13' raft frame advice - Mountain Buzz

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Old 06-01-2017   #1
winter park, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 8
13' raft frame advice

So I've been looking through the forums the past few days, admiring all the frame porn and I need some advice. Been boating the past few years mainly as a guide, switching to only private boating this year and just bought a 13' RMR. We decided we are going to build a frame, just a simple 3 bay. BUT I need some advice. The raft will be used 90% of the time as a day tripper, mostly on the upper Colorado, maybe some runs on the blue or eagle. So seating has to be addressed over gear storage. We are thinking having the cooler under the oarsman with a flip up seat. and probably drop bags with a bench up front.

As far as side rails go would it be better to have a single or double side rail? It seems you can put a deck on both, a double rail just looks more stable. Would the extra support for moving around help? The frame has a max of 70" long before you start getting to rocker, probably thinking more like 65". We probably wont buy a dry box this year but I do have 2 big ammo cans and some big dry bags that should be enough for multi days.

Any advice from somebody who has a 13' boat with frame would be awesome. What did you do that worked and didn't work. We are thinking of ordering the fittings from rowframe.com and then sourcing the pipe locally. Where is the best place to find the pipe around denver-silverthorne? Thanks in advance and I tried to look up answers ahead of time but it seems most people who had the double rails were on bigger boats or cats.

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Old 06-01-2017   #2
Denver, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 477
I put together a frame for a 14 footer by ordering the fittings, kickbar, and oar towers/locks from rowframe.com and then sourcing the pipe locally. Location: Alreco, in Brighton. Cool place, but it did only save me a little bit over the pipe from rowframe.com. Many build double rail frames, and I can see the merit, but to keep the costs down I did a single rail and decked it with 1/2 inch baltic birch, and it is no problem sitting, standing, or gear lashing on this deck in terms of stiffness, and I can only assume that it comes in lighter than a double railed version with similar dimensions. Lots of people use composites for obvious reasons, but I do like the wood for its look and strength to weight.
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Old 06-02-2017   #3
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,165
Much like Mark I got parts from Gary at Rowframe.com, bought pipe from Alreco, and went with a single rail construction. I got treated plywood from Home Depot and made my side rails in two pieces because my frame is long enough one piece side boards wouldn't fit in the back of my truck. I coated the plywood in some waterproofer and somewhat surprisingly the side boards (and floor) have help up for several years now. I also had DRE bend some of the pipe so I can remove the front and back bays from my frame so I have a smaller base frame for day trips and can choose which bays to add (it looks a lot like a DRE Dolores frame but with my seat on a seat bar instead of a flip seat on a cooler, also one of the cross rails is attached to the front hoop).
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Old 06-02-2017   #4
Denver, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 477
My frame does not have the nifty rounded corners you see on DRE frames, but I did get cheap little plastic plugs at Grainger that cover the cut edge of the aluminum pipe and generally give it a more finished look.
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Old 06-02-2017   #5
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Missoula, Montana
Paddling Since: 1981
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 70
I recently down-sized from a 14' to a 13' raft, but kept my NRS frame and other gear. It is a 60" (wide) compact outfitter frame, and I cut the length to 70", from 78". I like the flexibility to rig it differently for various trips, and for the last year, it has exclusively been car portable, so some breakdown is necessary for me. I have used plywood side board decks on it, but they are less important to me now. I have appreciated double-rail frames on larger boats (rented), e.g.,on the Grand Canyon as they have longer spans and heavier loads, but don't really see the point on mid-size and smaller rigs. If I was starting from scratch, I would like a bent and welded perimeter frame with a NRS standard width that I could use their crossbars and accessories on, or custom as needed. Unfortunately, that sort of locks you into lo-pros, but you would only need 4 for a 3-bay. I like, and have used speedrail 5E, but they seem less flexible for partially welded frames.

If cost is important, you can buy speedrail fittings on ebay, about half price, and find some used oar stands there, here, or CL. Put the savings toward a custom AAA footbar, I love mine, and it also provides one crossbar.
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