How to build your own kayak cart, kayak rack, hully roller and a bunch of other kayak crap

27 Aug

Disclaimer:  I am telling you right now to never try to build these things.  If you try to replicate building this stuff and get hurt, that’s both God’s will and the Darwin effect in motion.  This section is for reading entertainment only.  Most of this was done years ago when I was young, strong and cheap.  Now I can only claim to be cheap and I haven’t kayaked since I tore my rotator cuff a few years ago.  This whole section was several sections on a website I used to own, but the parent company pissed me off so I pulled it.  Since I constantly get emails from cheap ass people like myself trying to build their own kayak carts I figured I’d put it back up for their enjoyment.  If you end up building a kayak cart or the like and would like to make a $5 donation, my paypal is  Thanks 🙂  

BTW I don’t even own the truck anymore, it wasn’t big enough to pull the new boat so I upgraded to a Tundra which came with a set of roof racks :).

Part I

The Kayak Roof Rack

DISCLAIMER:This is not a how-to article, it’s a general info article so you can laugh at my limited skills. Building your own kayak rack can be extremely dangerous and as an added negative, if you don’t do it right the rack can break and your kayak can end up hitting the freeway and damaging other vehicles or worse yet, other drivers! If you try to build your own rack and something happens you do so at your own risk! Pretty much if you try to replicate someone’s designs and it falls apart, that’s Gods will I guess! Some general info:

The kayak racks I was looking at were running about $500 and I thought that was insane considering they are only pieces of metal. This rack probably ran about 60$ in parts, without stainless hardware. Before you begin, first you have to find someone that welds or owns a muffler shop or a metal shop. Baby sit his kids, buy him beer or whatever it takes, because you are going to require his skills. Remember this is your new best friend! Do him a favor and then casually tell him you are planning to build a rack. When he tries to run away tackle him and remind him you are best friends and plus you did that favor for him a while back.


(8) 4″ steel plates (4) large 1.25″ or larger tubular steel, get the stiff stuff, not that thin walled stuff (8) 5/16″ bolts and nuts, lockwashers and washers Primer and Paint

Pasti dip to coat the bottom of the rack so it doesn’t scratch up the roof

(2) foam floats from walmart

velcro or some type of ties to hold the foam down


If you want to make the extensions you will also need: (4) 5/16″ bolts and nuts, lockwashers and washers (2) long pieces of 1.25″ or larger tubular steel (I made mine 80″ each)

The first thing I did was measure the dimensions of my kayak. The beam width of the Malibu extreme measured about 32″ wide. Then I measured the shell, my camper shell measures 67″ long by 43″ wide. I wanted the rack to be at least 5″ high to clear the bow of the kayak when I strap it upside down, thus I came up with these plans:

You can tell by the obvious expert drawings that I should have probably been an engineer making millions of dollars or some sort of designer instead of a poor biologist.  I have no idea why NASA hasn’t contacted me on my space shuttle design I did on a napkin…

Spend as much time working on the plans as possible, hours even. Then when you are all done throw them in the trash! One thing I quickly learned about the kayak rack is that you have to pretty much build it piece by piece and you can’t really count on your diagram because of angles and weird stuff like that. However I guess the diagram gives you a little bit to work with. I ended up making it with square tubing because my dad was the welder and he said the flat surface gives you more area to bind with than tubular steel which made sense to me.  At the time I could not weld, mainly because my dad didn’t want me to burn the house down.  Now I can pretty much mig weld anything, stainless steel, aluminum, mild steel etc.  And as a bonus I haven’t burned my own house down. Yet…

The first thing we did was cut the 4″ plates, 4 of them are for the top support and the other 4 serve as gigantic washers to keep my kayak from pulling the rack out of the fiberglass shell. We predrilled all of the holes in the plates to match up the top and bottom, I also labeled each plate so I knew if it was the front/back or top/bottom etc. Here is a close up of the base washer plate that goes under the camper shell.

Note there are two holes only, I could have done 4 but my dad said two would be plenty to hold it down. I painted these white to match the undercoating of the fiberglass camper shell

This is one of the top base plates, already welded to the frame. I bent the plates by hand using an anvil and a hammer to fit the contour of the camper shell.

One of the hardest things to do is to try to bend the pipe to fit the top of your camper shell, we had to take into consideration h eight and angle. My dad is the greatest, he heated up the bar and bent it by hand. If your NEW BEST FRIEND has a mandrel or something to bend your pipe you will be in great luck! Otherwise you can also cut the pipe and weld it to make the bends.

The next step after bending the pipe and fitting it to the roof of the shell is to weld the plates to the pipe. Remember which plates are the front/back etc or else you will be s.o.l and will have to make new base plates for the underside to match up the holes. This took us the longest because we put the plates on the roof and then taped them down. Then we put the frame on the plates and had to angle grind it little by little until it sat right. Damn that took a long ass time!

Once we had the base plates welded on we spaced out the rack to the edge of the camper shell and welded on the kayak crossbars. If you look really close you will see 5/16″ holes that I drilled on each end, this is because I didn’t want to have long bars on my truck knocking people upside their heads. Insead we built 80″ extensions that I can bolt thru the holes directly on top of the normal bars for useage when I’m hauling two kayaks! I don’t have a pix of the extensions but it fits perfectly on top of the kayak crossbars.

Drilling the holes in the top of the kayak bars was also hard because I had already welded the crossbars to the frame. Remember what I said about plans, well when we welded the crossbars the heat had bent the metal a bit so it didn’t sit perfectly flat. So when I drilled I couldn’t use my press and had to hand drill the holes at a slight angle.

The finished rack. It would’ve been better to have it powder coated but that would have added cost so I used primer and cheap spray paint, flat black. It will scratch and flake later but I can always repaint it. The last step was trying to figure out a way to keep the base from scratching up my roof. I decided to try to use plastidip, I got it at home depot. It’s a liquid dip that puts a thin rubber coating on tools and stuff, I’ll have to see how it holds up in the long run.

My poor damaged truck roof! Putting that rack on and off and welding the steel plates to the frame made all those tiny scratches. We welded the plates on top of the truck to make sure we got the angle right, we also tried to keep the sparks from damaging the roof but some still got on there and burned the paint! These are two of the holes we drilled thru the roof to attach the rack.

I used all stainless bolts and stuff to keep the rust down, I also used wingnuts so I can quickly remove the rack if I needed to, this is a pix of the bottom of the plates that secure the rack to the camper shell.

To make sure the camper shell is securely bolted to the truck frame I made big plates to serve as washers to hold the fiberglass down. See that tiny washer? That’s all that was holding down the shell before, kinda scary! The new plates keep the camper shell tight and with all the precautions on the roof attachment the rack is rock solid, knock on wood!

That’s my completed truck rack! It carries my extreme perfectly and if I need to carry another kayak I just have to remove the foam and then bolt on the extended bars to the existing bars. I also plan on using tiedowns in the front and the rear because I read a scary ass story about a kayak coming lose online, better safe than sorry!

Part II:  The Hully Roller

Now that I have the rack for my truck I was trying to figure out a way to get that kayak up on the roof a little easier. Keep in mind the extreme weighs 65 plus pounds and when you are dealing with a long object it tends to be hard to carry and I kayak by myself most of the time and I didn’t want the thing falling on cars or breaking my back. So I sat down and sketched out an idea for a hully roller.


(2) sticks 3/4″ pipe

(1) stick 1.25″ pipe

(4) 3/4″ elbows

(4) 3/4″ T joints

(2) 1.25″ coupling

(2) foam floats from walmart

First I built the base that lays along the window of my truck. I took an elbow and connected a 3/4″ pvc pipe to it and did the same on the other side. Once this was done I put a T joint on one end and had to figure out what angle I wanted it to lay in. Basically I wanted the hully roller to be at an angle that wasn’t too high but high enough so I could roll the yak onto the kayak rack bars. Once the angle was complete I glued the base and the T joint together.

Now came the hard part, I also had to figure out a way to keep the thing from lifting when the kayak sat on the roller part. I figured out that if I made two bars in an “L” shape I could lay this on the top of my camper shell and under the kayak bars. This would keep the pvc base from lifting up when I loaded the kayak onto it. I connected the second set of T joints to the first T joints and glued them but did not add the cross bar yet.

Basically the roller part is made up of 1.25″ pvc that uses the 3/4″ stuff as an axle, its the blue thing in the middle of the picture below. I used two 1.25″ couplings and placed them 3″ apart to form a type of groove that the kayak would sit into. I also figured I’d have to put some sort of covering on it so the kayak wouldn’t get scratched when I rolled it up. I ended up using 1.5″ blue flat pool tubing, this was a mistake that I’ll have to correct later because the kayak is cutting thru the tubing. It was also a bitch to slip that stuff over the pvc, I had to use rubbing alcohol to lube it and pull hard, it took about fifteen minutes damn it!

I cut the 1.25″ pvc to fit over the elbows of the 3/4″ pipe and elbows. Remember under that 1.25″ is a rod of 3/4″ that serves as a axle of the hully roller. Look at the above picture closely, it’s actually upside down. The two blue foam pieces on the bottom of the picture sit on top of my camper shell. The two other blue foam pieces on the top of the picture rest on the window of my shell. And the blue thing in the middle is the groove where the 1.25″ couplings are spaced out, next to that is the 1.25″ pipe. Together these pieces form the hully roller. Ignore that elbow on the top of the pix, that was cuz originally the design was going to be different and once again I modified it all!

I made sure that I glued all the pvc together at the joints and it was finished! It works great I can load up my kayak without having to worry about it falling off and hitting the cars next to me.

The finished product!

Notes on the hully roller:

I made my hully roller out of 3/4″ pvc but 1″ would be better because it would be stronger. The only problem is that the foam wouldn’t fit over the pvc. Plus I had a lot of 3/4″ stuff left over from my other projects.

The foam keeps the pvc from hitting my roof and my window.

This set of pvc cant be broken down because I didn’t want it to twist under the weight of the kayak, however it is easily removed from the camper shell, basically you just lift it off!

Try it out! If it works well send me one million dollars or buy me a diet pepsi with lemon the next time I fish with you! If you don’t like it too bad, I didn’t beg you to make the thing you dummy.

Part III.  The $30 Kayak cart that can be disassembled for storage

I already had a kayak cart that was built for my scupper classic but it was welded out of steel and couldn’t be broken down for storage so I started researching the net to find a new cart. The guys on and were nice enough to help me figure out a way to make a new type of cart (BIG THANKS TO BONEFISHER AND KAYOTE AND WHOEVER ELSE I FORGOT FOR YOUR HELP! Here’s another version: ). Their idea was pretty simple, just use pvc and some straps!

2 Pneumatic Wheels ($10 for 2 on sale at Harbor Freight Tools)

2 Cotter Pins (3/8″ Hitch Pin .35 from Home Depot)

2 steel rings (.97 from Home Depot)

2 Steel Hose Clamps (1.98 from Home Depot)

3 foot 5/8″ Steel Rod from home depot (6.36 from Home Depot) for axel

6 5/8″ Washers from Home Depot (1.14 from Home Depot)

3/4 Inch PVC pipe (1 ten foot length from Home Depot)

6 3/4″ PVC T (2.40 from Home Depot)

4 PVC End Caps (.96 from Home Depot))

1 strap to lash the kayak to the cart (2.50)

1 Primer/spray paint (1.88 from Home Depot)

1 Funnoodle Pool Floats from (1.44 from walmart)

Tools needed:


Screwdriver or socket to tighten the hose clamps

Drill/drill Bit, a drill press is even better

Pvc cutter if you have it, if not the hacksaw will work on that too

Pvc pipe glue and primer, I didn’t use this because I didn’t see any areas that might come apart during transit.


First make the Base of the Cart, you can base it on the width of your kayak or else model it after the ones in the stores. I ran one T joint to the axle, and then ran a pvc pipe piece to the next one. Then I took another T joint and connected it sideways to the first T joint. Run another bar to the corresponding T joint and it forms a double bar of pvc.

You can glue it if you wish but do not glue the top T joints for the main kayak support. If you leave these unglued then you can remove them later on for storage. Add end caps to the top of the cart bars.

Drill 1 hole in the 5/8″ steel rod, add cotter pin and then washers. Space it out and figure out where you will have to drill the next whole on the other side of the wheel. Cut steel bar to fit. Then drill second hole and add second cotter pin. You have just made the axle.

Make sure everything fits properly and then paint the cart if you wish.

Attach steel rings on each side of the cart with the hose clamps. This will be where you can attach a strap with a hook to the cart to secure your kayak to it.

Cut pool noodles to fit on top bars, this will cushion the kayak and help it from slipping off the bars.

Try it out! If it works well send me one million dollars or buy me a twelve pack of pepsi max  the next time I fish with you!


You can disassemble the cart by taking off the two top bars at the T joints and removing the cotter pins and removing the wheels. It should help it to fit in your kayak.

I tried using a 1/2″ gigantic bolt first that was threaded on one end. It didn’t work because the 1/2″ piece wouldn’t fit right in the cart wheels (5/8″ fits it exactly) and when I put the thing together on the kayak the wheels cambered a bit and I didn’t want to chance damaging the bearings on the kayak. They did not make any long 5/8″ bolts and I thought the threaded 5/8″ rods might be too flimsy. The 5/8″ bar from home depot fit perfectly and I was able to cut thru it really easy with a drill and a sharp bit. This made a very strong axle which will also be easy to replace later on.

I used two large 5/8″ washers to space out the cotter pin from the wheel because the pin kept hitting the bolts that hold the wheel together.

The Second Cart:  Because the first cart was kind of a piece of crap

The first cart works great ON HARD SURFACES! But truth be told, on soft sand I had problems because I have so much gear in the Extreme that it’s really really heavy and the cart became like a sled. So I was planning on going to my sister’s house and “borrowing” my neices “big wheel” kids tricycle since it has huge plastic wheels. Then on the very next day when I began planning to build the new cart I saw a “big wheel” in my neighbors trash can on trash day. So with the stealth of an indian I pirated it out of the trash at 1:30 am so people wouldn’t think I was a trash digger.

This puppy rolls on the sand great! The hardest part of this build was trying to get that darn “big wheel” apart. It took a few different tools but basically I ended up getting three great wheels and one axle out of it. I built it the same way as the first cart except I glued all the joints together except for the two “T”s which remain removable. The only problem with this cart is that the wheels are so big I cannot take them off and store them below my hatches, they would take up too much room. So I just bungie the whole thing to my kayak and now I guess you can say I have two added floatations!

A close up view, you will note it’s pretty much the same as the first cart

Note the huge size of the tires in relation to the “T” bars. This thing rolls on the sand great!


If you follow these dirctions and the kayak cart falls apart and your kayak falls on the ground it is considered an ACT OF GOD and therefore like the insurance company says, I cannot help you out, lol!

Part IV. The P.V.C Kayak Cleaning Stand

It occurred to me after getting my yak all nasty with stinking mud at Irvine Lake that I should try to clean up my yak before transporting it to my house so my truck doesn’t reek. This would mean I would have to keep the yak off the ground while I washed it down and wiped it off. A stand like this would also come in handy when I’m working on my yak at home doing installations and I can use it when I’m washing the yak down. I’ve seen these before at the kayak rental places and thought it would be a good idea to make one out of pvc so my lazy butt doesnt have to have the kayak sitting on the ground when I clean it. I got the original idea by checking out some of the other yak fishermen’s designs and added my own ideas. Here’s what you need to build this rack, I got all the materials from home depot, total cost was a whopping $24.74, not counting the spray down bottle or the straps.


4 sticks of 10 foot 1 1/2 inch pvc pipe, $3.44 each, 13.76 total

8 90 degree 1 1/2 inch pvc elbows, .89 each, 7.12 total

2 wing nuts, bag of three was .78

2 5/16″ x 4 1/2″ bolts, .27 ea, .54 total

4 5/16″ fenderwasher, .15 ea, .60 total

2 5/16″ lockwashers, .08 each, .16 total

I made mine to fit into the bed of my truck, the tacoma has a 70″ x 39″ space between the wheel wells. I figured to be safe I’d make my stand a maximum of about 68″ x 38″. Mainly I allowed for lame tolerances because I didn’t want to have to rebuild the thing again in case my measurements weren’t correct. I wanted my stand to fit flat in the bed of my truck. I did it this way because I didn’t want to have to break down the stand every time I transported it.

If you look closely you will notice that basically my stand is made with two rectangles that fit into each other, it folds up flat. That way it takes up the least amount of space. Here’s the steps to making one that fits into the bed of my truck.


1. Make the outside rectangle first. I cut two 64″ pieces and two 34″ pieces. This is because the elbows add about 2″ on each corner. I used a jig saw to cut the pvc because a standard pvc cutter won’t cut anything bigger than 1″ or so. Keep in mind anytime you are drilling or cutting pvc you DO NOT WANT TO SMELL ANY OF THE RESIDUE SO HOLD YOUR BREATH. PVC is nasty stuff, it causes leukemia and other kinds of cancers when it gases.

2. Put this first rectangle of pvc together with the four elbows. I did not glue any parts because there is no stress on the joints of the frame when it is together, once you glue pvc its glued pretty much forever, and it’s easy to make mistakes. Trust me on this one because I work at a public aquarium and I use pvc all the time, you have to glue it when there is water running thru but for my purposes on the yak I rarely glue the pvc!

3. Start cutting the pieces for the second rectangle which fits into the first rectangle. I cut two pieces at

29 3/4″, and two pieces at 60″.

4. Put the second rectangle together with the last of the four elbows and it should fit exactly into the first rectangle. You have just made the basic frame for the stand.

5. Mark the dead center of each of the pvc frames on each of the two sides (the shorter sides of the rectangle). This is going to be where the hindge is going to be. Use a 5/16″ drill bit to drill a hole all the way thru the pipe, this is tricky because if you screw up the holes and they aren’t straight thru it will mess up the alignment of your stand and the two rectangles wont fit together nicely. I used a drill press to make sure the holes were drilled thru inline. You will be drilling four pieces of the pvc. Once you get the holes drilled, insert the bolts and washers and lockwasher thru it. Then add the wingnut, I used wing nuts in case I ever have to quickly disassemble the stand.

6. Now your stand should be able to open and close freely and then also fold into a flat rectangle for easy storage in your truck bed, the finished frame looks like this.

7. Add the straps which holds your kayak like a hammock. I used the same straps that I use to hold my kayak in my garage, you can get a set of four for 5$ at Ganahl lumber, man I use those straps for everything. They are used to hold my kayak in the garage, hold the kayak to the kayak cart I built, and hold the kayak inside my truck. Cheap straps are the kayakers best friend! The best thing about this strap is you can adjust it to the width of your kayak just by pulling on the tag end!

8. Now I bought a cheap bug/water sprayer on sale at Ganahl lumber for like 6$, it holds a gallon of water and is perfect for washing down the kayak at the beach or wherever to get the sand or dirt off. I keep my kayak stand in my truck at all times because it fits in the bed and doesn’t take up any room! Then when I’m done kayaking I just set up the stand, spray down the kayak and dry it with a towel. I can clean it better when I get home, this is just to keep the smell out of my truck and keep sand from scratching my paint.

9. Okay here’s a close up of the finished stand with my yak on top.


You can disassemble the cart by removing the wing nuts and bolts and then kicking the base of the elbows. It will allow for total breakdown of your stand should you need it.

Remember that if you decide to make your stand fit into your truck bed like I did mine you need to subtract at least 2″ from each side, 4″ total to allow clearance of the pvc elbows.

Hold your breath while you cut the pvc or drill it unless you want to fester up with cancer later on.

Try it out! If it works well send me one million dollars or buy me a twelve pack of pepsi max the next time I fish with you! If you don’t like it too bad, I didn’t beg you to make the thing you dummy.


If you follow these dirctions and the kayak stand falls apart and your kayak falls on the ground it is considered an ACT OF GOD and therefore like the insurance company says, I cannot help you out, lol!

Part V.  The Fish Finder and Other Installations Page

Okay in case you didn’t know I do have 3 kayaks, a Ocean Kayak Scupper Classic, a Malibu tandem and a Malibu Kayak Extreme. Why 3 kayaks? Because I was dumb when I bought my first one and didn’t know what to look for, I ended up getting a great deal on the Scupper Classic, it was super fast in the water but it was really easy to flip when I was fishing (ask me how I know). So I wised up and bought a second kayak strictly for fishing and retired the Scupper from fishing and I plan on using it when I take my friends out to the back bay and stuff.  Then I got married (I know any girls who are reading this are now probably heartbroken, especially after seeing my mad skills at drafting) and bought tandem kayak to take my wife out.  Guess what, she never wants to go out.  Wonder how I  keep my kayaks? I strap them to the roof! (edit, actually I lied, I used to strap them to the roof but I built a giant rolling kayak cart outdoors to hold them now).

Kayak Storage

You always want to store your yak out of the sun, sunlight and plastics dont mix! It’s also a good idea to hang them upside down if you can because the rails of the yak are said to be the strongest part.

No this pix ain’t upside down! What you are looking at is two kayaks strapped down to the roof of the garage. All you do is add eyebolts to the ceiling where there are studs and then use the cheap straps from the hardware store! It keeps the yaks out of the way but it is a bit hard to get them into the straps and then raise them up.

Fish Finders

This pix is sideways but notice the wires are drilled thru the yak and come up to the base of the fish finder

When you fish in a kayak, a fish finder is very helpful. It will assist you in finding schooling fish, bait and will show you bottom contour as well. For my kayak I purchased a Eagle Cuda 128 because it was a great graph and it cost less than 100$! It has lots of cool functions and it tells temperature as well as lots of other info. My buddy Wen told me to get a rechargable house alarm battery because they are cheap and man was he right. The thing only ran me 10$ and I can recharge it all the time. I store the battery in a plastic box which fits snug in the bottom of my kayak.

Pix of the transducer and the battery box

If you have an Extreme you will have to cut thru the foam to install your transducer. It’s pretty easy but if you don’t want to cut the foam, Malibu Kayaks will do it for you for about 5$. They are located in Huntington Harbor, ask for Corey or Bill. If you do it yourself you will take a dremel with the sanding attachment and CAREFULLY buzz the foam out until you see the hard plastic of the kayak bottom. Then take a razor blade and carefully cut the remaining foam out until you end up with a flat, clean surface. It makes it so you don’t have to worry about the transducer hanging up on stuff when you paddle in shallow water, but it will also alter the temp readings by a few degrees because the plastic insulates it from the water.

Once you have a clean surface take a new tube of marine goop and cut the bottom off of it. Then carefully squeeze out a huge amount of goop and fill the hole in the foam. Carefully take your transducer and then roll it into the goop, try not to get any air bubbles in your goop or else it messes up the transducer readings. It is impossible to get all of the bubbles out because as the goop dries it has some reactions that form bubbles anyways but if they are small it won’t affect your reading. The transducer keeps slipping to the sides so you will have to check on it every fifteen minutes or so for a couple of hours to right it, otherwise it will mount crooked. You will have to wait about two days for the goop to cure, people say 24 hours but I poked it and it was still soft but a couple of days later and it was pretty hard and fishable. Which reminds me, you can use marine goop to patch small drill holes in your yak if you screw up when drilling.

Now that the transducer is mounted you can drill the hole for the main plug to come out to your fish finder. I mounted my fish finder on top of one of my hatches so it would be easy to remove later on if I needed to (Wen’s original idea, but I liked the way his looked). Then I carefully drilled a small hole into the footwell and the main plug wires thru it. I filled up the remaining space in the hole with a small plug that I bought from Home Depot and cut it to fit.

That’s it! You are ready to locate the fish with your new fishfinder!


Got a Comment?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: