Lightweight breakdown frame - Mountain Buzz

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Old 03-29-2010   #1
rockingham, North Carolina
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 15
Lightweight breakdown frame

Hey, new to the forum and loaded with questions! I have recently been floating rivers up above the Arctic Circle in AK. We have encountered some light class III using our a Ally canoes and done well, but we want to paddle some rivers with heavier class III and class IV water. (A folding canoe loaded with 3 weeks of camping and fishing gear is not the greatest whitewater boat as you might imagine) You cant stand up and fish either. I want a more stable boat that will handle bigger water and allows one passenger the ability to fish standing. This is a travel boat, not a play boat. I won't intentionally steer towards the biggest holes to play. I would also like the option to take a third person on the trip. All this is easily accomplished with a raft or cataraft but the problem arises from having to get the boat to AK on a commercial flight then load all this crap in a bush plane. Some of those guys are Nazis about weight. I have decided on a cataraft with pontoons from JPW. That way I can pack each pontoon in with other gear. Function, weight, and durability are primary, comfort is secondary. I need ideas for a minimalist breakdown frame that will:
1) be under 50 lbs.
2) Break down to meet minimum size requirements for checked baggage on a commercial flight.
3) assemble without tools or basic tools. (ounces matter)
4) be ultra reliable. ( the nearest road is hundreds of miles from these rivers and the pilot is planning on picking you up 65 miles south of where he dropped you off on a specific day at a specific hour)

Any ideas no matter how out of the box they seem are welcome. I have no experience with catarafts or frames but have experience with pipe and pipefitting/welding. I have been canoeing for over 30 years so I have some paddling experience.Thanks in advance, -Joe

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Old 03-29-2010   #2
no tengo
mania's Avatar
Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,853
what size are the pontoons?

I made this frame with custom NRS parts. it might squeak by as checked baggage limits - have not tried but its less than 50 and breaks down to less than 60 long but linear dimensions (L+W+H) is slightly over 60. the rules are technically linear dimensions should be less than 60 not just overall length.
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Old 03-29-2010   #3
rockingham, North Carolina
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 15
forgot to add....

There will be no coolers and gear is at the bare minimum. Traded the Pelican boxes for lightweight dry bags. Think lightweight backpacker gear. Tiny stoves, powdered drink mix, 4 lb. tent, backpacker food and lots of fish for supper...hopefully. My dad and I went for 2 weeks on the Goodnews river on a 750lb weight limit. The bush pilot weighed us and then our gear. We are 6'1" and 6'2". Together he and I weighed 510 lbs. Add a 50 lb. Ally canoe and that left us with 190 lbs of gear for 2 weeks. Even this number is going on a serious diet.

Has anyone heard of using carbon fiber for frame tubing? I am looking at using the JPW 19" 14 foot blunts. A two piece frame or modular design to allow for switching between 2 or 3 people or just me as a support barge for multi- canoe trips. Also slung mesh floors for gear. Thanks again. -Joe
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Old 03-29-2010   #4
Missoula, Montana
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 84
NRS will make you side rails that break down for an additional cost. I wouldn't want to have breaks in all of my crossbars but rails might need it depending no how long they are. I would shop cats for weight. I know most everyone runs Aire Leopard cat up there, but when you start looking at single wall designs you lose weight but urethane doesn't fold up as small as hypalon so there's that to consider. If money is no object, and it must not be if you're considering carbon, you should see what you can find in titanium. You could probably get away with a much thinner wall but I don't know if it comes in the right size to use a stadium bracket or NRS fitting. Titanium is awesome but it's hard to work with.
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Old 03-29-2010   #5
youngpaddler06's Avatar
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 173
If you have a cat you will need to get a floor to stand on to fish which would add weight, esp. if there are 3 people on the boat. Im not sure how a mesh floor would hold up to standing on it for long periods of time. With a small raft you could make a lighter more simple frame (like John's, see link), and have a floor to put stuff and stand on for fishing. Just a thought. Good luck.

Mini-me Frame For Rafting - Mountain Buzz Photos
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Old 03-29-2010   #6
John the welder's Avatar
Delta, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1971
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 204
I would take a Hyside mini-me 43lbs and a light weight frame less than 14lbs. with break down 8ft. oars.You will be fine with two people -three will be tight. I've done lots of trips in Alaska and this set-up would work fine. I've runn the Gunny Gorge. westwater and the grand. You have a lot of power in a small boat and can miss most of the bad stuff.With some hand made small rafts -similar to pack rafts We fit 5 people and gear in one Beaver on floats -Less the 1300lbs. total for a 16 day trip and had food left over.
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Old 03-29-2010   #7
rockingham, North Carolina
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 15
John the Welder, sounds like I need to paddle with some skinnier friends and go on a diet! LOL. I appreciate the info from everybody. Carbon fiber was an option but I would have to lay it up on cylindrical forms myself and use glue-in aluminum sleeves to facilitate pinning the joints together. Buying the CF would be fine if I had $40/foot for the 1.5" tubing. That stuff is steep.
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Old 03-29-2010   #8
Wirednoodle's Avatar
Portland, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 114
You can shave some weight with titanium tubing whether you use a raft or cat.
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Old 03-29-2010   #9
John the welder's Avatar
Delta, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1971
Join Date: May 2009
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Aluminum is still the most pratical metal. cost ease of fabrication. you can buy different shapes ect. On that trip we did pick some small friends so we could all fit into one plane. The cost is the same one person in a plane or five. We had several rivers that we carried everything for two or three days befor inflateing the boats then walked behind them for days in shallow water. first pick the river -then find out what planes are near by. then plan your trip around what is out there. Beaver 1250 to 1300lbs. Cassna 182 750 to 790Lbs. Ect.Remember show up under weight or the pilots will hate you.
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Old 03-30-2010   #10
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,165
You might want to get in touch with Madcatr and see what he can do for you. A modular breakdown welded frame sounds like what you may be looking for. Welded joints are lighter than fittings. MADCATR Creations - Custom Fabricated Stainless Steel and Aluminum Rafting Equipment
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