It all started over in the M&G forum and rather than hijack that thread, I am starting a new one here.
Fast background: JohnB wondered about canoe rentals at the M&G site and I responded with a pic of my rig including the canoe.
John came back with a pic of his rig and expressed concerns about carrying the canoe on a 1,500 mile trip using the foam blocks and tie-downs.
And several of us got into a discussion about carrying canoes during our travels. I took some pics this morning and will show you how I carry my canoe. This may not work for others, but it has been great for me.
I used to use the foam blocks but found some problems. First, it was never solid enough for me. It always wiggled too much. Second, because it was centered on the truck roof, the canoe stuck way out over the hood and there was a tiedown from the nose of the canoe to the front bumper. That made it extremely difficult to open the hood of the truck. To really open it, the canoe had to be moved backward about 5 or 6 feet which meant untying everything and sliding it backwards. My canoe is fiberglass with aluminum gunwales, and moving it about on the roof of the truck made scratching the roof an inevitability.
(Paragraph added 9/2/09 11:48 AM)
Loading the canoe using the foam blocks was usually a two person job because I spread an old blanket on the roof of the truck to prevent scratching, and had to reposition the blanket several times while getting the canoe fully onto the roof. So, another goal was to get loading and unloading the canoe down to a 1 person job. The canoe is kinda heavy (over 50#) so I had to find ways to eliminate the need for a second pair of hands for both loading and unloading.
I originally designed this for use on my '98 Ram which had a short bed, but was otherwise the same as the '02 in size. The canoe stuck out a little further over the front windshield, but I could still fully open the hood without moving the canoe. The front tiedown is also not needed making it even easier to lift the hood.
First, I added a 3/4" steel pipe frame to the truck. It's bolted to the floor of the bed with flanges, and secured to the front and side of the bed with U clamps. As you'll see, there aren't any front to rear loads on the frame. It only has to bear the weight of the canoe. The horizontal pipe is covered with 1" plastic water line pipe. That makes it a bit slippery so when I load and unload the canoe, it's the metal gunwales on plastic rather than on steel (poor man's teflon!) The pipe frame also serves as a high mount for the auxilary turn/brake lights and I have a amber strobe light that is threaded to fit on the top of either vertical. In addition, if I need to haul a ladder or other long item, it's half of a regular roof rack already in place.
Then I made up some clamps to serve two purposes. Since they are tightly fastened to the pipe, they can't slide left or right which keeps the canoe centered during loading/unloading and when on the road. Second, the hooks on top of them are the anchor points for the tiedowns. The clamps are placed on the pipe so that the canoe is actually a tiny bit of a friction fit when in place.
The rear post is pretty much the secret of this all.
There are dowel pins on the bottom that fit in two of the holes in the bumper:
And the post sits like this when in place. I had to add the spacer to keep the post a little further away from the tailgate so that it would clear the DOT light at the bottom of the tailgate.
There's a notch in the top of the post that matches the nose piece of the canoe and a pin that fits through the tie point on the canoe:
The pin is fabricated from a 3/8" eyebolt with the threads cut off. The worm clamp on the post is to keep it from splitting. I made it out of a regular 2x4, and it started to split so the clamp was added.
That's the pieces. Now to load the canoe. My trucks both had the ABS tailgate covers that extend over the top of the tailgate. That's another slippery point for my system.
First I prop one end of the canoe up on the tailgate:
Then I slide the canoe forward and get the nose up on the pipe frame. I have to press down on the rear of the canoe a bit, but even with the long bed truck, it's a decent fulcrum.
With the weight of the canoe resting solidly on the pipe frame and the tailgate, it's easy to slide the canoe forward until the rear tip of the canoe rests on the tailgate:
Lift the rear of the canoe and place the mounting post. If I lift too far, the nose of the canoe will strike the roof, so a bit of care here.
Then slip the pin into place:
And connect the rear tiedowns:
Which connect to existing tiedown points in the bed of the truck:
Critical note: When the post is securely in place, the post and in turn, the canoe can not move around. The post can not move side to side or front to rear.
Add the ratcheting belly straps and it's done:
The canoe extends just a few inches out over the windshield:
And there is plenty of clearance to open the hood:
In the first picture, you can see the bicycle leaning on the canoe. That is the normal travel position for the bikes; one on each side. I fabricated a wooden frame to sit on top of the bed rails with slots for the bike wheels.
The frame is bolted down to the rail, and is easily removed. The bikes are held in place with two heavy duty bungies to hold them down in the frames, and a couple of bungies to hold them tight to the canoe. The rubber tip of the handle grip rests on the canoe. There is so little vibration that the tips have yet to wear into the paint on the canoe.
Because the bikes are so easily removed, I don't have any issues with loading or unloading the truck with canoe in place.
You could just as easily substitute a Yakima or Thule roof bar for the pipe frame. I'm retired and didn't have the extra cash to purchase one at the time. It would work just as well although the canoe would sit a bit higher over the cab of the truck. I personally like the pipe frame because it is rearward of the cab and is a great anchor point.
This could also work using the foam blocks I suppose, but you'd still have the problems of vibration, roof scratching, and the front tie down. By tying the canoe down with a pair of racheting belly straps above the pipe frame, there's enough strength to eliminate the front tie down. The canoe rides close enough to the roof so that there's no air flow to lift it up and away.