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PostPosted: July 16th, 2023, 1:44 pm 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2824
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
Tom brought me a three crossbar set of Quik N Easy roof racks I made for his big Ford van a couple decades ago.

This is what happens to wood crossbars if you leave them on your van for 20 years and never revarnish them.

ImageP7020014 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The SS eye bolts, exposed for 20 years and still unrusty, were worth saving. That is good stainless.

ImageP7050002 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

None of the Q&E towers were worth salvaging, the tightening levers had long ago frozen in place. If only Tom had bought a half dozen new levers 10 years ago.

ImageP7050003 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

If only Tom had bothered to install those new levers.

I managed to remove two of the six Quik N Easy towers and most of the high quality stainless steel eye bolts. Everything else was impossibly seized and I gave up, tossing the crossbars on the dump-bound debris rack behind the shed. And a week later brought them back into the shop. I don’t like making dump runs, and I don’t give up that easily.

A little Sawzall action on the wood on either side of the rusty carriage bolts, a smack with a 3lb mallet and I had all four of the remaining towers off.

ImageP7120009 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The Sharpie outline around the carriage bolt head marks the top of the Quik n Easy tower below, so I didn’t cut too far towards center.

ImageP7120010 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The rusted clip locking levers on all six towers were 100% frozen. Six snips with bolt cutters left me with this detritus.

ImageP7130011 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The rusty carriage bolts in four of the towers were well and truly seized. A spritz and soak with PB Blaster and a 14” crescent wrench did nothing. Adding a breaker bar to the wrench did nothing except show that I need a larger vice. Dammit Tom, this is why you can’t have nice things.

The Sawzall was still on the bench. I will not be defeated.

ImageP7130012 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Sometimes a Sawzall is the answer. Sometimes a Sawzall is the only answer. The Sawzalling got easier once I put in a sharp blade. (Buy new Sawzall blades dummy)

The naked towers are still solid, just ugly as hell. Half are missing their vinyl foot pads and the other three pads are falling apart and not far behind.

ImageP7130013 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I think . . . .maybe . . . yes! I have replacement Quik N Easy vinyl foot pads, extras bought years ago when replacing worn pads on our 4-crossbar van racks. Wonder of wonders, the pads weren’t even hard to find. In a small box marked spare rack parts; I knew I had them somewhere and I had prepared (and fortified) myself for a much long search.

ImageP7140014 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

To degrunge the aluminum towers I tried a spray of 50/50 lemon juice and vinegar, let sit for 10 minutes, scrub clean. I use vinegar to etch aluminum before painting, the addition of lemon juice greatly reduces the pervasive cat-piss smell of pure vinegar in the shop.

ImageP7140015 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That solution usually does an acceptable job of cleaning old aluminum. 20-year-old towers, never removed from the van rain gutters, not so much. In for a penny, in to brush on a coat of Burnshine aluminum brightener, let sit and rinse it off. That rarely used jar of Burnshine is at least as old as those racks. Still works well, and that’s more like it; not shiny, but no longer as badly discolored.

I’ll give “Patented Quik-N-Easy Products Monrovia California” this much, their sliver and blue foil labels were made to last. 20 years of van top exposure, vinegar/lemon sprayed and aluminum brightenered, still there. Those are some hellacious durable labels. With a tiny bit of routine maintenance, the towers too are made to last.

New old stock plastic shoes glued on, new old stock clips and levers installed (thanks Tom), six like new Quik n Easy towers and a pile of 316 marine stainless steel eye bolts, nuts and washers and lock washers. Each one of those large 316 SS eye bolts with associated hardware is probably $10. Thanks Tom, $80 worth of quality stainless steel. It was mine once, it is again.

ImageP7150019 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The six refurbished Quik n Easy Towers are useful only to someone whose vehicle has rain gutters. Like our 2000 Ford E-150. But we already have eight Quick n Easy crossbars, one 8’ long quad set up to accommodate four canoes, the other to accommodate four decked canoes.

ImageP7150023 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

ImageP7150020 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Having NOT been left on the van for 20 years those racks are still solid, functional, and un-rusted. Tom did not comprehend that Quik N Easy meant “quick and easy to put on and take off”.

Maybe those salvaged towers are not as useless as I thought. Apparently Quik N Easy racks are still popular with vintage SUV and station wagon aficionados, and other folks who want period-correct roof racks to go with their classic ride. A Ford Country Squire or Buick Estate would look ludicrous with Yakima towers and bars.

Want that classic rack look with your classic ride? ... ack-mounts

Good lord, a set of six Quik n Easys, just like the six I salvaged, available for a mere $525! Maybe there is a resale market. If I ever sell the old Ford the sixteen Quik N Easy towers on those eight crossbars may be worth more than the van.

Once refurbished I was planning to put the salvaged towers up for free on a canoe club board. Or not, most paddlers have newer vehicles with no rain gutters, and use modern roof rack systems that need no DIY.

Mini-rant. I miss rain gutters. And, dating myself, I miss side vent windows and giant not-a-screen push buttons on the car radio. I could find those big push buttons Braille-like with just my fingertip, without so much as glancing away from the road. Try that with a display screen. Mini rant over.

Back to the salvaged Quik-N-Easy’s, no doubt there are forums for vintage Land Cruisers or classic station wagons.

I’d beat the going price and even throw in some time-tested 316 stainless eye bolts. I don’t enjoy selling stuff, but it would be worth it to tell Tom I sold his junk for X hundred dollars.

PostPosted: July 16th, 2023, 8:03 pm 

Joined: December 29th, 2004, 11:00 pm
Posts: 187
Location: Florida
Thanks, Mike. Always a great read.

BTW, I also miss rain gutters, side vent windows and big buttons.

PostPosted: July 17th, 2023, 7:31 am 
User avatar

Joined: August 11th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 6095
Location: Sunny Wasaga Beach
Great tale of 'adventure! :D . Your narrative conveyed well the fun you had in recovering that rack! :thumbup: Obviously any profit you might make was not the motive.


Old canoeists never die---they just smell that way.

PostPosted: July 17th, 2023, 12:16 pm 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2824
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
wotrock wrote:
Great tale of 'adventure! :D . Your narrative conveyed well the fun you had in recovering that rack! :thumbup: Obviously any profit you might make was not the motive.

McCrea is Scots. I come from a long line of “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” frugal ancestors. I think that phrase should also include “Fix it dammit”, but that would be poetic assonance and I’m more of a dirty limerick guy.

If I ever pursue the Classic Car roof rack possibility I’ll let you know how it turns out. Any profit aside I’d love to show Tom a photograph of his abandoned racks standing proudly on an Olds Vista Cruiser or a Pontiac Safari.

I wonder if our seldom-seen friend Jeff still has his AMC Eagle?

PostPosted: July 22nd, 2023, 11:37 am 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2824
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
ericalynne wrote:
I also miss rain gutters, side vent windows and big buttons.

Mini Rant Part II (with sub-rants)

I can see rain gutters vanishing in pursuit of improved aerodynamics on sleek coupes or sedans, but when pushing a shoebox of a van or SUV up the highway how much mileage difference could rain gutters make? Oh, wait, I have canoes on the roof racks; yeah those damn rain gutters are just killing my mileage.

I can see big radio station preset buttons vanishing with increasingly complex “entertainment and information systems”. When I bought my 2013 Tacoma I specifically sought out the least electronically optioned version I could find. Base model AM/FM & CD player, but it still has a touch screen display.

Or a bewildering variety of different displays, depending on which selector button I accidentally graze on the steering wheel. Then I need to stare at the screen to figure out what the hell I did and how to go back. Eh, not right now, I’m in traffic and watching the road. FWIW sun glare on the display screen often makes it illegible. Push buttons never did do any of that.

But I do not understand why side vent windows vanished. Need to crack a window in the rain? Side vent window. Need to funnel 70mph air at your sweaty head before the AC (if you have it) kicks in? Side vent window. Smoker or flatulent passenger? Side vent window.

I always have the driver’s side window down at least an inch, safe driving is as much paying attention to auditory clues as visual. I can hear highway nutjobs in fast cars or a screaming rice-rocket bike closing on me long before I can see them in the rearview mirror, and prepare to be evasive.

A brief but recent tale. A couple days ago I was on the local inter-State, doing 70 (5 over the limit) in the Granny Lane, staying in my preferred void between packs of cars when I heard it coming, loud-exhaust distinctly two cars, apparently racing, catching up fast. I maintained my avoid-the-car-clusters position and speed, leaving big gaps in traffic ahead and behind.

One flew past me in the hammer lane. And one flew past me parallel on the freaking shoulder, still neck and neck. Really nice to have had the auditory heads up. And really happy mine was the next country two-lane exit.

Side vent windows sure would be nice to have again. I would have paid extra for side vents, but I don’t think that is even an option on most modern vehicles. Or any modern vehicle???

Before anyone asks, no I do not miss 8-tracks.

PostPosted: July 28th, 2023, 8:55 am 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2824
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
I come from a long line of “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” frugal ancestors. I think that phrase should also include “Fix it dammit”, but that would be poetic assonance and I’m more of a dirty limerick guy.

The more I looked at the bolt-cuttered levers the more they looked like duck heads with long bills.

ImageP7130011 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

There must be something I can do with those levers. The clips are trash, but the levers should clean up with a vinegar bath.

ImageP7160001 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Cleaned up, a little dab of G/flex 655 on the pins so they don’t pivot.

ImageP7170002 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Sanded a bit and spray painted black with hand painted yellow eyes, attached to scraps of cut up thwarts. Not entirely sure what they are? Hat racks? Hangers for electrical cords?

ImageP7220003 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Made from the remains of Tom’s Quik-n-Easys and Jane’s old thwarts, I’ll give them the second one. Whether they want it or not.

And dang it, if I had stationed all six levers on a single thwart it would have made an attractive paddle hanger rack. Too late now.

PostPosted: September 15th, 2023, 8:49 am 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2824
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
wotrock wrote:
Great tale of 'adventure! :D . Your narrative conveyed well the fun you had in recovering that rack! :thumbup: Obviously any profit you might make was not the motive.

There may be some profit motive, and an on-going salvage of usable parts and pieces. I sold our 23 year old rust bucket van and when I cleaned it out found a forgotten box of two Q&E towers and hardware stored under the seat. I put those extra towers in the van early on, figuring if I clipped a limb on some narrow backroad and destroyed a crossbar all I’d need was to buy a 2x4 and a drill in order to be roadworthy again.

The Leer cap on the truck uses Tracker II feet. I have four spare Tracker II’s accumulated over the years from freebie racks, not keyed alike, but that could be accomplished later*. Actually, I have six spare Tracker II’s; a pair of them live in the truck with the same caught-a-low-limb or other catastrophic failure replacement rational.

*About replacing keys cores. Thule offers number matching lock cores, and a special key that removes the old core and reinstalls new matching ones. Anyone can order that removal key, and I wondered “Hmm, this key removes the lock. How safe is a locked Thule rack if someone has that magic key?”. Turns out that key can only be used to remove the core if it is in the unlocked position.

Six Q&E towers, and $100 worth of stainless steel from Tom’s three crossbars, two never used Q&E’s under the seat. And sixteen on the two specialized quad sets of van crossbars. I’ll have twenty-two excess Q&E towers, another bundle of eye bolts, nuts and washers and eight nicely varnished 2x4’s. Score!

ImageP9120017 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Lots of stuff to strip from those eight crossbars, two towers, six-to-eight eye bolts, four paired gunwale stops and a two-canoe length of belly line on each crossbar. Some of that line is junk, but some is quality rope.

The eight 2x4’s were carefully selected Prime grade and varnished. I have no use for varnished 2x4’s at the moment but I will eventually.

Sadly, unlike Tom’s never removed Q&E crossbars I did not use 316 stainless on my own racks. Some of it is good stainless; anything that didn’t pick up with a ceramic magnet went in the growing SS eye bolt and screw collection.

ImageP9130023 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Done, all eight crossbars denuded of towers and SS hardware. Time to remove the indoor/outdoor carpet, there at end crossbars to make sliding canoes on and off less flange washer wood gouging.

There is a problem with things built to last, they are hard to un-build. I must have used an entire box of SS staples to secure the carpet. On all four sides of the 2x4’s. Overkill, but that carpet didn’t budge for 20 years of roadtrips.

ImageP9130022 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Not just staples, I had used ½” SS screws to further secure the carpet at the folded-over seam. Those are keepers.

ImageP9140029 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

At the ends of the crossbars where canoes were slid on and off the high van racks I had installed a piece of half round hardwood rub rail to help protect the softer 2x4 edges from gunwale sliding wear and tear. No sense removing those edge protectors, and I know I glued them on before hammering in brass brads along the length.

ImageP9140024 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Carpet and hundreds of staples removed I had the 2x4x8’s from the four-canoe crossbars ready for future use. I might even run a sander over them to remove a 20 year collection of inter-State bug carcasses and give them a lick of spar urethane.

The four crossbar decked canoe set was more of a challenge. Those incorporated exercise foam where the racked upside-down cockpit coamings rested and an extension to capture the rear of the cockpit of one boat. I did a helluva job attaching that exercise flooring; contact cemented, with a bead of adhesive sealant around the edges. Removing the two padded extensions was enough of a chore, long screws, deeply countersunk, beneath exercise foam.

ImageP9140025 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I made a half-hearted effort to remove some of the exercise flooring sealed to the 2x4’s. Nope, maybe I’ll have padded crossbars on a future set of sawhorses.

Eight varnished 2x4’s, an 8lb mass of eye bolts and eye screws, unfortunately not much of it stainless, and four quality belly lines long enough to span two canoes and the length of the racks. That alone was worth the use-it-up, make-it-do effort.

ImageP9140026 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Twenty-two Quick N Easy Towers. Massed ranks of my own Droid Army ready to march into roof rack battle.

ImageP9140033 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The company re-popping and re-selling used Q&E towers (for $87.50 each, vs $50 for a set of four back in the day) had asked if I was interested in selling all of them. ... ack-mounts

I am now; gone in one fell swoop would be easier than parting them out four at a time on vintage station wagon or Land Cruiser forums, where the period rack correctness counts.

PostPosted: September 21st, 2023, 9:57 am 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2824
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
2x4 Crossbars into Custom Sawhorses, a Tale of Frugality.

I had eight 2x4 wood roof rack crossbars stripped of their parts and pieces. Towers and hardware removed an abundance of 20 year old, carefully selected prime grade 2x4x8’s, sanded and varnished years ago.

A single prime 2x4 now runs $3.68, that’s $30 in lumber. I don’t need eight varnished 2x4’s, I could put them back on the ceiling hooks from whence they came, but they might then enter a state of permanent disuse.

I don’t need more sawhorses either. But a pair of sawhorses will use up some of that lumber, and I won’t have a canoe in the shop for a few days, idle hands and all that. Easy enough to throw together a couple sawhorses, four galvanized sawhorse brackets (I know there are cheaper ways to build sawhorses, I’m lazy) and a handful of drywall screws.

Before cutting the varnished 2x4’s from the Q&E crossbars it occurred to me that I already have seven tall-to-medium height sets of saw horses; a couple pairs of four/five foot tall versions for working up inside a boat, a flimsy folding plastic pair, and four stout 29” tall versions, which is a good height for most boatwork to rest upon, or for a plywood top as an expansive if temporary worksurface for large projects

I’ve had all the 29 inchers in use at once, but at times I’ve wanted a shorter set of sawhorses, short enough to slide under a shop table, or under a canoe already on sawhorses for storage easy, out of the way accessibility. Not another double decker boat storage rack.

ImageP9190008 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Just a pair of shorties for pull out/push back in place ease of storage. And not as heavy as some; the horses that live on the deck for boat washing and wet sanding purposes are made from old school pressure treated 2x4’s. Uber freaking sturdy, but those horses weigh 29lbs apiece.

ImageP9190010 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That was back when pressure treated was the good stuff, impregnated with chromated arsenic, AKA the bad stuff. The saw dust from cutting arsenical wood sprinkled on a fire ant mound was a death blow to Solenopsis. EPA’ed out of availability in 2003, whatever is used in the new PT wood doesn’t last as long and the sawdust doesn’t kill fire ants worth a damn.

As always horses built sturdy enough to bear a heavy load or stand on as short scaffolding. The galvanized brackets “Hold 400lbs”, but to me sturdy means braces between the legs on each side, and a lower crossbar between those braces. I put the basic sawhorse frame together and then cut the braces and crossbars to angle and length.

ImageP9190012 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Since the 2x4’s are (I keep saying varnished, but more likely spar urethane) I might as well seal all the newly cut butt ends with a couple coats. Once the urethane dried - love that spar urethane fast dry action - a couple 3” deck screws to hold the betwixt leg braces in place and the low crossbars could be installed.

ImageP9200013 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

I like them. 25 ½” tall with the half round hardwood rub rail. Still not that light, 18lbs apiece, those vintage 2x4’s seem heavier than today’s typical Southern Yellow Pine offerings, and I don’t think it is just the coats of varn. . . . .spar urethane.

The bottoms of the legs were the only thing not yet urethaned. Before the urethane goes on, what the hell, I hit them with the belt sander so they fit more perfectly flush on the floor. Dang, that is some tough old wood, I’m getting nowhere.

Er, never mind, that was an old, worn out sanding belt. Lordy be, what a difference a new sanding belt can make. Not the first time I have made that too-frugal for my own good mistake. A couple coats of urethane on the ends of the legs and the mini-horses were good to go.

I’m not sure where those diminutive horses will end up. One short-stuff shop partner has complained about the working height of my standard sawhorses, and another props his canoe up on lawn furniture to do boat work. Fortunately, he does very little boat work, but at least he couldn’t blame wobbly lawn furniture as the quality culprit.

Eh, I am starting to like them myself. They fit perfectly underneath the standard height horses for easy storage.

ImageP9200015 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

And the shorter crossbars are beneficial with the 2’x8’ tabletop without as much excess crossbar overhang.

ImageP9200017 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

We have a couple 4x8 tabletops, including a photo collage tabletop.

ImageP8183859 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Those temp tables tops have battens to stiffen the S1S plywood.

ImageP9200019 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The bottom battened 4x8 versions are unwieldy and heavy, a two-person job to move upstairs or through doorways. The 2x8 tabletop is marked at the balance point, and at sub 30lbs pounds can be carried balanced there in one hand. When I need a big, open work surface in the shop those portable sawhorse tabletops are a godsend.

ImageP9200020 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The remaining Q&E crossbars returned to their L-hangers on the shop ceiling. How many sawhorses does one man need? It’s like canoes, “Just one more”. Well, two.

PostPosted: September 23rd, 2023, 7:01 am 

Joined: June 28th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 2824
Location: Freeland, Maryland USA
Just can’t leave well enough alone.

A couple coats of urethane on the ends of the legs and the mini-horses were good to go.

Or not. I coat the bottoms of my sawhorse legs with leftover epoxy. Those “feet” are graphite powder ugly, but tough as nails, and the legs last longer, especially if they see use outside on the lawn.

ImageP9200003 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Smitten as I am with the shortie version the Missus is of the opinion that we already have too many sawhorses, but if I give them away the recipient may not have regular access to leftover epoxy. The “feet” are already urethane coated, but they could use “shoes”.

I made a half-hearted effort to remove some of the exercise flooring sealed to the 2x4’s. Nope, maybe I’ll have padded crossbars on a future set of sawhorses.

Seeing how tenacious that contact cemented exercise foam was on vanished wood I decided the same stuff would make the simplest shoes. A little contact cement and heat gun work and presto, sawhorse Crocs.

ImageP9200001 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

ImageP9200002 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

As a side benefit the horses with exercise foam shoes are less slippery on the shop’s concrete floor than when urethane or epoxy coated, and will have an even better grip once the embossed diamond tread wears down. And the tread will wear down; the cushioned truck tailgate has worn baby butt smooth from sliding things in and out of the bed.

ImageP9210009 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

The plastic totes are grocery-getter helpers; loaded with multiple bags of bread, crackers, oatmeal and toilet paper (eggs on top) they are a lightweight single carry into the house.

I have drag our garbage cans around in the shop and use the DIY lids upside down as small platforms for tools and materials.

ImageP9220025 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Dragging full trashcans across the shop floor was wearing down the bottoms. Gotta love exercise flooring for a variety of uses.

ImageP9220021 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

To cut the angle at the bottom of the legs, so the 2x4 sits flat and flush, not just resting on one corner, I make the legs long enough to sacrifice 1 ½” of length, Sharpie along the top of a scrap 2x4 on all four sides at the bottom and cut that peculiar double angle.

ImageP9200007 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

That crude cut and a little belt sander action came close enough to flat and flush, but the 3/8” of foam shoes compresses to fill in any minor variance mistakes.

Not that I have ever been known to make mistakes in the shop. When I do I make my penitence at the confessional of Doug, himself an inveterate boat rehabber, shop tinkerer and occasional messer-upper.

That is a mutual confessional, we delight in calling each other with tales of “Guess how I screwed up today”. Always the most humorous and laughter filled of calls. I wish I had written them down over the years; some funny stuff there, especially when self-deprecatingly told.

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