Ok, I recently semi-finished our glider rack. I still have a few little things to do but I guess it's far enough along to post some pictures since I did get a chance to use it for real last weekend and it worked.
I think I posted my plans in another thread a while back but just to recap: Judy's only requirements were, that it be completely removable when not in use, and not leave any damage or obvious signs of modification to the vehicle. The vehicle is a Honda CRV with the factory roof rack installed. We live 2.5 - 3 hrs from our site so the gliders will see a fair amount of road time so I wanted good support over a fair amount of their length. I decided that a ladder rack would give the support I wanted and the factory roof rack could be used along with some sort of front support which turned out to be the only hard part. After spending some time crawling around under the car I couldn't find any really good attachment points for the front support that wouldn't reduce ground clearance or require modification to the car itself. Then I thought about seeing CRVs being towed behind motor homes so I looked into tow bar brackets. I decided on one made by Roadmaster. Being designed to tow the vehicle I had no doubt about its strength. It took me about 3 hours to remove the front fascia, install the bracket and put everything back together. Once installed the car looked stock but with 2, 1 1/4 in receivers recessed in existing holes in the grill. The strength and stock appearance met two of my requirements and the other is that since it uses two receivers spaced a fair distance apart it wouldn’t require any straps for lateral stability. The bracket set me back around $330 shipped.
With the hard part solved I built the front support myself using 1 1/4 in square tubing, some 1/4 in plate and 1 1/4 in flat stock. The front support is then bolted to the Roadmaster male receiver pieces using 4 grade 8 bolts. The whole thing just slides in and out in seconds and is secured with standard hitch pins. I scrounged all the steel from work so it didn’t cost anything other than my time, some paint and the bolts.
The main rack was made by bolting the two halves of a 24 ft extension ladder side by side. The rungs are covered with pipe insulation in the pics but I recently bought some larger and thicker pipe insulation that will be put over the existing stuff and give me a total of 1 1/8 in of padding. The ladder is secured at the front using U-bolts over the forward rungs and down through tangs welded to the support and fastened with wing nuts for a no-tools-required install/removal. The rear is attached by modified U-bolts, bent flat stock and wing nuts (different than those in the pictures). For security I drilled the wings of the nuts so that I can safety wire them and not worry about them spinning off while hauling ass down the interstate. Since the factory roof rack uses curved cross bars I had to bolt 3/4 in spacers to the ladder in the appropriate places to make it sit level and equalize the load. I also glued thick pieces of tractor inner tube rubber to the ladder at all contact points. The ladder cost me $50 out the door at a pawn shop, a little time cleaning it up, some primer and paint. In hindsight, after mounting it I wish I would have went with 14 ft ladder sections instead of 12 but I think it will give adequate support for our gliders like it is. Who knows, I might run across another cheap ladder at a pawn shop and switch it out one of these days.
Like I said, it’s still a work in progress but it’s mostly done. After using it a bit this past weekend I decided to change a few little things but it works pretty well and is solid as hell. When it’s all mounted you can grab any part of it and pull and push and nothing moves except the car and Judy and I can install or remove it in less than 5 minutes.
If anybody is having trouble finding a way to mount a rack to their car I would suggest considering a tow bar bracket for a front attachment point. While not the cheapest route, it is almost invisible when not in use, won’t dent or scratch your bodywork, is super strong and eliminated the need for tie-downs.