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Re: Any idea about foldable kayaks?
By:Paul Jacobson
Date: 6/22/1998, 9:04 pm
In Response To: Any idea about foldable kayaks? (Henri Derschum)

> Hello out there, first time for me, first question: Does anyone
> know of where to get plans or blueprints for foldable kayaks, or is
> there someoone selling fold. kits for self assembly? Maybe I just
> missed it. Otherwise I am going to try to convert a normal building-plan
> into a foldable version... Thanks for replies HENRI


I bought plans for a wood framed folding kayak from Clark Craft. You can get info on their company through their webpage Their catalog now costs $5 US.

The drawings show the plans for the fastenings that hold the frames in place, and that connect the pieces of the stringers (those long pieces that run the length of the boat).

If you do not like the lines of this particular kayak, I think that you could apply the design of the fastening hardware to many other wood or aluminum framed designs. Obviously you might have to scale these things up or down in order to make them fit, but that should not be too difficult. The drawings on the plans contain a lot of information on how to assemble a folder.

Another thing you might want to do is find a Klepper (or other folding kayak brand) dealer and take a look at how they go together.

The folder I have plans for, and the Klepper both have hull skins that are made of a rubber coated fabric. With both of these boats the frame is inserted into the skin in two parts (front and back). Then, as the frame assembly is completed inside the skin it forces the skin taut. This process seems to call for fancy hardware that adjusts to create the proper tension.

I have seen plans for other folding kayaks that are simpler in construction and design. Instead of trying to adjust the frame to fit the skin, they use a zipper or laces, or velcro (or combinations of these) to pull the skin taut after the entire frame has been assembled. This seem to me to be a much simpler process, and one that allows great design flexibility.

Lets assume you get a plan for a kayak that is 17 feet long (about 5.5 m) and 24 inches wide (about 600 mm) with a cockpit that is 5 feet long (about 1.6 m). Such a kayak would probably have a frame about every 2 feet ( 600 mm). so, you would have a stern piece, a bow piece, and 6 or 7 frames between them.

Once you had the frames made and the general layout of the kayak in mind, you could devise a way to make a reinforced junction for short pieces of the stringers at certain frames. For example: An entire stringer would have to be 17 feet (5.5) long, but if you made a joint in the middle of the cockpit, you could use two pieces that were only 8 1/2 feet (2.75 m) long. If you made two joints in this piece and placed them by frames 2 and 5, then you might use pieces that were 6 (2 m) feet long or less. The advantage here is that it is easier to find clear pieces of wood that are 6 feet (2 m) long than it is to find 17-foot-long (5.5 m) pieces.

Simplest reinforced joint I can think of is to use carriage bolts or other machine bolts to secure a backing piece to the stringer sections. The backing piece can serve as a support for the frame as well.

You can work around the frame from any side for assembly. After that you wet the completed frame on the skin, pull it over the frame, and zip it up, or use a piece of rope laced between grommets to draw the skin tight, in the same way you lace-up gym shoes. Velcro can hold a piece of fabric over the laces to keep out water.

Several people have built folders. you might want to e-mail some of them, or ask here if ou have any specific questions about construction.

You about to embark on an adventure. Best of luck with this.

Paul Jacobson

Messages In This Thread

Any idea about foldable kayaks?
Henri Derschum -- 6/22/1998, 3:14 pm
Re: Any idea about foldable kayaks?
Paul Jacobson -- 6/23/1998, 12:18 pm
Re: Any idea about foldable kayaks?
Paul Jacobson -- 6/22/1998, 9:04 pm