Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2013
Thanks every one for your comments!
First, as the title says, I really appreciate your comments/criticism/encouragement.
My boats are NOT imported - I fabricate the tubes and frames myself.
And you're right - where did this guy come from?
I am a retired Boeing aerospace/mechanical engineer -about 20 yrs with that company, and a few more in private consulting. Learned how to run machine tools in the Navy, and have also have a background in fabricating. I know that alone does not make me an expert in boat design.
I became interested in whitewater rafting in 2000/2001, and decided to learn, as best I could, how to build Cats. It's taken me over ten years of design, iteration, re-design, iteration, etc and A LOT of wasted material to arrive at production-level boats.
I produce/sell no conventional rafts, dry-bags, apparel. I focus on cataraft tubes and frames only.
An Aire rip-off? No more than a Ford is a Chevy rip-off, of an Airbus is a Boeing rip-off.
We all (designers/manufacturers) stand on the shoulders of those that have come before us, make improvements, innovations and proceed.
I think that Aire makes fantastic boats, especially the bladder-shell design - elegant, simple, very safe due to double layers of PVC and urethane - and of course, dual chambers.
In feel my design does improve on the approach by enclosing the zipper in full-length hook & loop, keeping sand/grit out, and helping to minimize the amount of water into the shell. I also use only Tenara Teflon thread, which lasts the life of the substrate material, and is UV, chemical resistant and has a high tensile strength, and have limited the rise to about 3 inches.
My bladders are a segmented, dual chamber design, made from 11-mil urethane.
Please note my ads did have a typo saying 3-mil. Sorry about that -they're 11 mil (oops).
I grew weary, early on, of stepping/stumbling over cross-bars, so I designed a frame with a central keel beam, supported with side struts. This allows a true walk-around deck design. The decks composed of cam-locked poly strapping, allowing deck stretch control, covered and sewn with a mesh to allow any water plunging over the bow to pass through - which a solid plywood or composite deck wouldn't allow.
The keel beam is drilled fore-and-aft to allow installation of foot-rests, cooler/dry-box tie-downs, and is used in conjunction with the lower side rails to secure any amount of gear on deck.
My boats have run the Lochsa, Salmon and Snake rivers. I've found them to be light, responsive and very maneuverable.
Early on, I wanted to build a safe, quality boat. It takes a whole lot of time to produce one, so the prices are commensurate with comparable craft - NRS, Aire, Maravia ect. I do, however, try to lower the cost as much as possible.
No one gave me tube patterns, taught me how to hot-air weld or to produce a safe, quality design. I learned just by doing it - spent five-figures on equipment and materials. Had to design and fabricate a digital rotary hot-air welder, and a host of other production/test items.
I have just recently begun marketing them, as it was too difficult to work a 40-hr week and run this company at the same time. Retirement gives the time I need.
Some rafters appreciate these designs, some don't. I, of course, think they're great, and am pleased with the results.
Thanks again for your comments,
SunSport Design & Mfg