Pickup Truck Ballast Rack

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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

Parts:
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

Tools:
Saw
drill
drill bits
hammer
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.

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    14 Discussions

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    abstracted

    6 years ago on Introduction

    the weight should be dirrectly over the axels, and use weight that has another use come spring...like soils, cat litter if u have cats, i have used sand blasting sand to be used later in my blaster

    3 replies

    People are always concerned with being able to get their vehicles moving in winter, what the people in the ditch later realize is that rarely is it a problem of moving forward that causes accidents in winter, its attempting to stop. If the weight is behind or directly over the rear axle it transfers weight off of the front tires. The front tires having quality traction when attempting to stop and turn is way more critical in winter driving than being able to move forward.

    People are always concerned with being able to get their vehicles moving in winter, what the people in the ditch later realize is that rarely is it a problem of moving forward that causes accidents in winter, its attempting to stop. If the weight is behind or directly over the rear axle it transfers weight off of the front tires. The front tires having quality traction when attempting to stop and turn is way more critical in winter driving than being able to move forward.

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    uncle frogy

    5 years ago on Introduction

    I don't live where I have snow problems but I still like a weight in the bed of my Dakota I use lead ingot I acquired. With overload springs the rear tends to ride light and "bounce" when empty and the weight levels out the ride to be more comfortable and much less tiring.
    While it is true that the weight is better over the rear axle the leverage at the tail gate means you get more force at the axle than the weight alone. and the mileage differential is not much.
    uncle frogy

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    lonemeno

    7 years ago on Introduction

    not to be a drag but i fill my bed with snow and 4 sand bags and they dont move the plus side of it i can make blocks for a snow wall or igloo

    I built one of these for my last Dodge. While I don't have the snow problem in the South, the rear end did "creep" on washboard roads. I use hydraulic oil buckets. They are readily available if you are in a mechanized logging area. I fill the buckets with gravel from creek crossings. As an added benefit, I fill holes in the driveway with the gravel. Great instructable and kudo's for the re-purposing on the litter buckets. I also use litter buckets in the tool box for tow chains/straps. It keeps the rust off the other junk in there, as well as making it easy to get them out without risking beating up the side of the truck as you feed it over the bed or tailgate.

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    Roflolommo

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice. It looks far superior to my bungie cord sandbag contraption.

    this would be perfect in my bedliner since it already has slots for 2x4 dividers

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    criswilson10

    7 years ago on Introduction

    I've been dealing with the same sliding bucket problem in winter as well and I love this solution. Great idea!

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    Esmagamus

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Nice idea. Unlike many instructables, yours shows something truly useful. I just hate driving with loads running around the boot of my car.

    Hope you're enjoying your membership. Share your ideas with the world.

    P.S.: Stop that rust before it stops your truck.

    1 reply
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    Civicalized

    7 years ago on Introduction

    I have the same type of bedliner in my Ram. I love it but hate it. Things slide around like its ice back there. This could easily be modified (simply not using the gravel) to keep things in place. I also have a bunch of those litter buckets sitting around, so I may just have to build something similar! Nice post!