"I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free." ~Wendell Berry

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Easy DIY Purple Martin Gourd Rack

I'll be writing another blog post soon about the current status of purple martins here at my site. But I wanted to get this information out to all of you that love to create things and are handy with wood while it's still early in the season.

I recently saw this DIY gourd rack on a purple martin forum and I think it is absolutely the best DIY gourd rack I've ever seen. I asked the gentleman who built it to share his plans and detailed instructions and he emailed me the following instructions & pictures. There are also links to all the supplies that he used at the bottom of this post.

For those of you that would like to build this gourd rack, here ya go:

Instructions for how to build this gourd rack, provided by Jimmy Dugan, Purple Martin Fanatics Group

As far as the carriage system is concerned, I loosely followed the Anderson cc page.

Link: http://www.anderson.cc/hazer.html?fbclid=IwAR3xJAgzzTwTRtJ89IM5c32TfpIsjVZD--fAq8xzE5TA6r-E4epUXPYZZAI

I used two, three foot 2x6 boards. The carriage system is held together using, 3/8" threaded rod, washers and nuts.

The actual system that rides on the pole is 1/2" outer diameter, 3/8" inner diameter aluminum tubing. The tubing is cut based on the size of the pole to be used.

Installed over the tubing is 3/4" pvc pipe which actually does the "rolling" up and down the pole. This is cut shorter than the tubing so it doesn't chafe on the wood as it goes up and down. 

View inside the carriage system, showing the ¾” pvc pipe that was installed over the 3/8” aluminum tubing

Closeup showing the pvc pipe as it rolls against the steel pole.

The 2x4 cross members are approximately 26” long and screwed to the carriage. The gourds are attached to the 2x4 cross members using 3/8" threaded rod. You can buy the 3/8” threaded rod in 6 foot lengths and cut them in half so they are 3 feet long. The gourds attach to them using nuts and washers.



Once you build the carriage system, the possibilities are endless as to what you mock up to hold gourds/houses. Mine in particular has 16 S&K Bo 9 gourds attached to it.

A nut is installed on either side of the gourd neck to hold it in place.

To keep the 3/8” threaded rod from slipping back & forth, nuts are tightened up against the 2x4’s on each side.

The pole that was used was galvanized steel. At the top of the pole, I cut a notch for the 4 inch diameter V idler pulley which I bought from Amazon. The pulley is attached to the pole by using a 3/8" bolt.

It is kept centered using spacers on either side.

The winch can be purchased from Harbor Freight for $20. I believe it is rated for 1k lbs. It's bolted directly to the pole as I couldn't find U bolts that would work for it.

The cable is attached on the opposite side of the carriage system from the winch, to an eye bolt.

A small pulley is mounted to the top of the carriage to keep the cable from rubbing against the carriage system.

I put two perches at the top of the pole again using 3/8" threaded rod.

The pole is in a ground socket that I built using pvc trim board that I cut to width. I like the idea of the socket so I can remove the pole and there will not be a ground stake still there. 

I could have used all stainless hardware....but I didn't want to spend a million dollars. So I used zinc and galvanized stuff.

Well, Jimmy - it certainly looks like a million dollar setup! I bet the martins think so too!

Links to the things I used. 

Round Tubing: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-36-in-x-1-2-in-x-1-16-in-Aluminum-Round-Tube-801247/204274002

Hand Winch: https://www.harborfreight.com/automotive/winches/hand-winches/12-ton-capacity-hand-winch-62592.html

3/8” threaded Rod: https://www.lowes.com/pd/Steelworks-3-8-in-dia-x-6-ft-L-Coarse-Steel-Threaded-Rod/3128769

V-Groove Idler Pulley:


PVC Pipe:







  1. Thanks for posting this, very informative. Just one question, what was the size of the pole? Thanks!

    1. The pole is 2 inch square tubing. It has an inside diameter of 2 inches and outside of approximately 2 1/4 inches. It's 1/8 inch wall. It can be purchased from metal supply stores.