This project has been in the back of my mind for a long time. My truck has approximately a 6′ bed and therefore longer items (lumber, ladders, sheet goods) either lean up against the cab, which dents it, or protrude out the back. The solution was to build a rack that would create more options for loading.
Until very recently I was planning to make a long ladder rack, the kind that cantilevers forward over the cab. But I realized that something simpler would meet my needs and require less steel, making it lighter as well. The design I eventually settled on comprises two separate racks, one directly behind the cab and one over the gate. They are connected by a pair of rails. If the rear rack is removed, two small mounts (not pictured) can take its place, allowing the rails to remain.
The racks, front and back, are mounted on pieces of steel angle, 15″ long and 2-1/2″ wide. They are built of 1-1/2″, 14-ga. square tube steel, and braced with tube steel at a 45 degree angle at the base. At the top, the rack is 4′-1″ wide (inside dimension) to allow for standard sheet goods to be carried. Stubs extend 4″ high on either side to prevent sliding.
The rails are 1-1/2″, 14-ga. square tube steel and have a short plate of 11-ga. flat bar on either end that connects to the racks. Each end is attached with a 3/8″ galvanized hex bolt. Because a second bolt would not fit on either end, I devised a key-and-slot system: the rail slides down onto a key on either end, then the bolt is installed.
The rack is attached to the truck in two ways. Each rack support is positioned over one of the stake pockets in the bed rails. A piece of steel (not shown), cut from a 2″ square tube, is welded below the steel angle to fit into the stake pocket. A 1/2″ galvanized hex bolt is then threaded through the side of the stake pocket and through a hole in the steel piece, preventing it from pulling out. To secure against rattling, a 3/8″ galvanized hex bolt (shown above) attaches to steel angle directly to the bed rail.
Comments? Let me know what you think!