DIY Raft Pads - am I nuts?
I'm getting into rafting on the cheap, and after a few runs down the San Juan and Desolation I really want some good pads for the kids to sit on and us to sleep on under the stars. I have a hard time stomaching the 150-300 dollars that companies are asking for pads and I'm looking at making some myself.
My plan is to source some PVC fabric from a local (Salt Lake) company that makes PVC tarps for long haul truckers. They hand heat weld their product so I thought I'd do the same. I would source polyurethane foam (medium/Firm, either 3 or 4 inches thick) from a local upholstery company , or get it off the internet. The pads friends have are just a PVC sleeve, welded together down the seam and at the ends with a C7 valve on the side or in a corner.
I expect I'll need to practice on some scrap PVC material, but after that I think I could get it air-tight. Maravia doesn't guarantee their Silverbacks to be airtight and Jack from Jack's PVC Welding says after a few thorn holes, he doesn't sleep with the valve closed any more. So perfection is hoped for but not essential.
The math works out like this:
PVC fabric: $10
Polyurethane Foam: $25ish
C7 Valve: $20 - I could use a cheaper valve to cut costs but this is for comparison.
Inexpensive adjustable heat plastic welding gun (not industrial quality, I don't need it to be): $50
If successful, the first one would run $105 and every one thereafter would be $55 (or average it, I don't care). I could make the 3 I need for well under the cost of one Maravia Silverback and could make them fit my raft and family.
Has anyone done this? Is there something I'm missing? Thoughts? Suggestions?