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Back in The Day, when poverty rafting was the only kind there was, you'd see sweet wooden frames.

I ain't never learned the fine art of wood frames. But I got a buddy with a 13' AIRE and a sudden need for a rowing frame for a summer salmon float.

Any tips on building a raft rowing frame for cheap? Yes, NRS/speedrail fittings are flexible and fairly inexpensive.

but I'm lookin for dirtbag scrap heap cheap.

Love to see pix, and parts for say, oar towers.

thanks fellow dirtbags!
 

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May I suggest balsa?
With cork bark?

======

I had a poverty wood frame circa 1981.

I'd recommend against.
My frame held up but I still tried to kill myself with that rig.

Wood splinters and that would stab you know what.
 

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2 X 6 lumber; it's gotta be straight.
2 sides, as many cross bars as you need.
Stainless bolts; countersink them. 2 bolts to a join, corners.
Straps and/or chains and/or good old rope to hang stuff from and tie it down.
Oar towers; whatever floats your boat.

Easy to repair on the river, all but bullet proof, about $100 to build a very serviceable frame.

People will laugh, but whatever...........
 

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Gonna build 2 large wooden row frames for my 18' bucket boats. These will be for running mild runs to get other families and friends on the water with us on some overnights this year. I already have the steel framed gear pig and will be the chuck wagon for the group.

Planning on using 2 x 6 treated and using those listed deck mount NRS oar stands. Bolt it all together with stainless round head bolts and counter sinking the nuts and grinding off any excess metal.

Might do a EMT conduit foot bar and other drops as needed. Will provide pictures as things progress. Wouldn't consider a woody option on big water or narrow canyons where a move is make or break ( especially for an 18' aqua bus) but for ez float purposes it should be fine. Should be a hoot to make, might even white trash me a canopy using 1/2" conduit as well.

Considered doing the whole thing with 1-1/2" schedule 80 battleship grey PVC electrical conduit as well. Not sure how much unwanted flex I'd get with 10"6" or 11' oars using normal oar towers.

Beware the econo-boater with a loaded shop...
 

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I would stay away from the pressure treated and instead give it a coat or two of exterior latex paint. The pressure treating will protect from rot but does nothing to keep the wood from splitting, checking or absorbing water. Plus it adds considerable weight. Splinters from pressure treated wood will fester and easily become infected, not what I want on a remote trip.

I would consider using T-nuts and pan head cap screws instead of the countersunk bolts. Easier to install and you don't need to cut them. Check out the modular chain link fencing stuff at Lowes or Home Depot. There are bolt on Tees and Elbows that could be used to fashion a foot rest. (I made a bolt on casting platform for my cataraft)


 

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Probably a good idea to check the crown on the lumber. Seems like a downward crown could cause the frame to taco much more easily.

I also wonder if some bracing could help - maybe 18" on a side triangles of 3/4" marine plywood on the corners screwed into the 2x6 lumber with weatherproof deck screws?

Don't forget the possibility of picking one up from an outfitter - I've found myself eyeing used sale woody frames at outfitters yards. If it gets you on the river, then do it and forget the naysayers.

Good luck with the frame!

-AH
 

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Dozens of wood frames built&used over 4-5 seasons back in the 70's/80's - the point of failure for all was the corners, and that almost always from being dropped on 'em or banged into something while loading/unloading. That said, we'd usually only bust up one or two every season, and easily replace whatever piece split... eventually made up some metal (3/16" steel) plate corners that protected and ended the damage, then alu pipe frames came on the scene.
Back when redwood was available and relatively affordable, that was wood of choice (2x6). Then just good 'ole doug fir, straight as possible, little tight knots were usually fine. Couple coats of Thompson's water seal, then as many coats of (thinned) spar varnish as you had the time to apply. We used plain old zinc-plated carriage bolts, cut donuts to cover the nuts rather than countersink as countersinking robs some of the strength from wood. Stainless doubtless better, but not poverty boating...
Oh, most important: place the bolts across the corner on diagonal, not in line with the corner. Rookie mistake...
Never saw a wood frame smashed on the 'riv, but heard tales of the wall at Skull doing that (right side run, low water) and occasionally somewhere else. Built my first frame on the banks of Grim Reaper state park with a brace and bit and saw, walked into town for the hardware, used an old piece of 4X4 oak for oarlock stand extensions, slapped the masterpiece on top of a UDISCO and took it down Cat in September, 1976. With a doberman and 2 kayaks... Saw a group from Boulder hiking in at Spanish Bottom with their kayaks, looked like something out of a movie, a dozen boats bobbing along atop heads/shoulders - those were when boats were FG, not plastic...
Good memories. The only disadvantage of wood is it's heavy and requires maintenance, otherwise will last you decades of only a few trips per year. Good luck!
 

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Holiday River Expeditions has been using wood frames commercially for decades and they still do. I would like to think they've got the bugs worked out by now. I would try to see what they're doing via pics or find one of their ex/current guides to give you a run down on their wood frames.



 

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Holiday frames are 2x6 with countersunk bolts like described here. The seats use a plywood table strapped to 2x4s that doubles as a backboard if needed.

Sent from my magical wireless thingy via mountainbuzz
 

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The plywood as a seat/backboard is a great thought.

The frame has to still function even if the backboard is in use.
It could disappear with the patient and there you are.

So the backboard cannot be 'structural' to the raft.

It could be a table top without structural concerns.

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Looking over the support pillar for the oarlocks I would still be wary of wood.
Even with old growth Doug Fir.

I read somewhere that the tall ships preferred DF or Western Larch for their masts.

I know nothing but lets get some input.

Strength can be in flexibility.
I'm gonna say DF rather than Oak or Hickory.

(Hickory kicked my azz on a Kitchen remodel last year.)
 

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Listen to Schutzie. Keep it simple. 3 bolts per corner eliminates the need for corner bracing, etc. Go with 2 x 8 lumber and just use the bolt-on flat base oar stands from NRS or Recretec, etc. Will give many years of service. We had wood frames go 10+ years with falling apart like everyone worries about. Bolt on a tractor seat (if you want) and take off!
 

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I would stay away from the pressure treated and instead give it a coat or two of exterior latex paint.

In days of old the pirates used naval stores of tar. Made from Pine Pitch.

More recently its been MARINE SPAR VARNISH for decks on yachts/sailboats.
I've used it in wood trim around sinks/dining room on carpenter recommendation.

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Difference Between Spar Varnish and Regular Varnish? - The Wood Whisperer

May want to lightly mix in some thinner on the first coat.
 

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Looking over the support pillar for the oarlocks I would still be wary of wood.
Even with old growth Doug Fir.
I have a breakdown steel recretec frame with the bolt-on oar towers, I think they would be fine on a wood frame because they never flexed the loose joints of the breakdown frame.
Holiday wraps a piece of metal around a 2-high stack of 2x6 and has a oarlock receiver hole on the outside of that. You can see it in both pics above. The oarlock come out when the second boat gets stacked on top the first. It's bombproof, but the oarlock position on their frames is my biggest gripe when rowing, it's too inboard and low for the size boat and my rowing style. If you're not trying to stack fully loaded gear boats, a taller tower would be easy and nice.

There is a second 2x4 a little inboard of the main frame rail, and the water coolers sit on those. Having a solid attachment point for a water cooler is nice, and something I still haven't replicated well on my own boats.
 
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