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Thread: Jacks plastic welded boats

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    Default Jacks plastic welded boats

    Hello all,
    Just curious to see if anyone has had any experience or knows anything about this company and their rafts. Looking at the 15.5 Dragonfly. Thanks.

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    Their Paco Pads are considered the best in the rafting business. Well, maybe they are, maybe they aren't. I have a 3" Sotar pad that's pretty good too. But you're probably not interested in heavy duty sleeping gear.

    Jacks Plastic (http://www.jpwinc.com/) has been around a while. They are not new to the boating scene, but you don't see many of them in Alaska. They are located in the southwest, and they make boats that work well there. Some for high volume wild water, and some for shallow creeks & nearly dry riverbeds. Years ago they had some problems with their seams popping, and just looking like they were poorly made. It seems they have gotten progressively better in the last decade though.

    I paddle with a local guy that had one of their cats on a narrow one man frame. It's a smaller cat, but it is a good boat. However after flipping it sideways a few times he made a wider frame for a better fit on the local rivers that he runs.

    The Dragonfly has been made in several sizes in the past, but is listed only as a 13.5' x 5.5' boat on their website catalog. I know that Jacks will do custom work though, so you could probably get it in just about any configuration you want. The inflatable floor is raised 2.5", and in my way of thinking that is either too little or too much. Raising it 6-8" would get it out of the water and make it act a bit like a cataraft (Alaska Series Kenai Drifter and some others do this), or get it all the way down like a conventional raft to add to the carrying capacity, and improve shallow water performance. Raising it would almost surely require much larger tubes, and the Dragonfly they show only has 19" diameter sides, and they taper at the ends. It's built a lot like an Aire Super Puma but with a raised floor.

    At only 5.5' it is another narrow raft design, which has its good and bad points. It fits through tight places better, but is also less stable if broached sideways on a rock.

    What bugs me about the Dragonfly is the way they do their inflatable floor. It's a separate mattress that sits on top of the real floor. The only thing holding it in are the thwarts that sit above it, and the curve of the side tubes squeezing it down. If you got it stuck in a real bad spot, say wrapped on a rock or stuck under a tree, there is nothing that will hold that floor from popping out. Also, there are not many bailing holes in that outer floor, so it's not going to bail very fast should you need it. And at only 4" thick you will have a wet floor all too often, even if it is raised 2.5 at the edges. If you load it up, in the middle you will probably have a puddle.

    It looks like a fun casual boat, but not designed for heavy loads or really big water. I think some of Jacks Plastic's other boats would be more versatile for typical Alaska boaters. Still, it might be perfect for what you want.

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    Jim thanks for the information. I was looking at the Levitator or something similar. Right now I cant find a Levitator but what I am looking to do is nothing more than class II water and need to carry two guys with two moose. I am a sheep hunter so gear weight will be less than 50lbs for a 10 day hunt. I spoke with Jason at test the waters here in Fairbanks but didnt know anything about the company. Once again I appreciate your help.

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    Default JPW Boats

    F16,

    In the past there have been some questions about the quality of JPW boats and I know they have had some leakers. Several years back, a friend of mine who used to have a shop had trouble with their Pack Cat series. They would go soft overnight just sitting on the showroom floor. If I remember correctly this was because air was leaking directly through the uncoated PVC material itself. It is now known that PVC by itself will not retain air very well- it must be coated, usually with urethane. Maravia does this by spray coating their boats with liquid urethane, others do the same thing by simply calendaring a urethane scrim directly to the PVC. AIRE does it by lining the inside of the boat with a urethane air bladder.

    I have heard that the initial quality issues with JPW boats have been corrected, but I have no verification of this. Maybe there are some users out there who could chime in?

    As to the question of getting two moose and two guys in one boat, that's going to be a challenge. I usually recommend two 14.5' bailers for those kinds of loads. This has the advantage of allowing you to split up on the river if need be, makes it much easier to load the boat into a small aircraft (such as a Super Cub), and gives you a LOT more flotation.

    As you know, the Levitator boasts a capacity of 3,000#. But because of the flat bow and stern, you will probably receive some splash on Class II water. Still, it might fill the bill for your needs. They may be sold out right now, but come spring you will probably be able to wrangle your way into one.

    Hope it helps!

    -Mike
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    Mike,
    Thanks for the information. Right now I am just in my "looking" phase for buying my first raft. I am trying to stay away from getting two rafts at this time in order to save some cash. I appreciate your input.

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    Two guys & two moose is a lot of weight for one boat. Another option to the Levitator would be conventional self bailing a 16' boat. But I've said before that I prefer smaller boats. The bigger they get the more like a barge they become. Still, it's tough getting that weight in a smaller boat and still have it handle well. Maybe settling for one moose would be a better option.

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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Strutz View Post

    I paddle with a local guy that had one of their cats on a narrow one man frame. It's a smaller cat, but it is a good boat. However after flipping it sideways a few times he made a wider frame for a better fit on the local rivers that he runs.
    That'd be mine

    IMO, the weld process really is nice and my seams show no sign of separating at all. Much wider contact point than glued seams. The boat Jim refers too above is the "Cutthroat 1" model, bought new in 2000... Never really intended to be a serious whitewater boat (single chamber tubes), but I've made it that, and I think it speaks to its quality after the abuse I've put it thru.

    I put 2 holes in it, but that was trying to portage the first rapid of the 3rd canyon of 6-mile, dragged over some sharp rocks.

    Jack is also a pretty cool guy. For the most part you can order all types of custom work on the boats you want, extra girth, extra width, wear patches, etc. Could be a selling point for some. And if you have the time to ship it or stop by, they will do welded repairs to your boat if it ever does tear if you dont want to patch them w/glue

    /cheers!

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    Lightbulb Jack's Plastic Welding Dragonfly

    Several years ago, I had the opportunity to try many of JPW boat designs from his PackCats to his 19+ footers.

    I'll come right out and say that Jack is a long-time, true innovator in inflatable watercraft and river gear. His website (tho' a mess last I looked) is a wealth of good info.

    Jack has two big problems. #1 an arena of big-time competitors some of which are far better products at better prices with better warranties. #2 his boats are kinda ugly older school where others are more attractive.

    The Dragonfly (concept) was one of the first (Hybrid rafts). Is it a good boat? It's OK, but Not really if you compare it to Aire Puma series, like minded shapes from Sotar, Maravia, lesser brand knock-offs, and so on.

    I give Jack's Plastics very high marks nodding Jack himself and his dozens of innovations. I do not give the products the equal distinction... tho' they have proven to work just fine here in Alaska and will go most anywhere, I bestow them the ugly-duckling awards.

    Brian Richardson

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