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Old 05-27-2010   #1
Jackson, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 9
NRS Frame drilling jig

Anybody have any ideas for a jig for drilling holes in NRS crossbars to fit on the Lopro fittings?

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Old 05-27-2010   #2
Parker, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 52
The drill bit does fly around a bit when trying to drill straight holes in round pipe. I'm not sure what the pros do but here's what worked for me:

I didn't have a gig, so I marked the spot where I wanted the holes, and then created a groove in the pipe using a triangular file. This created a stable place for the bit to rest while it was starting the hole. After that I used a drill motor freehand and pressed straight down. No doubt a drill press would have made cleaner holes, but I didn't have access to one and I was in get it done mode.

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Old 05-27-2010   #3
Wondervu, CO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 390
I have used the following 3 setups for drilling tubing, depending on how many holes need to be drilled and what tools I had access to at the time.

1. Super simple set up for one or two fittings.

Take a strip of heavy paper (like a paper bag) and cut a strip aout 3" wide and 8" long. Wrap this around a piece of tubing that is already drilled correctly, aligning one edge of the paper flush with the tubing. Using thumb pressure mark where the holes are by making an indent. Use a hole punch to make nice neat hole in your template. Make a pen mark on the paper trip where the paper ovelaps (one full revolution), take the paper off and fold it in half to the mark, then double it and fold again. This will crease the paper template into exacly 1/4 sections of the circumferance.

A long piece of angle iron can be place along the tubing and used to make a reference mark at each end that is aligned with the axis. Place the paper template pen mark along this line and mark your holes, this will insure the two ends get drilled on the same plane.

2. For a more durable template.

Find a small length of PVC pipe that slides over the alum. tubing, some PVC pipe repair couplings come very close to a snug fit over 1 5/8" O.D. pipe. Or select a piece that is oversized and reduce its circumference by making a saw cut along its axis. Squeeze the PVC pipe in a hose clamp until the cut edges match up. By carfully adjusting the width of the cut you can fine tune the pipe to exactly match the O.D. of your tubing. Now use the above paper strip technique to locate and drill two cross holes. Slip this over the end of the tube and drill away.

3. If you have access to a drill press and a hole saw and need to make a lot of holes.

Find a hole saw that closely matches your tubing O.D. Cut 3 pieces of plywood into three 3" x 6" x 3/4" blocks. Stack these together and drill a 1/4" dia. pilot hole thru all three pieces (this insures all the holes line up) The use the hole saw to cut big holes. Stack the three pieces and glue/screw them together. Now make a saw cut starting at the mid-point of one of the short sides that extends to the middle of the circle. By placing a C clamp ovtr the block and squeezing the saw kerf closed you can slightly deform the hole and clamp the jig onto the end of your tubing. Carefully measure and drill 1/4" holes along the two flat surfaces of the wooden jig (long sides) and you have a nice durable tool for drilling lots of precision holes.

Note: if you drill your holes slightly oversized it will be much easier to assemble the frame. The oversized holes allow for a little mis-alighnment and allow the threaded bolts to pass easily w/o getting dinged up. When you tighten the bolts the aluminum will deform enough for a good tight assembly.
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Old 05-27-2010   #4
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 83
We ended up machining one for our fittings that worked really well- It relies on the flat surface on the top of our fittings as well as the mounting hole. It takes a single flat head screw to mount, and it puts a drill bushing right over the proper location.

The principle should be pretty easy to duplicate for low-pro's- any of the above would work well, but I would definitely recommend putting a drill bushing in the hole. For those that don't know what that is, it's a basically a press in guide that's the same size as the drill bit, and made of the same (really hard) material. What it means is the drill bit can't cut it and deform the hole.

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Old 05-27-2010   #5
Osprey's Avatar
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 683
I've only just ever free handed it. If you are careful its fine. Measure up on the lopro to get it started, drill the one side and just start slowly, put it on the lopro to line up the other side and drill out the other side. If there is some slop so what, when you tighten up the bolt it will be fine.
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Old 05-27-2010   #6
Eagle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 185
Originally Posted by Osprey View Post
If there is some slop so what, when you tighten up the bolt it will be fine.
Osprey… I like your style. I’m getting sick at myself for being so “type A” when it comes to rigging. I’m gonna try and be more relaxed about it. Thanks.

On the other hand, Zorba’s s*it is the BOMB.
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Old 05-27-2010   #7
The Valley, Alaska
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 2
I free handed mine also. I put the lopro in the end of the pipe, marked my hole, then put the pipe end in my bench vise. I used a couple pieces of scrap leather to protect the pipe from getting marred by the vise. I tightened my vise just tight enough to where it pinched the lopro tight inside of the pipe. I used a small punch to start the hole to keep the drill bit from walking. I just took my time and eyeballed the drill to make sure it was perpendicular to the pipe throughout the whole process. I drilled 4 pipe ends this way. A gauranteed fit with no slop at all.
A drill press would have been handy!

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