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Old 14-04-2019, 03:22   #1
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Dodger design decisions driving me crazy!

Bristol 35.5, hoping to do some extended cruising and high on my list is a dodger (sprayhood). I started thinking and planning 3 or 4 years ago and am no closer to a decision. I am paralyzed by too many options. On my old canvas dodgers, I was dissatisfied how the vinyl became wavy and cloudy over time. I also wanted it to be strong and rigid with good handholds sides and rear as well as ability to mount solar panels. I would like hard plastic windows. I have a stainless dodger frame and I built a hardtop to fit it, was thinking about going hybrid, although Iím still a little uncertain how to attach hard windows to it. I had discarded that plan as it proved to be too close to the boom. However my gooseneck broke and the new one relocated boom about six inches higher with plenty of clearance. So now that option is back on the table. Recently I have considered just going with an entirely hard dodger although Iím not sure I want to pay somebody to build it from aluminum nor do I feel like doing a lot of sanding and finish work if I make it myself out of wood/fiberglass/foam core. I lust after the Sundeer/Bougainvillea dodgers. Part of what makes it hard is that my boat has a curved raised spray rail, similar to a Tartan 37. That would make it difficult to do any sort of flat panel construction that would look decent. Just fooling around with a piece of 1/8 inch plywood to get the shape for a hard dodger is a bit challenging. If I go with canvas, I have the material and skills to do it myself. Even thought about a glass windshield like a Hallberg-Rassey. Looked at adapting a used runabout windscreen but wouldnít match the compound curves.

And by the way aesthetics are quite important to me. I would hate to put a ton of time into a hard dodger and have it be ugly. I have patterned the canvas one and it looks ok.

One further minor complication is that my port cabintop winch handle overhangs where the dodger will go. It is not able to be relocated. I plan to use a ratcheting winch handle to deal with it. Spin halyard and reef lines run there. They can also be managed at a mast mounted winch.

Last picture is a Bristol 38.8 dodger that looked good to me.
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Old 14-04-2019, 11:48   #2
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Re: Dodger design decisions driving me crazy!

Here is the hard top I made, including helmsmanís eye view
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Old 14-04-2019, 22:17   #3
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Re: Dodger design decisions driving me crazy!

Hi, sanibel sailor,

Look into having acrylic glazing heat molded for your existing frame. When we had our hard dodger made, we used the smoked acrylic, but in the lightest smoke, because of wanting to see ships lights at night. You could have it made in one piece, and use clamps through the acrylic to the frame. Screw holes need freedom of 1/4 their diameter, because of differential swelling in the heat. It made a really dry nice place to be. A good deal. Loved it.

Ann
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Old 14-04-2019, 22:55   #4
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Re: Dodger design decisions driving me crazy!

So the bimini is rigid and there will be a plexi-glass windshield? That's pretty much a hard dodger, no? Ever consider a boom gallows integrated into it too? (Just to throw more at you.) I'm just thinking that if you know for certain you will never be folding it up, would you not want a more substantial and rigid frame? Where I am I am lucky that we have a metal fabricator who is pretty reasonable and great to work with on designs. Maybe you might find one where you are too?
(I'm pondering the same thing for my boat too.. I know your pain)
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Old 14-04-2019, 23:08   #5
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Re: Dodger design decisions driving me crazy!

Perhaps think on it this way, like a flow chart. Will it ever fold up? Will you ever want to remove the hard bimini, say to remove windage for an oncoming storm? Will there be solar panels on top?
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Old 15-04-2019, 09:19   #6
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Re: Dodger design decisions driving me crazy!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Don C L View Post
So the bimini is rigid and there will be a plexi-glass windshield? That's pretty much a hard dodger, no? Ever consider a boom gallows integrated into it too? (Just to throw more at you.) I'm just thinking that if you know for certain you will never be folding it up, would you not want a more substantial and rigid frame? Where I am I am lucky that we have a metal fabricator who is pretty reasonable and great to work with on designs. Maybe you might find one where you are too?
(I'm pondering the same thing for my boat too.. I know your pain)



I'd love to get his number from you. I am looking into building an arch fro my 38.
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Old 15-04-2019, 09:38   #7
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Re: Dodger design decisions driving me crazy!

The last picture is what at least two of mine were like. Hand bars on the side and rear were very handy. my front windows unzipped and rolled up if I wanted more air. I had the plastic windows made with extra thick stuff and it was great. If you are ever in need of stripping the boat for a big storm at anchor, having non rigid glass is an advantage.

Regarding the winch handle etc, yes it can get crowded under the Dodger. I had one boat all rigged under there and it was a mess of lines etc. It seems with it under the dodger is just a mess and trouble, often having to go forward to release a line buckle at a turning block or something anyway. At the mast eliminates all that. At that point I went back to halyards and reef lines etc on the mast. I like it all there. Far less friction. Easy peasy.
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Old 15-04-2019, 09:59   #8
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Re: Dodger design decisions driving me crazy!

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Originally Posted by sanibel sailor View Post
Bristol 35.5, hoping to do some extended cruising and high on my list is a dodger (sprayhood). I started thinking and planning 3 or 4 years ago and am no closer to a decision. I am paralyzed by too many options. On my old canvas dodgers, I was dissatisfied how the vinyl became wavy and cloudy over time. I also wanted it to be strong and rigid with good handholds sides and rear as well as ability to mount solar panels. I would like hard plastic windows. I have a stainless dodger frame and I built a hardtop to fit it, was thinking about going hybrid, although Iím still a little uncertain how to attach hard windows to it. I had discarded that plan as it proved to be too close to the boom. However my gooseneck broke and the new one relocated boom about six inches higher with plenty of clearance. So now that option is back on the table. Recently I have considered just going with an entirely hard dodger although Iím not sure I want to pay somebody to build it from aluminum nor do I feel like doing a lot of sanding and finish work if I make it myself out of wood/fiberglass/foam core. I lust after the Sundeer/Bougainvillea dodgers. Part of what makes it hard is that my boat has a curved raised spray rail, similar to a Tartan 37. That would make it difficult to do any sort of flat panel construction that would look decent. Just fooling around with a piece of 1/8 inch plywood to get the shape for a hard dodger is a bit challenging. If I go with canvas, I have the material and skills to do it myself. Even thought about a glass windshield like a Hallberg-Rassey. Looked at adapting a used runabout windscreen but wouldnít match the compound curves.

And by the way aesthetics are quite important to me. I would hate to put a ton of time into a hard dodger and have it be ugly. I have patterned the canvas one and it looks ok.

One further minor complication is that my port cabintop winch handle overhangs where the dodger will go. It is not able to be relocated. I plan to use a ratcheting winch handle to deal with it. Spin halyard and reef lines run there. They can also be managed at a mast mounted winch.

Last picture is a Bristol 38.8 dodger that looked good to me.
When I bought my boat, it came with a hard dodger. I wasn't sure I wanted one, but quickly learned to love it. I have a dry, shaded place in the cockpit that is out of the wind, rain and spray. It also holds two solar panels and a boom gallows on top. Based on my hard dodger, I have a few suggestions.

If you go with a hard dodger, I'd suggest going with a tempered glass windscreen instead of acrylic or Isenglass (soft material). One of the advantages of a hard dodger is the lack of maintenance, so why add any canvass or acrylic that will have to be replaced? You can make the windscreen in 3 sections with an opening middle section (like a hatch). Another thing is to let the forward edge of the top overhand the windscreen a little to prevent water dripping on it. This keeps it cleaner and shaded when the sun is overhead. It should be strong enough to stand on (mine is a divinycell-fiberglass sandwich). Ideally, you should be able to stand up under it if it overhangs the cockpit floor (my case). With a bit of design creativity, it can blend in with the lines of the boat (even a traditional design such as yours and mine) and look terrific.
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Old 15-04-2019, 10:26   #9
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Re: Dodger design decisions driving me crazy!

I see you are from Florida. Fixed windows will block your breezes. Our prior dodger has fixed side windows and roll up center one. Too hot in spring and summer and rolled window collected crap and limited visibility. When I made a new one, I made all windows removable. Eisenglass with sunbrella trim. They attached with turn/twist fasterers. When off, I stow them in sleeves under the vberth. When the glass gets cloudy, I will make new windows. (Remember, never use window cleaner.)

I rejected hard top because I couldn't see how to readily get it off for tropical weather. We were on a mooring at the time.

Best wishes, it is a big decision.
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Old 15-04-2019, 10:31   #10
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Re: Dodger design decisions driving me crazy!

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I see you are from Florida. Fixed windows will block your breezes. Our prior dodger has fixed side windows and roll up center one. Too hot in spring and summer and rolled window collected crap and limited visibility. When I made a new one, I made all windows removable. Eisenglass with sunbrella trim. They attached with turn/twist fasterers. When off, I stow them in sleeves under the vberth. When the glass gets cloudy, I will make new windows. (Remember, never use window cleaner.)

I rejected hard top because I couldn't see how to readily get it off for tropical weather. We were on a mooring at the time.

Best wishes, it is a big decision.
I'm also in the tropics (hot and humid!). I think the hard dodger keeps the cockpit much cooler with shade and the white top surface. My middle panel in the windscreen opens outward like a hatch to let the breeze through. I honestly couldn't imagine wanting to take down a dodger or bimini in the tropics- you'd fry in the sun!
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Old 18-04-2019, 15:15   #11
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Re: Dodger design decisions driving me crazy!

We put a 2' x 2' Weaver hatch in our hard dodger's top. Opening it let lots of air through for ventilation. On ours, we built the dodger strong enough for two of us to stand on it (for working on the aft end of the boom), and put non-skid on, too.

Once you start a project you can make it to exactly what you think you want! It's a good deal.

Ann
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Old 18-04-2019, 22:40   #12
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Re: Dodger design decisions driving me crazy!

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Hi, sanibel sailor,

Look into having acrylic glazing heat molded for your existing frame. When we had our hard dodger made, we used the smoked acrylic, but in the lightest smoke, because of wanting to see ships lights at night. You could have it made in one piece, and use clamps through the acrylic to the frame. Screw holes need freedom of 1/4 their diameter, because of differential swelling in the heat. It made a really dry nice place to be. A good deal. Loved it.

Ann
Is the entire covering or just the windows acrylic Ann. I'm rebuilding mine during my next summer stop to get rid of the cloudy folding clearview stuff and anyway the entire covering is going to need replacement in a couple of years. The concept of making the entire cover from acrylic has me very intrigued.
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Old 18-04-2019, 23:08   #13
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Re: Dodger design decisions driving me crazy!

I'm sorry, Raymond R, I didn't express myself very clearly. The whole window portion, yes, can be heat molded acrylic, but I think you'd want something else for the top, something opaque, especially in FL, which is a very hot, humid place.

That said, there is a clear pvc dodger on an old timber race boat in Port Cygnet, TAS, and you almost don't see it's there. And it keeps the rain out. Of course, it offers no shade. It does have a 1" s/s frame, but to the eye, from a distance, it sort of disappears in the clutter of all the other eye stimuli.

Things like this, demand a big heater. The dodger windows on our old boat (acrylic) were built on molds that would fit inside a pizza oven. It had 3 windows. But no reason someone in FL that has a large enough "heater" couldn't mold him something like a wraparound windshield, if that would be something sanibel sailor would like.

Incidentally, the molds have to be really smooth. Ours were made from door-skin plywood, sanded smooth and cleaned carefully to be dust free as possible, with framing to keep them to the desired curve. When baked, gravity pulled the acrylic down onto the frames.

Ann
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Old 18-04-2019, 23:31   #14
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Re: Dodger design decisions driving me crazy!

Hi Ann.

I like to watch some of those custom garage type shows on TV, they do some fantastic things with simple equipment.

A couple of weeks ago there was one on restoring an old concept car which had an acrylic cockpit thing like some of the old aircraft had.

To make a new one they built a male mold and heated a sheet of acrylic in a particle board box then pulled out the entire sheet of soft acrylic and smoothed it over the mold with gloved hands.

What I found particularly interesting was how they heated the sheet of acrylic.

The particle board box had holes in the top into which they placed about four electric paint removal guns blowing onto the enclosed sheet at an angle. When it was soft enough they slid it out of the box on a piece of plywood then one either side lifted it of and placed it over the mold.

Looked like a very simple and effective process.
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Old 19-04-2019, 07:55   #15
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Re: Dodger design decisions driving me crazy!

To get heat molded acrylic shapes you can also drill holes around the perimeter of the sheet and suspend bricks on wires from each hole. Pulls down uniformly. I've seen aircraft canopies made this way. Your curvatures would be much less.
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