Mountain Buzz banner
1 - 20 of 41 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
43 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, Looking for ideas on how to fabricate a raft frame, metal, not PVC which is a joke (frickin' YouTube). Wondering if anyone has links to videos, how-to guides, etc. on the topic to help me wrap my head around what this project entails other than having welding skills (which I don't have, yikes). Thanks in advance.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
This is one of the main resources I've come across in that area.
I'd imagine you've come across this article already but if not it's a good place to start!
 

·
Definite maybe
Joined
·
918 Posts
I know a few boaters with 40 year old frames made of pvc. Aluminum is cooler. Galvi line post like the diy article states is cool too. Im sure someone will chime in with the Galvi is heavy argument. My comeback is how many people boat with 250# of cast iron cookware, what another 10# of frame?

Having built a few frames. Keep it simple. Always line up your sides to match your tee fittings before trying to assemble. And i use a pipe cutter not a Sawzall cause I'm anal. If you don't match your tees you can get into a wrestling match tring to line stuff up. Remember these don't slide as well as you'd think. So know your spacing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
237 Posts
Don't overlook wood.

Wood has a number of properties that make it a serious contender for homemade frames.
-Low cost of materials.
-Ease of construction.
-Boat friendly, no rust stains.
-Modular designs break down for transport.
-Easy modification and repair.
-You can screw straps to the frame for fast and easy gear loading at camp.
-Fasteners can be countersunk which is really nice compared to a bunch of exposed bolts found on metal frames.
-It's quiet, beautiful, doesn't get hot in the sun, and is nice to walk on.

I've made wood frames, metal frames and hybrid designs. Ordinary building lumber actually makes a nice frame. Seal it with penetrating oil. Select vertical grain, quarter sawn style boards and warping is rarely an issue. Order some bolt-on oar towers and you're good to go.

I ran a wooden frame in Grand Canyon twice. It was a non traditional enclosed hatch design purpose built for that trip and I was very happy with it. Good luck and happy building!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
61 Posts
I know a few boaters with 40 year old frames made of pvc. Aluminum is cooler. Galvi line post like the diy article states is cool too. Im sure someone will chime in with the Galvi is heavy argument. My comeback is how many people boat with 250# of cast iron cookware, what another 10# of frame?

Having built a few frames. Keep it simple. Always line up your sides to match your tee fittings before trying to assemble. And i use a pipe cutter not a Sawzall cause I'm anal. If you don't match your tees you can get into a wrestling match tring to line stuff up. Remember these don't slide as well as you'd think. So know your spacing.
This is blowing my mind. I figured it would be possible, but admittedly, I haven't seen it on the river. Tell me more...or provide pictures, maybe?
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
90 Posts
Some of the suggestions on here I would be scared come to ask about building a chicken fence let alone a frame. I am surprised I haven’t seen a recomendation of cardboard yet. Maybe just stick with the old proven NRS and get a used one?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,052 Posts
Some of the suggestions on here I would be scared come to ask about building a chicken fence let alone a frame. I am surprised I haven’t seen a recomendation of cardboard yet. Maybe just stick with the old proven NRS and get a used one?
Run what you brung.

I'm sure cardboard, with the proper treatments, would work as a frame building material. I imagine it would be more fiberglass and epoxy by the end of that project though. Maybe add in some duck tape and bailing wire for strength? Don't knock it till you try it... not everyone needs a $500k Vertical Milling Center to get themselves down the river.
 

·
Definite maybe
Joined
·
918 Posts
In the 80s and 90s there was a company on the royal gorge who did this. 6 inch pvc, slant seat, no need for oar towers with the 6 inch pipe. I for 1 dont like rowing these, but they are tough.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
237 Posts
Some of the suggestions on here I would be scared come to ask about building a chicken fence let alone a frame. I am surprised I haven’t seen a recomendation of cardboard yet. Maybe just stick with the old proven NRS and get a used one?
This may be a shock but river rafting predates NRS. I still remember seeing my first turnkey boat on the river. Some ole boy thought he wanted to be a rafter so he swiped his credit card on a raft package. He couldn't run the oars but he sure looked pretty. Something in the soul of rafting died that day.

There was a time when you had to figure out gear for yourself. And then try it on the water. If it sucked, you had a few days to think about it. It was a time of great innovation, and is the fodder from which NRS sprang. I respect those who keep that spirit alive.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
224 Posts
Buy aluminum from a supplier and corresponding speedrail fittings. Great supplier in denver. Materials for a basic from was around 250 I think? For the same rig that woulda run me > 1000 from NRS. Feel free to pm me with questions. I'm really happy with my results.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
599 Posts
Buy aluminum from a supplier and corresponding speedrail fittings. Great supplier in denver. Materials for a basic from was around 250 I think? For the same rig that woulda run me > 1000 from NRS. Feel free to pm me with questions. I'm really happy with my results.
I did this. Bought aluminum locally and some Ts and welded parts, like towers and footbar, from rowframe gary. I estimate I spent $350 for everything including towers and locks. It wasn't that complicated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
249 Posts
I destroyed multiple Speed rail fittings (hollaeder fittings)when I wrapped a raft. They are made of cast aluminum and are just not very strong and they rely on those set screws which have to be tightened occasionally and are overall a pain. I have built a couple frames now and I believe its really worth it just to buy NRS fittings and then I buy my aluminum tubing from a local supplier. The main difference between the expensive NRS tubing and the cheap tubing locally is that the NRS stuff is anodized so it doesn't turn your tubes and legs black. (Al tubing comes in different grades/alloys so make sure your getting the good stuff). Your going to have to buy some oar towers. I have really just found that when it comes to raft gear you either buy the good stuff once or buy cheap stuff then replace it with the good stuff later costing more in the ling run.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
224 Posts
I destroyed multiple Speed rail fittings (hollaeder fittings)when I wrapped a raft. They are made of cast aluminum and are just not very strong and they rely on those set screws which have to be tightened occasionally and are overall a pain. I have built a couple frames now and I believe its really worth it just to buy NRS fittings and then I buy my aluminum tubing from a local supplier. The main difference between the expensive NRS tubing and the cheap tubing locally is that the NRS stuff is anodized so it doesn't turn your tubes and legs black. (Al tubing comes in different grades/alloys so make sure your getting the good stuff). Your going to have to buy some oar towers. I have really just found that when it comes to raft gear you either buy the good stuff once or buy cheap stuff then replace it with the good stuff later costing more in the ling run.
I haven't wrapped my rig yet but putting some bolts through the fittings/pipes in the corners really secures them well. Eliminates set screws loosening.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
43 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I haven't wrapped my rig yet but putting some bolts through the fittings/pipes in the corners really secures them well. Eliminates set screws loosening.
Thanks! I was thinking those Hollaeder fittings would be better if the pipe was drilled and a bolt was used in place of the set screw. Looking at galvanized steel pipe. Yes, it weighs more, but does that have the problem with discoloration or is that just non-anodized aluminum?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,026 Posts
I've built 4 or 5 frames with 1.25" EMT (1.66" OD) and am still running 3 of them.
The EMT I've found seems to be harder to bend than line posts, and is also the correct size to bend in a conduit bender (but 1.25" takes 2 people to muscle a bend..or use a hydraulic bender). Another trick is that EMT and chain link tubing tend to be alternating sizes so you can use one to sleeve inside the other. With bent corners and sleeves on some of your crossbars, you can save weight and cost from buying cast Hollaender or forged NRS fittings...and while I have made my own, NRS oar towers are really really hard to beat.

Standard precaution: Galvanized is nasty to weld--wear a respirator, weld outdoors, grind off the galv, etc.

Wipe with muriatic acid to etch the galv gray and then regular primer will stick.

My big 4-bay frame...it was black POR-15, later sanded it and painted it a gloss/pearl yellow.
62620

It has removeable drop rails to use on my cat tubes..which I never use. Can also swap the foot bar for the middle bar and put 2 bays ahead of the rower's bay. I've had this for 8 or 9 years now
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
224 Posts
Thanks! I was thinking those Hollaeder fittings would be better if the pipe was drilled and a bolt was used in place of the set screw. Looking at galvanized steel pipe. Yes, it weighs more, but does that have the problem with discoloration or is that just non-anodized aluminum?
That's a fact jack. Yeah I have non andonized aluminum. Yes there are some black marks. There are also scratches on my truck and skis. I don't know, It's under the pipes (where they rub obviously) so I don't mind.

Aluminum was also easier for me to source.
 

·
Definite maybe
Joined
·
918 Posts
I powder coated my Hollender fittings on my 4 bay. I had just had the stove top break so I drank a few too many and started powdercoating stuff in the garage. If I had a big enough oven I would have done framerails too. Was thinking if I could find a free fire cabinet (double walled for insulation) id gut an old oven for parts and build a big enough one for pipe. Right now I'm a bit short of beer for that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
599 Posts
Personally, I couldn't care less about some black marks on my chafe strips. I use safety pins on my Tees where they are predrilled, and I've added decking that gussets the corners and would prevent the pipe from slipping out even if the set screw was loose. This is a pretty tried, true, and simple way to make a frame.

I have no doubt that galvanized pipe works fine, but I'm not sure it's actually that much cheaper than bulk aluminum pipe.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
911 Posts
I haven't wrapped my rig yet but putting some bolts through the fittings/pipes in the corners really secures them well. Eliminates set screws loosening.
Drilling holes to pin speed rail fittings can weaken them. I'd say I personally have about 6 fittings that have started to split at the seam, but only on the ones I drilled and pinned.

If you do pin them, don't tighten the set screw down very much at all on the pinned side as I suspect that (and possibly cold) are what caused mine to split.

I have been replacing all my speed rail with lo pros as they fail. I'm also going to try to use aluminum brazing rods to fix a few that are not in use that have hairline fractures.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
599 Posts
Drilling holes to pin speed rail fittings can weaken them. I'd say I personally have about 6 fittings that have started to split at the seam, but only on the ones I drilled and pinned.

If you do pin them, don't tighten the set screw down very much at all on the pinned side as I suspect that (and possibly cold) are what caused mine to split.

I have been replacing all my speed rail with lo pros as they fail. I'm also going to try to use aluminum brazing rods to fix a few that are not in use that have hairline fractures.
mine were cast with paired holes for a safety pin and required no drilling
 
1 - 20 of 41 Posts
Top