Assembly of a PVC Airplane Storage Rack with Video

Michael Heer made a Gumby-inspired (stop action) 1 minute movie of the Assembly of a PVC airplane rack for his car and tells how he made a larger rack for his garage.



Partially completed
Partially completed
PVC Pipe:2 plus lengths 10' x 3/4"
Elbows:6 3/4" elbows
T connectors:16 3/4" T joints
Sprinkler Connectors:10 9" lengths*
PVC Pipe Cutters:One pair
Foam pipe insulation:Optional
PVC Glue:Optional
Available From:Local Hardware Store
Price:$ 21.00 for the PVC parts

I have a very loving, tolerant and understanding wife. She puts up with a lot from me when it comes to this hobby. One thing that I know bothers her is when I leave my stuff out. One of the ways to avoid that problem is to have a place where I can put everything away. The biggest items are, of course, my planes. I use plastic shelves and have made wooden racks that I use in my garage. Two of them were custom made to fit in the back of our van. I saw a PVC pipe plane rack at my friend Dick Andersen's garage and he said he got the idea from a picture here in RCGroups. So the idea certainly didn't start with me but I know a good thing when I see it.

With the PVC pipe rack, I can custom cut the pipe to fit in a maximum number of planes in the footprint that the largest one would make on the floor of my garage. The parts are cheap, and it is easy to cut and assemble. It allows me to store planes in a ready-to-fly condition (I really like having certain planes ready to fly, especially biplanes). The number of T connectors and screw in sprinkler pipes depends on how high and how many planes you want to store on the rack.


The required parts are: lengths of PVC pipe, elbow and T connectors. I used 9 inch threaded sprinkler connectors for my wing supports. They added color but regular PVC pipe could have been used and saved me considerable money. Besides the color the threaded connectors are slightly stiffer then the regular pipe. If desired the rack can be glued together and foam pipe insulation can be fitted over the sprinkler connectors for a softer surface upon which to rest the planes. I chose to use neither glue nor foam insulation.

A yard stick, measuring tape or a ruler is necessary as well as a black marking pen to mark the desired distance and place for the cut.



Any number of tools can be used to cut the PVC pipe. I have PVC clippers, and they work very well and are easy to center on the spot where I want to make the cut. To operate, I simply lay the pipe into the cutter with the measured and marked spot for the cut facing up. I slid the blade down onto the mark and squeeze the cutters. It took four squeezes to cut through the pipe, but it was not physically difficult to do. Just be sure to measure twice and cut once. I made two pieces of identical length pipe as vertical risers for each plane.


I started by cutting the 10 foot lengths of PVC pipe into usable lengths with my PVC pipe cutters. I already had these cutters but a pair sells for about $12-$20 (regular and heavy duty) at my local hardware store. I cut two 24" lengths for the base parts that go parallel with the fuselage and three 19" lengths for the cross pieces. I cut four 4 inch pieces of pipes for the bottom base parts. At the tail section end of the stand I have four of the elbow connectors and one 19" piece of pipe for a cross piece. Per the picture below two elbow pieces are on the ground and they are connected across the back with a section of 19" pipe. A piece of four inch pipe goes up from the bottom elbow to a second elbow on both sides in the back. This back section is connected to the front of the rack with two 24" pieces of pipe, one on each side. The front of the rack starts in the same manner as the back with two elbows connected with a piece of 19" pipe and two four inch pieces going up. On the front I used two T joint connectors instead of the second pair of elbows used in the back. The T joints connect to the 24" pipe sections coming from the back and that completes the base of the rack. From there the front is built up with each "level" to support another plane.

The rest of the rack is best built measuring for the clearance needed for the specific plane that will fit at each level of the rack. If the plane has no landing gear or will be stored with retractable gear up the bottom clearance is very easy. If it has landing gear be sure to plan for their clearance and clearance of the tail of the plane below. It is simply a process of measuring carefully before cutting to make sure that each plane clears the one below it without very much space between them.

I made my rack to hold six planes currently and have five in it. Three of the planes are biplanes that have been the hardest for me to store because I don't like to take them apart. I have tightly fitted the pipes together, and they are staying there at this time. I may glue them together at some point. At the top of the rack I have installed the third 19" section of pipe to help keep the rack in proper shape. Two elbow connectors would have looked better but for now I have 2 T connectors as I had those handy. I will splurge and spend $.56 plus tax for two more elbow connectors on my next trip to the hardware store.



This video was made with a collection of still pictures, the bulk of which were displayed for two tenths of a second. Although new to me, the subject of PVC racks has been well covered in RCGroups forums. I made the video while making a second rack for the back of my Prius. It has base parts going in both directions for stability. The article below is from the making of my first rack.


The rack is light weight, inexpensive, quick to build, easy to move and can be disassembled if necessary. It lets me currently stack six planes. They take the space where only one could rest on the floor. Access to the planes is quick and easy. This wasn't my idea but its a very nice design and very functional and has been shared in one thread previously in RCGroups. Total time on this project was under four hours and that included going to the store to buy the parts, assembly in the family room and moving it to the garage and taking the pictures for this article.


  • Affordable
  • Materials are readily available
  • Assembles quickly
  • No expensive tools are needed


  • If building more levels then I have built you should probably consider using glue and securing to the ceiling as well.

My thanks to Dick Andersen for sharing the idea with me as originally seen by him here in RCGroups. My thanks to whoever originally came up with the idea.

Last edited by Angela H; Jan 12, 2010 at 04:46 PM..
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Jan 12, 2010, 05:20 PM
Registered User
Kmart's Avatar
Great write up!

I just finished mine- I put 12" and 18" steel stakes in the base to keep it from tipping over, and two 6' solid Aluminum rods down the length to keep it rigid, and also anchored it off the ceiling. White pipe insulation just because I thought it looked better. I couldn't fit it all in one picture, hence the stitch shot. Ignore the tape on the F-16 canopy- I needed to compress it to glue the canopy magnet on.

Jan 12, 2010, 09:25 PM
Registered User
Kevin Murray's Avatar
I used a spruce rectangular moulding inside the longer runs of PVC pipes for the storage racke for my van.

Nice racks
Jan 12, 2010, 11:10 PM
badpilotto's Avatar

Nice work as with every review or write up you do. Thanks for the info sharing others ideas. I need to make a few of these stands

Jan 12, 2010, 11:25 PM
Slow Flyer
Bombay's Avatar
I am very glad to see do-it-yourself articles like this one and your matte varnish article.

Regarding the "attitude" of the planes sitting on the rack, how did you get them to balance forward...or in other did you keep the tails from dropping? I found that without a battery installed, the planes become tail heavy. I've used dowel rods to bridge the horizontal supports so that the fuselage is supported, but I was wondering what you did (if anything).
Jan 13, 2010, 12:44 AM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Thread OP
My planes are without battery also but the support is under the full wing so they just rest on the supports naturally. The supports go all the way to the back of the wing not just to the C/G. I didn't have to do anything special to get the planes to balance on the rack. I enjoy hearing about the other modifications you guys are using. I'm learning new things all the time. The sharing of ideas in this hobby is part of what makes it so much fun.
Jan 13, 2010, 01:05 AM
Registered User
A hacksaw works well at cutting pvc pipe too! Though I like your pvc pliers!
Jan 13, 2010, 07:27 AM
Lost a wing? KNIFE EDGE
Hobbyzoneflyer's Avatar
Looks nice i was thinking of tring a hang-a-plane type of thing with some thick wire!
Jan 13, 2010, 01:15 PM
JohnVH's Avatar
Latest blog entry: Freewing F22
Jan 13, 2010, 02:02 PM
Slow Flyer
Bombay's Avatar
Hey Michael:

What was the estimated total cost of the rack? The pvc pipe pic is obscuring your data table at the top of the review.

Jan 13, 2010, 02:16 PM
Registered User
Kangaman's Avatar
I have mine hanging from the ceiling in the garage - each rack holds 2 planes, I have 5 racks at the moment but need more.

I also use a rack in my CRV - holds 3 planes in the back area.

Jan 13, 2010, 03:08 PM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Thread OP
Hi Rob: It appears E-Zone is set up for wide screens. My cost for the PVC pipes and connectors was $21.00. If I didn't use the 9" green sprinkler pipes (bought on sale) it would have been less. Mike H
Jan 13, 2010, 05:01 PM
Registered User
Kmart's Avatar
I like how Mike did his, with them flat. The floor footprint was a constraint in my case, hence the angled planes.

In regards to cost, mine cost close to $100, but most of that was a 12' solid aluminum rod and the steel stakes. I also paid extra for the PVC pieces that came in 2' lengths, because they were cleaner (the big ones were REALLY grungy ), and easier to work with. I also used the PVC scissors, which work great.

Jan 13, 2010, 05:24 PM
fnlrun's Avatar
I like your set-up Kmart, Garage space is limited in my case as well. I assume your setup will hold 10 lb planes??
Jan 13, 2010, 05:40 PM
Wandering IT geek
ronin4740's Avatar
Nice. I think I'll go get some PVC pipe and build a couple of these. Am getting tired of stepping over the "fleet" which is parked on the floor of the garage.

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