Building a cat frame - Mountain Buzz

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Old 04-29-2017   #1
happy valley, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2015
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 1
Building a cat frame

Hey guys! I am fairly new to rafting and have recently purchased 14' rmr cat tubes. I plan on taking 2 or 3 multi night rafting trips this summer, but I need an optimal frame for this. I am a skilled welder and plan on building a frame. Preferably 3 bay frame so I can fit 2 dry boxes and a cooler. I am also going to put in a woven floor throughout. I was wondering if anybody has done this and if they have any tips for me. If you could provide pics of your set up that would be great too so I can get some ideas!
Thanks, Tyler

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Old 04-29-2017   #2
Ridgway, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 263
Hey T, welcome to the Buzz.
I have a 15' cat and I can tell you, that the way I have it set up now is nothing how I envisioned it when I bought it.
I understand the welding skilliz and the desire to put them to use and, someday I hope to have a nice welded frame but, learning what works for you is a lot easier with a basic erector-set frame. Sell it when you've got it figured out and are ready to weld.
IE. I envisioned passengers up front, gear in the the back. Hated it. can't see over/around them. For me, it's passengers on a cooler behind me, gear pile up front. Then there's Idaho style which I'm curious about, ect.
If I were to weld, I think I'd make a three mod design...
Best to design in options is all I'm saying.
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Old 04-29-2017   #3
Dolores, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 38
Hey Tbieker,
Best of both worlds, if you're a skilled welder, buy some at least 1" EMT and go to town. A whole frame wont cost more than $100, and at that rate you can build 7-8 frames before you get buyers remorse. Heat up the galvanized with a torch, and weld with a box fan pointing the fumes away, but you already knew that. Frame design is part of the fun, so enjoy it!
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Old 04-30-2017   #4
Great Falls, Montana
Paddling Since: .3
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,047
Buy a Yoke frame like the Allycat or Topcat frame first. Then if you still want to weld a frame you'll have it dialed in. It will save you ton's of time and money.
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Old 04-30-2017   #5
curtis catman's Avatar
Rivertown, West Virginia
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These are mostly sport cat frames, but same principle. Like Oby1coby says I built these after I had run multiple NRS frames and knew what worked for me. But like some one else stated, pipe is cheap and if you like to build like me than go for it. Have a good one! Better hurry up the rivers are rising!
If you start off asking for help, you probably should not even start off.
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Old 04-30-2017   #6
Fruita, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2014
Join Date: Jun 2015
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If it was me, and it's not, I would recommend a welded modular combo. i have one and i love it. Mine is a 5 bay for a 16 ft JPW, but a 4 bay sounds like it would be perfect for you...I run, from front to back:
1-drop bag full of beer with deck over the top
2-cooler and water jug (I usually run a 65qt cooler and 10g water--will fit up to a 123)
(this forms a relatively level space that a paco pad gets strapped over for passengers)
3-rower's bay with kick bar and solid floor from strapped down 3/4" marine grade
5-everything drop bag from Stiches and stuff...

as you can hopefully see (if the pictures attach correctly) I have changed it up several times, moving things around, based on trip need and if I have a passenger, usually by only a few inches, but it has been a great learning curve for me...


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Old 04-30-2017   #7
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 321
I have built few cat frames. Mostly for myself, but will build one for anyone.
I use 1.25" .056 wall HREW, the larger tube spreads the load out a bit more on the tubes and gives great rigidity even with the thin wall. You can run a frame all season without painting or anything. If you want to modify, just do it, if not, wait until the season is over and powder coat it. I built a "hot rod" frame for myself, last year about this time for 12-6 sotar tubes. the only modification I made was to decrease the angle of the oar tower to level. At the end of the season I powder coated it. It weighs 36# with the seat and oar locks on it.
Steel is easy and cheap. 1.25" .056 tube bends nicely. And is quite strong, especially for its weight.
For a multiday frame I sit up front with gear and a passenger in the back. Having a passenger up front made visibility poor, I rowed like that for 14 years but rarely took passengers. With no passenger I prefer to sit slightly rear of center and load the boat for neutral.
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Old 04-30-2017   #8
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 175
Bend 6063 t6 alum and join with stages and tees. Allows adjustability which will be neverending. Consider main frame at 3 or 4 bays with added trailer for multiday. Use flip seat. Welds lock you into a set dimension you will want to change over and over.
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Old 04-30-2017   #9
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Tabernash, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jan 2015
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I think you'll ultimately be happier if you start off with the erector set type frame like rtsideup said, then you can figure out what you want, and then build a sweet frame that suites you. Nrs works well for this, or something along the lines of speed rail fittings and locally sourced pipe if you can find it.
A modular design would be good if you don't have a trailer, and will have to break pieces down into your truck. A friend of mine pulled off packing a 16' nrs Kodiak with multi day gear, into the back of his tacoma, for a few years this way, because his frame was modular.
We can't always agree, but we can still be civil to each other.
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Old 05-01-2017   #10
curtis catman's Avatar
Rivertown, West Virginia
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T O Mack that is a good combination of both worlds. I like it. That is also one huge cataraft. I like it also.
If you start off asking for help, you probably should not even start off.
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