IN FINE DETAIL.
The Cooper is a lightweight but robust boat with a truly unique method of assembly and tensioning. While most folding boats require a large cockpit and a scissor-type method of tensioning, or a very difficult boat-in-a-bottle technique through a small cockpit, the Cooper allows the entire boat frame to be assembled outside the skin and then slipped inside and expanded. Expansion is accomplished with our own tensioning device consisting of acme-threaded rod and a custom molded, ergonomically designed hand wheel. Threads are 6 turns/inch and the rod threads, in shear, will withstand over 400 lbs. of outward thrust, more than enough for a taught boatskin. Access to the handwheel is through the rear zipper which is not closed until the skin is tightened. The inevitable slight shrinkage that occurs with all fabrics over the years will no longer be a problem.
Drawn and anodized tubing has proved itself for over 30 years, so we stuck with that for the longerons [.75" diameter, .035" wall]. Each set, bow to stern, is shock-corded together so that the assembly procedure is not like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. There are 5 crossframes made of black anodized drawn tubing [.720" diameter, .074" wall] with a 6th tiny oval of the same material at the stern to stablize the jacking mechanism so that it pushes straight back rather than trying to kick off to one side or the other. Longerons snap into half-moon clips permanently mounted to the frames. There are locator clips all along the longerons showing proper frame position and to prevent any forward or aft movement after assembly. The two sets of locator clips shown are for different set-up postitions depending on the paddler's height.
The cockpit frame is also anodized aluminum and measures about 38" X 18" and is swept up at both ends, more pointed at the bow. The deck fabric is trapped side-to-side as it traverses from bow to stern, except for the cockpit opening. Most folding boats use extra components here which are tedious to assemble. We found that 2" Velcro flaps sewn along the fabric cockpit edge and wrapped around the cockpit frame worked well, as long as the Velcro to which it mated was spiraled around the frame and riveted down at each end to eliminate adhesive creep. It works well no matter how hot it gets, and you can't beat the shear of 2" hook and loop wrapped around a tube. The cockpit coaming is a soft coaming with a rigid frame inside closed cell foam to hold a spray deck securely. The padded but internally rigid coaming also makes it easier to get in and out of the Cooper when using the coaming for support. The complete frame weighs about 15 lbs. Of course, no tools are required for assembly.
The hull fabric on the Cooper is a black 35 oz/sq yd Elvaloy, a trademarked Dupont product that has proved over the years to hold up on the best rubber rafts and folding boats. This material maintains is flexibility over the years and will not discolor or oxidize.
Deck fabric remains the same as we have used for many years: woven hydrophobic polyester with a urethane back-coating to waterproof. We would have choosen a lighter nylon fabric, but nylon is quite hydrophilic and expands so much when exposed to moisture that a loose and unsightly deck results.
Small details have been attended to as well, such as storm flaps that fold back at the ends to keep zipper pulls from getting lost under them, clean and simple joints where the longerons connect to the keel end with no parts to lose, and painter loops at bow and stern sewn in. Sponson pockets are larger and made of a mesh fabric because of its weight and because the sponsons are also totally new. (They're so handsome we wanted you to see them.)
All boats come with foot pegs and standard safety bladders, but we now offer oversize safety bladders that literally fill the boat forward of the paddler's feet and aft of the seat.
One person described a test paddle in the Cooper as similar to getting a big hug, not because he was squeezed into the cockpit, but because of the rounded edges, padded coaming and comfortable seat. It's a very friendly feeling boat.