Oar length for short boat on technical rivers - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 10-25-2017   #1
 
North Hudson, United States
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Oar length for short boat on technical rivers

I'm building my first rowing frame and all the stuff that goes with it.

I'm trying to 1) keep cost down (wrong sport, so moving on... ) 2) not end up with the wrong gear.

I already own a Trib 9.5 that is an awesome paddle raft here in the Northeast, where we have limited big water and lots of small technical creeks (I'm thinking the middle salmon is somewhat like what most of our runs are).

So I'm now deciding on oar towers and oar length.

I've got a 51in wide frame. NRS claims their towers add 3-4in to the width. So 54in minimum between the towers.

With the lack of big water features and lots of rocks, is a 7.5ft oar a better option than the 8ft most people on this forum put on mini rafts?

Second question, should I go with 10in towers and lean them out more if I opt for 8ft oars. Seems like I'd want at least 60in between the towers for 8ft oars.

Thanks for any advice.

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Old 10-26-2017   #2
 
eugene, Oregon
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I have a 14-foot RMR cat w/ breakdown frame. 8-inch towers, and 64 inches oarlock to oarlock. I use 8 foot oars, which seems just right. Used the same setup w/ a 12-foot cat.
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Old 10-26-2017   #3
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Tabernash, Colorado
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1)I'm very Happy with my Nrs frame, and Carlisle oars.
The Carlisles are the best price out there, and often there are used ones at a great price, when people upgrade to nicer ones.

Your best price for a frame would be gary at rowframe.com. His customers on the Buzz always seem to give him great reviews. Give plenty of lead time, very small business with a great frame at a great price, so patience if you got that route.

2)
My 11' Culebra really comfy for me with 8' oars and 8" towers. My frame is 48", towers are rolled out to an angle where the clips are perpendicular to the washers on the pins when I'm rowing. I would be fine with a bit shorter oar for this set up. Keep in mind your frame is a bit wider, so your minimum length oar is a little bit shorter. A frame should sit out to at least midway on the tube.
Oars for small boats always seem to run a little bit longer for the boats' length than do oars for bigger boats.

Nrs towers will move the oar locks out, eventually requiring a longer oar, with more stick, and maybe tower, sticking out where it can hit rocks. I would go with the shortest tower you can that still gets your hands up where they need to be while rowing.
How high your seat is, and what is in front of you that your hands need to clear, is a factor, as well as comfort.
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Old 10-26-2017   #4
 
North Hudson, United States
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Thanks for all the info so far. I've searched this topic on mountain buzz and read as much as I could. It does seem like small boats tend to favor a longer oar in proportion to boat length than long boats. This, I think, is what is confusing me.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattman View Post
1)I'm very Happy with my Nrs frame, and Carlisle oars.
The Carlisles are the best price out there, and often there are used ones at a great price, when people upgrade to nicer ones.
I was all set to go Carlisle, especially as a novice rower, I doubt I'd really know the difference. But right now Sawyer Polecats are cheaper than new Carlisle with stops and sleeves. Between the Sawyer sale and a find on Cataract blades, I should be able to put together something a little nicer for the same price (actually less).

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattman View Post
Your best price for a frame would be gary at rowframe.com. His customers on the Buzz always seem to give him great reviews. Give plenty of lead time, very small business with a great frame at a great price, so patience if you got that route.

I originally planned to work with Gary but it seems like I missed his building season and I honestly didn't know exactly what I wanted. The Tributary is a little shorter than a mini max and that foot makes a big difference in frame function. I was hoping to use it for backpacking style overnighters so I was torn on design. Building it myself (now that I have a hiatus from my camper van project, and have a few weeks of down time) gives me a chance to understand frame design better and experiment in functionality. The van build was honestly the only reason I was having someone else do it. Granted, my DIY actually cost a little more than a rowframe.com design after the cost is tallied. Anyway, in this part of the country, provided you have a decent wetsuit or drysuit, the September-Dec months, and some warm wet winters are prime paddling season. So waiting wasn't a wise option for me. Opportunity cost and all that. I will, however, be in the market to build a 16ft cat (or 14ft raft, but that's another thread) later this winter and I'll definitely be in touch with Gary when I figure out exactly what I want.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattman View Post
2)
My 11' Culebra really comfy for me with 8' oars and 8" towers. My frame is 48", towers are rolled out to an angle where the clips are perpendicular to the washers on the pins when I'm rowing. I would be fine with a bit shorter oar for this set up. Keep in mind your frame is a bit wider, so your minimum length oar is a little bit shorter. A frame should sit out to at least midway on the tube.
Oars for small boats always seem to run a little bit longer for the boats' length than do oars for bigger boats.

Nrs towers will move the oar locks out, eventually requiring a longer oar, with more stick, and maybe tower, sticking out where it can hit rocks. I would go with the shortest tower you can that still gets your hands up where they need to be while rowing.
How high your seat is, and what is in front of you that your hands need to clear, is a factor, as well as comfort.
I have a feeling if I end up with NRS towers I'll need to order two sets and send a set back after I do some test fitting. I'm also looking at DRE and Rowframe.com. Rowframe seems like the best design for a small raft, but it does put the towers way out there, and I'm concerned they will be damaged. AIRE says my tube C-C is 46in. Nrs recommended a 48in frame while Colorado Kayak recommended 54 (this seems wide). I felt like 54 would probably stick out too much, so I opted to split the difference and go 51 knowing the towers would probably already be out slightly past the tubes.

I'm using speed rail fittings and 6061 T6 schedule 40 for the frame. I've decided to ubolt 2x12s to the side rails with counter sunk bolt heads as seat/gear lash points and also as rowers seat which I'll either pad with an homemade Pico Pad or bolt a tractor seat to. This allows my cross decks to slide on the side rails to adjust fore/aft distribution for solo, solo overnight, and tandem rowing. If the 2x12 has too much flex, I can support it via cross rails, I'll just have to cut out the section where the fitting is so it lays flat on the rail.

I'm psyched to get on the river and work on my rowing!

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Old 10-26-2017   #5
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Weld county, Colorado
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That frame your building will be fine. It kinda sounds like my day frame. 1.5 inch schedule 40 6061 T6 aluminium, 1.66 od. The only thing I'd worry about is the tractor seat. The problem being the cross member can rotate in the fitting if you don't drill and pin them (or bolt) all the way thru. I didn't have the problem cause I sit on a cooler. What is your plan for the footbar? This has the same problem too. I found mine for sale for $50 but I made my day frame the same standard size as a nrs frame so I could pick one of these up. I don't know your tooling but remember a standard cut off wheel or ginder will get clogged up quick cutting aluminium you need a pipe cutter or a course blade (if you are going to hack it with a sawsall).

It sounded like you are planning for open oar locks but if your going to use pins and clips you should get the 6 inch towers. If you need more hight replace the 9 inch 5/8 bolts with 11 and cut 2 pieces of 3/4 schedule 80 pvc conduit to space the additional 2 inches.

Good luck. I figure if you can weld up your own "pico pads" (nice name) then you should be handy enough to build a frame. I made a couple of those pico pads.

I will not tell you that the frame builders out there are no good, I'm sure they are great. but there is a certain pride in building it yourself and if you can buy the pipe wholesale it's pretty cheap. I had $30 in fittings. $40 in pipe(1 20 foot stick) 2 used 6 inch towers for 50, 1 $50 foot bar 2 11 inch bolts free, 3/4 pvc free, and a bias play tire cut up for stirrups free. So $170 for a 1 bay day frame. I also took some clear coat I had in the garage and cleared it( free, insurance company bought it).

Post a pic with what you come up with
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Old 10-27-2017   #6
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Tabernash, Colorado
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Thats a great deal on Sawyers, they are better than Carlisles, so go with em. Same with the Cataract blades, they don't catch on your leashes either, glad ya found a hook up!

There is some type of frame geometry reason Gary does that with his towers, guess it is better from that standpoint , but ya, I don't really like them out that far in tight technical water myself.
I've been using NRS gear since I've been boating, and most of it is great, though retail is pricey. There customer service has been second to none in my experience, should be no problem sending back the towers you don't need.

Have fun building your new rig!
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Old 10-27-2017   #7
 
North Hudson, United States
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Yeah, I couldn't pass it up. With free shipping it's $115 per oar shaft. I was going to just get two and then search for a similar deal on cataract SGG and get two of those so I could form my own opinion on what is better. But the deal was so good, I ended up with 3 and calling it good. Plus, I didn't really want to carry 4 oars or deal with mismatches.



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Old 10-27-2017   #8
 
North Hudson, United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoCo View Post
.... The only thing I'd worry about is the tractor seat. The problem being the cross member can rotate in the fitting if you don't drill and pin them (or bolt) all the way thru. I didn't have the problem cause I sit on a cooler. What is your plan for the footbar? This has the same problem too. I don't know your tooling but remember a standard cut off wheel or ginder will get clogged up quick cutting aluminium you need a pipe cutter or a course blade (if you are going to hack it with a sawsall).
Rotation is definitely something I'd considered but sort of forgot about. Thanks for the reminder. Not that I'm particularly worried, but I've seen (via this forum) folks complain about speed rail fittings cracking when drilled for pins or bolts. I'd guess this is a rare, not catastrophic failure (cracks probably start slow) , and likely not critical on day trips. I'm actually thinking epoxy to avoid rotation. Obviously that makes the fitting permanent but I think it will be cost effective long term if the fitting were to crack. I've also heard the pipe holes ovalize (again, reading some forum threads) when bolted or pinned. I'd go this route on the seat and foot bar. Alternatively, I might bolt the seat to a 2x12. Cheaper than an NRS seat mount but less options to angle the seat if my board is attached to the side rails vs cross rail. I did find a $41 tractor seat with NRS 7x7.5 bolt pattern so, even with the NRS bracket, I'm looking at $100 total. Not too bad to keep my butt planted. Downside, I think seats make it harder to high side... So a plank and pad are definitely not off the table.

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Originally Posted by NoCo View Post
It sounded like you are planning for open oar locks... Good luck. I figure if you can weld up your own "pico pads" (nice name) then you should be handy enough to build a frame. I made a couple of those pico pads.
Open locks for sure.

I was thinking those pads couldn't be hard to make, and since I've lost out on a few deals and not willing to part with $250 for $50 in materials. Then I realized a 70-80in Paco wasn't ideal for a 27in between the tubes boat. I did a search and this forum confirmed they could be made. They'll be great for my dog to sleep on at camp too, and I can strap them to the tops of my coolers when car camping. I'm not planning to weld them (first run anyway) planning to start with vynabond glue that I have left over from canoe outfitting. If that stuff can hold my 200lbs into a Royalex canoe after roasting in 100F heat on top of my car, I'm pretty sure it will keep water out of a pad. I may splurge on a high end heat gun if I like the way they come out. I don't intend to roll them, so the glue won't see a lot of stress.


I'll definitely post some photos once things are assembled.

Thanks for the advice.



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Old 10-27-2017   #9
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I run a tractor seat on a cross board that rests on my side rails. It works out pretty good for me, I have a drop bag from Tough River Stuff that holds a row of ammo cans, the cans make a good solid brace for my back foot when doing multi days. One plus is having a solid place for your beer, right next to the seat, it stays out of the way.
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Old 10-27-2017   #10
 
North Hudson, United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattman View Post
I run a tractor seat on a cross board that rests on my side rails. It works out pretty good for me, I have a drop bag from Tough River Stuff that holds a row of ammo cans, the cans make a good solid brace for my back foot when doing multi days. One plus is having a solid place for your beer, right next to the seat, it stays out of the way.
Is your cross board supported by anything? I did a quick deflection check and I don't think deflection should be much an issue (0.03in total) using 2x12 board.

I'd be interested in a photo of your setup.
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