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Open Roads Forum  >  Do It Yourself Modifications and Upgrades (DIY)

 > Ladder Mount Bike Rack Build

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Carb Cleaner

Northern Virginia

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Posted: 03/12/14 12:23pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

UPDATE 8-4-'14, below. I couldn't find what I wanted, so I cobbled together some 2" angle aluminum and 2" PVC, inspired by other designs from here and a Google.
[image]

The PVC was heated and expanded for the rear tires' width using a heat gun and another piece of PVC as a shaper. The ends of the PVC were coped to allow the Yakima fork-mount attachment. A design flaw is the restriction of the fork-mount skewer's flip-clamp handle against the angle aluminum. Some shaping of the aluminum, like cutting the aluminum edge back, might help. Larger, say 3", angle aluminum would cure this, but then you'd have another inch of aluminum to climb over when getting on the roof. The skewers' clamp handles will work, and I zip tied them tight, but it takes a little finagling and patience when loading. I can load them by myself, with the aid of a 4 foot step ladder:
[image]

These are the clamps I used for the ladder interface. 3/4" Pipe Repair Clamp, from Home Depot. A piece of inner tube protects the ladder's powder coat and gives stiction. I did a chin-up on the top 2" angle aluminum. I'm about a-buck-two-oh-five. It doesn't move and the force is distributed by the long clamps so the ladder isn't crimped.
[image]

Here's a clamp I rejected because it's way too small, it's cast pot metal that's easy to crack and the bore for the attaching threads didn't allow for a large enough bolt. Other clamps, like conduit, two-hole straps and pipe clamps, didn't do what I wanted, either:
[image]

Box of 316 Marine Grade Stainless Steel hardware from McMaster-Carr (http://www.mcmaster.com/#). Very expensive. This box would have paid for just about any other bike rack, but I do have pieces left over. The bag of little, black bolt-end caps contains 100 pieces. I used four. You can buy this stuff in smaller packages at a hardware store. I don't like rusty bolts:
[image]

The steel spacers used as stand-offs between the aluminum and the ladder brackets. 3/4" long, but one inch would be better. I used pieces of pipe insulation between the PVC tire holders and my ladder because the stand-off wasn't enough. With the 3/4" spacers, my ladder rungs were within an 1/8" of the PVC. Ordered on-line and picked up in store (free shipping), from Home Depot:
[image]

The spacers are the solid variety, not the hollow, rolled spacers with a seam. I wanted the bolt to be the same as the inside diameter of the spacer, so centering wouldn't be a headache. The thick-walled spacer gives it tremendous strength:
[image]

I had to use nylon spacers between the repair clamps' flanges so the ladder isn't squashed. I used nylon because that's what was available from Home Depot's stick and mortar after I determined the required size. Everything was a bit of an un-educated guess until I got to the mock-up stage of the project. Note, there's only two holes per flange/four per clamp from the factory, so I needed a third for attaching the 2" aluminum angle. That 3rd hole isn't centered between the existing two. Before drilling the extra holes in the repair clamps' flanges, I expanded the clamps by placing them over a scrap of one inch, thick walled aluminum tubing I had laying around and torqued down on the clamp with the included hardware until the flanges pulled together, tight. Effectivly, the hinge-pins get tweaked a little, but this procedure permitted the proper gap between the flanges after allowing for the thickness of the inner tube pad (see the nylon spacer). Pic below is a repair clamp as it would sit straight out of the bag. One inch repair clamps were too big, unless you wanted to use a double layer of innertube or had ladder bars larger than one inch. If the gap is too wide, the 5/16" stainless bolt won't fit through because the holes in the flanges are skewed (I was looking for 3/16" steel spacers, but 11/64 Nylon it is). After about 3,500 miles, the nylon spacers are doing fine. They may lend a bit of flex, taking some stress out. I don't know. I only pretend to be an engineer:
[image]

[image]

Stainless hardware. Lock washers, washers, nuts and double-nutted with Nylock Nuts:
[image]

Worm's-eye view. On the left, you can see the Thule adapter I needed for a through axle on a 29er:
[image]

Another bottom view, showing the Thule adapter, the black Yakima fork mount at the top (right, black), the grey pipe insulation padding and the buldge introduced into the PVC where the rear tires rest. Eventually, I think I'll cut slits into the PVC to allow double-sided Velcro to pass around the wheel. Presently, bungee cords do a splendid job of holding the rear tires:
[image]

I made this with 26" mountain bikes in mind, 'cause that's what we rode before we left for Texas. I made the rear tire rests a little long in anticipation of future bikes' longer wheel base, but I didn't make them long enough to accomodate the 29" bikes we purchased in Austin. My 26" bike had a crank failure, but that's a story of dissappointment for another day. With the 29ers, the handlebars interfered with the adjacent bike's rear tire. Not enough height for the bars to pass over the tire. Going higher with the fork mounts or making the whole rig longer, or a combination of the two, would make it function for 29ers. I loosened the steering necks and turned the bars 45 degrees (handle bars 45 degrees to the bike frame and bike fork) to make them fit the rack for our trip home. Our old bikes were partially disassembled and strapped to the luggage rack. We had just the front wheels strapped up top at the begginnig of the trip, but after the old bikes needed to go up top, the wheels for the 29ers travelled inside on the bed and were placed in the truck while camping. Normally, getting the bikes' front wheels isn't an issue because you only need them when the bikes are off the truck, allowing access to the roof via the ladder. I've considered trying to fabricate a mount for the front wheels that places them along side the bikes on the ladder rack. It'd be nice to get my 4 foot step ladder I use for loading the bikes attached to the camper's ladder, too, but I don't want to be stingy or tear my ladder off the camper while it's going down the road.
It'll take some adjustments for the new bikes, and my shin hits the top aluminum angle when I transition from the ladder to the roof, but it's a pretty good prototype. The bikes don't interfere with camper entry or exit, even when the 26" bikes' handlebars were in the regular, perpindicular to the frame position. The brake lights aren't blocked and I can use the camper's ladder rungs when the bikes aren't loaded. It doesn't stick out the side any farther than my camper's rain-gutter spouts or my truck's mirrors, but you don't want to forget they're back there while backing up to a tree or awning. I tied a red flag to the handlebars, for rear visiblity as well as to keep me from knocking my noggin on the bikes too many (more) times. I discovered, fairly quickly, that placing the 4 foot step ladder under the bikes makes you walk around them.
If I ever get the pictures from the Better Half's phone-camera, I'll post some better shots of the whole deal loaded up. Maybe, tonight. No promises.
During mock-up with a 26" wheel bike:
[image]


[image]

The 29ers loaded. If you squint, you can barely see one of the 26" bikes up top:
[image]

My new 29er, Specialized Epic Comp, in Dinosaur Valley State Park, TX. I find it's safest to wheelie past dinosaurs. It makes them think you're bigger:
[image]
Moderator edit to re-size pictures to forum limit of 640px maximum width.

* This post was last edited 08/04/14 07:55pm by Carb Cleaner *   View edit history


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BurbMan

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Posted: 03/12/14 12:35pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice work!! Looks like a good way to haul bikes!

One comment on this pic...your nylock nuts aren't doing anything because the bolt isn't far enough into the nylon insert. Plus no need to double nut with nylocks, I would remove those inside nuts and just use the nylocks.

[image]


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Carb Cleaner

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Posted: 03/12/14 12:56pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The bolts just reach the end of the Nylock. I couldn't decide if I wanted to double-nut, or solo Nylock. You see what I decided. The extra bolts were here, so what the heck? I may eliminate the superfluous, standard nut when I build the next unit for our 29ers. Or, not. I think the nylocks give it a nice, finished look. Plus, it'll take someone a little dedication and time to steal it. I bet eight of those standard nuts only weigh about a 1/4 of a beer.

Carb Cleaner

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Posted: 03/12/14 01:14pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

One more thing, off topic:
The people at Bicycle Sport Shop, in Austin, hooked us up. Their techs and sales staff are extremely knowledgable and patient. They had the parts in stock, tools and skill to repair my old bike, I simply figured I'd fix it at home, cheaper, and put the dough towards a new bike. That saved me exactly zero dollars. It was one of those I'm-saving-50-bucks-so-let's-spend-5 grand kinda rationalizations. After ordering the parts and special tools for the crank repair, I've spent the same as what they wanted for parts and labor. Oh, well. I got some nifty new tools I'll probably use once or twice in my life outta the deal. We actually got a couple of pretty good deals on the new 29ers, but I definetly didn't save any money. Can't take it with you.
Stop in at one of their shops in Austin. There are three locations. We went to the Parmer Road shop. You won't be disappointed.

* This post was edited 03/13/14 07:00am by Carb Cleaner *

Mike NW

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Posted: 03/12/14 01:30pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Do you secure the rear tire in any fashion to the ladder rack?

Nice looking bike mount. I will definitely keep this design in mind.

hershey

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Posted: 03/12/14 04:55pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

How do you reach the attachment to secure the bike?


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Blazing Zippers

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Posted: 03/12/14 10:10pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

VERY NICE!!!!!

Carb Cleaner

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Posted: 03/12/14 11:10pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for the compliments. Any suggestions for improvements are welcome. I know there's a lot of detail buried in all them words. I can't be mad if a tid-bit slips by. What we really want is pictures, anyway. My Gal has some better shots on her phone, but she's feeling under the weather. So, I'll bug her tomorrow about them:

Mike NW wrote:

Do you secure the rear tire in any fashion to the ladder rack?

Yep. Right now, I'm using bungee cords to secure the back tire to the ladder, placing the rear tires in the PVC troughs (PVC not shown in the mock-up pics).

hershey wrote:

How do you reach the attachment to secure the bike?

I stash a four foot step ladder in the back of the truck camper when we're motoring. In the cruddy pic above, it's on the ground under the truck (we were expecting rain). While parked, placing the step ladder directly underneath the bikes while the bikes are mounted gives me a visual cue so I don't hit my head on the bikes. The four foot is also handy for quick parking lot camper entry and messing with awnings. Usually, it's nice to use the four foot to access the bottom rung of the camper ladder 'cause the camper ladder begins about eleven feet in the air. On its side or laying flat, I've used it as a saw horse. It's a towel dryer, too. You can cantilever a piece of wood, front to back, to create a small table. What I really like, is my four foot has a built-in cup holder. I guess if you set a four foot on the roof, you could get a better view.
Appearently, my four foot step ladder is indisposable. However, if I had to and a ride depended on it, I could get the bikes down from the camper steps with some extra hands.

* This post was edited 03/12/14 11:23pm by Carb Cleaner *

sh4717

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Posted: 03/12/14 11:24pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I made something similar a couple of years ago from plans posted on here from another member. You did a nice job! The pita for me was getting the front forks up high and into position to clamp them down. Did 1800 miles to yellowstone like this last summer.

I cut some HD hook and loop Velcro and wrapped that around the rear tires-held better than a bungie with no bouncing.

Thanks for the pics!


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Posted: 03/16/14 10:35pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice, very nice. The only thing I would change is the fact that you really only need two short pieces of the PVC trough, right where each rear wheel sits (unless you are riding the bikes up into position!). [emoticon]


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