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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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-to-build-a-river-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.
-Jake
 

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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:
https://www.westmarine.com/buy/west...zp-q_g_rvdYhyaSXxmEJtbOe5OUiR2jYaAqWoEALw_wcB

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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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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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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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 2×8s! 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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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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
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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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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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.
 

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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:

https://www.mountainbuzz.com/forums/f44/raft-frame-build-t-clamps-or-lopros-37562.html

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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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for all the replies, I'm glad to see that I made a good investment given that the raft is as old as I am! I'm gonna work on buying and building the frame this winter and then definitely will be putting it on the Kenai and Gulkana next summer. One more question I have is what is the best patch kit for this raft?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I was wondering about the yellow band that wraps around the tubes, is this a seam of some sort or is it strictly decorative? The reason I ask is that there are sections of it that are becoming unglued from the tubes and I don't know if I should take the time to re glue it. Also a question for building the frame concerning the thwarts: Should I just keep the thwarts deflated if I am using the frame and design the frame to hold gear like coolers and dry boxes where the thwarts are? Not sure if they thwarts are strictly for seating or if they assist with flotation or the floor given that it's a bucket boat. Thanks!
 

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It's the 'rub rail' and is designed to protect the boat against rubbing on docks when used as a tender and rock edges. It is mostly decorative, but you should try and keep it in place. If you can, use some shore adhesive to glue it back on where you can. If it is dangling, you can use toulene to remove the old glue, sand, and then apply the shore adhesive to the two faces and stick back together.
BTW: Good advice in previous threads about 'don't fix it isn't broken'. I probably jumped the gun on advising you to add internal sealant. However, this worked wonders on my boat to fix the pinhole leaks and I don't really see any downside. If by some miracle (considering its age) your boat does not have some pinhole leaks, then forget it. If you do find that you are needing to inflate frequently, I wouldn't give the west marine stuff a second thought.
Sounds like your boat does not have the nylon military valves--so no worries there.
You can remove the thwarts once you install the frame. The frame will help cross brace the tubes to keep them parallel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Frame build

This is the start of the frame. I used the galvanized fence posts from Lowes and they actually sell those Tee fittings at Lowe's also and are pretty cheap, like $6. I got a longer stick of pipe that I'm going to have my buddy bend into a kick bar on a conduit bender. I think I'm just going to use a piece of plywood and U-Bolts for a seat mount instead of spending 60 bucks on an NRS one but I do want to spend the money on a high back foam seat, has anyone used plywood and u-bolts to mount an NRS seat? Will it work. My other question is about the thwarts, I'm hesitant to take them out since they are glued in but I want to be able to sling a cooler and a dry box in where they are and I think it'd be find if I just left them deflated? Any thoughts?
Thanks again
-Jake
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Yea, I'm going to use NRS towers with the pin and clip set up. I'm going with the pin and clip set up because it is a bit less expensive and seems like it's a better set up for someone with less experience given that it secures the oars and keeps the oar in the position for maximum power at all times and I have no idea how to feather an oar. I did have a question that I just posted as a separate post though, I'm trying to figure out what height tower I should buy, NRS sells a 6'', 8'', and 10''. I am 6'2, my frame is 66' inches wide and I'll be using 9-10 foot paddles, any suggestions?
 

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The other similar option is to use open locks with oar rights. You may be right that pins is cheaper in total, and lots of people seem to like them.

I use 8" towers seated on a dry box elevated a bit above the frame, maybe 4-5". I'd rule out the 6" I think and decide between the 8" and 10" based on your seat position. Somebody else surely has some measurement suggestions.
 

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Yea, I'm going to use NRS towers with the pin and clip set up. I'm going with the pin and clip set up because it is a bit less expensive and seems like it's a better set up for someone with less experience given that it secures the oars and keeps the oar in the position for maximum power at all times and I have no idea how to feather an oar. I did have a question that I just posted as a separate post though, I'm trying to figure out what height tower I should buy, NRS sells a 6'', 8'', and 10''. I am 6'2, my frame is 66' inches wide and I'll be using 9-10 foot paddles, any suggestions?
NRS sells long bolts with spacers for their pins and clips. It was for this reason the I chose pins and clips for my first setup... I didn't know how high up I wanted my oar locks and I already owned 6" towers, and this allows you to change your oarlock height without buying new towers.

I've gone with pro-loks now so I could sell you the pins and clips (for 3 oars)... if you're interested send me a PM and we can talk about it.
 

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I just bought what looks like the same boat. Haven't even taken it out yet. It has no serial number, and the pouch is gone or was never there. The stern/aft handles are light grey, but otherwise looks like the same boat.
I was lucky to get mine with a Clavey frame set up for fishing. The oar towers are ~8". Claveys come with longer pipes that you can adjust to fit. The bottom of the oarlock sits 7.75" above the top of the frame pipe.
My boat came without thwarts, and they look like they were removed, not cut out. I am now looking for a pair of thwarts so we can use this as a paddle raft when we have more people. How long and wide are your thwarts? Are you sure they glue in?
 
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