Space: The Available Frontier

Today, we are happy to have Jan’s husband, Tom Johnson, share a guest post. He is a wonderful husband, dad, accomplished entertainer, actor, singer, and musician, all around fix-it guy, remodeler, furniture builder, biker, and most of all–his grandkids adore him! You can find out more about the group he performs with here.

There’s an old saying, “Necessity is the mother (or father) of invention.”
The movie “Robots” chimes the saying, “See a need, fill a need.”
Well, my newest platitude is, “if you don’t have space, create it!”

My son and I have enjoyed canoeing together over the years. But the time we have now to “wash the bottom of the canoe” is limited, mostly because of his schedule. He is now 33 years old and lives on one coast or the other, depending on his work as a photographer/motion graphics designer. He only gets to visit periodically now and usually not in long stretches of days, so we have to make the most of the time we have while he’s here. Up until now, our canoe has been sitting in a dusty old barn, packed behind an accumulation of other seldom used items. Three weeks ago he sent me a text and said he had some time for a visit. I was determined to hit the water with him while he was here. But that meant having to dig the canoe out of the barn, rinse off at least some of the accumulated dust and cobwebs and get it on top of the car. It was then that inspiration hit me!

Now, my wife’s car owns the garage domain, and my car is relegated to the carport. (My motorcycle wrested a resting spot beside her car only because of its’ compact size.) I looked around to see if there was some way to store the canoe so that it would be more easily accessible. I also wanted the ease of loading the canoe onto the car, being an old 17 foot aluminum model–both weighty and unwieldy.Canoe Storage

(Notice the maple trees drying in the back of the carport? Preparing for the next inspiration. Remember this bunk bed?)

I remembered that I had a couple of double pulleys stored away in a box in the garage (the garage that is slowly becoming organized by sheer necessity.) I also had a pallet from the wood stove pellets that I had burned in the winter. The pellet pallets have the two cutouts across the bottom of the 2X4s, which was my motivation to use that wood. Those cut outs would be perfect for centering the canoe and keeping it from slipping across the beam. After dismantling the pallet I took two 8 inch eye bolts and inserted them into holes drilled on one end of each beam. Then I inserted two 8 inch hooks to the other ends. The hooks allow for the beam to be released on one side of the canoe so that the it can be more easily removed from under the canoe once the canoe has been lowered onto the car.Pulley for Canoe

I positioned 450 pound test weight pulleys on the ceiling opposite the double pulleys, making sure to anchor them into the rafter beams and using 2 inch lag bolts.Pulley Then I bolted two more pulleys at the wall of the carport to ease the tension of pulling the ropes to lift and lower the canoe.Canoe storage pulley I bolted a mooring cleat at shoulder level and tied knotted loops in the lifting rope to easily secure the level of the canoe both at its lifted and lowered heights.Mooring Cleat

The foam pads that I had used in the past with other vehicles didn’t seem to quite fit my most recent canoe hauler so I made my own. Canoe Cartop CarrierUsing two foam float tubes, available at both the hardware store and the “mega-mart”, I cut them in lengths 10 inches wider than the canoe and just long enough to support the canoe to keep it from scraping the top of the car. I used 3/4 inch pvc pipe to reinforce the tubes and make the support rigid. It is just the right size to support the canoe and also to store inside the hoisted canoe. The paddles also can be stored inside the canoe across the thwarts.Paddle Storage

Viola! Easy, immediate canoe access using previously unused but available space and a trip to the hardware store. Time to hit the water!Canoe Storage

Now if I can just come up with a creative way to make it easier to load and unload the canoe at the water’s edge. Working on it!



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