Saturday, August 17, 2013

Rack 'em, Snow Bum

Sure, I know its August.  Yep, most folks are taking vacations or at the least thinking about the sweltering heat.  Even here in usually-temperate Oregon, the humidity has been over 65% (which is downright humid for these parts in August).  Sweaty.  It reminds me of my old lawn-mowing days in upstate New York with 80%+ humidity, 80*+ temps.  To combat the weight of the dog-day heat, I think cool thoughts.  T and I will talk about the drop into the bowl on the Thunder run at Timberline or Ski Bowl's Lower Surprise trail.  It's funny how talking about losing an edge and cartwheeling downhill in deep powder can cool you off.  I spent yesterday afternoon in my 90* garage building a ski/board rack for the bus.  I'll detail that today.  Stay cool my friends.  2013-2014 Fusion season passes go on sale in less than 3 weeks (Sept 3rd!).

Starting with What?
thinking about it
The bus was a 1972 Westy when I first bought it.  It ran a 1700CC air-cooled non-original engine with a Weber 32/36 Progressive carb, 009 dizzy and a worthless heat-exchanger exhaust (65HP, 18mpg @best).  It had the original 1972 Westvalia interior and canvas bellowed pop-top.  Today, it runs a 1.9L TDI from a 1998 New Beetle (90+HP, 30mpg).  Inside, it has the rock-n-roll bed, rear closet and refer cabinet from a '79 Westy plus a middle row seat from a Vanagon.  Up top, it has a 1972 Riviera (straight up) poptop and bed.  That may sound crowded inside, and it can be.  Since I've been working on the engine, I have had the rear closet (left side with a front-facing door and cubicles at the rear) out of the bus and sitting in the garage.  This leaves the engine electronics, which sit in the spare wheel well, exposed.  I have a solution for that, but that's for another day.  Anyway, I started looking at the 14" gap between the left side wall and the middle row / rear seat, thinking.... "couldn't we put our ski stuff there?"....

Think, Measure, Think
aligning the rails
I started simply by setting a shoe box on top of the refer cabinet and putting my snowboard on top.  Surely I could make something work there.  I grabbed a set of skis and held them above.  "Yep, I should be able to make 3 racks, each holding either 2 boards or 2 sets of ski's," I thought.  The racks need to be far enough apart so snowboard bindings fit between them, but close enough together so our youngest ski's fit.  That last part proved too much, but he needs new planks anyway, so it should all work out.  Holding the ski's in the air, I made pencil marks on the wall to give me a sense as to where the rails should sit.
I wanted the rack to have some give, so I chose to connect the rails to the side supports with hinges rather than angle braces.  On the other end, I thumb-screwed eye-hooks so we could pull one-to-all of the racks upwards, suspended from another eye-hook in the ceiling by a length of chain.  I haven't completed that part yet.  Last, the equipment needs to stay put.  To address that, I replaced one hinge wood-screw on each rail with a eye-hook bolt run through to the bottom.  On each rail, a 12" bungee is attached from hinge eye-hook to rail-end eye-hook.  I am waiting for the arrival of some bath-tub tread material that I will apply to the rails to make it complete.
parts list

Material List
2 6' lengths of 1x3 cedar for the side supports and rails.
3 packs of 2" utility hinges (2 in each pack)
3 packs of #8-32 x 1-5/8" eye-bolts (2 in each pack)
3 packs of #208 Screw Eyes (2 in each pack) - for rail ends
1 pack of #206 Screw Eyes (2 in pack) - for ceiling
1 8-pack of mini bungee's
some #10 washers

Cuts and Drills
I started with a clean-up cuts on the ends of the cedar.  Lumber yards don't make perfect square cuts, so this is always a good idea.  I cut 2 24" long pieces for the supports and 6 12" long pieces for the rails.  I set one of the supports against the sidewall to consider rail placement.  To make it simple, I pressed the support against the headliner support.  I transferred the pencil marks on the wall to the support. Recognizing that we need 9" between each rail (our tallest binding was 4-1/2"), I lined up the rails 9" apart, adjusting the pencil marks.  Once I had a plan, I set the support back against the wall, held the rails up to see how it would feel.  Then, I pre-drilled the holes for the hinges (making one on each rail large enough for the eye-bolt) and assembled.  I also pre-drilled holes at the top and bottom for wall-mounting.

testing installation
Once the rack was put together, I wanted to see it in-place.  I discovered that the bottom rail was so low that I had to remove the eye-bolt so the hinge would open enough for me to access the mounting holes.  Hmm.. opportunity for model improvement.. I pre-drilled one hole in the wall and mounted the rack with a 1" sheet metal screw.  This held the rack in place so I could pre-drill the remaining holes without the rack slipping.
A test installation wouldn't be complete without filling it with snow equipment.  I put 2 boards (mine and T's) on the bottom rack, 2 sets of ski's (K's and C's) and Boo's set on the top rack.  K2 gets new-to-us ski's this year, so I left his off.  With the bungee's, the equipment sits well.  I will apply bathtub treads to help hold things in place, but it looks like the passengers will be comfortable and safe, and the equipment a-fixed.

That's it for today.  I still have some clean-up to do, but in just 4 hours this went from concept to installed.  We may use the racks as garage wall-mounts too.  Each one attaches with 4 screws.  Neat.  More next time, and thanks for following along-

No comments: