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For example, Cambridge Welding frames are made of 1 inch diameter steel tubing, does anyone follow that same design concept but using aluminum instead of steel? Seems like it would be a ton lighter.

I love the day frame I've built out of NRS parts, but its getting too heavy. Toying with other ideas.
 

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Fittings are heavy. You can roll your own with bent corners (even steel) and come in lighter than NRS frames. Use adjustable fittings only at the couple of crossbars you may adjust for a cooler or drybox.

Raft or Cat? Cat frames by their very nature are heavier.

And NRS atomic aluminum oarlocks save noticeable weight.
 

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In my humble opinion (I'm not a fisherman), a boat rigged for fishing is going to by definition be heavy.

Better to have a great winch/strap/rollers/bunks on your trailer.
 

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I seem to be plugging them a lot lately...but Whitewater Machine Works makes some nice frames out of smaller diameter aluminum tubing. Very light and they hard anodize it for durability too. www.whitewatermachineworks.com. Their stuff is very well built but lightweight and modular and you can break them down. Pretty reasonable price too.

Most of the "Creek/Sport Cataraft" frames use smaller diameter aluminum tubing as well. I have a Welfet Fab Nexus frame that is in the same vane as the one Jeff posted.

Neither of them are designed for fishing...but definitely designed to be strong and lightweight. The WWMW ones are supremely lightweight. Welfelt also makes a frame for a Hyside Mini-Me, Mini-Max, or Paddle Cat (and I'm sure they could be made to work with other boats) that is 14 pounds. It mounts to thwart mounts and then straps to the outside. Pretty neat.
 

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Kayakguy, Nice loooking frame. I like the "extreme" tunnel, perfect for rocky rivers.
 

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Just got a few cat tunnel frames back from the welder. 24.6 lbs without oar towers, so sub 28 lbs with 6" NRS Towers. Made them from 3/4" Schdule 40 (1.05" OD). Added a 1.25" Sleeve at the oar towers to fit the NRS Towers. Towers are foldable, but since this will usually be the lightest and narrowest boat, it will usually be on top.
 

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Why smaller diameter tube? Smaller tube needs thicker wall for the same strength. From my experience larger diameter with thinner wall ends up being lighter for the same strength.
 

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I have a dumb question...why don't the elite have frames made of chrome moly? You can have small diameter tubing with crazy thin walls and way stronger and way lighter!? Yes it would cost a ton for materials but...just wondering after being in racing where nearly every crazy fast car is chrome moly. OR...carbon fiber!?! I mean we have rich boaters right! ? Lol
 

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I have a dumb question...why don't the elite have frames made of chrome moly? You can have small diameter tubing with crazy thin walls and way stronger and way lighter!? Yes it would cost a ton for materials but...just wondering after being in racing where nearly every crazy fast car is chrome moly. OR...carbon fiber!?! I mean we have rich boaters right! ? Lol
Chromoly is still heavier then Aluminum. It is also prone to rusting in wet environments.

I think a properly designed carbon fiber or titanium frame would be doable but expensive. I'm sure that it would provide pretty significant weight reduction if you did.

I'm kind of skeptical of going to those lengths really increasing the performance of a cat frame to be worth it. I think reducing the weight of the Cataraft tubes themselves might be more beneficial. SOTAR found a new lighter weight material that they started making Inflatable Kayaks out of and I think it would be interesting to try a cataraft made out of it. I also think the material that Aire makes their Bakrafts out of would be interesting to try in Cataraft form. Similar idea with some of the packraft materials too.

One of the best ways that GoLight reduce weight in their expedition setups was to go with a lighter weight material and only have each tube be single chamber. I'm sure you could go more extreme with thinner and lighter materials and really get some weight down.

I've rowed my Cat and one of those expedition cats....and I didn't feel like the difference in weight(30lbs for the pair difference) was enough to justify the durability and longevity loss. My frame is about 17lbs heavier then the WWMW ones that come with that setup...so all told its almost 50 pounds. When its in day frame mode... it feels VERY light and agile...so I have no complaints. Its already expensive...I'd guess that a carbon or titanium frame would be at least double the price if not more and both would be harder to manufacture.

Honestly though...I think we could probably get away with thinner walled material in aluminum too. I think its just easier to go with a more standard size. Alot of these frames are pretty damn light already though. Said it already...but I'll take rugged and durable over lightweight most of them time. If you can make it lighter but just as durable I'm game though.
 

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Just got a few cat tunnel frames back from the welder. 24.6 lbs without oar towers, so sub 28 lbs with 6" NRS Towers. Made them from 3/4" Schdule 40 (1.05" OD). Added a 1.25" Sleeve at the oar towers to fit the NRS Towers. Towers are foldable, but since this will usually be the lightest and narrowest boat, it will usually be on top.
That is interesting, but every 3/4" frame I have seen, has been pretty bendy. What made you choose that?
 

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Raft and Cataraft Frame Discussion Group on Facebook. Probably the most knowledgable guy about metals in the whitewater industry is in there. I though the same thing about wanting small tubing and didn’t realize how far off I was until he explained why they do things different and still come out lighter than anyone. Gary is also in there if you need to know anything on a molecular level 😂
 
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