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Old 20-04-2019, 17:42   #1
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Building a solid dodger

Has anyone been through the process of replacing their canvas dodgers with a solid one? I'm thinking about it and would appreciate advice from someone who's been there.
Do I take a deck template and build from that? What's the best approach?
How are they fixed?
We'd need to remove it if we ever wanted to remove the engine... But we've just repowered so hopefully that won't be necessary for many years to come..
I'm handy enough to do a decent job once I've planned it properly but there's nothing better than hearing from someone who's done it before...
Thanks in advance.
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Old 20-04-2019, 18:06   #2
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Re: Building a solid dodger

We’re a bit different than you as we have a canvas bimini on a SS tube frame which we want to replace with a hard top (on a catamaran). So we plan to reuse the frame as much as possible for the new bimini, which I’m assuming is not what you can do. We’re also going to continue to have soft side panels and soft clears on the front.

In your case, take a look at boats that do have solid dodgers both as production originals (such as Amels) and whatever post-production add-on dodgers that you can find. Walk on if possible - images only are hard to see the details. Design is very important if you want it to enhance your boat as the hard dodger becomes part of your cabin profile and you probably don’t want your boat to look aft-heavy or over-tall.

A key design criteria is the height of your boom and whether you’ll be able to stand under it. A duck to get under a soft dodger turns into a clunk with a hard dodger. But if you have the height then a nice covered and protected cockpit can become a reality.
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Old 20-04-2019, 18:19   #3
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Re: Building a solid dodger

Actually we've only owned this boat for 3 years... and the dodgers has been in poor repair since we got it with some patching and restitching to keep it going. What's the rough lifespan of a canvas dodger when coastal cruising...?
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Old 20-04-2019, 22:55   #4
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Re: Building a solid dodger

Why is a hard dodger of a given height more of a "clunker" that the same height soft dodger? Makes no sense to me, Fxy!

But IMO, the most common mistake in hard dodger designs is excessive height, followed by too vertical front panels. There is no need to stand under a dodger, we built the hard dodger on our previous boat to be a couple of inches LOWER that it's soft predecessor, mainly to improve visibility over its top when at the wheel. Looked pretty decent with its rounded corners and sloping forward glazing. We chose to put an opening hatch in the top for ventilation... easier to keep from leaking when green water came over the bow and along the flush deck on that boat.

So, keep it just high enough for sitting head room for a tall crew, slope the front and make it strong enough to stand on... very handy for flaking the mainsail.

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Old 20-04-2019, 23:37   #5
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Re: Building a solid dodger

+1- and enough curvature in the roof part.
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Old 21-04-2019, 01:40   #6
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Re: Building a solid dodger

Quote:
Originally Posted by nzmal View Post
Actually we've only owned this boat for 3 years... and the dodgers has been in poor repair since we got it with some patching and restitching to keep it going. What's the rough lifespan of a canvas dodger when coastal cruising...?
Spend a little more on the material cost by upgrading to a product like WeatherMax, then you can expect to get a good ten years out of a soft dodger/sprayhood. Or buy cheap canvas, and keep on replacing every three years.

http://www.safetycomponents.com/WeatherMAX/
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Old 21-04-2019, 08:27   #7
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Re: Building a solid dodger

I've built one on our boat (Challenger 32).
The single most important item is that the forward roof line must follow the shape of the forward cabin top and the aft line follow the profile of the stern.
Also make sure the curtains spill water/rain/run off OUTSIDE the cockpit

Then it will look good.
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[QUOTE=nzmal;2874296]Has anyone been through the process of replacing their canvas dodgers with a solid one?
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Old 21-04-2019, 08:41   #8
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Re: Building a solid dodger

We've been considering replacing our soft top dodger with a hard top and windshield for a few years now.

To that end I've been collecting ideas of interest to us. If you are interested, here is our brief page on this topic with links to several other resources.

I will follow your project with interest.

Cheers! Bill
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Old 21-04-2019, 08:43   #9
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Re: Building a solid dodger

I'm planning to put one on mine. I am thinking of using something thin enough to cut with scissors, yet rigid enough to make and adjust shapes, then cut plywood frames as formers for almost paper thin plywood sheets to because they are thin enough to follow curvatures, tack them in place and once I'm happy with the shape and placement of everything, I'll use it as a mold for using matte and cloth for making the actual dodger, then peel all of the plywood stuff away and I'll hae a strong yet light solid dodger. That is the plan. Also, I will incorporate a boom gallows into the uprights, to support the boom midway
But just as was stated, the shape is critical. You want it high enough to get below yet low enough to not look silly, and wide enough to be roomy, plus fend off wayward water, yet not too wide. Port lights, if added, shouldn't cover too much space because they will weaken the entire structure. I'm not thinking I'll install opening ports because of the added engineering that is required. Still thinking.... any suggestions?
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Old 21-04-2019, 08:43   #10
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Re: Building a solid dodger

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
There is no need to stand under a dodger, we built the hard dodger on our previous boat to be a couple of inches LOWER that it's soft predecessor, mainly to improve visibility over its top when at the wheel.

I absolutely disagree with that! We had our soft dodger made so i can stand under it. On long passages, standing in the companionway is probably the most-used position for the person on watch. Good visibility, good protection from the elements and especially when heeled it is very comfortable to stand there and lean on the side walls. Sometimes even the two of us squeeze into the tiny area.
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Old 21-04-2019, 08:56   #11
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Re: Building a solid dodger

Why not just leave things as they are and simply (and most cheaply), replace the fabric on your present dodger with a more durable product. Less hassle, less work and it’ll cost less money. Plus... when you eventually sell the boat, keep in mind that most buyers really won’t be interested in a converted dodger, especially if it looks added or homemade.
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Old 21-04-2019, 11:17   #12
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Re: Building a solid dodger

I used my frame and made a hard top. Semi rigid windows that are so easily removed means that they don’t live out in the weather full time and will stay new condition.

Much less to design. And totally removable.
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Old 21-04-2019, 11:53   #13
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Re: Building a solid dodger

Not a solid dodger... xcuse to barge in:
I have a great soft dodger with window but no SS tubing/framing.
Who knows where to get that framing for a Catalina 27 around Chesapeake Bay?
Thanks
Sorry for the interruption.
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Old 21-04-2019, 12:07   #14
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Re: Building a solid dodger

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Originally Posted by ferrailleur View Post
Not a solid dodger... xcuse to barge in:
I have a great soft dodger with window but no SS tubing/framing.
Who knows where to get that framing for a Catalina 27 around Chesapeake Bay.
Sorry, but I cannot imagine trying to fit a frame to the canvas. You can fit canvas to a frame, but I wouldn’t try to fit a frame to canvas.
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Old 21-04-2019, 12:09   #15
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Re: Building a solid dodger

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
Why not just leave things as they are and simply (and most cheaply), replace the fabric on your present dodger with a more durable product. Less hassle, less work and it’ll cost less money. Plus... when you eventually sell the boat, keep in mind that most buyers really won’t be interested in a converted dodger, especially if it looks added or homemade.
I agree with this approach. it all depends on one's preference, but we kept our soft dodger, and have renewed the canvas and glass (vinyl) more than once. Yes the hard dodger is permanent, but with the canvas dodger I can (and do) fold it down. I wonder why people are OK with never feeling the wind in their faces?
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