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Old 25-02-2016, 21:26   #1
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How to properly fit dodger?

I had a new dodger (that's a Sprayhood to the poms) made up using the old one as a pattern and reusing the original bows. I thought it would be simple to maybe move maybe one or two of the mountings to accommodate what I hoped would be a slight change in dimensions.

Unfortunately it hasn't worked out (it was a cheap job and I have well and truly gotten what I paid for) and I'm struggling to get the right tension evenly throughout the fabric.

Can anyone point me to a guide to fitting a dodger to get even tension?

Cheers, Graeme
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Old 25-02-2016, 21:32   #2
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Re: How to properly fit dodger?

A picture would sure help.
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Old 25-02-2016, 22:37   #3
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Re: How to properly fit dodger?

No promises, but you might try here:
Cruisers & Sailing Forums - Sewing Group. Boat canvas projects
Cruisers & Sailing Forums - Spray Dodgers / Weather Cloths
Also, I'm guessing (with a high probability of being right) that you'd find some info via SailRite, as in the folks who make; sewing machines for sailors, dodger kits, sail kits... you get the idea.
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Old 26-02-2016, 04:23   #4
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How to properly fit dodger?

Proper fit really comes from a proper pattern. Slide forward bow fittings up or down a bit. If you have spreader bars , slide them up or down a bit. Tension straps a bit. Not much adjustment, it fits or it doesn't. My guess is that it just doesn't fit and needs alterations which can be time consuming. You may live with it but you will always hate it. If it was that cheap, take your lumps and get a proper one made, a good canvas maker will adjust frame, can see other problems and suggest improvements like stiff bars/spreader bars before patterning. You will be much happier in the long run.


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Old 26-02-2016, 08:57   #5
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Re: How to properly fit dodger?

Sign up for e-mails for Sailrite, the people who make sewing machines for amatoor sailmakers. They have wonderful "seminars" on line. One of them is for how to make a dodger from scratch.

TrentePieds
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Old 26-02-2016, 09:27   #6
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Re: How to properly fit dodger?

From "The Big Book of Boat Canvas" Pg 74

Installing the Dodger

Place the dodger on the frame, center and begin to attach the fasteners in the cloth. Start at the center, being sure to put solid tension on the cloth. Work one fastener on each side of the center and continue in this fashion, working outward and aft. Don't do all of one side at a time or you will disturb the tension and uniformity of the dodger.


Hope that helps. Good luck!
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Old 26-02-2016, 10:45   #7
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Re: How to properly fit dodger?

Hello Lockie-
I was lucky enough to work as an apprentice for a well-established and successful marine canvas shop last year. I made our dodger while I worked there - with the guidance from a really talented guy. (Thanks, Josh!)

You can see pictures of the process on our FB page SV Shameless. Go to Photos, then Albums, then Canvas Work.

Here's what I learned:

The first mistake was using the old canvas as a pattern. Canvas stretches (not uniformly) and changes shape once it is installed. Since Sunbrella canvas is actually plastic (polyester), it reacts to the sun and stiffens once stretched in place. In other words, it's not the same size or shape when taken off as it was when it was installed.

If you made a new pattern from "pattern plastic" (it has non-stretch ribs in it) and then disassembled the new dodger made from the old dodger canvas, and compared the pieces, you would see a significant difference, which would be enough to make the new dodger not fit right.

Dodger frames and boats are never symmetrical. After making the pattern and cutting out the canvas, I was surprised that the edges of the two halves to the piece never matched when I folded the piece in half. "Pattern's never lie," was drilled into my head. Stainless tubing is never bent at the precise same angle, or cut at the exact same length. A small difference changes the angle over the course of a run of tubing.

When making the pattern, apply sticky double-sided tape to all the bows. Pull the bows as close together as possible (across the top - or whatever piece you are working on) as you stretch the plastic across it. It was easy to gain an inch (2.5 cm) or more by pulling to bows together. There is a lot of give in the connecting joints.

There are two parts to the "securing" hardware (snaps or pins) - the canvas side and the boat side. Install the canvas-side hardware symmetrically (the same distance apart) to the canvas while it's in the shop, but WAIT to install the opposing boat-side hardware until the finished dodger is actually at the boat and on the frame. Start in the middle of the boat and work your way out to each side, one at a time, switching from side to side. It is very likely that the fasteners attached to the boat won't be in the same place on each side.

I was surprised how many hours it took to pattern, cut, sew, and install the dodger and windows. I was lucky that I had a huge, flat table to cut, move, and sew the canvas and windows on. I sewed our dinghy chaps inside the sailboat while the dingy was on the dock. I know for certain the dodger would not have turned out as nice if I had tried to cut out the canvas and sew it together on the boat. My Sailrite machine would have been able to do the job, but space is needed to spread the plastic and canvas out in order to do it right.

My advice: 1) hire an experienced, skilled (ie - not cheap) canvas worker to see if they can economically alter the existing dodger, 2) make a plastic pattern, take apart the new dodger to see if you can use any of the existing pieces and re-sew it, 3)or start completely over, 4) hire it done. Or, 5) become an intern!

After sailing our boat from Astoria, Oregon to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, during an El Nino season, I now know why dodgers are so expensive. They're worth it.

Best of luck.
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Old 26-02-2016, 12:52   #8
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Re: How to properly fit dodger?

Sailor647...well explained.
To be picky though, I believe Sunbrella is an acrylic material. Far better UV than polyester.
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Old 27-02-2016, 00:12   #9
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Re: How to properly fit dodger?

Quote:
Originally Posted by patprice View Post
Sailor647...well explained.
To be picky though, I believe Sunbrella is an acrylic material. Far better UV than polyester.
You are right. Thanks for pointing that out!
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Old 27-02-2016, 03:10   #10
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Re: How to properly fit dodger?

If it turns out that you need to toss it, & start over. You might then consider building a hard dodger instead. Specifically, one having zero canvas & isenglas.
As, when one tallys up the material costs (or material & labor costs), it's not tough to build a hard dodger for a good bit less (than a canvas on frame one). And they have a lot more perks, in addition to those.

If you doubt me on the cost issue, then take for example the hard dodger built into/onto the custom 77'er, "Jelik". Built by Schooner Creek Boatworks.
It consisted of 2 layers of 6oz carbon fiber on either side of 1" Divynicell foam. And a piece of 3mm Lexan, bonded in place with some Plexus adhesive for the windscreen.

So all told, a few hundred $, & a few dozen hours of work. And this, info's first hand; as I discussed it with Steve Rander, the now former owner of the Schooner Creek, personally. When I was looking for something which would "fit" a racer, converted to cruise.

The image is kind of small, as is the dodger, but you can see it here http://wyliedesigngroup.com/press_fi...%20Builder.pdf

And some/most guys simply use their old dodgers as patterns. And laminate up the new, hard one, from; 3mm bending ply (or basic marine ply), epoxy, & some glass cloth.
Then, to make things "trick", use a Lewmar (or similar) hatch, as part of the dodger's front window. So as to allow for a nice breeze to flow through, when it's on the warm side of things.

Also, it's easy enough to make them demountable, vs. being permanently fixed in place. One simply builds a flange into their base, so then, you can bolt'em down (with/without a sealing gasket), or remove them, whenever you choose.

PS: If you go with the hatch option, pick a hatch/modify one, so that you can use Fas-Pins for the hatch's hinge pins. Thus, you can remove it entirely, in a few seconds.
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Old 27-02-2016, 03:42   #11
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Smile Re: How to properly fit dodger?

Hi Locke, I'm a 'pom', if you call your sprayhood a dodger, what do you call the canvas side panels strung between the toerail and top guardwire abeam the cockpit, we call those dodgers. I saw this post and was drawn to it because I was curious how different people string their dodgers to the guardwires and toe rail. I don't have a sprayhood (too much windage and impeded view forward.)
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