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Old 08-20-2008   #21
Jackson, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1492
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 283
This has been a great thread to read, considering that the topic comes up so regularly now, and it often degenerates into paddling reps just trying to defend their company's boats, but not so much this time.
I've been paddling plastic boats for 24 years now: Perception, Prijon, WaveSport, Dagger, Pyranha, LiquidLogic, even an old Quality Kayak from NZ. They definitely got a lot better for a while, but now they seem to be getting worse. They all break.
Early Prijons were pretty much crap. I broke 2 T-Slaloms and a T-Canyon, all around the cockpits. Now, they seem to have fixed those issues, but havenít paddled Prijon in a while. Had an Embudo for about 4 weeks, but wasnít stoked on it.
I spent some time in the WaveSport factory in Oak Creek back when they were making Extremes and then the Descente. The guys were pretty fume-sick all the time, and the boats took a LONG time to cook. But, the boats were nearly INDESTRUCTIBLE, like the last cross-linked Y-Boat I owned seemed like it was going to last forever. WaveSport boats during that era were the toughest, and my Y only weighed 39lbs dry. It went to Cali for weeks at least four times, as well as BC, and lots of trips down the Popo Agie and the Box. I sold it to a beginner who probably got another 3 years out it. Now, WaveSport boats seem to last about as long as a rubber on prom night, even their playboats. And the boats have gotten heavier, not lighter, and heavier hasnít equated to stronger.
I lost count of how many Pyranhas I broke during a 2 year period of giving them a try, so it's not worth going there........
LiquidLogic? I broke a GUS, no problem, and it weighed as much as a tank, and paddled like one. The new JefeGrande? Do you really want your creeker to weigh 50+ f*&#ing pounds before you put any gear in it? I paddled it empty, and it handles ok, but couldn't imagine carrying it loaded on the portages in the Box, or in to BullLake, or elsewhere. And the Jefe's are breaking on the chines and under the seats like everything else. I've seen two.
I bought a Nomad 8.5 the first year it came out, moved the seat forward, and pounded the living crap out of it: Cali, WA, Big South, Ten Sleep, the Box numerous times, a bad wrap/pin and lost it for four days in WA (got it back in perfect shape, pinned on a rock). That was amazing plastic: it stayed rigid, but gave without cracking. Unwisely sold it this spring, since I was out of commission myself, and it is still going strong. Now, the Nomads seem to be breaking like crazy. Shame on Dagger for switching plastic or cooking/curing time.
Now, look at whatís getting paddled: CO ďmankĒ may or may not be any worse than anybody elseís mank, but a lot more mank is getting paddled: Yule Creek, Big Timber in MT, Ten Sleep, Box Elder, upper Popo Agie and Bull Lake in WY, South Silver and Upper Cherry in CA are just examples, and everybody has theirs. The boats are getting a LOT more intentional grinding and pounding at the exact time that boat manufacturers are having to streamline production time and materials just to remain profitable, and still keep up with design changes that happen a lot quicker nowadays. Linear plastic takes less time to cook, less time to cure, therefore shorter turnaround times for boats in the molds. Was also told that raw linear plastic is cheaper and more plentiful, all the health and environmental issues notwithstanding that either do or donít balance out.
You would think that having to warranty hulls all the time would start to eat into the companyís bottom line, but apparently not as much as using better materials and taking longer to make each boat. So, profit drives the durability issue more than anything.
Me, personally, Iíd pay $300-$400 more for a creek boat that was a lot stronger / more durable, and yet 10-15 pounds LIGHTER, not heavier. That is what we need to be pushing the boat manufacturers for. Otherwise, theyíll keep putting heavier, weaker boats out there that just wreck your back and shoulders and donít hold up to current paddling trends. The market (creek boaters) has to be able to convince the boat makers that it is in their best interests (profit) to come out with stronger, lighter creek boats, not the opposite. Until then, ya gotta keep eatiní yer Wheaties, lifting weights when yer not paddling, and carrying lots of Bitchathane............

So many rivers, so little time..........
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Old 08-20-2008   #22
Boquete, Panama
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 15
I just read through this thread and I can't agree more. I have a commercial outfitting company overseas and we run a lot creeks during trips. I have 4 Dagger GTs that are 7-8 years old (can't remember) and they have taken a pounding. I started with 4 and still have 3 unbroken. We broke 4 creek boats from one company that were almost new (3 had less than 30 days on them and one with less than 50 days on it). Everything breaks too quickly. The good news is that my Burns are doing great and I plan on buying at least 3 more this year - because they are great boats but also because they DIDN'T break.

Being an outfitter, my boats probably take more of a pounding than most. But I still should be able to get 75-100 days out of a boat! And warranties don't help me much. It is expensive and time consuming to get a boat here. If I break a boat, I don't get to replace it for at least a month, if not longer.

I would not only pay more for a creek boat that didn't break so easily, I would buy more of them! And I would put my guests in those boats and suggest they buy them too!

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Old 08-20-2008   #23
Evergreen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 316
Man I hate seeing the whole "I would pay more for a boat that lasts longer".

The verdict is clear they are not building the boats as strong as they used to and they already cost more.

plain and simple they need our return business.
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Old 08-20-2008   #24
Electric-Mayhem's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 436
If there is any indication of how much the prep and curing process matter with regards to breaking boats, I think the "comp" weight boat era from Riot is as good as it gets.

Not sure if anyone else noticed, but the lighter boats seemed to break ALOT less then the normal weight boats. I paddled with a dude named Dave for a while in Boulder, who had a Comp weight Disco that he beat on all the time, and it never broke. Meanhwhile I had a normal weight Big Gun that broke, and I heard a ton of people who had major issues with their Riots at the same time.

Seems to me that since it was a Comp weight boat, they paid more attention to the boat as it was molded, and it really showed in its long term use. Meanwhile, the normal mass produced variety seem to break really easy.

Some other things I have noticed that attribute to breakage:

1. The darker boats seem to break more easily. From what I understand, this has to do with the pigment acting as binding agent, and having different colors need different curing times and temperatures. Plus, its counter intuitive, but from what I hear, the lighter the boat the more actual pigment goes into, thus having more of a binding agent. Needless to say, I've seen a lot less bright colored boats (Yellows, Whites, Oranges, etc) and more darker (Reds, Blues, Blacks, Purples) break.

2. The companies who outsource their molding or who provide molding for other industries seem to have alot less of a breakage problem. These who outsource locally to professional plastic molders are Jackson (I think), Liquid Logic (at least they did this as of a couple years ago), an DragoRossi (their parent company is the largest producer of plastic goods in Italy). Prijon moonlights on occasion for park benches and other such things, plus they use a different process too.

I haven't heard of many problems with most of these companies (until Liquid logic recently it would seem) having a lot of breaking issues. I can personally vouch for Drago boats, as I have beat the crap out of both a Fish and a Mafia, including putting a huuuge kidney wrenching gouge in the Mafia, and they boat held up really well. I literally have not heard of a single Drago Boat breaking yet, and I frequent the forum, which is usually the first place you hear about that kind of stuff. Don't hear to many complaints with Jackson hulls (the same can't always be said for their outfitting). Seems to me that this is because these companies that actually do the molding already have the experience and expertise to be able to deal with changes in the plastic, so their end product comes out all the better.

Irregardless, its soon going to be time for the next step in Materials use I think. Robson was threatening a few years ago, but other then that its the same ol stuff from every company. I think the answer might be to make a PE/fiberglass or carbon composite that is moldable like plastic, but has the fiber strands in it to bind everything together. You still would get the ease of molding and bendability with memory, but with the added strength and rigidity of the fibers. That was the idea behind the Robson prototype as I recall, but it fell by the wayside it would seem.

I think a large part, as people have said, is for the companies to really focus on the molding process and keeping the temperatures right for each individual boat, especially when it comes to creekers. I know you guys say "I would be willing to pay $XXX for a stronger boat", but I don't completely believe it. When Drago came out, everyone was absolutely floored that they cost $1400 and all said they refused to even look at it and wrote Drago off instantly as not worth it without even trying the boats. I think the same would go for any "expedition trim" special layup boat too.

Ok, I'm gonna stop typing now.

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Old 08-20-2008   #25
Indian Hills, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 221
i would have to agree with elcectric mayhem. i already said this before, why not try adding a "binding fiber" to the mold? it could increase strength without decreasing flex.
i know companies are always trying new plastics and mixes. corey volt had a nomad that was a newer platic that he was testing out for dagger.
it just may be time to take the manufacturing in another direction. they could keep the same "cheap" plastic with the addition of something to physically bind it, and still have a product that is fast to produce without having to change any molds that is much stronger and lasts longer.

robinson may have been on to something. i wish they would have finished a product.
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Old 08-20-2008   #26
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 84
Originally Posted by crane View Post
i know companies are always trying new plastics and mixes. corey volt had a nomad that was a newer platic that he was testing out for dagger.
That's good to hear that new things are being tried. I know that I've received more than one response from this thread from manufactures who are watching this thread. More than one has said it has instigated some level of internal discussion.
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Old 08-21-2008   #27
Park City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 700
Originally Posted by tk View Post
That's good to hear that new things are being tried. I know that I've received more than one response from this thread from manufactures who are watching this thread. More than one has said it has instigated some level of internal discussion.
Awesome. In my shed I have a foreplay, jive and crossfire that all have been severly abused in old plastic that have never broken. You can't tell me the factories today can't come up with a ventilation system to make the use of the old plastic safe. You can feel the difference when you just flex the plastic on an old versus new boat. The funny thing about this is that I think they could really grab some market share with a more durable boat. I personally don't have brand loyalty. I look for the best design and typically buy after it's out for a year so feedback on durability is somewhat reliable. Possibly some of this is driven by the recent trend for park and play sponsered kayakers.

As far as the 1,400 tag on a drago, I would have considered it if I could have demo'd the boat. It seemed like they were focussed on Europe, and I heard of one shop somewhere that had a demo. If I heard it was a ground breaking boat that was stronger and lighter, I would have sought it out. Cool graphics didn't make it worth it.
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Old 08-21-2008   #28
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 772
Since this has come up a couple times in this thread it has sparked my curiosity, would having a binding fiber/weave have any benefit for plastic? It is beneficial in concrete because concrete has poor tensile strength. Does plastic have a greater tensile or compressional strength? Do the cracks in boats generally result from tensile or compressional failure? I'm sure this is something manufactures look into? I would think that knowing which types of stresses are causing the failures would be the first step in trying to build a better boat.
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Old 08-21-2008   #29
Park City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 700
what about a composite weave in the pressure point areas. Sort of like the nose cone on the scorpion, but built into the boat under the seat and in the nose?
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Old 08-28-2008   #30
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 84
I like the idea of using a Kevlar fabric of sorts in places. I recall in engineering school in a composites course playing with difference pieces of Kevlar fabric in relation to carbon to increase strength in various ways (impact, elongation, etc). Some of the fabrics were ultra light, but I'm sure they cost quite a bit per sq/ft. Not sure how the process would work in relation to boat molding or what may have been tried by R&D groups in the past. But the idea is interesting.

More ideas along those lines are being posted to this thread.

truck bed liner on creekboat hull???

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