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Thread: Raft Frames

  1. #1

    Default Raft Frames

    Whats everybody using? I am not in the mood to make a frame even though I have the capabilites. Anyone know of where I can get a stern frame with cooler and drybox setup? I was looking at a three bay mid raft, cooler and drybox setup but would like a rear with the same capabilites. Any advice or suggestions.

  2. #2
    Member Birdstrike's Avatar
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    I'd try Alaska Raft & Kayak if you're in Anchorage. They are on Tudor just east of Arctic. 907-561- RAFT

    http://www.alaskaraftandkayak.com/

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    I'm sure somebody out there has a used one they want to sell. Finding them is always the trick. I'd post a WTB ad here and on Craig's List. Who knows what might come up.

    Short of that, buying anodized pipe and Hollaender Speed Rail fittings from AK Steel is the easy way to put one together. No bending or welding, just cut the pipe & screw or pin it together. AK Raft & Kayak has NRS fittings, and they require only a bit more work to construct. I think NRS fittings are a little easier to take down & reassemble though. Jim King at AK Series boats has some HD Speed Rail type fittings he uses. They look tougher than NRS to me. I think he still sells them. Either way, they all cost about the same, and are all easily reconfigurable.

    What size boat BTW? length & width can make a big difference. I had a semi-short drop down cooler frame for a 14 SB, that would not fit inside a 14' AK Series Kenai Drifter for instance. Sold it for $200.

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    Default NRS

    I like NRS frames. They can easily be configured in different ways adding to their usefulness. Expensive initially, but well built and very versatile.

    Woody

  5. #5

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    What frames are better and why? NRS frames or ARK frames for AIRE 16'-18' catarafts. I am in the market now, for a frame for an Aire Leopard.

  6. #6
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default What Frames ar Better and Why

    Great Question!!!!! If you think about it from and Industry Standard point of View the answer to that question would be NRS Frames IMO. Seems that every other frame on the market is built similar in nature using like pipe with different fittings which of course begs the question why.

    That being said the Hollendar fittings that some people are using as well as copying do work some times with 1.5" 6061T Anodize however dending on what you might find or who's making them you will have to go up in diameter i.e. 1.9" pipe and or smaller 1.25" inche pipe. The Above mentioned Hollendar fittings are designed for railing and were not orginally ment for raft frames however they do work.

    Bottom Line: NRS is in the Inflatable business. There products are designed with that in mind and have been and more than likely will continue to set the industry standard. You can make a thier frame by making a simple cut, insert the fitting, Drill the piece and bolt 1.5" stainless Steel with washer and lock nut or visit the AR&K in Anchorage or BMR in Fairbanks.

    Last Note - The Market drives innovation if there is something new and improved for ease of use and of same expense that has been through the trials then by all means entertain it.

    The only words of wisdom would be if your on the rail "No Pun" then stick with the current industry standard and you can't go wrong. Jim suggestion of finding a used frame also has merrit.

    Best of Luck! Hope I helped answer some of your questions.

    Respectfully

    Richard Mousseau
    www.bluemooserafting.com

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    Check out Alaska Series as well, I compared their frames to others and their frames appear to be pretty tough.
    http://www.alaskaseries.com/Frames.htm

  8. #8
    Member Phish Finder's Avatar
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    I stopped by 6th avenue outfitters after getting a switcheroo at AR&K. Their fishing frames look awesome for the price and they look tough enough. I don't think they'd work for a commercial op, but for 10-15 times per season, they look tough enough.

    I really like their 3 seat setup for fishing.
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    I prefer the NRS fittings as well, since you can remove the U-bolt and take a cross member off or on without taking all the other cross bars off to slide the fitting off/on. With the Hollaender Speed Rail fittings, there is more work involved to reconfigure. But, I think the Speed Rail fittings are a little easier to make a new frame with.

    If you spend a couple hours hanging around the Sixmile put-in looking at what other boaters use for rough use, you find that some/most/all(?) of the commercial rafts use a heavy duty Speed Rail style fitting on anodized pipe that is larger than the 1.25" stuff that NRS uses. I'm not really sure why, but I suspect the diameter of the pipe has something to do with it. I've bent more than my share of the NRS pipe, and also snapped several of their fittings. Once I actually shattered a piece of that pipe, and the ragged end poked right through my raft tube before the river let go. Merry-Go-Round is a bad place to get a flat.

    I think the AK Series frames that Jim King sells uses 1.5" anodized (1.9" OD) with heavy duty fittings to match. I have no doubt they are tougher than NRS frames.

  10. #10

    Default 6 mile River Tested

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Strutz View Post
    I think the AK Series frames that Jim King sells uses 1.5" anodized (1.9" OD) with heavy duty fittings to match. I have no doubt they are tougher than NRS frames.
    I came out with my 3rd generation of raft frame knuckles about 5 years ago.

    Before selling my knuckles to the general public, I gave a dozen knuckles to Jay Doil to test.
    Jay is the owner of Chugach Outdoor Center. Chugach Outdoor Center is the Commissural rafting outfitter that runs trips down 6 Mile River in class IV and class V white water. Jay and his guides make 2 trips down 6 Mile River a day 7 days a week all summer.

    In a summer Jay will put more use on a piece of rafting equipment then most people will do in a lifetime. If Jay and his guides can't break a piece of equipment it will hold up for anyone! Jay tests many of the Alaska Series products before I sell them to the general public.

    Jay has switched from the standard 6061-T6 1.9" OD Schedule 40 pipe to the 6061-T6 1.9" OD Schedule 80 pipe. (Twice the wall thickness) because they were bending the NRS frame pipe.

    The Alaska Series F1 Knuckle fits over the outside of the 1.9" OD pipe and works very well with either schedule 40 or schedule 80 pipe. The Alaska Series rafting frames use the same 6061-T6 1.9”OD Anodized aluminum pipe as the NRS frames so all the NRS accessories fit the Alaska Series frames.

    In the past 5 Years Jay has NOT broken 1 of my Knuckles!

    The Alaska Series F1 knuckle is a full pound lighter per knuckle than the NRS low pro knuckle.

    Most Cat frames use between 24 to 40 knuckles. When you add them up you end up with a frame that's 24 to 40 pounds lighter!

    The other advantage in the Alaska Series knuckle is I use quick release clevis pins so the break down and set up is much simpler and once you have your frame configured you don't have to re-measure all the knuckle locations every time you put together your frame.

    I'll be displaying the Alaska Series boats at the Diamond Costco through Sunday June 15th. Come stop by and take a look.

    Good Boating

    Jim King

    Alaska Series Inflatable Boats,
    The Toughest Bottoms in the Business,
    River Rafts, Catarafts, Inflatable Kayaks,
    Inflatable Canoes, Inflatable Sport Boats,
    Inflatable Jet Boats, Tenders and Dinghies.
    WWW.alaskaseries.com
    (907)248-2900

  11. #11
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default Jim I am not one to start a mess

    In fact in the past I have used one of your boats back when Gary King's was still a store however the information concerning the NRS configurations i.e. amount of fittings required coupled with the pipe size is not correct.

    For Starters the Alaska Take Down Frame fro a Cataraft has 20 fittings. That is not to say you can not add to the frame but the Min Requirements = 20. The anodize pipe specs out to the following: 1.25 ID, 1.66 OD with a .140 wall thickness after market pipe purchased at places like Alaska Steel. That being said 1.9 OD will have a wieght difference to the plus.

    That being said when you equate the specs provided for your pipe and your frame the weight differnce is more than likely tilted in the other direction concerning weight for your frame verses the NRS version however without putting them both on a scale the statements made are a mute point.

    Concerning the relactions and measuring of the frame I miss the point. I stay away from Clevis pins becuase of commercial use and the wearing of hole over the years creates slop i.e. movement. Bolts have been a blessing when you run your boat 90 days per year over a 5 year period. We have all of our frames marked for location concerning bar placement and only remove the hardware i.e. u-bolt when we have to break a frame apart. That is not to say your system is not better or worse just the statement about ease of use is not 100 percent arrurate.

    Would prove interesting if a couple of people were to put toghter the identical frame length and width with the different pipes and fittings to see the actuals verse the statements might make for a good conversation over a cold beer.

    I do not post this to aurgue honest just looking for all the facts verses broad generalized statements concerning ratios and raft frames and ease of set ups. Knowledge and competion are wonderful things and as alwasy thanks for sharing with the forum.


    Hope you have a bang up season.

    Respectfully

    Blue Moose

  12. #12
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    Boys, I don't have a dog in this fight, feel kinda of silly jumping in here between a couple of pros.

    Here goes anyway. The QD fittings in 6061 T6 aircraft aluminium I have a lot of experience with courtesy of Uncle Sam on helicopters. The fact that the QD's have a rather bad habit of making the holes oblong as a result of vibration, I'm vary well aware of. Once the hole gets oblong the term quick detachable is a term of art. They become a hard to get aligned, for insertion of the QD pins.

    Stress at the hole in aluminium is something to be avoided at all costs, stress cracks are observed when we witness this problem. The only way I have been taught to stop these stress cracks is by stop drilling at the end of each crack. The trouble is, sometimes it's hard to know these cracks are occurring. Metal is usually at the fracture point when this is going on.

    Please forgive me. I just wanted to relate my experiences.

    I feel the ideal tube material would be 5450 H-32 seeing as how this is a marine grade aluminium used for boats the world over. We seem drawn to the idea that because and aluminum such as 6061 is perfect for aircraft, it is perfect for marine applications. Nothing could be further from the truth.
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tryants." (Thomas Jefferson

  13. #13
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Default Great Post

    Big Al great insight and thanks for the clarification concerning the material and knowledge brought forth.

    Not a fight at all.

    Jim provides a product at a reasonable price and has done so for a very long time.

    Thanks again for the great info.

    :-)

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    My experience has been primarily with NRS and their Low Pro fittings, and I know that they are not free from wear. They use bolts that tighten on the pipe, but they don't tighten on the fitting inside the pipe, so they rock back & forth all the time. I have several of these fittings that have fairly severe wear of the hole through the fitting, and have become very sloppy from use. It seems to me that either system could use clevis pins or bolts to the same advantage/disadvantage as far as wear is concerned.

  15. #15
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Question and comment

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Strutz View Post
    My experience has been primarily with NRS and their Low Pro fittings, and I know that they are not free from wear. They use bolts that tighten on the pipe, but they don't tighten on the fitting inside the pipe, so they rock back & forth all the time. I have several of these fittings that have fairly severe wear of the hole through the fitting, and have become very sloppy from use. It seems to me that either system could use clevis pins or bolts to the same advantage/disadvantage as far as wear is concerned.
    Hello Mr. Strutz,

    Well, I would be the first to defer to your experience, which is certainly more than respectable. But I have never had any of my LoPro fittings wow out at the bolt hole before. The only time I've ever seen that is when clevis pins are used instead of stainless bolts / nylock nuts, or any other time when the bolts are removed during disassembly instead of the U-bolts.

    In your case it could be that they are getting loose because you are removing them frequently during disassembly, or perhaps because you are running some really gnarly whitewater on a regular basis. I suspect both!

    The fact that I've had no trouble with wearing the bolt holes out is proof that I do neither! I'm a slow, Class I type of guy... really!

    The other guy who chimed in on the clevis pins wearing the holes in the pipe out prematurely is spot-on. Of course this happens because the pins are made of STEEL, and the pipe is ALUMINUM! Pins, while making assembly easier, are not my favorite for hunting. The rattle scares game, as the metallic clank ricochets across the surface of flat water and around the bend.

    I have looked at Jim's frames and he said that they haven't had problems with this issue though. The proof would be with his guys he said are giving his frames the acid test! If anyone has access to them, check it out and let us know if they rattle. I would be very interested in knowing; there's always room for an easier way to do things. I'm tired of taking two hours to put my cat frame together...

    I do like the anodized pipe though. I'm weary of black hands after handling my frame a while. It gets black on my tubes too. But other than the cosmetic issues, is there a real practical difference? I mean, besides the cost? Are black hands really that bad? Now that I have an office job, I don't mind the look of "man" hands now and then, instead of the soft pink ones I have now...

    The Leopard frame I have right now uses 26 LoPro fittings, so I am at the low end of Jim King's estimate. I just bought a Super Leopard and it has 14, I think. I have not seen one with 40 before; that's a LOT of metal! He's probably talking about some of the rigs that are set up for larger outboards. But I would NEVER, EVER, E-V-E-R recommend Hollandaer-style sleeve fittings / clevis pins if I was running power of any kind, because of the wear issue mentioned earlier. You've just got too much stress there, and something's gonna break. Lessee... jagged metal + inflatable tube + 25 miles out of Seward = DEEP KIM CHEE...

    As to the banter about the weight differences between Jim's frames and the ARK frames, some good points have been made... thicker wall thickness vs heavier fittings and whatnot. The real test is to put two similar frames on the scale and report the real numbers back! Anybody game, or has it been done already? I would do it, but I've given you all enough freebies already! Now it's someone else's turn! Post your numbers here so we can all take potshots at you!

    One more log on the fire, to answer a question that was asked a while ago in this thread, and is almost forgotten. The ARK frames are not the same as the NRS frames! ARK does not, as a rule, use the yoke you see on many NRS cat frames, for purposes of weight reduction. They also ferrule their longer bars so they break down for flyout trips. Finally, they produce transoms for all sizes of outboards, along with some entirely different seating options you won't find anywhere else. Overall, their frames are lighter and more practical for remote Alaska trips.

    Plus they have a cool new website... and a cool new logo... have you see it lately?

    Hope it helps!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

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    Actually, I have never had the trough bolts removed on these loose fittings. But it has been a dozen yeas of rather bad treatment. And only some of them show signs of wear. Most are still fine.

    I can't imagine a case where corrosion would be a problem on a frame for a river raft, so I have always assumed the anodizing was for the cosmetic effect -- black hands & tubes. I recently priced 1.25" aluminum pipe at AK Steel, and I think the anodized was $13 more for a 20' stick. Personally, I think it's worth it.

    On a similar note, why does Carlisle put plastic on the outside of their oar shafts? Surely it's not structural, and anodizing would be less costly and lighter too. The plastic is probably a little quieter, but how much value is in that? Any other ideas?

    I just checked out AK Raft & Kayaks new site. Very nice, indeed. But I had a problem figuring out prices for things like oar shafts & straps, since they are priced differently for varying lengths. I have always like their oar frames better than the NRS designs. Alaskans seldom use dry boxes & drop bags, so what works on the big western rivers isn't as functional in AK.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Strutz View Post

    On a similar note, why does Carlisle put plastic on the outside of their oar shafts? Surely it's not structural, and anodizing would be less costly and lighter too. The plastic is probably a little quieter, but how much value is in that? Any other ideas?

    Shot in the dark here? To prevent burr's on the pipe which could be sharp and raft unfriendly? I've not seen a Carlisle without the plastic but assumed it was a softer type alum than the frames to give it more flex?

    Interesting discussion guys..

  18. #18
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Carlisle oar shafts

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Strutz View Post
    ...why does Carlisle put plastic on the outside of their oar shafts? Surely it's not structural, and anodizing would be less costly and lighter too. The plastic is probably a little quieter, but how much value is in that? Any other ideas?
    I never thought about this before; maybe it's because the plastic allows them to offer oar shafts in different colors? Also the plastic does protect them from small dings that might weaken the aluminum shaft perhaps.

    Just a shot in the dark...

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

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