Pvc Roof Rack




Introduction: Pvc Roof Rack

Idabble@yahoo.com was taken, or otherwise I would like that email. It describes the vast reaches ...

Firstly, the idea to do this came from terribly overpriced roof racks.
Mostly 350.00.
After a couple of hours of looking at what Lowes had to offer I chose these.
50 ft of 3/4 inch schedule 40 sprinkler pipe, 20-3/4 "T" connectors, 8-3/4 pipe to 1/2 threaded connectors, 8 special adapters called "Universal" for disassembly, and the corners are 3/4 90 degree angle with the 1/2 threaded offset X 8, to give the roof rackyour choice of height.
Total cost 45.00.

Step 1: Measure As You Go

I built this roof rack one measurement at a time. Keep in mind that as you measure, depending on where you want to put fittings for support you will have to count the inside measurement of each fitting otherwise it will be short.

Step 2: You Won't Dent Your Roof

Put the fittings toward the edge and it will prevent denting your roof.
Do not glue anything until you have the base finished with all of fittings you will need.
Then you can stretch it to the contour of your roof after it has dried.
Once stretched to contour your car you can measure from each fitting to set the height of
the rack. Make it to your specification at this point.
Most important, leave the middle of the roof out of it, so it doesn't dent under load.

Pay close attention to these two "T" connectors. This was the best idea for doing this
project of all. By gluing them at less than a 90 degree angle to eachother when it's dry,
will bend the pipe that goes across the car on the bottom of the rack over your roof,
and not push it in.

Step 3: A Nice Technique I Disovered in Process

By gluing them at less than a 90 degree angle to eachother when it's dry,
will bend the pipe that goes across the roof of the car when the top of the rack is finished.

Step 4: Disassembleable

In the middle of the rack I have used 4 universals. This nifty design allows the rack
to be disassembled by threaded couplers and stored inside the vehicle so you have a roof rack
when you come back.

Step 5: Almost Done

With the nearly completed rack on the roof it should look like this.
Pipes on the lower level straight across and touching the middle of the roof, with the vertical
supports on the side canting inward. When the upper level of pipes are assembled to the proper width it will torque the middle of the lower pipe off of the roof.

Step 6: A Handy Alternative to Needing My Truck for Transport

Meet my 9' 6" recumbent tandem. It would take a custom rack like this
to transport my very long two seater bicycle and get the best mileage.
Without this rack I would have to put it in the back of my truck and get 18 mpg
instead of 44 mpg.

Step 7: Protect the Paint and Add Help It Grip

This is a Toyota Echo. One of the smallest cars on the road with a functional
roof top carrier you can make to fit any car for your needs.

What is not shown in these pictures is the 3/4 inside diameter heater hose.
I cut it to fit each fitting then sliced the hose down one side and glue the inside of
the hose to each fitting like a foot.
You can use a wrap to do this part, a paint on coat of rubber, something
to protect the paint on your car from the pipes.

Step 8: About 8 Hours With One Person

Duct tape will help hold the fittings in place until you are ready to glue.
I never glued too early, but if you do, instead of having to drill out the fitting to place a new pipe.
They make a fitting if you cut the one you glued on too early in half. Then cut a little bit more to count for the inside measurement of the 3/4 to 3/4 pipe fitting, then glue when your ready.

This is the first rack I made and did it successfully without gluing too early.
I did not glue until the base was finished and pressed together. If you give gluing some forethought before you glue to be gluing you will be fine. I do not believe you will be able to pull fittings apart after two minutes when you glue. It dries very aggressively.

Lastly, I found ways under the hood to attach the ratchet straps to. In the trunk there were holes in the frame to slip the hook through to ratchet the rack on the back.
Take care in your choice of where to tighten straps of the rack to your car. Your PVC frame can bend by ratcheting it down too tight.



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    24 Discussions

    PVC is probably too weak for roof racks which get tremendous dynamic stress from turning, stopping, starting and wind resistance. It's better to shop around craiglist or amazon for a used metal rack with secure mounting points.

    1 reply

    Pvc actually has a very high stress fracture and if it is made just to keep items within the confinement of the space it is a very economical way to make a cargo carrier, add some come-alongs or rope and your all set, not only that you can easily paint the pvc with plastic paint or make it a wood grain or steel finish with the proper files and paint. You should speak about what you do actually know than what you do not know. I built one for under 30 that is two feet high on a Plymouth Voyager and it works great.

    Taken from http://www.northamericanpipe.com/technical-info/faq-s have tons more if you want to see the results of how much pvc can tolerate.

    Does PVC get weaker as it ages?It is possible to draw that conclusion if you just glance at the stress regression curve for PVC pressure pipe.However, that is not the case.This curve is a tool to conservatively estimate the long-term life of a pipe at a particular stress level based on relatively short-term tests (a one hundred year life based on tests of up to ten years).This curve has proven to be extremely conservative.In fact, a study by Robert T. Hucks, Jr. determined that pipe held at an elevated sustained hoop stress levels actually experienced increases in strength as time passed.

    I know this is an old instructable but I wanted to comment on something if I may. First thing, good job on the idea and the effort that you put into to it. I have a homemade rack for my Corolla that I use for upto 3 kayaks that weigh a heck of a lot more than your bike. I haven't used PVC though. Not that I didn't consider it. There are several issues with PVC. Firstly, the white stuff does not have UV protection and it becomes brittle when exosed to sun and heat over time. The grey one is for electrical conduit and can withstand the UV a lot better and if it is painted with plastic compatible paint, well that's even better. Secondly, the white pvc can also comes in smaller thicknesses than schedule 40 which should not be used for structural projects at all. Thirdly, I would not trust the pvc cement for structural builds either. It makes a good bond but over time and stress it will fail. It's just a matter of time. Its better to use small stainless steel pan head screws in conjunction with the cement to screw the fittings to the pipe where they overlap. Remember to pre-drill. Lastly, in my opinion, structures like your roof rack should not be elevated off the car's roof. This design puts a lot of leverage tension on the structure and eventually can "cause failure. If this rack is to be used as is, it should have a "belly" strap that goes through the car doors and around the entire rack and bike so that if it all fails it doesn't end up falling completely off the car and in to traffic. Good luck and be safe out there. Again, I commend you on your intructable and ideas.

    1 reply

    How funny. I circled around on this make almost 5 years later, have moved at least 7 times and am living at this place again.
    I was searching for things to do with about 10 sections of 10ft metal conduit and found an old post for pvc roof racks. Don't do it.
    Fortunately it didn't cost me with a visual of my bicycle doing the end-over-end dance in the rear view mirror to know better, but I have this to say about it's design and enthusiasm. I tried. I had a wacko idea, design on paper, the "what if" and I did it. Yes, wrong material, but the intention, 100%. Thank you all who come here and learn, try and do.
    Some of the latest things I've found to spend my time doing are functional steampunk art, aluminum foundry videos on youtube by myfordboy. I encourage you to look them up, he made a 1/4 scale working engine that ran on butane by all of his own casted parts.

    Toyota Echo: $10000 Tandem recumbent bike: $2000 Hacked PVC pipe roof rack: $45 Safety of other road users: priceless I apologize if I sound a bit offensive, but I think you are trying to save money in the wrong place. A basic roof rack from a quality brand manufacturer costs about $150. And if safety of others is of no importance, there are the liability issues. Also, where I live, transporting stuff on the car roof without an approved roof rack is illegal.

    9 replies

    Seriously? Bite it. This car top carrier is no less safe than the commercial models sold for hundreds of dollars elsewhere. It sounds like someone owns some stock in a car top carrier company. AND this is a site about hacking (in the finest sense of the word....workaround solutions that save money and are more efficient) so if all you're doing is trolling the site to maliciously attack people, go home! Finally, and take it from me, I get paid to make people laugh, that Mastercard/Visa thing is Soooooooooooooooo played out. Couldn't you have come up with something more clever? Remember this too....people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones AND they should probably go to their neighbor's house to go number 2. james freeman

    In May 2007, when I wrote the comment, the MasterCard joke was still funny. Times have indeed changed since then. You should read the post dates before commenting. I hope this helps. Have a nice day!

    *lmao* OK, you have a point...The MasterCard jokes WERE funny back in 2007.I should tell you that I'm not a frequent visitor to instructables and the comment left in reply to your comment was not written by me. My little brother used my account so he could download the .pdf flies he needed to work on his project. He must have run across your comment and, as he all too often does, put his foot in his mouth. Please accept my apologies for his rudeness as he isn't the type to admit his mistakes. ALL of that being said and despite the fact that he stole one of my better jokes,and for some inane reason signed my name (my full stinking name!!!!! I ought to give out his ss number) he had a point (not about the MC joke, that's all yours brother!) Now that I've read the original comment myself it DOES seem a little mean-spirited and unnecessarily pejorative. Also, I have a dock with 8, 2 inch pvc pipes and they've held up for a couple of years now with rugged and frequent dock use, so I'd have to take some issue with the idea that PVC isn't strong enough to safely support a bicycle. Still, it was none of my brother's business and it's certainly not mine so again, apologies offered. To each his own, live and let live and all that stuff right? Dell Netbook 345.00 Monthly Internet service at a blazing 20mbs 40.00 A joke that never really goes out of style? Priceless remember this too a bird in the hand is worth more than 2 in the bush. But the bird in your hand can go potty in it! Two wrongs don't make a right. Noooooooo but 3 lefts do!!! Some people see a glass half filled with water and call it half empty, others call it half full, personally I ask for a refill. I mean what the heck am I paying for here? and finally, they say the pen is mightier than the sword but you only get to read about that kind of stuff because anyone who brought a pen to a sword fight is dead!!!!! Have a blessed and peaceful year man jf

    My Yakima rack I bought for my 97 Civic Hatchback was around $600 with all parts, then again I paid retail in 1998 for it.

    I'm actually interested in acquiring a basic roof rack from a quality brand manufacturer myself and would be interested in this $150 option you've found. The only options I've run across so far have started at $245... and as tempting as it sounds, I'm not sure I quite trust the PVC (or my ability to construct something I'm willing to trust) I did a quick check to see how much it was for a tandem bike mount... $369... and that's after the $245 to install the basic towers and cross bars.

    There is an wise and affordable alternative, to the 500.00 rack and the PVC rack. The company is TYTErack.com. they make a rack for tandem, cost is under 200.00 (no hidden add ons). You get, the four towers, the 2 load bars and bike hardware, they also manufacture a rack that will carry standard bikes for under 100.00. All the racks sold are universal in attachment meaning that they fit any car. The racks BOM is USA and certified, Military spech bike holders, USA fully traceable fasteners, USA steel with a triple layer powder coat that will resist rust 5 years past a THULE or yakima, check it out,

    Google for toyota roof rack found this site:

    They have a basic roof rack for the echo for 135
    looks like they have options for all kinds of cars.

    Not mine :P And there needs to be more emphasis on quality.... After searching around a few forums... Two brands of roof bike racks were recommended for my car.... OEM and Thule.

    Thule 594 - Thule Sidearm (to mount bike - really can't forget this part): $130.50
    300 - Thule Rain Gutter Foot Pack (for roofs with rain gutters): $121.50 (400xt upgrade is $4 more)
    LB50 - Thule 50 Inch Load Bars (to attach to feet): $49.50

    Which comes out to $301.50 - still cheaper than OEM and I have read/seen almost no horror stories compared to their competitors. I think a friend of mine still has a Yakima mount system for sale -- it's broken, but cheap :P

    To be honest, I wouldn't be worried about the PVC whatsoever -- it's the mounting system that needs special attention ;) My platform bed is supported on 4 PVC tubes - my bed by itself weighs 300lbs(mattress + floating frame) + 2 adults (an additional 250-300lbs).

    "My platform bed is supported on 4 PVC tubes" Yes, and that's a pretty good application for PVC pipe -- the pipe is supporting the weight in compression, which is very strong compared to its tensile strength, and it's inside, where it won't get exposed to UV or cold temperatures. In compression, I've even used PVC outside. Some of my pigeon & chicken houses have 2" PVC legs, like your bed, and have been holding 7-8 yrs so far, outside and largely immersed in very high-acid chicken poo, which will rot or rust almost anything. However, failure isn't a big worry there since the structure will only lean over a few inches at most. I haven't built a roof rack in 20+ years, but I don't see why someone doesn't just make it out of 2x4's (with some paint-friendly spacers) rather than PVC, if money is the issue. Properly-built wood structure I'd trust up there on the rood, but not PVC.


    11 years ago

    As others have noted, PVC pipe does not have the strength for this application. The box you've built is likely to deform and eventually crack at highway speeds, leading to the loss of a very expensive bike and the injury of someone behind you. If you're looking for inexpensive construction material, a better choice would be steel conduit, which can be bent, and has a wide range of fittings that can be attached with screws. But if you're carrying a $3000 bike, it seems foolish economy not to spend what it takes to buy a proper rack.

    3 replies

    UPDATE: I full time RV. It is conducive to my lifestyle in work/travel as a surgical techician from hospital to hospital. In the last move from Indiana to New York, the rack fell over while it was on the ground and it cracked the corner I would also like to comment that given the circumstances of the end result as a possiblity didn't deter me from the attempt. MAKE is a must and to try, devine. Yes, it was the wrong material to use, but with a different material as suggested, would make a fine rack. MAKE on. Moddy

    Safety Third!! I wouldn't use it every day but its a good system in pinch, I would be more concerned with the metal conduit then the pvc, its not stronger unless you increase the number of cross bars and it would seriously damage the paint (on the car and the bike). I like the PVC Moddy, Make on!

    I tend to agree that PVC may not have the strength necessary, especially if you live in a climate where the temperature drops very low in the winter. I use PVC on my work trucks, and whether it's cumulative sunlight exposure, or just the temperature extremes, we crack 2" PVC all the time in the winter, just by laying it on the pavement (not dropping it, just laying it down less than gently), usually when it's about 25 degrees F. For this reason, critical tank & plumbing parts on our trucks are METAL, not PVC. Not worth a large HazMat spill, for sure. I love PVC and use it for a lot of stuff, but one has to keep its inherent limits in mind ... sort of like Dirty Harry used to say: A pipe has to know its limitations."

    the short answer is that it would work. I think there is a material issue. The design is good, but I think it's about a two star out of five. I think it would be better to use metal conduit. It doesn't have to be heavy it just has to be engineered properly. I think it was a good idea, but PVC shouldn't be used for everything. Moddy