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Building a headache rack

treegump

Romans 3:22-24
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Location
Martinsville, IN
Thread starter #1
So, I'm building a headache rack to protect my back window. Using square tubing, 1/8" sidewalls, and will post exact measurements and more pictures after I finish on Saturday. I think I have 1x3 and 1x1 tubing...or something like that. The rectangler is for the 2 sides and top, and the square tubing is the lower rail and inside frame. I'm going to weld expanded metal to one side. Was thinking of welding it so that it sat between the rack frame and window, but thinking it'll be so that the welds can be seen from the bed... :( We'll see.

2 questions that I've ran into.

1) When welding - I blew out a corner - just melted the heck out of it. Could I not fill it because I wouldn't allow it to cool down between beads? I probably sunk 10 welding rods into it, and didn't fix it till the 2nd scab. Spent 3 hrs trying to fix the sucker. Any tricks to fixing/filling holes when welding? Turn the current up/down? Add material somehow? Finally got it decent, but will fix it up more and finish it when I get back to it.

2) When mounting the headache rack, it appears everyone just uses the front bed rail holes, or even fasten into the bed sides themselves, but just the first foot or less. Doesn't look like there's any other anchor points. BUT - if something hits that headache rack hard at all (which it IS there for a reason), what prevents it from tearing up the bed rails and leaning against the window? My plan is/was to build a bracket __| kind of like that. And then use a bolt and use the existing hole to put an eye bolt in to anchor it in the hole. And for giggles, I'm going to use 3 | bolts (grade 5) in the front and attach that to a 1"x1" tube that I used to straighten/strengthen the front of the box.
IMG_3420a.jpg IMG_3422a.jpg IMG_3423a.jpg IMG_3424a.jpg IMG_3425a.jpg IMG_3429.jpg

Thoughts or advice? Recommendations? When I have the opportunity, I will be purchasing some angle iron to put along my bed rails to strengthen them, but want to come up with a plan so I can put bed side extensions on securely, specifically for hauling brush, trash, and mainly firewood. It's hard to find ideas online...but maybe I'm just not typing in the right key words to find them. Still considering on building/buying a flatbed, but we'll see how much I use the truck when I get home.
 

schiker

Well-Known Member
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Location
Pendleton, SC
#2
See if you can put a piece of angle underneath the bed rail to sandwich the bed lip with "L's" and distribute the attachment over the rail a bit. Most seem to have a little gusset from the bed rail to the upright. Or run a piece of tube to the bed floor all the way to the roof but that protrudes into the bed and doesn't look as neat.

I like the idea of a large loop / hole and in expanded metal and blocked in the tubes in the upper inside corners to easily attach a strap or rope to tie down a ladder, long lumber, or a canoe in the middle and make a removable reciever hitch up right for the other end of the bed to make a temporary and removable pipe/ladder rack.
 

trouttrooper

Big Blocks ROCK!!!
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Location
Caldwell, ID
#4
I've got considerable experience in dealing with headache racks. When I was working for Fish and Game we built them for every patrol truck and mounted winches on them to pull in elk and moose into the back of the truck. Also to protect the back like you want and provide good tie down points.

A lot of the trucks would eventually start literally tearing the sheetmetal apart starting at the bedrail in the front corners. The cracks would work their way down kinda towards the fuel door. There are a ton of theories from the guys about why this happened, but the last headache rack I built for my '09 rig and my bosses rack that I copied from didn't crack the beds. Wish I had pictures to show the damage, but I don't.

Bottom line in my theory is based on this. The sides of a truck WILL flex a little when articulating like turning into a steep driveway or going down a washboard gravel road. The trucks that tore the sheetmetal the earliest and worst were headache racks that were built very heavy duty and extremely well anchored to the side rails and front rail of the bed. So the bed's top portion just became strengthened many times over with the steel tubing, however the sides of the bed MUST still flex a little.

Here's the last one I built. Sorry I don't have any better pics.
truck 2.jpg

1. Front part of headache rack does NOT sit on the bedrail and is NOT anchored to the truck
2. Side rails of headache rack goes the entire length of the bed so as to not cave into the rail when putting alot of down pressure when pulling something big into the back.
3. Side rails are anchored in 2 locations on each side by drilling a hole through and using those stake pocket tie downs, BUT cutting about 3/4 of the rubber off then putting the rubber on the underside of the rail and screwing it down. Essentially tied the headache rack down, but having a giant rubber washer to allow for some slight flexing.

Take it for what it is. If I knew how to weld better I'd probably try to start a business selling these darn things. :D
 

schiker

Well-Known Member
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Location
Pendleton, SC
#5
Good point about the bed cracking. The back of my bed has come a little loose from the top rail on driver side. Probaby from tieing a heavy load to the stake pockets Its not that tough: spot welded, body glue, and paint joint. I finally added some tie down points lower in the bed.

I like the idea of a flex/ shock washer under the angle. Maybe buy some rail caps that tape down and are form fitting to the bed rails that will be like making the bed rails thicker. Or Rubber like some put under tool boxes.
 

chevyCowboy

I might be crazy but i ain't dumb
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Location
Springfield Nebraska
#6
as far as the welding goes its a SOB when you are working with an outside corner like that. the metal is thin and the puddle wants to fall out all the time. how many amps where you running and what size rod? it helps to let it cool down between beads. turning the amps down will help so it dosent blow open so much but it is a little harder to get your arc started with out sticking the rod. hope this is helpful
 

NVW

Well-Known Member
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Location
Castor, AB.
#7
Forrest, as was asked what size and type of rod are you using? 3/32" 7014 or 7018 is what I would use on 1/8" if I didn't have a wire feed.

To fill in the holes just strike the arc and fill a bit then break it, let cool then repeat until the hole is filled. You can see when the puddle is about to fall with experience. A fast travel speed on the corners helps.
 

treegump

Romans 3:22-24
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Martinsville, IN
Thread starter #8
I'm not sure what I'm using, haha. I'll get specifics when I go back tomorrow. The welder is an older machine. Has a high, med, and low setting in the middle of a wheel that turns from 1-9. I think I'm on low and 7. I did start the project with a hobart 125 wire feed welder, and had it turned all the way up. But was afraid that I wasn't getting deep enough penetration...
 

treegump

Romans 3:22-24
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Location
Martinsville, IN
Thread starter #10
Finished it...well, enough to get me to Indiana. Never could fill in that corner, so I just said enough with it, ground it flat, and painted it. I'll probably end up taking some flat stock to both corners for lights, so it'll get me by for now. And the welds aren't that pretty, but I pushed and pulled against it, and it feels solid. I will be adding some anchors to the sides, but what I've got now will hold it. I'm just trying to decide what kind of removable bracing I can add to prevent the rack from leaning towards the cab, if I were hit it hard enough... Oh, and welding the expanded metal was MUCH easier than I thought it'd be. I welded every piece that was close to the frame, mostly because I don't know how well my welds were penetrating. I figured the more, the merrier.

Alright - here's the pics (and I'm still open to ideas, suggestions, advice, etc):

IMG_3438 (640x480).jpg IMG_3452 (640x480).jpg IMG_3451 (640x480).jpg IMG_3450 (640x480).jpg IMG_3449 (640x480).jpg IMG_3448 (640x235).jpg IMG_3447 (640x480).jpg IMG_3446 (640x480).jpg IMG_3445 (640x480).jpg IMG_3444 (640x480).jpg IMG_3443 (640x480).jpg IMG_3442 (640x480).jpg IMG_3441 (640x480).jpg IMG_3440 (640x480).jpg IMG_3439 (640x480).jpg IMG_3459 (640x480).jpg
 

bison

Well-Known Member
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Location
Near Peace River-Alberta
#11
To fill that hole i would grind the weld down and weld a 1 or 2" long piece of flatbar the width of the tubing over it,if you do that on both sides of the rack it'll look like it was planned.:)

On the other hand,if you left the top of the tubing open you will need a hole in the bottom to drain the water when it rains and prevent splitting and/or rounding the tubing in winter when the water freezes in winter.

ps, i strongly suggest you get some welding lessons or start wasting a pack of rods on some scrap metal ;)
 

treegump

Romans 3:22-24
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Thread starter #13
If I use or had a wire feeder at home, I'd definitely practice more. But I'm more used to a stick. But trying to follow the advise of those here, I used the wire feeder as much as I could. I agree that it was definitely easier to start, but its difficult to puddle and push cleanly. Should've stuck with what I was used to, which would've been stick. That and I'm not as familiar with welding thinner stuff like this, and it has been a while since I last welded. The thicker welds with the least amount of holes were from the stick welder. When I get home to Indiana, I'll probably be going over all the welds with a stick and clean them up. I don't know if it makes a difference, but the wire feed was gas less. If I fix the welds elsewhere at home and not with a stick, it'll be wire fed and with gas. (After more practice.)

I'm fairly certain that it'll be fine as is until I have time to do more. I at least hope so.
 
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