14' Avon Bucket Boat - Mountain Buzz

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Old 1 Week Ago   #1
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 3
14' Avon Bucket Boat

Hello, first time raft owner here. I just bought a 1983 14' Avon raft with a standard floor, not quite sure what model it is. It's in pretty good shape, no patches on the tubes, a few on the floor, and all the valves are in good working order with no leaks. I am looking for advice on upkeep on the raft and if there's anything I can do to increase the life of this raft. I plan on making my own frame, as I don't have a ton of money to buy a new one. I did find a DIY page where they made a frame out of galvanized fence posts and used the hardware that's used on regular frames (https://www.instructables.com/id/How...er-raft-frame/). I am not concerned about that added weight of the galvanized pipe but I am wondering if anyone has any tips they can offer about making my own frame. I attached some pictures of the raft, I'm pretty excited to get it on the water but want to make sure I'm doing everything I can to keep it in good shape.
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whitley1983 is online now   Reply With Quote
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Old 1 Week Ago   #2
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 1
Nice boat Jake! A friend of ours has pretty much the exact model. It is bomber. When we started rafting about 8 years ago, we purchased an old 16' Riken bucket boat with a galvanized frame similar to what you are thinking of making. That rig served us very well.

The first thing I did was add some internal boat sealant:

This stuff is amazing and I highly recommend it. After applying that we never had to top off our boat with air on trips and it kept air better than some of our friends newer boats.
My other recommendation would be to replace the plastic military valves if your boat has them. The plastic/nylon in the valves oxidizes over time and can fail and snap off into the raft tubes. It isn't too replace these as long as the existing boot is in good shape. However, I wouldn't want to do it on a trip.

Finally, get a case of 303 protectant and use frequently.

I think making your own frame is a worthwhile endeavor. I didn't mind the weight of my galavanized frame in the water as much as I did loading and unloading it. Keep in mind with a bucket boat you'll need to install it at the ramp every time since you won't be able to keep it rigged on the trailer. As long as you have a strong buddy or two, not a problem.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #3
Basalt, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 52
Whitley: I sent you a PM. Nice boat, I have one just like it. The year will we the last two numbers on the serial number.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #4
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 956
The boat looks to be in very good condition. The pouch and strake are intact, as are all handles and d-rings. I doubt it is in any need of a sealant, which is really only a last ditch solution for inflatable boats that lose most of their air from areas other than valves. Just keep it clean, bleed it properly, and store it with TLC over the off season. 303 is a fine product but it makes the boat very slippery and just a coat at the end of the season when you roll it up is ample.

You could easily get another 15-20 years out of her with moderate use and good care.

I do wonder about the valves, they do not seem appropriate for the year it was made. Were they replaced?

Regardless, that looks like a really nice find!
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Old 4 Days Ago   #5
Gary F
Philipsburg, Montana
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 58
Brings back memories. That's 1 of the boats I cut my rafting teeth on back in the early/mid 80s.
Lots of good suggestions on preserving/reviving the rubber.
In this day and age of all this fancy gear, back in the day we had to make or adapt everything. We didn't even have straps!! We used "hoopie" which was the river hippie word for webbing. I still prefer to tie in gear with webbing.
A really good, functional frame can be made with 28s! Some friends over the years AND a commercial company had them. Oar lock stands can be purchased from Saturn rafts. Years ago we adapted railroad spikes for oar pins. I can't remember what we used for clips.
For extended day trips you should use cargo decks and sling them off the floor anyway. You don't need marine wood. Just maintain with spar varnish. I still use this type of cargo deck. I sling it from frame and d rings.
Certainly not glamorous or sexy but will get you on the river quick and cheap. As you get more $$, then get a metal 1. As recent as a few years ago, on a grand trip, 1 of the boats sported a wood frame!! Solid!
You could also use chain link fence parts like you are suggesting.
I have tubing benders and welders so I make my own out of mild steel tubing, aluminum diamond plate and powder coat...or paint.
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Old 4 Days Ago   #6
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Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,413
Good looking boat!!
The valves look like A-7's and are appropriate for the year. Please don't go dumping West marine sealant in there. Once a year 303 is fine. I 303 my Avon, never, but thats just me. That boat is made of the best material ever.
zach baird
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Old 4 Days Ago   #7
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 3
Thanks for the reply! I have no idea if the valves were replaced, the guy I bought it from didn't own it for very long, he bought it for a moose hunt and then ended up not doing it. So it sounds like the main thing I need to do is keep it clean and apply the protectant once at the end of the year. You said to ''bleed it properly'' can you explain that more, and can you tell me how to clean it after each use? I'm a total newbie when it comes to owning and taking care of a raft. Thanks
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Old 4 Days Ago   #8
Jamesdking's Avatar
Missoula, Montana
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 91
I love my 78 and 82 Avons. They come out when its time to do the family overnighters and occasionally for running the Alberton Gorge in the summer when a newb wants to learn the hard way like they did back in the day. It is a "self bailer" if you bail it yourself!
The fact that the pocket is still on there says a lot from every example I've ever seen. They are the best material money could buy in my opinion and I wish you well with your find. The thwarts seem off tho... Maybe Zach will correct me but shouldnt they be lace in type for that year?
And dont fix what isnt broken. I wouldnt dream of going through the trouble of inside out sealing a raft that held air.
Give her a good name and keep it going!
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Old 3 Days Ago   #9
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Floor should be glued and they had A-7's. Boat looks to be factory.

Don't overthink caring for the boat. Don't roll it up wet and skanky and let it sit over the winter. Dry it out before you roll it up and it will serve you well. By bleeding DoStep is telling you not to pump it up tight in the morning and then let it bake in the sun causing potential overpressure and the problems that can come with it. The glue is 36 years old, treat it as such.
zach baird
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Old 3 Days Ago   #10
mc_schwing's Avatar
Denver burbs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 6
He lives in Alaska, so no worries about the sun over-pressurizing.

Jake, here's a Mountainbuzz thread I found helpful when I built an inexpensive frame for my 1975 Avon:


BTW, I used this boat extensively on the Yukon, Gulkana, and the Kenai. Now I'm using it in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. I wish I could tell you tips on maintenance, but it's never needed any.
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