Installing a TracRac
Cargo Support System
By Tom Brownell
I needed to carry
home a 36-ft. extension ladder. The calculations were simple. At 18 ft.
per section, the ladder would hang out of the back of my pickup just shy
of 8 ft. A short distance I might be able to make, but not the 60-mile
tote that I planned. Clearly, if the ladder was going to travel in my
truck, I needed some sort of rack system to support the
ladder over the truck's length instead of carrying it in the
bed. I ruled out homemade racks as too crude and began looking for a commercial
product. Since my truck has earned collector status-it's a 1969 Chevy
"Longhorn" (a low-production model with a factory elongated 8 ½ ft. box)-I
didn't want any sort of support structure that had to be permanently mounted
to the box. I also wanted a product that had nice aesthetics, so that
I could leave it in place when I took the truck to shows. Finally, in
a builder's magazine I spotted an ad for the TracRac-a product that matched
all my specifications, and more.
Since General Motors built "Longhorn" pickups with their odd
8½ ft. bed length for just three years, 1969-71, nothing designed for
a modern pickup fits my truck. When I telephoned TracRac Inc. to inquire
about their rack system I expected to hear, "No, that's not available
for your truck." when I gave the bed dimensions. Instead, Patti Bedard,
the Sales and Marketing assistant, said, "We'll send you a sheet to mark
down the dimensions and engineering will draw up a rack system for your
truck. And so they did. I received a detailed sheet calling for over 20
different dimensions and when the rack system arrived it fit like they'd
had my truck in their shop when they made the cuts.
The TracRac consists
of front and rear supports, attractively made of anodized aluminum and
stoutly heliarced at the base and legs. The racks slide on tracks that
sit on top of the box sides and attach by rubber plugs that fit into the
The plugs compress into the pockets by tightening 3/8 in.
cap screws. The whole unit fits sturdily enough to support 1000 lb. weight,
yet has no permanent mounting to the truck.
put assembly time at one hour. After you've mounted one or two rack systems
so you don't need to read the instructions, and have gathered all the
tools and supplies needed at the start, an hour might be feasible. From
cutting open the box to putting away the tools, mounting the TracRac on
my truck took me 3 ½ hours. There's more to this job than bolting a few
pieces together. First, the tracks need to sit squarely on the tops of
the box sides. If the tops are beveled, as they are on some trucks, then
plastic shims (supplied with the kit) need to be placed under the tracks.
In order for the racks to slide, it's crucial that the tracks be both
parallel and on a level plane.
You may wonder why
it's necessary for the racks to slide. After all, the purpose is a support
structure for long objects. True, but being able to draw the racks together
has advantages I'd never considered when I first saw this product. The
obvious advantage is using the racks like a clamp when carrying tall objects.
the TracRac over a bedliner requires an extra step of drilling holes in
the liner for the mounting bolts that thread through the rubber plugs.
Likewise, installing a TracRac System on a truck without stake pockets
requires drilling holes in the tops of the box sides to attach the tracks.
the application, TracRac is a top-quality American-made product, conveniently
available through nation-wide retailers like Home Depot, GMC and Chevrolet
dealerships, and from the manufacturer by calling 1-800-501-1587. If your
truck's dimensions are "out of standard," as mine were, TracRac can engineer
a system to fit.
Besides safely carrying
home the ladder, the TracRac System on my truck will have lots of uses,
from toting our canoe to whatever cargo won't conveniently fit inside
the truck's 81/2 ft. box.