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Old 09-11-2013   #1
elkhaven's Avatar
Belgrade, Montana
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 1,661
New Frame build questions

Hi all, new to the site but have been trolling for a while... Planning on getting a new boat at the Sotar fall sale and have been thinking about frames.

I currently have a 13' hyside with a pieced together NRS frame. I've had the rig for 13 years (most of it). I spend 60% time fishing 40% overnighters on mellow water, Smith (in MT), SF Snake, NF flathead, etc. Main Salmon in low water is as big as I'm likely to go and maybe Middle Fork with the right crew. I can row well and have been doing so for over 20 years, but I like floating sideways, leaning on the gear pile and drinking beer sans life jacket... I constantly am tinkering with my frame, decks, boxes, set up and could not fathom a welded frame. It seems like most of you are right up my ally when it comes at least to floating beer and tinkering...

I love building things and have read most of the posts on frame building (with handrail fittings and aluminum) and was ready to go that route but decided to ask Cheryl what kind of package deal I could get and it turns out that it'd only save me a couple hundred bucks to build my own frame vs getting and adapting an NRS Universal frame, which will give me virtually all the parts to build my perfect frame..(for now).

I'd love some opinions on my plan, so I'm attaching a pdf with a drawing of the boat and frame layout. The plan is to get a 15' sl, assuming my wife doesn't bock (which she is faining as we speak), the frame would be an NRS Universal frame, that comes in various sizes, I'd be getting the biggest, 72" x120" since they are all the same price, then have a bunch of aluminum left over... I would take the drop rails, redrill and turn sideways to make a double rail, take the foot brace but it on the back of the frame and attach a casting brace (that I already have) lying flat near and parallel to the floor to carry a floor then attach sweeps (have to fab) that wrap up over the back tube for a rear fishing seat and anchor system. The packaged frame contains all the components save the one I have plus I'll have to get the rear sweeps bent to finish it out. Oar stands would mount to the outer "rail" of the double rail.

My main concern is where to place the inner rail on the boat so that it carries enough of the load (and not overloading the two attachment points on the double rail extensions. Currently the drawing shows that the cross members are 4', this would have to change to a point where the inner rail carries enough of the load (probably near 5') and I might then have to cut some of the width off the double rail extensions so that the overall width isn't too wide. The main tubes on the boat will be 23" then diminish from there, but Sotar design keeps the inside of the tubes parallel so I should be able to find a width that balances the load between the 4 rails...

What are your thoughts on this layout? what do you all think the minimum width between the inner rails should be?

Thanks for all the info and ideas I've already picked from you all and thanks in advance for your thoughts on my ideas.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Drawing1 Layout1 (1).pdf (11.8 KB, 356 views)

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Old 09-11-2013   #2
TriBri1's Avatar
Tigard, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 768
Here are a few thoughts:

LoPros are known to turn so I am not sure using the drop rail as your outside rail is the best way to go. I would run the outside rails to a longer front and rear crossbar then connect the inner rail to the front and rear cross bar. All the inside cross bars would connect to the inner rail. If you want to use the drop bar you could run it inside the raft at a location that a drybox and cooler can rest on it. then you could secure them with loop straps over the top.
It looks like the C-C (Center to Center) measurement is 65". If this is correct then the outer rail overall distance should be around 71" the inner rail should be around 59" this would give you a rail spread of 6". If you setup the rails and the front and rear crossbars first, you can fine tune this before cutting the inner crossbars.

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Old 09-11-2013   #3
pocatello, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 471
As a note you can only cut about 3/4" off the drop bars unless you are also willing to cut/grind the lopro innards somehow. Otherwise the lopro won't seat inside the tube fully. The bend has a pretty long radius and there just isn't much straight tube left to work with.

The drop rails will have the potential to move.

I would think it would be easier to do a wider single rail frame and put on side rail decking rather than a true double rail frame. This way the oar towers are on something more solid and you don't have to be concerned about both the rail measurement and the drop bar measurement. The frame would remain fairly universal and could be cut down for a future boat.
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Old 09-11-2013   #4
elkhaven's Avatar
Belgrade, Montana
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 1,661
low pro's

Thanks for the quick reply Tri Bri1, that was my original thought and how I had it drawn (standard overlapping bar set up) but I thought this way would be cleaner. as far as the fitting turning that is my main concern though even on my current rear frame connection (4' of leverage on the low-pro) I haven't had a serious problem with them turning. I definitely don't want to put all the frame load on those 4 fittings so it will not work as drawn. I would like to keep the inner rail inside of center of tubes to me that's kind of the point with a double rail, spread the load, but I'd like to balance the load so that it's more like 60/40 or 70/30 inside to outside rail if I continue with this plan

Fiya79, good to know about how much workable material there is, I was figuring a couple inches based on photos. I have no problem modifying the back of the low prow for another inch or so but if that only totals 2", they will likely be too wide by the time I find a solid place to put the inner rails... My current frame is wide for the boat, with a series of small decks I add when I need and it works OK...Overall I was hoping to minimize oar length which is why I was keeping it to 74" total width.... so I'll have to do some serious thinking about using the drop rails.

Thanks for the input! It's already getting tinkered with and it hasn't been born yet, love-it...
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Old 09-11-2013   #5
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,121
Here's a picture I came across while searching aimlessly through some frame threads. It shows what TriBri1 is talking about.
I am a notorious tinker-a-holic, which is why I have used an NRS frame for the past 8-10 years. I'm always trying to build a better mousetrap. I'm also looking to buy a 14SL during the Sotar fall sale. I'll be repurposing my 66 inch cat frame cross bars for the raft frame. I have a 12 ft. Hyside raft that has 54 inch crossbars that might work for this configuration? But I also have some NRS side rail racks. So it's a toss-upon which will work out the best and maybe save me some frame weight?

I believe the picture is courtesy of Mania?
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Old 09-11-2013   #6
JustKip's Avatar
Fresno, California
Paddling Since: 1979
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 177
Here's another option. I built a frame using these nifty double rail fittings...

It would take 4 of them to build a double rail frame using an NRS frame for most of the material. I just happen to have an extra 4 in my garage somewhere.

I also like the simplicity of the one shared by Cataraftgirl
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Old 09-11-2013   #7
elkhaven's Avatar
Belgrade, Montana
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Sep 2013
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Hell Yeah

I saw those a couple of weeks ago, it appears that he has quit making them, are you sure you want to part with them? I'd be very interested! I'll pm you. I've actually thought about how I could make something similar. I really like that idea for several reasons I'd dump the whole drop rail idea like a hot potato!
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Old 09-11-2013   #8
mtrafter's Avatar
bend, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 152
I was just about to reply with this same layout lol and wasn't sure how to explain it (pertaining to the pic cataraftgirl posted)
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Old 09-11-2013   #9
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
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Originally Posted by mtrafter View Post
I was just about to reply with this same layout lol and wasn't sure how to explain it (pertaining to the pic cataraftgirl posted)
Since I already have most of the longer width cross bars already, including my foot bar, I might just run a double rail from the back of my dry box / rowing seat, to the foot bar (AAA foot bar/cross bar combo). This would give me a double rail in the rower bay & next to my rowing seat area.

On my cat, I used the side rail racks a lot for strapping stuff down. I didn't use them as walkways very much. On a raft, I'm hoping to eliminate strapping gear to the side rails. Mostly, I like a platform close at hand to strap down my pelican box with my camera for quick access. I will probably experiment with this in the off season to see if it's worth it. I might just stick with one or two side rail racks instead. My goal is to keep my frame as simple and light weight as possible.
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Old 09-12-2013   #10
elkhaven's Avatar
Belgrade, Montana
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 1,661

I appreciate all the ideas, a strange turn of events occurred last night, I was offered 156 D with a simple NRS fishing frame and 10í cataracts for $2800. I donít think I can pass this up, itís actually cheaper than what Iím asking for my 13í hyside package (which may mean Iím over priced) but it would leave me lots of room to build my frame. The drawback is Iíve told Cheryl that Iím ordering on Oct. 1 and I canít afford two boats so I have to call and renig, which is something I want to do, she has been extremely patient with my questions, what if's, etc. Knowing the seller, I'm not going scrap all my Sotar plans until it's on my trailer but I plan on going to get it this weekend.

I'm still excited to build the frame, but now I need to figure out exactly what I've got, what I'll need to buy and what will fit best. The frame that's on it is short, so I think I'll still shoot for modifying it into a double rail, probably either using some wildgoose fittings from JustKip if that works out or some variant of cataraftgirls ideas...or maybe both (ooh, lights are flashing in my head right now). But beyond that speculation I'm going to wait until it's in front of me, then post my ideas. I really like the varying opinions on this site and look forward to more discussion next week.

Thanks again everyone!

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