Custom ultra light float tube

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Rory McMahon, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. SHigSpeed Active Member

    Posts: 163
    Rocklin, CA
    Ratings: +46 / 0
    "Lord Vader, your float tube is ready..."

    <cue Imperial March>

    [IMG]

    heh...

    I need to make another grey one so I can have two others flanking me at all times! :)

    The seat has yet to be attached and I still have to trim the seams and add the attachment points etc. but the whole shebang as seen here is just over 30 ounces - still under the two pound mark - tape, excess fabric, and all.

    _SHig
  2. rainbow My name is Mark Oberg

    Posts: 1,233
    Renton wa
    Ratings: +78 / 0
    What a awsum project, there may be a market for this.
  3. John Wallace Active Member

    Posts: 560
    Bellevue,Wa.
    Ratings: +63 / 1
    So when does production start, and what's the going price?
  4. SHigSpeed Active Member

    Posts: 163
    Rocklin, CA
    Ratings: +46 / 0
    This is prototype 2 with a few seam design changes and manufacturing process updates. It's not "dialed" yet - two steps forwards, one step back sort of thing... But I think it's very close.

    As for production I still haven't decided if that's something I'll be pursuing or not. PM me offline if you might seriously consider purchasing one.

    _SHig
  5. deansie Member

    Posts: 116
    seattle
    Ratings: +19 / 0
    PM sent...
  6. SHigSpeed Active Member

    Posts: 163
    Rocklin, CA
    Ratings: +46 / 0
    Here's the newest in the ongoing saga of the Packin'tube...

    So you recall the Lord Vader tube - pretty black fabric, very lightweight, and I had changed the seam profiles of the back of the seat and the inner diameter of the "U" section to be faceted to ostensibly facilitate the connection between the two parts.

    Well, you win some, you lose some. I had a feeling that the apexes between the straight line segments on the "U" would be stressed, but I didn't go with my gut so basically at high pressure, the urethane coating delaminated under the localized stress and the fabric became porous. Instead of sealing up the fabric with glue on the outside, I wanted to "keep it clean" so I simply, and again against my better judgemet, moved the seam inward to get some "new coating" at the apexes. At any rate, this sealed the bladder, but the stresses were still there and when I put some lung into it, I got the dreaded POPssssssssss...

    I guess I lost this one.

    Anyway, I wasn't really completely satisfied with the geometry of the "U" and I was making compromises because of this so I took this opportunity to tweak the pattern and go for Prototype #3.

    Voila! (I'm sad that I don't have any more of the Vader black fabric, but this blue is still pretty sexy...):

    [IMG]

    [IMG]

    I feel MUCH better with the new geometry and I believe that it'll work out well. I also went back to the simple radii and think I have a good connection design.

    Here's the package as-is with a ton of fabric left to trim off:

    [IMG]

    I'm bummed that it's crept up over the magic two pound number, but this fabric is a bit heavier than the black, and I think there should be a couple of ounces of scrap that I can shed to bring it back down.

    BTW, here's what the thing packs down to, and with some compression, it can go smaller, though I think it's sufficiently small as is, no?

    [IMG]

    [IMG]

    At any rate, I'll keep plugging with this new prototype. Things are very promising, but of course my engineer mind won't let me leave things be and I'm working on a new list of things to tweak...

    It never ends!

    _SHig
  7. Salmo_g Active Member

    Posts: 7,606
    Your City ,State
    Ratings: +1,724 / 0
    Thanks for the progress report! I hope we'll one day see those marketed to the high lake hiking/backpacking fishing community.

    Sg
  8. Chad Lewis NEVER wonder what to do with your free time

    Posts: 885
    Mount Vernon, WA
    Ratings: +153 / 0
  9. Blue Active Member

    Posts: 1,160
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Ratings: +111 / 0
    I was thinking the same thing;)
  10. Panther Member

    Posts: 34
    Dixon, CA
    Ratings: +4 / 0
    I am one of those that likes to hike to alpine lakes. If you ever decide to produce these, I might be a customer.
  11. SHigSpeed Active Member

    Posts: 163
    Rocklin, CA
    Ratings: +46 / 0
    Big milestone today!!

    I finally permanently attached the seat to the "U" section. One of the biggest difficulties of doing this is that the length of the arc around the inside of the "U" is much shorter than the length of the arc around the back of the seat (when deflated). When inflated the two arcs should be the same as the back of the seat puckers up and pulls in.

    What I originally envisioned with the Vader Prototype was to have 5 segments to break up the arcs into the same percentage of the total curve and then weld them on center. The problem that I discovered in reality was that with only 5 segments I couldn't geometrically "pucker" the back of the seat without overlapping with the adjacent segment. Sheesh, this is hard to explain...

    At any rate, with the newest Gen 3 (Hmm... Navy blue, Higashi Navy, Higashi Maru?) I broke up the two arcs into 15 (!!) segments which allowed a nice even pucker.

    Check it!

    [IMG]

    Here is the assembly with the seat fully deflated. You can see even if the seat gets harpooned by a Lake Davis pike, you can still sit low and wet in the sling and kick home.

    [IMG]

    And here is the thing fully inflated with a temporary spread limiter installed. You're looking at the bottom of the tube here... The real deal will of course be cleaner! :)

    [IMG]

    Flip side (the side you sit on!):

    [IMG]

    Prototype fleet! (OG Proto1 is rolled up awaiting orders...) You can see from this photo that I've repaired Vader. Sure you saw his Tie Fighter go spinning out of control into deep space, but you couldn't REALLY have thought that you wouldn't see him again in the sequel? The repair allowed me to experiment with seam geometries, and though these tweaks most likely won't end up in the production model, data is data.

    [IMG]

    Next step on Higashi-maru will be to finish trimming the seams, install the spread limiter strap, the valve plug leashes, and glue on the attachment points.

    Until I actually "take the plunge" I won't know if there are any further design details that I'll want to make on the next one, but so far from the looks of it I think I'm pretty damn near done with the design of the air holding system.

    Ah progress!!

    _SHig
  12. rainbow My name is Mark Oberg

    Posts: 1,233
    Renton wa
    Ratings: +78 / 0
    This is awsum, what will the final cost be to your best new friend's here.
  13. SHigSpeed Active Member

    Posts: 163
    Rocklin, CA
    Ratings: +46 / 0
    Mark, buddy! ;)

    I haven't decided whether or not I'll be making any "friend" units or not.

    I'd be quite put out if I climbed to my bucket list 10,000' lake to find a fleet of these floating around in it! :)

    Seriously though, if you were to really want one, shoot me a PM so I can gauge the level of interest.

    _SHig
  14. SHigSpeed Active Member

    Posts: 163
    Rocklin, CA
    Ratings: +46 / 0
    I figured I'd make a "quick" video to show you all how quickly this thing can be set up and ready to go using my 2 ounce "pump"!

    Enjoy!



    _SHig
    Pred, jwg and Blue like this.
  15. Mark Walker Active Member

    Posts: 2,775
    So. Cal.
    Ratings: +229 / 1
    Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
  16. Thom Collins Active Member

    Posts: 204
    Kirkland, WA
    Ratings: +65 / 0
    Very well done sir! That would look lovely in my underseat compartment next to my "just in case" rod, waders and gear bag when not all snug in my pack made upon the trail.
  17. SHigSpeed Active Member

    Posts: 163
    Rocklin, CA
    Ratings: +46 / 0
    Okay, I think it's ready for the pool or pond!

    I trimmed the extra fabric and I'm flabbergasted by how much weight and bulk I was able to lose!

    [IMG]

    WELL under the magic 2 pound barrier! The lunker high mountain trout will weigh more than the boat! :)

    And check out the tidy package!!

    [IMG]

    [IMG]

    This'll hardly take up any space in a pack. Stoked...

    Details...

    Valve leashes:

    [IMG]

    [IMG]

    Spread limiter (and what you might want to stake the boat down with - it'll fly away at the lightest of breezes!):

    [IMG]

    [IMG]

    And the cockpit!:

    [IMG]

    [IMG]

    One thing I noticed that just in the few minutes I was outside taking these photos the boat got very "ping tight"! Rang like a drum. Must be careful to monitor the pressure... Wish there was an easy and light blowoff valve, but I did the calcs and it should be able to take any sun heating pressure increase easily. Still, you can understand my trepidation... ;)

    _SHig
    Blue likes this.
  18. JohnB Member

    Posts: 62
    Ratings: +13 / 0
    That is awesome. I'm shocked how light and non bulky it is. I only glanced through the last couple pages but what is your strategy for waders and fins? Do you skip waders and just wear booties?
  19. SHigSpeed Active Member

    Posts: 163
    Rocklin, CA
    Ratings: +46 / 0
    I'm making some waders from the same material. Should weigh about 8 ounces. I'll wear neoprene booties over these. Also working on a pair of fins made from aluminum, carbon fiber spars, and fabric webbing. Another pound or so.

    :)

    _SHig
  20. Salmo_g Active Member

    Posts: 7,606
    Your City ,State
    Ratings: +1,724 / 0
    SHig,

    Outstanding! Time for a shakedown cruise and then your patent application. Just think, you'll be president, CEO, CFO, right down to janitor as you become the titan of the ultra-light float tube universe! Congratulations on your project. It's fun to see the germ of a thought taken through development and final success.

    Sg