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Old 23-09-2016, 07:36   #1
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Awning Track For Dodger/Sprayhood?

Hi Folks, I have decided to try using a type of PVC awning track available from Sailrite to attach the bottom edge of a dodger I am making to the deck.

I've looked around but haven't really seen anyone else do this method of attachment although I think it will offer a clean appearance and seems like an nice alternative to the usual snaps or twist fittings.

The front of the dodger will have three windows with a zippered roll-up middle panel and I hope this means I will be able to fit the bolt rope into the awning track but before I start screwing the track to the decks any thoughts?

Has anyone used this awning track in this application before?
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Old 23-09-2016, 07:42   #2
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Re: Awning Track For Dodger/Sprayhood?

Here is a little closer view. You can see how the bolt rope tape fits into the groove in the awning track on the left.
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Old 23-09-2016, 07:47   #3
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Re: Awning Track For Dodger/Sprayhood?

Here's another shot from the companionway. I am thinking there should maybe be a gap between the awning window and the strut to save on chafe, like maybe an in hot two. Any thoughts on that?
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Old 23-09-2016, 07:52   #4
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Re: Awning Track For Dodger/Sprayhood?

I have seen a boat do this with front window coverings and we are doing the same around the TOP of our hard bimini. Have a full around bug netting and a 10 ft long piece of shade cloth that we can slide into whatever position will be needed. I found a local source of 20 ft pc of rigid aluminum track ( impossible to bend nicely for the curves) and using a short piece of flexible track from Sailrite.
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Old 23-09-2016, 08:06   #5
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Re: Awning Track For Dodger/Sprayhood?

I traced out the forward arch tubing then made a plywood jig to bend the PVC track with a heat gun which worked pretty nicely. The PVC track is farily rigid and can't be bent to much more than a slight curve without heat.

Is this the aluminum extrusion you found? I have seen a smaller lower profile one that somebody used to attach really nice hatch covers. It was for a smaller bolt rope size. I really liked it but I haven't been able to find it anywhere. Only this bigger one.
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Old 23-09-2016, 08:22   #6
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Re: Awning Track For Dodger/Sprayhood?

I had the pvc type track for the forward windows on the Bimini on my 42 ft catamaran. It ran across the cabin top. It didn't have any big bends in it though. It worked fine but frankly I never removed the windows as they rolled up. I think I'd rather have it than Aluminum, my experience with aluminum is it gets pitted and ugly pretty fast, especially if in an area where salt water may sit a lot... like on the cabin or deck top.
The PVC was 8 years old, florida and Caribe when we sold the cat. Still not breaking, although looking a bit grey
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Old 23-09-2016, 08:33   #7
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Re: Awning Track For Dodger/Sprayhood?

Assuming you'd want to roll up the window in the middle of the dodger, wouldn't that require you to slide it sideways out of the track? How would that work? Maybe I'm missing something--
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Old 23-09-2016, 08:35   #8
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Re: Awning Track For Dodger/Sprayhood?

D,
You might want to consider the potential shock-loading effect on the bolt holes since the track is PVC and could distort, become brittle and fail based on age, weather conditions, expansion/contraction, etc. or if a person fell against the dodger where the structural integrity of the PVC sub-frame would be compromised. If you primarily use your boat in protected waters, it probably will be O.K. But, if you sail offshore, I wouldn't trust it. Good luck and safe sailing.
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Old 23-09-2016, 08:44   #9
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Re: Awning Track For Dodger/Sprayhood?

Quote:
Originally Posted by maine50 View Post
Assuming you'd want to roll up the window in the middle of the dodger, wouldn't that require you to slide it sideways out of the track? How would that work? Maybe I'm missing something--
This is a good point. I wonder if making that curved cowling shape with Starboard, which bends easy, would be better? Maybe 3/4 x 1" or something like that. You could use decent size machine screws with that also. Then just use normal dodger/bimini fasters.
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Old 23-09-2016, 09:16   #10
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Re: Awning Track For Dodger/Sprayhood?

Quote:
Is this the aluminum extrusion you found?
Yes, Sailrite sells it but only in 4' and 8' lengths. I got mine from a local aluminum fabricator.
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Old 23-09-2016, 09:41   #11
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Re: Awning Track For Dodger/Sprayhood?

I have a hard top on my dodger. Plastic bolt rope track top and bottom. The lower 4" of the front windows are Sunbrella with penetrations for the lines to pass through. At the top of that 4" are zippers. Then the semi-rigid, windows. The windows are also zippered to each other. I attached the top bolt rope track to the stainless frame of the dodger rather than to the fiberglass. I used stainless steel zip ties to do this. I used a heated blade to put slots in the PVC to receive the zip ties.
My middle window can be unzipped and folded under or removed completely by having cut some material out of the track on the aft side.
One of the things that I appreciate the most about this is that my windows don't live their lives in the sun. They live inside the cabin, secured to the underside of the cabin top. Only deployed before a passage.
I also have a canva cover for them to use, should I not get them off of the dodger right away. I love have clear windows stay clear.
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Old 23-09-2016, 09:53   #12
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Re: Awning Track For Dodger/Sprayhood?

I have plastic slider on the straight parts of my dodger.

The front window has a zipper that curves around the top and the sides. At the bottom, in the slider, is a short piece of Sunbrella with the other half of the zipper.
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Old 23-09-2016, 10:27   #13
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Re: Awning Track For Dodger/Sprayhood?

Actually, suitability for offshore work is what lead me to develop this solution with strength being one of my primary concerns. The plan is to caulk the PVC track to the deck with 4200 in addition to screws.

Bonding the track to the deck and sewing the bolt rope to the bottom of the dodger provides a continuous connection between the parts and is about a million times stronger than the point loading associated with snaps or twist locks and the canvas.

The bottom edge of the dodger will be cut a couple inches long so it will cover the PVC track like a skirt, protecting it from UV, while the bolt rope will be sewn on the inside. I figure I can fit the completed dodger on the frame and then pin or mark the location of the bolt rope before taking it off and sewing it on and hopefully have an easy time getting a good fit.

The other primary concern that lead me to develop this solution was the fact that all dodgers are essentially afterthoughts on any boat that doesn't have a dodger combing.

While minimally spaced snaps have been demonstrated to be adequate for deflecting spray, in my experience they are poorly suited to resisting the onslaught of green water from finding it's way inside of most afterthought dodgers that are fastened with snaps directly to the deck.

I considered for a quick minute building a dodger combing but too much work! I am thinking the use of the track would be a good alternative that will largely eliminate this issue. I expect to have some leakage on either side of the companionway slide but that I can live with and would otherwise expect this system to be largely weathertight.

Regarding the roll up window, the bolt rope will be sewn to a zipper that connects it to the bottom edge of the window. Jus unzip it and then unzip the two on the sides and roll it up. That's the plan anyway.
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Old 23-09-2016, 10:40   #14
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Re: Awning Track For Dodger/Sprayhood?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minggat View Post
I have a hard top on my dodger. Plastic bolt rope track top and bottom. The lower 4" of the front windows are Sunbrella with penetrations for the lines to pass through. At the top of that 4" are zippers. Then the semi-rigid, windows. The windows are also zippered to each other. I attached the top bolt rope track to the stainless frame of the dodger rather than to the fiberglass. I used stainless steel zip ties to do this. I used a heated blade to put slots in the PVC to receive the zip ties.
My middle window can be unzipped and folded under or removed completely by having cut some material out of the track on the aft side.
One of the things that I appreciate the most about this is that my windows don't live their lives in the sun. They live inside the cabin, secured to the underside of the cabin top. Only deployed before a passage.
I also have a canva cover for them to use, should I not get them off of the dodger right away. I love have clear windows stay clear.
Any chance you could post a couple photos? A wide angle and a couple details? I am sure I am not the only one who would be interested to see.
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Old 23-09-2016, 12:46   #15
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Re: Awning Track For Dodger/Sprayhood?

"Actually, suitability for offshore work is what lead me to develop this solution with strength being one of my primary concerns. The plan is to caulk the PVC track to the deck with 4200 in addition to screws."


D,
By caulking the PVC to the deck, in addition to screws, you lose any flexibility of the installation/track to withstand torsional stress loading which can lead to structural failure anywhere along its length and in the channel. By simply screwing it to the deck in epoxy-filled holes, you have a more flexible installation allowing for point loading/torsional episodes. Also, if you have bent the PVC with a heat gun, there is a possible compromise in the tracks structural integrity. Only a well-built hard dodger is capable of withstanding wind/waves and any soft dodger can only be seen as a lesser, more compromised alternative for offshore work. Good luck and safe sailing.
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