Tulsa Tech Teachers Working On New, Improved Raft Design
SAND SPRINGS, Oklahoma - Labor Day will find the Arkansas River again filled with a fleet of homemade rafts stretching from Sand Springs to Tulsa.
One crew from Tulsa Tech’s Sand Spring campus is already hard at work getting their raft ready.
Every hole, every drop of paint, every step in the process has been one of innovation and creativity for the teachers at Tulsa Tech.
"We wanted to design another raft that was stronger, faster and lighter," said project manager Derek Beller.
Last year, the team’s raft had some issues – it was heavy, could barely turn, and the crew baked in the sun.
Beller said, "We want shade, last year it didn't have shade and it was hot."
This year, there’s a new lighter design. And the addition of possible working propellers, driven by bicycles that will be mounted on top, has the team eying the unofficial, completely made up, ‘fastest raft reputation.
"This one is a lot larger than last years, but actually about half as much weight," Robert Neill said.
Beller said, "Actually lost sleep overnight. They'll come in the morning and say, 'I've got a great idea. I think we've got it figured out.'"
The folks building the raft have been extremely resourceful, using a shelving unit that was broken when shipped to them as the frame of the raft.
"Almost like they were built for our raft - perfect fit, perfect size, lightweight, strong material," Beller said.
They're even 'MacGyvering' tools in their shop to make the raft perfect, and maybe giving Lund and Mastercraft boats a run for their money.
Neil said, "We're using right angle drill adapters to try and make a homemade outboard motor"
"And that's what makes it ever more fun, because everything on that raft is either been found, or borrowed, or we've just repurposed," Beller said.
The teachers at Tulsa Tech plan to see if their raft floats this coming Monday at Pier 51 at Keystone Lake. Hopes are high, but so are nerves.
There is still a week left to sign up so for the race. You can find more information here.