I navigated the first decade of my carpentry career without a lumber rack. Most of my building materials were delivered, and I hauled the occasional long pipe or stick of lumber in my 1969 Chevy shortbed by resting its front end on the mirror bracket bolted to the passenger door. When I finally graduated to a real rack in the 1990s, it was a strong but economical one fabricated out of rectangular steel tubing by a local welding shop. I installed it on a Mazda pickup by boring holes in the bed rails and bolting it down. It worked great, until I moved to California's corrosive north coast; within just a couple of years, the mounting holes had invited rust into the bed rails. Not only did the rack turn from black to orange, but the tubing began mysteriously bulging like it was about to explode.

Then, 10 years ago, I bought a new aluminum TracRac for my 1991 GMC Sierra shortbed, and later moved it to my new Toyota Tundra after some easy modifications. I keep the truck outdoors, less than a mile away from saltwater, where it's drenched by 75 inches of rain per year and marinated in cool summer fog. But so far, the rack has held up well.

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