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Discussion Starter #1
I've been a Cambridge Welding Salmon Expedition raft frame guy and recently rowed on a DRE set up. I have a few questions and would love to hear preferences, experiences, etc.:

With the CW frame, does everyone struggle with the captains boxes impeding on the cooler opening and vice versa?

While doing a lot of desert rowing, do DRE users find the check plated decks too hot to touch/store penguin boxes on?

What are the best deck options for CW frames?

Is there any benefit to having a "rest on the tubes" vs "rest on top and in between" the tubes set ups?

Hit me with your likes, dislikes of each.
 

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I don't see how the two are even comparable, Cambridge is custom built to your boat/equipment, DRE is a modular jack of all trades. Kind of an apples/oranges thing


I have rowed a DRE for 20 years now (same frame) and I like the ability to change the frame for different equipment as I replace or have different needs. For instance I upgraded my cooler this year, the size was a little different so I just slid a bar to accommodate. As for decks I ordered just a basic frame and built plywood decks, it's pretty easy to do and with a little maintenance they last a good long while.


The Cambridge stuff looks nice, I have no experience with them so not much to say, custom.
 

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Hey Noah,

Thank you for the response. The adaptability is a great feature of the DRE especially if they're lasting 20 yrs +. That's a great point.

I understand the modular vs fixed - but both are custom built to your boat unless you order a standard DRE model like the Gunni 4 (or whatever) or the CW Salmon Small/Large. Then both are standardized.

I guess I am looking for what are the functional differences like stability benefits w/nested tubes vs bolted, accessorizing benefits vs dialing-in down and minimizing. Weight likes/dislikes. Tube rigidity vs adaptability.

I liked the DRE set up a lot and I have enjoyed my CW set up but both have limitations and I am really just looking to hear peoples likes/dislikes similar to your point about life span vs gear changes!
 

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I have one of each. I have a salmon river (CW) frame for my 156R and a DRE frame for my 14' wave destroyer. I haven't used a DRE frame on the round boat. The salmon river frame has the advantages of breaking down very easily for transport, and is bomb proof. One of the biggest weaknesses is the lack of a crossbar at the front of the rowing bay (back of the cooler bay), which makes captains boxes or other stuff kinda hard to strap in well (unless you buy your captains boxes from Cy, which I haven't). I solved that by adding an NRS crossbar there when I think I need it. The DRE frame's adjustability is nice, and is seems solid. My only real issue with the DRE frame is actually with the captains chairs that I got with it. They "lock in" the size of the frame bays you bridge with them (mine are 20" if memory serves) which makes using the coolers and dry boxes I have impossible in those bays without adding additional crossbars, which I do for multi-days. they are also very tall.
 

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Grifgav,

Thank you for the response. Have you tried assembling any decks on your CW? If so, what's your likes, dislikes about not having the dbl top bar for longitudinal support behind the towers? I made some out of 1/2 poly and they flex a ton.

Also, what inserts did you use to fit the NRS clamps onto the smaller CW tubes? I like your idea of adding that cross bar but the CW tubes are an odd OD - I think 7/8" ... I forgot.

Anyway, thanks again. I'm torn on if I should sell my CW and customize a DRE this winter or just keep tinkering with the CW to get it dialed in.
 

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Yup just an old Gunny frame, bare bones. Have not ever had problems with my bars moving, the set screws work well with no modification.



Not much weight to it but it is plenty rigid and so are the tubes, have run this in 80K+ CFS Cataract. Tube OD is a factor in the strength of the tube, eg. a 2" OD .120 wall tube will be exponentially stronger than a 1" OD .120 wall tube, there are material data charts you can look at if you want to know the specifics. 2" might be overkill, 1.5" might be overkill but the weight difference is nominal.



I selected this frame because I worked for an outfitter who used them. It was a significant upgrade from the old 2x8 wood frames. They were on the water 150+ days a year. I am sure that at some point they wore out, but I never saw one retired in my 7 years and we abused them.



As Grif points out the captains chairs are made for a specific bay size and that limits adjustibility. I tried one for a short time and it just wasn't for me, thats just a personal choice as I prefer to sit on the drybox with a paco pad.


I am fully techtarded so I don't know how to post pictures, but with minimal effort I built wooden decks that run the length of the frame and strap on. Also a wood front hatch cover that pulls double duty as a camp table. I was able to add a bimini on sliders easily.


The whole thing could be broken down very quickly/easily although I admittedly never do.
 

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I've been a Cambridge Welding Salmon Expedition raft frame guy and recently rowed on a DRE set up. I have a few questions and would love to hear preferences, experiences, etc.:

With the CW frame, does everyone struggle with the captains boxes impeding on the cooler opening and vice versa?

While doing a lot of desert rowing, do DRE users find the check plated decks too hot to touch/store penguin boxes on?

What are the best deck options for CW frames?

Is there any benefit to having a "rest on the tubes" vs "rest on top and in between" the tubes set ups?

Hit me with your likes, dislikes of each.



I'm a big fan of the Cambridge Salmon frame. It does have some design quirks. I did have issues with the captains boxes but have found that if I use rollercams and tie the cooler back to to the frame it pulls it away from the boxes and I no longer have this issue. There is no great option for decking on the Cambridge frame but I don't have an issue with that as I like to keep it clean and tight on my rig. I did make some custom plates for my frame to attach a bimini to, using some extra material wrapped around the frame bar and some NRS U bolts. You could conceivably do this with the NRS decks and utilize one of the crossbars up front for support. Diagram attached.



As far as resting on top or on top and in between. The in-between will add some structural rigidity, similar to how a thwart would act. In my option this gives the boat better torsional stiffness and allows for increased punching power and responsiveness.
 

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Grifgav,

Thank you for the response. Have you tried assembling any decks on your CW? If so, what's your likes, dislikes about not having the dbl top bar for longitudinal support behind the towers? I made some out of 1/2 poly and they flex a ton.

Also, what inserts did you use to fit the NRS clamps onto the smaller CW tubes? I like your idea of adding that cross bar but the CW tubes are an odd OD - I think 7/8" ... I forgot.

Anyway, thanks again. I'm torn on if I should sell my CW and customize a DRE this winter or just keep tinkering with the CW to get it dialed in.
I haven't ever tried to build decks onto the sides of the salmon river frame, never really needed to. I do have a small "deck" that holds 3 modified ammo cans. Was made by a local guy who had his own business for awhile (Pulse fabrications) he called them motherboards. Pretty neat system. He works for Maravia now.

I used a piece of 1/2" tubular webbing threaded onto the u-bolt to allow it to clamp onto the galvanized side bars of the CW frame, works great as long as you are careful about tightening the sides up evenly.
including a picture from how I am currently setting it up for a grand canyon trip. In the pic, I hadn't yet installed the bar in front of the cooler, but it does have the motherboard and the trailer frame I built from NRS parts for a second cooler.
 

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https://www.nrs.com/product/14061/nrs-small-molded-oar-sleeve


These are what I used to increase the outer diameter of the Salmon River frame to allow for the NRS U bolt to clamp on. I originally used this to attach a bimini, but now am wondering if I can use them to add some decking. The main area I feel is under utilized on the Salmon frame is on the side of the cooler. I normally put square water jugs or a Yeti Roadie 20 in these spaces, but since they rest on the tubes they tend to lean into the cooler and can make opening the main cooler difficult sometimes.
 

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I’m a big fan of diamond plate decks and having an adjustable frame. Since I barely know what I’m doing, I can adjust my DRE frame to my ever changing needs. Diamond plate gets hot, however that doesn’t seem to stop the Grand Canyon outfitters. If it’s okay in the summer on the grand, I guess it will work for me. I’m stoked I chose the adjustable frame. I feel having diamond decks are safer as well. People don’t slip or trip as often when getting on or off.
 

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i like the weight of the CW frames, they're lighter than the bigger tubed frames with fittings, at least the nrs ones. Not sure what the dre ones weigh in at..
they are, however moderately adjustable. you can take out the footbar section and replace the cross bars with some tubing which gets rid of those diagonal sections that clog up the space between cooler and raft tube. that opens things up for bigger coolers, water jugs, etc.
i,ve put all kind of diff decks on over time. The current one is hdpe, which is great, but heavy. Really thinking about having some alu decks welded on. :) ,
still, i like the big flat canyon style rigs, diamond plate and metal hatches... lots of room to party!
 

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I recently set up one of my large cats to accommodate a cousin who is 6'5". That would have been hard to do with a frame that did not adjust.

I have a 1986 DRE frame. They and similar frames from other manufactures don't wear out. It is a good idea from time to time to make sure the set screws don't freeze up(loosen and re-tighten) and lubricate.
 

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I have either a CW Salmon River frame or a home-built version of one. I like how beefy it is, but am not stoked about a couple things.



I run two larger dry boxes. The frame came with a front deck, but I got another box. I considered a drop bag, but didn't go that route. The bays are 13" wide, so don't accommodate rocket boxes. I have to put the groover in the gear pile if I'm carrying it. That's my main problem.


The only other problem is that it was built for someone much taller than I am. If I row from the cooler, the oars are way too close. If I row from the drybox, I have to sit pretty close to the front edge or just have the oars a little too far away.



One reason I think it was home-built is that it didn't have a foot bar. I called Cy and asked about it; he said they never build a frame without a foot bar. I had Timmy at Recretec install one (Thanks Timmy). That helps with the issue of the rower's bay being too long, but doesn't solve it completely. The other thing is I could still read the printing on the galvanized metal. The rubber was 16 years old when I bought it, but that frame sure wasn't. The seller told me it was an aluminum frame; I knew better and showed him with a magnet. He said that's what the guy he bought it from told him, but he was a contractor so should have known better.


I like/don't like the bars that come down inside the tubes. They definitely help make the boat more rigid. They also waste some space that I could otherwise use.


Timmy helped solve the issue with Captains' Boxes, too. We did two things. The second wasn't necessary because the first works so well. The second was a footman's loop attached on the back side to strap to the frame member that descends into the rowers' bay. The one that really eliminated my issue is he welded a small piece of square steel onto each box so they fit really nicely into the bay. They don't move now, and it's more easy to access the cooler. It's still not ideal, but it's totally doable. The harder part is getting padlocks off in the morning when I feel the need to lock out bears.



If I had to buy a new frame, I would definitely consider another galvanized welded frame like Cambridge. I would probably make the drybox bays bigger to accommodate rocket boxes, and I'd make the rower's bay shorter to accommodate my smaller stature.
 

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I will always have a front deck and drop hatch. Sleeping on my boat is one of my favorite things about overnight trips. Also, if it’s sweltering hot, boat sleeping is usually much cooler than the dirt. Not to detour the thread, but I’m going try out my new megamid soon.
31E9681D-DD8B-4F28-AF07-1071E26FA75F.jpeg

B905885B-7067-49D6-8889-94C2F2DB281B.jpeg
 

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I’m a big fan of diamond plate decks and having an adjustable frame. Since I barely know what I’m doing, I can adjust my DRE frame to my ever changing needs. Diamond plate gets hot, however that doesn’t seem to stop the Grand Canyon outfitters. If it’s okay in the summer on the grand, I guess it will work for me. I’m stoked I chose the adjustable frame. I feel having diamond decks are safer as well. People don’t slip or trip as often when getting on or off.
Not sure of everyone's age, but each year I love my diamond-plate decks more and more. I'm just simply not as agile as I was 30 years ago and walking around on the raft is much easier with the decking.
 

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True...

Not sure of everyone's age, but each year I love my diamond-plate decks more and more. I'm just simply not as agile as I was 30 years ago and walking around on the raft is much easier with the decking.
Plus, you can stand up and look around, so you can remember which river you have been running for the past couple of day's, not that it really matters, after a while, your just glad to be on one.
 

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I just got my DRE frame not too long ago. Really barebones for right now. Two hatches up front and cooler for a seat. I went with rainbow oar towns so I don't have to worry about my towers moving and that bolts are tight. They were easy to work with and built the frame to my boat specs. You can add diamond plate, extra rails, boxes, nesting tables, the works.

Going add two drop bags and wooden covers up front for gear. A wooden dance floor (some call it a cock pick floor or foot well floor) to stand on. The frame breaks down into 7 pieces real easily. Nice and adjustable!

 

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I think DRE frames are ok, nothing to write home about. I haven't looked into Cambridge.

Have you looked into Recretec frames? We currently have one on each of our boats and will likely get another next year...and a custom trailer from him.

The reasons we went with Recretec:
- Completely customized to EXACTLY how we wanted it
- Quick Latch System - this makes a huge difference when rigging, no straps everywhere & quickly and easily remove dry boxes and captain boxes.
- Powder Coated - I know most companies do this, but it is so nice not to have the nasty black marks on your brand new boat.
- The frames are really light - About half the weight of DRE's frames but you are not compromising on strength.
- Awesome customer service

I could go on and on with how happy I am with Recretec. I realize you didn't ask about their frames specifically, but I had to chime in, I personally think they are the best in the business.

https://www.recretec.com/

Attached a picture of our mini with the custom frame
 

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