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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2016 10:09 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 29, 2016 12:02 am
Posts: 27
OK, who's free at 10AM on April 19th and within driving distance of the Folbot factory (4209 Pace Street, Charleston, SC)? Folbot is auctioning off almost everything. Including (what are they thinking??) the rainbow sign over the factory door. Which should go in a kayaking hall of fame somewhere, if you ask me. I wish I could be there and help make it a fitting farewell party, but we just can't get there. If you go, take pictures! It's the end of an era.

Photos of the loot to be auctioned can be seen at:

http://www.auctionzip.com/cgi-bin/aucti ... id=2699577

Scuttlebutt is that the owners will be keeping just enough in storage for certain boat models to be reverse-engineered, in case someone wanted to buy the brand in the future. So that's it, folks!

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Hazel, blue Folbot Aleut
Starfish, blue Folbot Yukon
Mudlark, yellow Folbot Greenland II
Audrey, Feathercraft Aeronaut
and a hardshell or two


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2016 3:56 pm 
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle

Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2005 3:40 pm
Posts: 1108
Location: isles of scilly UK
Thankyou Ann for the sad news and the link to the photos. It,s a sad end to a kayak company that has seen so much service and given many hours of pleasure to the owners of their craft. It would be nice to think that someone can raise a small company from the ashes.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 8:07 am 
faltbootemeister
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Joined: Tue Nov 26, 2013 5:36 pm
Posts: 248
Location: west burbs of Chicago
I just looked through all the pics on the auction site.
It's so sad.
The place looks like it's been abandoned for years - dust on everything. Stuff piled on the floor. The pics look especially gloomy because they didn't even turn the lights on to take pics. Just wandered around with a cell phone, snapping random pics of the scattered remains by the light coming in the windows.
So sad.

I'm sad. I frustrated.
I just a little bit angry at Eric for bailing out on us.

I know, I know. I have no idea what he's gone through. And no idea of the legal limitations he's working under. And no idea how deeply in debt he is.
I'm sure he's more sad and frustrated than any of us are.

I just wish he had given me a private heads up so I could pull an archive backup of the forum before shutting it down. He knew me well enough to trust me to not blab or even hint. I would have waited quietly for the public announcement.
Too late now. It's all gone.
The last internet archive of the forum is 10 years old.
The facebook page (like most facebook pages) is functionally useless. Perhaps its only value will be to point people to this forum so we can slowly rebuild.
My pessimistic guess is that the Folbot community will never recover. I fear this forum will be a small niche for a few diehards like us. I hope not, but . . .

RIP Folbot.

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Five Folbots - Super TSF, two GIIs, Kodiak, Gremlin


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 10:28 am 
faltbootemeister

Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2015 4:10 pm
Posts: 164
Yes, I am sad to see Folbot go. I am especially sad for the small group of loyal people who made the boats for many years. After hooking up with Ann in the Everglades, I had the chance to visit the factory a few times. The same people were always there. Viet and his wife, Herb, Cindy, and others I did not meet. Most had been there for decades.

Ann had many years of Folbot history when we met. I came to know Folbot the year after Phil Cotton sold the company. Phil remained Folbot's landlord until the end. A Southern Gentleman, he was always gracious to us when we visited and took time to chat at length about the company history. I do not know if he and his partners ever made much money from the company. I do know that he was always tweaking the boats to make them better. He was responsive to user input. He stood behind what he designed and built.

Folbots of the Phil Cotton era, the post-Phil era, and the wood-frame era will be around for many years to come. Reverse-engineering should be relatively easy compared to, say, reverse-engineering an automobile. I hope some day some young gun will catch the folding boat bug and decide to make Folbots again.

I guess I am showing my age and my retirement status. I find the assembly and disassembly of my folding boats to be as pleasurable a part of the entire experience as being on the water. Perhaps even more so. I find it gratifying to have a boat where before stood a couple of pieces of luggage. Perhaps one day we will see a backlash against instant gratification. Perhaps masses of people will once again enjoy messing about in folding boats and provide a market for the venerable Folbot.

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Folbots: Too many. It's embarrassing.
Feathercraft: Aeronaut
Klepper: AEI - Jonathan Waterman's boat
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 10:38 am 
lord high faltbotmeister

Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2007 8:05 am
Posts: 822
Location: atlanta, georgia
Flatwater,

Yes, what a shame. But are you certain that the Forum is gone? Is it worth trying to find out who hosted the site and seeing if it can be resurrected? I assume Eric just stopped paying the hosting bills, but hosting is so cheap these days...Just sayin'. I really enjoy the contributions of our new-found members and would hate to lose them, maybe the sites could be combined?

Best,g

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"There is nothing--absolutely nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats"

1990 A1 Expedition
2010 carbon Klepper Quattro
BSD sail rig, 24' mizzen + 36' main
36' jib
Torqeedo outboard
1938 Sachs-Fichtel seitenbordmotor


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 3:29 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2016 6:40 pm
Posts: 34
I wonder what would have happened if Folbot had posted a statement of the companies condition on the forum and asked for advice. I for one would gladly invest in the company just to keep parts available and the forum alive even if we never sold another boat. I second gbellware's motion to find the forum hosting site and see if we can save it.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 4:50 pm 
Site Admin

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 12:34 pm
Posts: 1750
Location: Southeast Michigan
Is this a bank auction? I was really hoping someone would buy all the tooling and start making them again. I'm surprised someone didn't try to rescue the company with a kckstarter campaign.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 12:27 am 
knight of the folding kayak realm
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Joined: Wed Jun 26, 2013 5:19 pm
Posts: 301
Location: Oakland, California
What a sad end for such a well known folding kayak maker.
Next to Klepper, Folbot is the name most people associate with folding kayaks.

I think it would really benefit Folbot owners if someone can purchase the remaining parts inventory, especially proprietary fittings and frames (both plastic and aluminum).
It would also be good if (any) production templates and/or shop drawings can be saved for both future use and as part of the historical record.

Chris O.

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Nautiraid Miniraid
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Kette SE 54
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 7:28 am 
lord high faltbotmeister

Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2007 8:05 am
Posts: 822
Location: atlanta, georgia
Michael,

I think that kickstarter money is pretty tired of Folbot. They raised kickstarter funding ($25k) for a new model last year and that did not pan out for contributors. The new model was actually a change in hull color from gray to black:
http://folbot.com/kickstarter/
But the idea of keeping the stockpile of spare parts is very smart, especially at pennies on the dollar. Anyone?

g

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"There is nothing--absolutely nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats"

1990 A1 Expedition
2010 carbon Klepper Quattro
BSD sail rig, 24' mizzen + 36' main
36' jib
Torqeedo outboard
1938 Sachs-Fichtel seitenbordmotor


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 9:31 am 
paddler
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Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2016 10:32 pm
Posts: 5
Location: Coastal Maine
Very sad photos - doesn't look like there's been any manufacturing for a while. All those parts in bins - wonder if they'll end up on EBay?

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 5:39 pm 
faltbootemeister
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Joined: Tue Nov 26, 2013 5:36 pm
Posts: 248
Location: west burbs of Chicago
I went through all the pictures again. Here's what I see and deduce.

The front page of the auction says "kayak templates" but I see no evidence of that.

If one were to try to save what were needed to revive the company later, here's what you'd need to save:

trademark
internet domain
patents
engineering drawings/designs
BoMs
patterns (for skins)
jigs (for cutting, bending, drilling, assembling metal)
injection molds (for plastic parts)

I see none of those physical things in the pictures.
What I see is a bunch of VERY old machine tools - most of which look like they were moved from New York to Charleston by Jay Kissner in 1953. And they were old then.
I see some inventory of tubing and bolts of cloth - but not very much.
I see bins of scrap, partly made pieces, wheel bins of small parts, piles and piles of scattered junk.
I don't see a large stack of skin patterns, which would be big sheets of aluminum.
I don't see any jigs - cut, drill, align, assemble.
In fact, I haven't yet sighted any of the air powered tools that I know they used in assembly.
I do see two large compressors and a couple of small ones. All old.

There are only two newish pieces of machinery - one I think may be the RF welder, the other is a tubing bender which probably isn't more than 25 years old.

I could go on.

What I think is that Eric is saving all those critical items for the future.
I think he's simply unloading all the generic stuff that could always be obtained when the need arose.

The heart and soul of the making of Folbots consists of the designs, templates and jigs.
They could be made one at a time by one or two people with very little fancy, expensive machinery if you weren't in a hurry.
Ask Mark at Long Haul.

So I see hope for the future.
Maybe.
:(

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Five Folbots - Super TSF, two GIIs, Kodiak, Gremlin


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 6:02 pm 
knight of the folding kayak realm

Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2011 6:09 pm
Posts: 282
Not to write Folbot off completely, but I wonder how their absence will affect the overall folding market, especially lower-priced folders? As far as I know, Pakboats is now the only remaining maker for the latter market: Will the absence of Folbot bode will for them? Will it make any difference at all? I don't know enough to even speculate.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 7:58 pm 
Site Admin

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 12:34 pm
Posts: 1750
Location: Southeast Michigan
Almost everything could be reverse engineered at reasonable cost- new tubing cutting and assembly fixtures, hull patterns. The biggest cost, I think, is the injection molds for the plastic bits. The biggest loss may well be the institutional knowledge. When you lose long term employees, it's hard to recreate that knowledge.

Starting a folding kayak company is not easy, as many have discovered, and no one has gotten rich building folders. Folbot had a genius designer with a real passion for the boats in Phil Cotton. The succeeding owners didn't seem to have the same fire.

We have one remaining US maker of traditional folding boats in Mark Ekhart at Long Haul. Mark also began as a hobbyist with a passion for kayaks that he turned into first a repair and customization business, then a Klepper dealership, and finally a manufacturer of his own boats when he was squeezed out of the Klepper business. Now Klepper gone in all but name, and Long Haul soldiers on.

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FoldingKayaks.org Webmaster


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 8:32 pm 
Brotherhood of the Golden Paddle
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Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 4:47 pm
Posts: 1716
Location: Arlington, VA (i.e. Wash DC)
Sadly, Long Haul may exist because of the secondary business on-site and the military contracts.

Pakboats doesn't seem to be going anywhere-- the abrupt discontinuation of the Quest is not encouraging.

Going abroad, there is Trak, of course. Feathercraft is a question mark. Pouch isn't doing so well. Wayland... I don't know. That new Israeli company... I don't know. Triton never amounted to much. I like the Duckys, but they seem to be very rare, and who knows what will happen with Ukraine. And I have no idea how Fujita and Arfeq have been doing.

The only bright spot I've seen, this year, is CLC taking on Nautiraid. They've only got two boats "in stock", though-- fairly obviously demos.

And then there are inflatables-- between packrafts and the new dropstitch designs, I think inflatables are probably the future of this business.

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Chris T.
~'91 Klepper A2 w/ BSD schooner rig.
'64 Klepper Passat/Tradewind and T12 restoration projects.
Non-folding: Early '90s Old Town Canoe.
Previously owned '04 Pakboat Puffin II and '05 Swift (prototype), as well as an '84 Hobie 16.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 8:55 pm 
Site Admin

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 12:34 pm
Posts: 1750
Location: Southeast Michigan
chrstjrn wrote:
Sadly, Long Haul may exist because of the secondary business on-site and the military contracts....


I don't believe Mark has had any military contracts in a long time. The last time the RFQs went out, an outsider who wasn't in the kayak business but who knew the ins and outs of government contracting sold the gummint a bunch of Kleppers and some non-Klepper accessories. Last time we spoke he told me that the bulk of his business is selling kayaks.

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