In this post, we will make a simple and inexpensive radio mount for a pickup truck with bed rails. When I’m out and about, I spend a lot of time in the camper shell of my pickup truck and needed a way to mount my ham radio. The only way to do that without drilling holes in my Toyota Tacoma is to mount it to the horizontal bed rails.
The bed rails are not an ideal base for a mount and the camper shell fits tightly to the top of the bed, but that’s all there is to work with. Using a piece of 1/4 x 1″ aluminum bar stock, a piece of 90° cabinet hardware and some basic nuts and bolts, I made a basic bracket that mounts to the bed rails without any modifications to the truck or camper shell.
Use a short 3/8″ bolt to attach a wide heavy duty 90° cabinet bracket to the bed rail sliding nuts. You may need to use some extra 3/8″ lock washers because sometimes 3/8 x 1″ is the shortest 3/8″ bolt commonly available and it’s a bit too long. You will need to drill a 3/8″ and 5/16″ hole in the mounting bracket, which is pre-drilled for small screws.
I used a 5/16 x 4″ bolt to connect the bed rail mount and the aluminum bar stock. You could use a 3/8″ bolt as well for extra beef. Use locking nuts to attach the aluminum bar with metal and nylon washers so the aluminum arm can pivot. The arm attaches to the rail bracket with a single wing nut for tool free installation. The radio bracket is attached with a short 1/4″ bolt and lock nut with metal and nylon washers so the radio bracket can pivot as well.
I use a board set across the bed rails of the truck as a desk, the radio mount rotates over the top for easy access. My ham radio plugs directly into the solar power system. The antenna is on the roof of the cab, the antenna cable runs through the camper shell sliding window.
With this setup, the radio is accessible yet out of the way and can be easily and quickly installed and removed without tools. It’s a pretty sturdy setup but I don’t plan to leave the radio in the bed of the truck while I’m driving. It’s easy to remove it from the bed and safely use it in the cab.