NFR: Hauling Raft on Top of Truck Bed Rails

Discussion in 'Watercraft' started by TinyBigs, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. TinyBigs New Member

    Posts: 23
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Hello all-

    Every year I haul my 13' AIRE Super Puma raft over to fish Rock Creek, MT. I usually haul the raft on my trailer, but as many of you know, the Rock Creek Road is a horrible dirt road full of potholes etc. This is very hard onthe trailer.

    The last time I was over there I saw some guides and local fishermen hauling their rafts on platforms that fit on top of the bed rails on their truck. The platform essentially started near the cab and extended about 3-4 feet past the tailgate. Their rafts were tied down to this platform and they were then able to haul their rafts up and down the river.

    I would love to build something like this, but I have not been able to find anything on the internet describing the best way to secure the platform. Nor I have been able to find a commercial product out there that could do the same thing.

    Does anyone know what I am talking about? Do you have any suggestions, photos or websites that could point me in the right direction. Any suggestions would be most helpful.

    -TinyBigs (Tiny Flies = Big Fish)
  2. ceviche Active Member

    Posts: 2,312
    Shoreline, Washington, U.S.A.
    Ratings: +42 / 0
    What you saw wasn't like one of those contractor lumber racks you see on some PU trucks but with an attached platform extending out to the dimensions you described, was it? I have a Toyota long-bed PU with a lumber rack. It's long enough for me to lash a canoe to it and only slightly wider than the boat's beam. Certainly, with a wider truck, one would be able to have a wider rack. If the rack isn't wide enough to comfortably support an AIRE raft, it wouldn't take too much to bolt-on beam-width 2x4's. If I owned a pontoon boat, I'd certainly would do the same to spare me having to break down the boat just to fit it into the bed. Does that make sense?
  3. TinyBigs New Member

    Posts: 23
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    If I am picturing the lumber racks correctly, they are usually bracketed to the rails but then are tall enough to be level with the top of the cab. Is this what you are refering to? This would definetely work, but getting the raft up that high could be difficult.

    What I have seen is a platform that is level with the bed rails. It was essentially a large piece of plywood that was secured to the bed rails and was wide and long enough to support the raft. The basic idea is pictured on this website.....But, I am hoping I can make something myself and spend much less money.
  4. ceviche Active Member

    Posts: 2,312
    Shoreline, Washington, U.S.A.
    Ratings: +42 / 0
    Yeah, you have a point about the cab-height thing. The ideal situation would be a single-handed operation rig. If you have the skills and access to a welder and metal stock, you'll be able to DIY relatively cheap. Also, you might want to seek out someone with fabrication skills. If you hash it out with the guy--talk design features, figure out the cost of stock, maybe even look into a lightweight powered winch, etc--there's a good chance dude will require less than Discount Ramps.

    Here's another idea. What about some kind of platform frame that you can winch up on top of the lumber rack? Think of a light-duty winch that will haul the platform into position, after you've secured the raft to the platform. Will the whole thing cost more than the Discount Ramp job? Depends if you can get a sturdy, used lumber rack. That and the winch will be your biggest cost outlay. Then again, you can always rig a pulley system to accomplish the same thing as the winch. Like, how heavy is your raft? More than a handy billy(2x1) can manage? I doubt it. Just secure the platform, once it's in position on the rack.

    Good luck!
  5. Roper Idiot Savant

    Posts: 4,283
    Glenraven Ranch
    Ratings: +770 / 1
    Piece of cake, where do you live? You could make one in a weekend. I made one to carry my 8 footer. I just used 2x4 with no platform. You could use exterior ply in strategic areas if you wanted to. The whole thing bolts to my bed rail pockets.

    Lemme know...I've got all the tools sitting in the shop...Saturday morning is open...
    JesseCFowl likes this.
  6. Josh Benjamin Member

    Posts: 988
    duvall, wa
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    rock creek road is greatly improved probably since the last time you were there.
    don't get me wrong, i'm all for building stuff, but i heard, i think on this board, that it is almost like it's been paved.
  7. reverse spider New Member

    Posts: 35
    Everson, Washington
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    did you see something more like a snow mobile rack that sits on the rails of the bed?
  8. Jergens AKA Joe Willauer

    Posts: 2,141
    Twin Bridges, MT
    Ratings: +19 / 0
    I was up there last spring and it seemed like a trailer eater to me, but i do understand that it used to be much worse.

    I second the 2x4 idea, seems like it would work fine to me. i have seen a couple around missoula that were created just for holding a raft.

  9. Kevin J. Burnham Active Member

    Posts: 2,146
    Ratings: +140 / 0
    Joe is right you can go the 2x4 way. I did this one a few years ago and drove all around with no problems. It was made out of plywood & 2x4's. It's an option !!
  10. TinyBigs New Member

    Posts: 23
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Thanks for the great ideas and the picture. I was originally thinking of something just like a full snowmobile platform on the back. But, as Roper and others pointed out, I all need is some 2x4 support over the rails that extend far enough back. This should be easy to do.

    Roper, thanks for the generous invite to put it together in your shop. If it is more difficult that I think, I would like to take you up on that offer. I'll keep you posted.

    Any other ideas or pic's are always welcome.

    Tight Lines.....

    -TinyBigs (aka Bryce)
    Tiny flies = Big fish
  11. Josh Benjamin Member

    Posts: 988
    duvall, wa
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    the more i think about it, the more i guess i realize the problems regarding a trailer would be more than just the width of the road, blind corners, etc.
  12. 1morecast Active Member

    Posts: 745
    Port Angeles
    Ratings: +49 / 0

    I have the same raft as you do, and the same concerns about dragging a trailer up Rock Creek. With a NRS fishing frame the boat can be heavy if you don't have some muscle with you to help lift the rig up to the level of the side rails, tried it a few years ago with my girlfriend... I have seen the platform you are talking about, it comes with a winch and the platform tilts down to help with loading and unloading your boat.

    A few years ago I picked up a brochure at one of the fly shops in MSO [sorry, i can't rememember which shop} about a guy in the Missoula area who was building the decks. You might try calling one the shops in the area.

  13. Roper Idiot Savant

    Posts: 4,283
    Glenraven Ranch
    Ratings: +770 / 1
    Here's what I learned building mine:

    First, the holes in your pickup bed rails won't take a 2x4, it's somewhat smaller. So, you'll need to trim down 4 or better yet 6 vertical legs so they fit down into the hole. Most truck have holes on the inboard side and that is good for lag bolting the vertical legs in place, use a big fender washer.

    Now with the ends trimmed and in place you can set your rails running fore and aft, again using lag bolts, but pre-drilling your holes helps unless you have a impact driver.:thumb:

    Now set your "joists" on top of the rails, it helps distribute that 100 lb raft, lag bolting again. Put some trim rails out on the ends of the joists to reduce the snag effect and tie them together.

    Lag bolts are ideal because you can break it down if you need to. Use galvanized ones and pressure treated wood and you should be set.

    Offer still stands if you want, I'm free all day Saturday and my shop has lots of goodies to make it easy...
  14. TeenyBigs New Member

    Posts: 9
    Seattle, WA
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    I know this is an old post, but, thought I would revisit it. I figure people are still researching how to haul their rafts without using a trailer.

    What I ended up doing was what Roper suggested. This worked well for a long time until my 1996 Nissan Hardbody pickup broke down for good. I never thanked you Roper. Even after 6 years, I still want to check out your shop. :)

    I still kept the trailer, but, it was nice to have the option.

    I am now looking at finally buying a full sized truck and found a fabricator in Missoula who makes a great system that you can break down and store when it is not in use. I thought I would post it just in case others were wanting to do the same thing.

    Tight Lines.........