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How to Build a Sled Rack

I got a set of ladder racks for the camper shell, but my sled would fall (did fall) between them and could (didn't) damage the shell, so I designed a sled rack that would:

  1. Keep the sled off the shell, and
  2. Guide the sled as I pushed from behind since I usually have to load by myself.

I used:

two pressure treated (PT) 2"x4"x8'
three PT 1"x4"x8'
4 bolts with washers
galvanized wood screws
1/2" eye bolt 2" long
wood sealer

The rack is made up of 2 rails that are hooked together like a ladder. Each rail is a 2x4 on the bottom and a 1x4 on the outside forming a capital L. The 1x4 sits flush with the bottom of the 2x4 and acts only as a guide for the sled as it is pushed up on the shell. The third 1x4 is cut into pieces but you have to measure first.

You want the rails to be about 1" wider than your sled runners, so assemble the rails and set on the ground. Set your sled on the rails and adjust. Then you are going to measure across for the rack crosspieces which will be mounted under the rack up next to the back of your camper shell's ladder racks. Measure outside to outside. The front measurement will be for the crosspiece behind the front ladder rack. Both of these rungs should be snug against the ladder racks so you don't get any front-to-back movement of the sled rack. You will probably want another one in the middle for stability.

The fourth crosspiece should be mounted under where your sled bridle will be. The further back your sled is the easier to get on and off the rack. You will mount the eyebolt directly under sled bridal carabineer so you can make a very short length of rope with two snap hooks, one end goes to the eyebolt the other to your sled bridle carabineer. This prevents the sled's front-to-back movement.

You will want to lock the sled rack to the camper shell with bolts. This depends entirely on how your shell or ladder racks are constructed.

You will want to tie down the back of your sled. For this you can just use:
a strap tie-down,
bungee cords,
rope,
another eyebolt and snap hook combination, or
a locking bar clamp.

The locking bar can be very simple. Two pieces of wood that fit above and below the rails. The bottom piece is mounted to the bottom of the rails and has 2 eyebolts mounted so they fit outside the rack rails. The top piece has slots cut in it for the eye of the eyebolts to stick through. Use snap rings through the eyes to lock the top piece over the sled runners. This will not be a locked down system, but so what? All you are after is keeping the back of the sled from sliding out of the rack rails. The front is already locked down with the eyebolt/carabineer.

Happy Trails!  


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This website last updated November 2002