Jim Noah   

Like all manufactures Ranger has added some additional models for 2002.  While not a new model, the removal of all wood from the Comanche, Cherokee, and VS/R Series was completed with plans for all wood to be gone from the Fisherman line by 2003.  A major step forward for the longevity of the all the Ranger Line. 

 Ranger patented "Pultruded Fiberglass" replaces all the wood that was once used in hulls, and floors.  "Pultruded Fiberglass" is one tough material that won't ever rot or get water logged.  This material is so hard it requires diamond tip bits just to drill the required holes in the transom and hull to mount the hardware and electronics.  Ranger has developed a portable saw for use at the plant in the manufacturing process that has made the job easier and faster.  Other manufacturers like Boeing Aircraft have visited Flippin just to learn about the innovations created in the Arkansas Hills.

 All Ranger fiberglass boats have the patented "Pultruded Fiberglass" transom, fiberglass stringers, foam-filled flotation and heavy-gauge wiring.  New this season is the Water Test Tank built right there in Flippin so every Ranger Fiberglass boat is tested for leaks.  Few are found, but you will never find one in your new Ranger!  One more step in the "built one at a time, by hand" no one else is doing.

 When ordering the Comanches, you can select from a wide variety of colors for every feature on the boat.  The Comanche is truly a custom bass fishing machine.  The VS/R models are complete with motor, trolling motor and electronics, allowing Ranger to produce these boats more efficiently.  Set color combinations including the carpet and seats help reduce the cost of the VS/R series.

 The additions of most interest to the Bass chasers are all in the VS/R line.  Three new models were added for 2002.  The VS/R line utilize all the same materials and skilled craftsman as used to build the Comanches in the same factory. 

The 175VS is a great way to start fishing!  At 17' 5" with an 87" beam you'll be ready for spring fishing in Ranger Style.  Maxim motor rating is 130 horse.  The 175VS is available in single and dual consoles and has capacity for 1145 pounds of anglers and gear.   The 175VS weighs in just under 1500 pounds making it the ideal choice when you have a smaller towing vehicle like a Blazer.

The 185VS is 18' 5" long with a 92 inch beam and is rated for up to a 175 horse motor.  This is the perfect boat for working around a row of docks or through the timber at Truman.  Like all the VS models you can have a single or dual consoles.  A pair of your buddies and their gear can all fit in the 185 VS with a capacity of 1365 pound payload.  Large rod boxes hold your 7' 3" poles and lots of plastic storage boxes.

The 195VS measures in at 19' 5" long and has a beam of 92 inches.  This Ranger flies with a 200 horse mounted on the back.  The payload goes up to 1,430 pounds that supports a tournament angler and his tackle store we all carry.  The Port Rod Locker is 7' 3" and the Starboard comes in at 6' 9".  This is one fast boat that is at home in the timber as well as out on a long wind swept point.  In December at Bull Shoals, the 195VS was in high demand at the New Product Meeting test drives.  Everyone stayed out a little longer in hopes it would warm enough to "really open her up!"  You can do that with your trusty motor cycle helmet.  Sure glad I had mine.

Ranger 216S. The Cherokee (Aluminum line) also saw the introduction of two new boats, one with a center console for the saltwater and a jewel for freshwater angling.  The 216S has been a big hit at the Sport Shows because it is a fishing machine!  At 16' 3" with a wide 85" beam there is lots of fishing room.  This boat flies with a 115 horses ties to it's tail.  Both rod lockers are 7' long.  All the Cherokees are tough as their name sake and easy to pull even with the smaller tow vehicles.  Weighing in at under 1,000 pounds, yet able to take a payload up to 1,250 pounds is unbelievable.  Be prepared to hurt your fist when you hit the sides to see if the are solid, solid foam filled that is.

Check out all the new and old reliable Ranger Models at your local dealer or at the area Sports Shows, but don't expect to see every model.  Ranger has 40 models to pick from and few dealers carry all of them.

 Take a trip to Flippin and tour the factory.  That's right, tour the factory, tours start every hour Monday through Friday during business hours.  Ranger provides a seasoned factory trained tour guide and the safety glasses.  While you may not see your Ranger being built, you will see them being built by hand one at a time.  Ranger pride starts with the painting of the molds right down to the love the seats are sewed with.  Everything from the wiring harness to the seats are made right at the factory right in Flippin.  Made specifically for your boat, just as you ordered it.  Rangers are true labors of love and everyone is made just like it was for a King.

 While in Flippin, don't miss the little country café just west of the Ranger factory and Forrest and Nina Wood's Memorial built by the Woods right on the corner by the factory.  I had talked to Forrest and Nina about their dream memorial for several years and I was still impressed.  The woodwork is simply impressive!  All the cabinets were hand made and loaded with all the magazines graced with Rangers on the cover.  Tons of trophies, both for the Rangers and many Forest had collected since he now has time to hunt. 

Nina was busy making sure everyone was having a good time and greeting all the friends that showed up for the pre-opening tour they provided.

Every Federation Member, even every B.A.S.S. Member should be proud to see a Ranger Banner hanging at the back of the main hall beside the massive rock fireplace.  This Ranger Banner became a make due "Get Well Card" for Forrest in April 1999 when he was in the hospital and not at the Federation National Tournament speaking at Ranger night in his entertaining down home humor.  Forrest told me the signed Ranger Banner hung from the back deck of their rural home when he came home after heart surgery when we visited a few weeks later.  Forrest went on to say, that banner means a lot to me and it will hang in our museum when we get it built.  As always, Forrest and Nina are good for their word.

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