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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The Ford Explorer has external tie downs so a tarp can be put over the bed, The Ford tie downs mount on the fenders about 4" below the top edge of the fender where it curves into the bed. We found some chromed, cast tie downs similar to what Ford uses at Harbor Freight. They have a black plastic piece the metal casting sits on and are secured by two screws.
Initial plans were to drill two holes at each mounting, then use a pop riveter to install 1/4 x 20 nuts into the sheet metal, then I began to wonder if that fender is stout enough to stand the strain of a tarp tied to it. Would it be better to unscrew the inside of the bed to gain access to the inside of the fender and use an 10 gauge backing strip to run the bolts through.
Any suggestions.
Planned on putting 3 on each side like the Ford, with 2 on the outside of the tailgate. Is the sheet metal stout enough to take it?
Are there better options? We haul large loads on occassion and need a way to protect them from the weather.
 

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Hey actually I just realized, if you call up the company, maybe they can just sell you the rails and then you have somewhere to drill and install some tie down hooks! There you go, two options for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hey actually I just realized, if you call up the company, maybe they can just sell you the rails and then you have somewhere to drill and install some tie down hooks! There you go, two options for you.
Already have these chrome tie down cleats, (see below) so rust isn't a concern.
Often carry bulky loads - like hay bales - so a rigid cover isn't much use as the load is larger than what will fit under the cover.

Back to the question.

Is the thickness of the outside fender walls adequate to hold some threaded inserts and support the stress of rope holding down a tarp over the load, or would it be wise to put a plate on the under side of the fender and bolt thru it? Ideally, I will place three of these 4" from the top of the bed. One at each end and one in the middle of each side.

How stout is the metal in the fenders? Did Honda skimp or will it hold a threaded insert? (I would use 2 stainless 1/4 x 20 phillips machine screws to fasten the cleats to them)
 

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Seeing as how my fender spontaneously wrinkled, there's no way I would mount those without a stiff backing plate of some kind.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Seeing as how my fender spontaneously wrinkled, there's no way I would mount those without a stiff backing plate of some kind.
What prompted the question was a friend who leaned up against the front fender on my Ridgeline and created an "oil can dent". It popped right out and I filled the area behind it with some foam plastic I use in sealing cracks in buildings. The extral mass of the plasic behind is enough so the fender doesn't dent if you look at it too hard. It did start me thinking with concern, about mounting those tie downs on the rear fender, Had visions of mounting them, and when I pulled on a rope to tighten a tarp down, seeing a peak deveope in the fender as the cleat tried to pull away.

Since your comment and other's lack of suggestion, I will get 2 eight foot long x 1 1/2" x 3/16" bar stock and trim to length, the drill the holes with a drill press in it. Remove the side of the inner bed should give me access to the inside of the fender. I will put a strip of doublesided foam tape along the length of the rod, then mout it on the inside and us it to drill the holes in the fender. I will then mount the nutserts through both the bar and the fender and fasten the cleats on the outside, using stainless screws with some threadlock on them. The foam tape will bond and prevent any rattling from vibration.
Have to handle the good looks with kit gloves!
No exactly rugged!
 

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I would not mount the tie tie downs to the outside of the fenders for any amount of money. I would add two more of the black tie downs (Honda O. E. M.) and simply plan ahead and tie the rope (Or whatever) to the cleats before loading the bed. You will regret placing the cleats on the outside of the fenders.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I would not mount the tie tie downs to the outside of the fenders for any amount of money. I would add two more of the black tie downs (Honda O. E. M.) and simply plan ahead and tie the rope (Or whatever) to the cleats before loading the bed. You will regret placing the cleats on the outside of the fenders.
What is your reasoning?
The best I can do in securing a tarp over a big load using tie-downs inside the bed is to have rain flow off the tarp and into the bed - wetting the cargo. I need to be able to have dry cargo. The tarp must overlap the fenders so the water runs off, not in. Like the Ford Explorer with a bed, tie downs on the outside would seem to be needed to accomplish this.

Here is a close up of Ford's solution.
 

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Interesting.
I hauled a load of my son's school "necessities", which included a big 'love-sac' (bean-bag bed thing) across state 300 miles - 180+ miles of which was through a steady pelting rain - with nary a drop of water touching the contents of the bed.

First, I lined the bed with a large, heavy-gauge, plastic drop-cloth. It was long and wide enough to allow a portion to be flapped-up around the load.
Then, I secured a heavy tarp around the load, and tied it down using the OEM tiedowns and the extra D-rings I installed on the inside of the bed.

Water did get get inside the bed, but it either drained through the holes in the front, or out the back under the tailgate.

Granted, this was a lot to go through, but it worked.
I had to be careful "unwrapping" the load, also, as some creases had filled with water. I found that out after soaking myself. :eek:

Even though the tiedowns on the outside of the bed may channel the water over the sides and the back, you'd have to have something at the front of the bed to keep water from entering there. Does the Ford have a solution for this?

Whatever you decide, keep us informed! I'd be interested as to how it works out for you. :)
 

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What is your reasoning?
The best I can do in securing a tarp over a big load using tie-downs inside the bed is to have rain flow off the tarp and into the bed - wetting the cargo. I need to be able to have dry cargo. The tarp must overlap the fenders so the water runs off, not in. Like the Ford Explorer with a bed, tie downs on the outside would seem to be needed to accomplish this.

Here is a close up of Ford's solution.

My reasoning is based on the construction of the sails (Rear fenders) and how little structural strength there appears to be (At least on mine). I have the pics of what te fenders look like behind the bed wall and I do not believe addidng in a bar is going to help the rigidity that much. I could be wrong, but your the to pay the price for any errors. A tarp can put quit a bit of stress on the tie downs. Also keep in mind, the tie downs on the Ford were designed to be there (Along with the underlying structural support).
 

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Not a great way to start a camping trip for sure, but kind of depends how dry things need to stay and the specific use. On a previous vehicle with side mounted tie downs we still had to put sleeping bags (in water resistant stuff sacks) and other items in the center and coolers and such on the outside. At freeway speeds water goes right up the side and into the bed. I think the tie downs on the Explorer may be convenient but still too high to provide much water protection for things that absolutely need to stay dry. I bet a little time on the freeway in a mild rain and stuff on the sides at least will be pretty wet. On similar outings with standard pickups and little open trailers some used cargo nets along with tarps all the way down the side and that seemed to work pretty well, but as was pointed out, on the Ridge you still have a problem with the area between the cab and bed.
 

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I've gone on quite a few extended camping trips using my RL. I've resorted to packing lots of the gear into six or so Rubbermaid "Roughneck" containers. Other items that need to stay dry and clean go into large backpack size drybags (I've got 4 of these). Coolers are left in the open as are other things that can "get wet". Everything goes under a cargo net. I also use the trunk for weatherproof storage as much as possible for items that need to be enclosed.

It's not ideal, but I've made it work. I had a cap on my former Tacoma for covering up my gear. It was easy to put on and take off and I liked the flexibility. I miss it and sure hope the next generation Ridgeline will have a rail and roof design that will allow a cap to be installed/removed/reinstalled easily as needed. Like many others, I have decided not to put a cap on the RL due to the complexity of the install.
 

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:mad:Since no one seems to want to give you a straight answer Redman, I guess I will.

Personally I think you have a good idea, but the sheetmetal used on the construction of our beloved Ridges seems to be a little too thin for mounting cleats on them without using some kind of bracing behind them. I think that the cleats would hold for a little while without bracing, but extended use will cause the mounting hole to enlarge because of the flexing of the mounting surface.
So if you decide to mount them, I would remove the composite liner and see if somekind of bracing could be used. I would also suggest a rubber gasket be used on the inside as well as maybe a silicone sealant in the mounting hole to ward againt moisture getting in.
I have thought about mounting something on the outside to use as tiedown points, but I really cannot justify using them very much. If I needed them as much as you seem to, I definitely would.
Good luck on the install and please don't forget to document your install with some pics
:).
 

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Hey JB,

Got to post 11 and you will see that I answered his question (Albeit with bad grammer :eek:).
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks justtoby and MikeT. Yes it seemed for a couple of days, no one could give me a straight answer.

I was raised on a ranch with Ford and Chevy Pickups that were built like tanks, but this little Ridgeline is a whole 'nother animal! Bit on the frail and light side. Those fenders may be stronger than potato chips, but not by much. Challenge will be to see if I can either find a flat section, or shape the structural piece to match he curve of the fender. It is a lot of extra work, but using some fiberglass to build up the thickness on the inner surface of the fender and imbedding a metal strip in it, could be a solution. Then again, using the KISS philosophy of Keep It Simple Stupid, getting a big sheet of poly and encapsulating the load in it may be the best solution. Sure like those tie downs on the Ford and when I found the chrome ones like them, I thought it was a done deal!
 

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Saw these on TV last night...

EZ Grabbit tarp holders (mounting pics).

Looks like they may be another option. It mentions that they're available at Home Depot and Ace Hardware (and others). 9.99/four [on sale online for 6.99/4 (?) ].
 
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