I had just sprung for my new kayak and frankly my approach of using a Side-loader wasn’t getting the boat onto the roof of the car safely, quickly and securely enough for my liking. Not a reflection on the Side-loader just my car, a Mazda CX-7.
It’s high enough to make kayak loading a chore. I’d love a Thule Hullivator but I’d need to replace the Mazda factory bars to get it to fit. So brand new all up that’s $1500 AU. Second-hand maybe I could pick it all up for $800 maybe less, if I can source all the parts. So I checked out the Showboat ($300) and the suction based Rack ($175) both of which I liked the look of but the Suction racks are only good if the surfaces you attach too are real flat and my investigations on the old interweb inspired me to have a go at making a PVC version rather than spring for a rig that may/may not work on my car I won’t go into build detail on the PVC versions of the Suction mount. There are plenty of those online. Suffice to say I built 2 versions one a straight roller bar the other a cradled roller. I found that they were both strong and both looked very professional but because of the complex bends on the rear of the CX-7 they wouldn’t lock solid. A posting from another builder in the USA whose car is a CX-9 explained that you need to tweak the angles to get them to work and using a heat gun I did that and it worked OK but not every time so I wasn’t 100% sold on them, hence I had a go at the Showboat solution. It’s obviously a lot more labour intensive and I may have over engineered it (some areas are double or triple layered with stacked PVC, dowel or aluminium ) but it works and I’m very happy with it and hope that it lasts long enough for me to one day get the funds for the Hullivator kit. I should point out that I wanted to keep the weight as low as possible and still be able to fit a conduit carrier for tent poles for car camping etc. hence the use of PVC, it’s light, strong and when painted hopefully pretty robust against harsh Australian sunshine. You can see from the video that the pull out roller bar is flexible but strong however to save the rear plastic roof spoiler and car paint I rigged a pool noodle to add some cushioning.
Step 1: I’m Posting This Project As It May Help You If You’re Thinking Along Similar Lines.
Step 2: Loader in Action
Step 3: Parts List
PVC pressure pipe in the following diameters:
lengths would be determined by your vehicle
25cm, 32cm, 49cm
90° angles, 45 angles
Foam pipe Insulation 49 cm
PVC prep, PVC glue
Araldite or epoxy cement
Rhino rack T bolts pack of 4
(these are the only specialist parts I bought, although it’s possible to use regular bolts I figured these were worth the investment).
Washers, Bolts, Wing nuts ( I used these until It was all dialled in then I used thread lock and stainless nuts)
Step 4: Tools
Hacksaw. I used a multi-tool but a hacksaw works too. Hot glue gun. If you have one. I used it to plug some areas and as extra lockdown in other areas but you could get by without.
Dremel. I used to reshape the T junctions. Again you could do this with a saw and file but it would just take longer.
Sandpaper. Course, medium and fine.
Step 5: Finished and in Position
I’m really happy with the final product, hopefully it’ll keep me going for a while and save my back until I scrape it together for the Thule Hullivator. So here’s the finished rig:
Step 6: The Walk Through
A wise man once said, ‘Measure twice, cut once’ and for good reason. Also for this project I found that building and fitting each side at a time allowed me a bit more wiggle room.
Like most cars the CX-7 is wider at the front of the roof and narrower at the rear plus the roof bars are slightly bowed. What this means is that if you don’t tweak as you go you’re perfectly straight edge beast is unable to fit your bars. Obviously some cars are more prone to this than others. The Toyota Rukus is the perfect kayak topper car but who wants to buy one of those!
Step 7: Dry Assemble Everything
The basic rectangle is built with 32cm pipe with either 25cm sleeved inside or 49cm outside for added strength.
There are two glued 32cm T junctions towards the front anchoring to the roof bars with the Rola rack T bolts
Towards the rear there are two unglued 49cm T junctions.
These four T junctions have been cut and shaped to accept a bolt for fixing to roof bars ( I used epoxy glue to sandwich metal washers above and below the bolt hole to reinforce and strengthen the fit to car rails).
This dry build, allowed me to fit to the car and fit and adjust with the existing cradles after this I discovered that the PVC crossbars were too high on the car due to their thickness and pressed against the kayak so I added eight 45° angles to drop them lower.
Step 8: The Pull-out Roller
The pull-out roller is 3 layers thick, 4 if you include the foam. It has a dowel core and has two layers of PVC on top which run all the way into the T junction and are glued.
Step 9: Dealing With Stress
The areas where the pull-out roller is potentially stressing the tops of the support tubes I have reinforced with an extra layer of 49cm pipe cut and shaped then glued in position.
Step 10: Tweaking
After a dry fit I decided it was worth adding a side support. This isn’t really load bearing but is enough to just stop a sideways slip and it’s also a roller. So it acts like a helping hand.
Step 11: This Is the Finished Painted Rig Before Fitting to Car.
Step 12: Ghetto Loader
I once worked with a photographer and when the team needed to quickly put something together to help aid the shoot they called it the ‘Ghetto’ solution. I liked the sound of that, it’s less McGuyver and more attitude. I reckon it’s true of my ‘Ghetto Loader’.
Step 13: Cost
Now bearing in mind I already had some of the supplies kicking around and I didn’t need to buy any tools.
This build cost me less than $150 Australian plus I’ve got a slightly warped suction roller thingy which could be repurposed as a set of paddle holders...