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Old 03-21-2015   #1
Moab, Utah
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 5
To touch or not to touch?

I am new to rafting and have a question about rigging a cataract with a 72" NRS yoke style frame. Assuming there is nothing sharp or pokey (e.g. cooler drain) should a cooler/dry box touch the tubes or should there be a gap? If touching, how much can said cooler/drybox push in on the tubes?


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Old 03-21-2015   #2
East MT, WestMT, Both sides of the Yellowstone
Paddling Since: 09
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,112
Boats are way tougher than you think. A cooler is not going to rub through a quality boat. You will be driving it loaded, scraping rocks, bouncing off walls, trees.......So load it up and have some fun. Your more likely to damage it during transport to and from the river. Snug is how I like my cooler/drybox. Take some time and look at the "raft porn" thread

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Old 03-22-2015   #3
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vancouver, Washington
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Apr 2009
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Maravia boats. Not to bash Sotar but frame abrasion appears to be a concern, probably from transport and who knows how clean the welds were in the frame. But their boats are a lot lighter
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Old 03-22-2015   #4
East MT, WestMT, Both sides of the Yellowstone
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,112
No boat is as tough as a Maravia. But Aire, NRS, Hyside, Riken, Avon (not in that order but Aire is a damn tough boat as well) can all take the stress of a cooler rubbing it. Don't have any personal experience with Sotar but I'd hope they could handle a cooler rubbing the tube.
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Old 03-22-2015   #5
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vancouver, Washington
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Yeah. As long as there is no abrasion points like sharp gouges in the cooler rotomold
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Old 03-22-2015   #6
Cortez, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Jan 2008
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As others have said, these boats are very tough, but....always be on the lookout for rub-points. These points may be unique to your setup. For example, when I was setting up my 14' Aire 143D (a round boat), I knew that my drybox rubbed on my tubes a little, and thought nothing of it, but after only one trip on the "Sandy Juan", there was noticeable wear at at that point, because it was right where the zipper was, on the tubes...and the sand didn't help, and the fact that the tubes and the drybox form a vee for the sand to settle into. The heavy-duty polyester thread on that sewn-in zipper was visibly frayed. Not really damaged, but over time, it would've been. So, I had to bite the bullet and buy the next narrower (2") drybox. Other boats don't have zippers, so it probably would've been fine, but it may something else. Hose clamps and big, burly zip-ties are popular to use for floors and decks, etc, on cats and they have sharp edges. Just put the whole thing together in your driveway and inspect it, then do it a few more times after your first few trips, and you should be fine.
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Old 03-22-2015   #7
Moab, Utah
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 5
Thanks for all the comments folks...appreciate it!
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Old 03-22-2015   #8
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
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There are rarely hard and fast rules for situations like this.

While modern boats, or in your case tubes, are extremely durable compared to their older brethren I am in the camp of reducing contact points with the rubber as much as possible. With a 72" wide cataract frame you should have plenty of space between the tubes to not touch unless you go with a larger cooler and/or dry box (I normally have room for small bags to side of both). I have one of the 94 quart marine coolers and neither it or the dry box touch on the same size frame. I do this for the (partially) the same reason I don't load objects on raft floors (when I use rafts versus catarafts).

That said, I know plenty of boaters who have smaller boats and their cooler and dry box fit snug against the tubes. The worst scenario so far is a bit of a metal patina building up on the tubes from the dry box as it will always get some movement and abrasion as the tubes flex in the rapids. The one boat I am thinking of has been doing multiple multi-day trips for a decade and has no substantial wear from said behavior.

If you are worried you could always cut small sections of closed cell foam to size to reduce contact with metal or cooler parts. Its smoother and doesn't absorb much water (if at all). Depends on size of cooler/dry box if that solution is viable.

Best of luck.

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Old 03-22-2015   #9
East of the Pine beatle, Colorado
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,362
Dirt collects when you tow- and turns that point into sand paper. Best if it doesn't touch. Keep it clean if it does.

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Old 03-22-2015   #10
Great Falls, Montana
Paddling Since: .3
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 845
Hey Kessel. My original JPW boat that I told you about had an Igloo cooler that pushed between the tubes about an inch on each side. The boat was 10 years old and you could not tell where the cooler was against the tubes. That said. If I had a brand new Lion that I cared about I would either leave space or glue a cheap wear patch where the cooler rubs against it.

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