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I need some advice on ladder racks. I know many of the brethren here have used them most if not all of your working lives. I've only carried ladders on top for about 3 years with my Nissan Frontier, and recently for about three months on my now-retired-from-inspection-use Mazda MPV.

A while back, I posted about what I thought was a great idea: buy a three section 28' extension ladder and carry it inside the van after taking the seat out. The only van with enough interior length was the Dodge Grand Caravan, so I bought one, although it definitely wouldn't have been my first choice without that special need. In hindsight, I should have checked to make sure I could find someone to take the passenger seat out. I struck out. One of the techs at the wheelchair van conversion shop near me was nice enough to show me how to do it, saying it was pretty easy. You just cut the wires, put an ohm meter on the pairs, then solder the proper resistor across them. When I crawled under my seat to start, I discovered that there were a lot more wires than he said there would be. I wasn't sure I wanted to possibly fry the brand-new computer in an attempt to fool it into thinking the seat was still there. What sealed the deal for abandoning that idea was using the ladder for a few months. I knew it would be heavy, so that was no surprise. I didn't take into account that I wouldn't always be parking right in front of the house. Having to lug that thing in the summer heat, hundreds of feet from the road, on sloping land and across fences with locked gates was one little detail I hadn't thought of. So I'm going to sell the 3-section Fiberglas ladder and buy a conventional 2-section aluminum ladder.

So now I need a roof rack. I have it narrowed down to two. This fancy rack seems like it will be very quick and easy to use. Put the ladder on it, move the lever to clamp it in place and I'm done.

The advantage to this simple crossbar rack is a little less wind resistance (I won't carry a ladder all the time) and making it much easier to clean snow and ice off the roof. The disadvantage is taking longer to strap the ladder down. It only took me two or three minutes using ratcheting straps on the Mazda, but just moving a lever sounds really appealing. A big time-saver would be these Velcro straps, but frankly, using Velcro to strap down a ladder seems a little bit crazy.

Below is the van. All thoughts are welcome!

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Those will look like your a painting contractor or you work for the cable company.

If your van has a gutter, the Tracrac TracVan is absolutely the best rack I've ever had. http://www.tracrac.com/vans/double-vanrac

I no longer drive vans so I now have Yakima on my Explorer and Thule on my Outlander. They have accessories to attach to any vehicle. Both brands' racks can handle anything but I really like the selection of accessories for the Thule.
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Those will look like your a painting contractor or you work for the cable company.

Even if I agreed with that statement, it wouldn't be a factor. I'm concerned with functionality, not snob appeal.

If your van has a gutter, the Tracrac TracVan is absolutely the best rack I've ever had. http://www.tracrac.com/vans/double-vanrac

That's a very impressive rack (500 lb. capacity with two rails). Unfortunately, the Grand Caravan doesn't have gutters. I think the last mini van that had gutters was the Chevy Astro Van.

I no longer drive vans so I now have Yakima on my Explorer and Thule on my Outlander. They have accessories to attach to any vehicle. Both brands' racks can handle anything but I really like the selection of accessories for the Thule.

Yakima and Thule make really solid stuff, but if I remember right, they all mount to the original factory racks. I bought a van without a rack.

Has anybody ever used those Velcro straps? In my mind I know they work, but I can also see me being a nervous wreck driving down the highway at 70 MPH with them.

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Those will look like your a painting contractor or you work for the cable company.

Even if I agreed with that statement, it wouldn't be a factor. I'm concerned with functionality, not snob appeal.
It's about stepping up a notch from gutter cleaners and presenting an appearance of a professional consultant.

Yakima and Thule make really solid stuff, but if I remember right, they all mount to the original factory racks. I bought a van without a rack.
Factory rails aren't necessary. Both make a wide assortment of mounting systems for their racks that attach to naked roofs of many makes and models of vehicles.
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That's a good Idea, Kurt. I'd be comfortable using Velcro straps in a belt and suspenders application.

I'd be comfortable with the Velcro straps by themselves. For a while anyway. They look substantial.

My experience with large Velcro tie downs isn't that they fail catastrophically, it's that the slowly degrade until the Velcro gets funky and the eventually lose their grip.

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Well, if we're judging by style, we're all in the hole. Find that pic of yourself

In the hoodie and crawl space gear.

Shit, I pretty much assume anyone driving around with a ladder up top is a dork. FTR, I've got two up there occasionally. Double dork.

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That's what I use 99% of the time. Simple nylon web straps with cam buckles. Cheap, fast, 100% secure.

I used to stack 3 surfboards and all my windsurf gear up top, secure it with 3 of these, and blaze down the highway @ 80mph. Never even a hint of a problem.

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Joe, don't give up just yet. I think your logic is sound - carry a 3-section ladder inside the van.

Could you turn the passenger seat sideways, like a captain's chair in an RV?

Or how about removing the back of the seat only?

Could the 11 foot ladder slide in over the seat back on a pipe rack? Maybe it would hit the windshield, not so good.

Remove the top section of the ladder and stow it for the times you need to go over 18'. Then the short 2-section ladder will slide in on top of it and it will be 20 lbs lighter.

Build a little dolly that you can attach to the feet for those long trips up the driveway. Just a few thoughts.

I use my 28' only about once a month. I wouldn't want anything more than the simplest rack for it. Wind resistance is a factor, too. I anchored some aluminum angle iron to my truck canopy with stainless steel bolts and clamped a cheap rack to those.

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I was unaware there was social cachet in flaunting a particular type of ladder rack.

God Bless my Brothers and Sisters in the trades, they'd never judge a man by the color of his ladder rack......

Seems like at least once a week I read something like this that I wish to hell I'd written myself. And it REALLY puts my knickers in a twist when it's Kurt that wrote it.

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Joe, I looked at the pic of your ladder and see two 11 foot sections and one 9 footer. If you were to cut a foot off of each of the long sections, the ladder would fit into a 10 foot space and still be good for 26 feet or so. Then, at 10 feet it might slide in over the passenger seat of the van.

Then if you stow the top 9 foot section, the two-section ladder will be down to less than 50 lbs.

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Factory rails aren't necessary. Both make a wide assortment of mounting systems for their racks that attach to naked roofs of many makes and models of vehicles.

I see they do make clamp-on models. I missed that when I was looking a while back. I wasn't all that impressed with them. I saw that they recommend removing them before going through an automatic car wash. That would be real handy. And unless I missed it, I didn't see vertical extension accessories. I'd feel more comfortable with the ladder butted up against something solid.

I decided to go with this one. I was more than a little leery of the negative aura it might give off, but those fears subsided when I saw this benefit was the first one in the list of features: "Van Solutions Trademarked Red Tips tell everyone that you work with the best." I won't be mistaken for a Ferris wheel greaser with those trademarked red tips!

Joe:

If you are not comfortable using Velcro you could use secure tie downs. I just cut these to the length I want, seal the cut ends, and use these to secure my ladder(s) to the rack on my truck.

http://www.lowes.com/pd_71581-50881-611 ... facetInfo=

I used similar straps with my Mazda, Charles. They worked great, but were a minor pain to use. Plus, if I didn't twist the bottom part of the front one at least a dozen turns, it would start vibrating at around 25 MPH, and by the time I hit highway speed, the sound was so loud it was painful.

Joe, don't give up just yet. I think your logic is sound - carry a 3-section ladder inside the van.

Could you turn the passenger seat sideways, like a captain's chair in an RV?

Or how about removing the back of the seat only?

Could the 11 foot ladder slide in over the seat back on a pipe rack? Maybe it would hit the windshield, not so good.

Remove the top section of the ladder and stow it for the times you need to go over 18'. Then the short 2-section ladder will slide in on top of it and it will be 20 lbs lighter.

Build a little dolly that you can attach to the feet for those long trips up the driveway. Just a few thoughts.

I use my 28' only about once a month. I wouldn't want anything more than the simplest rack for it. Wind resistance is a factor, too. I anchored some aluminum angle iron to my truck canopy with stainless steel bolts and clamped a cheap rack to those.

John, I spent a half hour trying different configurations. It just won't fit with the passenger seat in. One problem, is the length was listed at 11 feet, but when I got it, I found the actual length was 11 feet, six inches. It would need nearly every inch from the back door to the firewall.

It wouldn't pay to separate the sections. If I can access a roof with one of my smaller Little Giants, I wouldn't even need the 28' I don't see me bringing it along more than twice a week.

My wife suggested the dolly idea. I'd have to turn in my man card if I admitted that she came up with a good idea that escaped me.

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Joe, I looked at the pic of your ladder and see two 11 foot sections and one 9 footer. If you were to cut a foot off of each of the long sections, the ladder would fit into a 10 foot space and still be good for 26 feet or so. Then, at 10 feet it might slide in over the passenger seat of the van.

Then if you stow the top 9 foot section, the two-section ladder will be down to less than 50 lbs.

I think I've come up with a better idea than cutting a foot off two of the sections. I was over-thinking this, but then remembered Thoreau's advice: simplify, simplify. The solution came to me in a rare moment of lucidity.

What do you think?[:-graduat

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Ah, yes! The red flag. Never have understood the point of this.

Especially on a red ladder!

Anyone ever been pulled over for not having one? How would a cop know you didn't have one, if he couldn't see the lumber or ladder to begin with?

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No, John, it would hit the windshield.

I'm OK with giving up on the idea. That was reinforced yesterday when I had a house that was down a long driveway, below the road. I couldn't drive down because they were putting in a new septic system. It was a long way to carry my stuff. Another thing I didn't think of, was pulling the ladder out while parked on a city street. I'd have to either have an empty space behind me, or double park while I slid the ladder out the back.

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Ah, yes! The red flag. Never have understood the point of this.

Especially on a red ladder!

Anyone ever been pulled over for not having one? How would a cop know you didn't have one, if he couldn't see the lumber or ladder to begin with?

Yeah, a buddy got fined $150 for having a plank sticking out over the tailgate. It was a roughcut slab from a portable mill he was running. The slab was worth about $2. [:)]

Loaded logging trucks here have to have a red flag, usually a dirty brown rag jammed into the dirty brown log with a screwdriver.

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