Introduction: Pickup Truck Ballast Rack

My wife's GMC Sonoma (codenamed "Rustbucket"), like most rear-wheel drive pickups, gets better traction during the winter when counterweights are in the cargo bed.

In past years I lashed plastic cat litter containers filled with sand in place, but these would slide, and sometimes break open. This year I still used the cat litter containers, but built a wooden base to keep the containers stationary. It worked so well, I thought it was worthy of becoming my first Instructable.

Step 1: Get Stuff

2x4s (at least 20 feet worth)
suitable nails
three plastic cat litter containers with tight-fitting lids
enough small rocks (1" to 1-1/2") to fill the containers
polyethylene rope

drill bits
Surform or other sander

Step 2: Drill, Baby, Drill

Drill holes in the lids and bottoms of the containers. This will allow rain, melting snow, etc. to drain through the containers.

Find a free source of small rocks, preferably without stealing from your neighbors. Select appropriate rocks, rinse and allow to dry. Fill containers so that a) there is a minimum of space to allow shifting of rocks and b) you can close the lid tightly.

Step 3: Measure Truck Bed

My basic concept was to build a base that would hold the bottoms of the litter containers in place. For that, I thought that two crossbars, with struts to hold the sides of the containers in place, would work.

Measure the sides of one of the containers. Now, face the truck bed. Measure from inner sidewall to inner sidewall at the widest point. If it looks like your project is going to infringe upon the wheel wells (the Sonoma has a relatively short bed, so that was my case), measure width between wheel wells at their narrowest point.

Step 4: Build Your Base

Measure your wood, cut to size. Smooth rough edges with the Surform.

Drill pilot holes suitable to nails, and nail your wood pieces together.

Step 5: Assembly

Place the wood rack into the truck bed. Add cat litter containers. Tie cat litter containers down and around securely.

Step 6: Evaluation After One Winter's Use

This rack did exactly what I'd intended: The containers stayed secure, didn't slide about, and provided the necessary tail-down force needed for winter driving.