Our 2000 Explorer has mostly plastic parts on the front of it. This means there is nowhere to tie the bow of our canoe in place. We found some fairly expensive straps from several companies online but nothing local. It was cheap and easy to make them ourselves. They mount to the fender bolts under the hood and provide a good solid mounting point. In total it cost us about $2-$3 to make and 35 minutes to make and install.
Step 1: Matterials and Tools:
For us, step 1 was giving our very active puppy a big beef bone so he would leave us alone long enough to complete the project!
- Nylon webbing. We found a bunch at a surplus store where the charge by weight. it was 67cents for 6 feet.
- Grommet kit. Make sure they are the right size to go under the bolts you want to use. The kit should come with the special tool you need to pound it in.
- Sewing Machine and sewing stuff (pins, scissors, ruler, fabric pencil, etc.)
- propane torch or lighter
- wrench that fits the bolts under the hood
Step 2: Cutting and Melting the Webbing
Every vehicle will be different so estimate how much webbing you will need. For our Explorer we used 18 inches. It should be long enough to come out of the hood a reasonable distance. When not in use you will tuck the strap under the hood so don't make it too long. It will end up greasy, interfere with the engine or even melt from the heat of the exhaust manifold. 3-5 inches hanging out of the hood is about right. Make sure you lightly melt the ends of the webbing or they will fray. A torch or a lighter will work fine.
Be safe working with fire!
Step 3: Plan Your Stitching
Fold the strap in half and pick your location for the grommet. It should be centered on the strap near the two ends but not too close. Mark the area with a fabric pencil (or a Sharpie if you don't mind it staining the straps). Avoid sewing where the grommet will be. It can weaken the stitching later when we cut or burn a hole in the straps later.
Step 4: Sewing
Fortunately my wife is pretty good with a sewing machine. She stitched several times back and forth in a box around the area of the future grommet. There is going to be a lot of strain on the seams closest to the tips so don't skimp.
Step 5: Melting the Hole
The grommet kit might say to pound the tool into the fabric to create the hole but this won't work with 2 layers of tough webbing. I marked the area and melted a hole the size of the center of the grommet. The best tool for this would be a soldering iron or wood-burning set. I just heated a nail with the torch and melted a hole. This is dangerous and should be done very carefully.
You are going to be holding the webbing, the pliers and HOT BURNING PROPANE FIRE! Be safe!
You might have to trim some melted bits with scissors to make a clean hole.
Step 6: Inserting the Grommet
If this is your first time putting in a grommet, practice on some scraps first. The instructions in the kit suggested you do and it was good advice. My first one wasn't so great. I got better with practice.
Step 7: Setting the Grommet
Read the instructions that came with the grommet kit. Read them twice. The advice to tap gently is very important. Tap straight down, too. If you aren't 90 degrees to the washer it will deform.
The last photo is of the 2 strap loops finished.
Step 8: Installing on the Vehicle
Choose a bolt that is free of moving parts and away from any road spray. The front fender bolt is a good choice, though there may be some frame bolts on your vehicle. Put the bolt through the grommet and put it back into the fender. Be aware that some bolts under the hood will have a torque specification so make sure you check. Bad things can happen if you don't, like "we are about to die screaming" kinds of things.
Close the hood and give it a good tug test. They should be solid and not stretch or warp your hood or fender.
Throw on your canoe and head to the lake!