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Old 03-23-2010   #1
wwcanoeist's Avatar
South Lake Tahoe, California
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 7
The do-it-yourself'er

Based on some postings I've recently read on the internet, as well as this website, I have decided to build my own raft frame. It will be going in a 14 ft.'er, 60" interior. I want to haul a drybox under my ass, and the cooler up front, with a pad ontop for seating. A foot bar, Maybe a double rail down the sides for attaching decking when my dog comes along(probably most of the time-he is a class 2 open boater). We(family) don't want the heaviest frame in the world(yeah, yeah I know, double rail and doggy decking!!??), would the weight/cost justify aluminum over steel? I am open to all info you all would care to contribute, I assure you I will read it all. I want to do it right the first time, and I know some of you have learned some valuable lessons!!.

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Old 03-23-2010   #2
Jenks, Oklahoma
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,775
some thoughts

Can you weld? iron is generally easier to weld. Aluminum is a bit harder.

Weight. steel is heavier but not much

long life. taken care of steel will last a long time, aluminum will last longer.

Strength. Have to get the experts input on this. My take is both will be plenty strong for a raft frame.

Weld versus clamps. If you are sure your first design is gonna work for you, welding is good. If you think you will need to break down or alter the frame, go with clamps.

Large diameter (Down River Equipment Style) versus small diameter (NRS Style). I think both work just fine. The large diameter has a special connector which looks bomber to me, but I have seen some posts where the connectors wobble. The NRS style uses a stainless steel clamp that works well or at least has for me. It looks to me like the DRE size pipe is stronger than the smaller NRS style. I have not seen either style pipe bend and doubt if I will. You might check as Jack has info on making a frame out of chain link fence posts.

My first frame was a welded steel conduit setup and it was totally bomber. A bit heavy but bomber.

As time went by, I wanted to have a different setup.

Looked at all the options and for me the NRS pipe and connectors worked just fine. Not being able to weld or being that mechanical, I went with parts from NRS. I just drew up a layout of what I wanted and ordered from NRS. They are happy to help. One of their Reps "Clyde" answered all my questions and gave me a lot of tips and we talked several times before I sent in my order. This is the easiest way to for me and a person could probably find a internet supplier and save some money. Have a couple years on the frame and am super happy. I have a friend who went with the large pipe and fittings ala DRE as he made his frame and he has a great frame. Ask around and you can buy the DRE style pipe and fittings off the internet.

The thing about NRS setup is you can use the frame on different rafts or different setups by changing a few pipes and the connectors. NRS has a option to use a frame on a cataraft and standard self bailer. I have not tried this but it should work from looking at the catalog.

I have a friend with a 16 Sotar Catboat and he sets up and tears down his NRS style frame for transport on a smaller car and by using a battery style drill motor and socket and has marked his frame as to where fittings go, he only takes a short time to either get on the river or packed for the trip home.

Lots of options and most all can work. It all depends on what you want. Do some searching on the Buzz as this topic has been discussed many times.
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Old 04-03-2010   #4
boaterbri's Avatar
truckee, California
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 8
check out this website, i built my frame this way, it is heavier than aluminum, but much cheaper and totally customizable. nrs parts also fit the tube dia. used.

How to build a river raft frame
Don't sweat the petty, Pet the sweaty!
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