

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View 4thumbs's profile


153 posts in 4113 days

#5 posted 08-05-2010 02:11 PM

Well Done!

-- 4thumbs in MO

View WoodenFrog's profile


2737 posts in 3880 days

#6 posted 08-05-2010 03:15 PM

Very well done! I think they are Great.
And great build descripstion and walk thru of project.

-- Robert B. Sabina, Ohio.....

View engineerat8's profile


5 posts in 4025 days

#7 posted 08-05-2010 11:43 PM

Brilliant Idea!!! I just had a why didnt I think of that moment. I will probably make this.

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