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Old 26-12-2008, 07:29   #1
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How to Build Your Own Hard Bimini

Hi

Has anyone of you any experience in building your own "hard" Bimini?

Have no clue about the fiber and expoxi stuff, how does it work? Is it very complicated (i'm quite good whit my hands).

Could you give me a detail work procedure / stepps so i have a clue what it looks like?

Any good books to recommend?

How much time and cash would you guess for a 4.5m to 4m Bimibi?

Best regards
Lagoon
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Old 26-12-2008, 08:07   #2
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well, i've recently built a bimini out of stainless steel tube and screwed fittings in order to support my solar panels. it provides shade when cruising and if i drop canvas on the sides protection from the elements depending on how the canvas is fastened. it doesnt encourage windage in a storm, but the specific intention was to use the solar panels as shade in the cockpit, works fine.

you would probably have to provide some more details of your boat's design, construction, dimensions and cockpit layout, especially with relation to your boom, in order to get specific design details or suggestions.
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Old 26-12-2008, 08:46   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lagoon100 View Post
Hi

Has anyone of you any experience in building your own "hard" Bimini?

Have no clue about the fiber and expoxi stuff, how does it work? Is it very complicated (i'm quite good whit my hands).

Could you give me a detail work procedure / stepps so i have a clue what it looks like?

Any good books to recommend?

How much time and cash would you guess for a 4.5m to 4m Bimibi?

Best regards
Lagoon
Having no clue about "fiber and expoxi" you might want to hire someone to do it if you are seriously planning this project. Molds need to be built and set up properly and if the epoxies, etc are not used properly the whole project will turn out to be a disaster that ultimately cost you a lot of money. There is a lot of info out there on the web and through many fiberglass and expoxy manufacturers for your research but ultimately it takes some practice and experience to have a decent finished job that does not look like it was done a a grammer school project.
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Old 26-12-2008, 09:21   #4
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My boat has an excellent hard custom Bimini made from formed marine ply.\epoxy,with stainless tube joined to aluminum tube posts securly bolted through cabin sides at dodger ,and through cockpit coaming at aft end.It has all around removeable side curtains,I have (3) 80 watt siemens panels on top.Very solid, fairly lightweight and long lasting.See photo.Nice to be dry and out of wind underway and at anchor.In extreme winds I would remove side curtains to let air pass through,to reduce windage.Posts provide good handholds.Bimini was built by company in Sidney B.C.
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Old 26-12-2008, 09:22   #5
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Thanks a lot for your reply, i was not so claer in my question.

I would like to now more about the fiber and expoxi stuff, how does it work? Is it very complicated (i'm quite good whit my hands).

cu
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Old 26-12-2008, 10:13   #6
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Originally Posted by Chuck Baier View Post
Having no clue about "fiber and expoxi" you might want to hire someone to do it if you are seriously planning this project. Molds need to be built and set up properly and if the epoxies, etc are not used properly the whole project will turn out to be a disaster that ultimately cost you a lot of money. There is a lot of info out there on the web and through many fiberglass and expoxy manufacturers for your research but ultimately it takes some practice and experience to have a decent finished job that does not look like it was done a a grammer school project.

Thus spake the crotchety bastard in the corner:

I think it was Newton who said, "If I have seen further than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants", and I am saying you should do the same by asking the customized google search engine found at the top between the "New Posts" and "Quick Links".

I say this because, just this last week I was in your exact position wondering the exact same question. Now, I recalled a fellow on forum posting the pics of his third bimini and thought this might be a good start. But I knew there must have been other threads.

And there were; there still are. On this very site lie many lonely threads, wanting ... waiting to be found, pinning for readership so they could impart their knowledge to you. The want to be read once again and perhaps even tagged or rated. You just have to look.

Now you might be thinking "Hey Smart@$$, I'm a busy man, just answer the question". You would not be the first to have said that...

So, let me suggest a course of action that will explain why I quoted Chuck's comment and not your question.

Have a soft-top bimini made for you but with the pipes of sufficient diameter, wall thickness and material for future construction. Explain to the manufacturer how your plans the future and see if he has any suggestions (such as using 1 to 1-1/4 inch 316 SS pipes -- but that's just a simple man's guess).

If the logic of this escapes you consider that it will not only give you overhead protection, but time. Time which you can use to gain the skills needed.

Or, on the other hand you could just find the post I'm referring to (amongst others) and wing it.
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Old 26-12-2008, 11:01   #7
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Originally Posted by lagoon100 View Post
Thanks a lot for your reply, i was not so claer in my question.

I would like to now more about the fiber and expoxi stuff, how does it work? Is it very complicated (i'm quite good whit my hands).

cu
Everyone has different comfort levels, but I found similar projects to be fairly straight forward once I learned the basics. I much prefer working with epoxy resin to other resins.

Making a bimini top could be a fairly straight forward project. The simpelest to construct I've seen was to make a frame SS tubing and then simply bolt a top onto it made of plywood, glass and epoxy resin.

I've been thinking of making one like that which has an integrated boomkin as well as lip to catch and funnel rainwater.
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Old 26-12-2008, 14:16   #8
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Quote:
Have a soft-top Bimini made for you but with the pipes of sufficient diameter, wall thickness and material for future construction. Explain to the manufacturer how your plans the future and see if he has any suggestions (such as using 1 to 1-1/4 inch 316 SS pipes -- but that's just a simple man's guess).
It's a beginning. It is easier to make a solid frame that can structurally handle all the loads using conventional 1 inch tubing. Unless you also want a structural arch I would not get into 1 1/4 inch stock. Arches need joinery to the hull below decks. The 316 SS 1 inch fittings get expensive and 303 fittings look like crap after a year or less. Interconnection of several continuous tubes can make a very strong frame. After that the Bimini is just a sheet of whatever since it has no structural purpose. That is what you want since you won't be tap dancing up there. Steel tubes are far stronger than sheets of fiberglass. Add side curtains, solar panels, radar and wind vane to suit.
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Old 26-12-2008, 14:21   #9
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Lagoon100,

If you need to ask on a forum you don't need to be doing it. Read some books and free info. from manufactorers of glass products. Then come back and ask.

I don't mean to be negative, but do some homework.
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Old 26-12-2008, 15:32   #10
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Your timing is perfect. I am about to begin fabrication of my own hard dodger on a Searunner 40 trimaran. First, I looked at Google images for "hard dodger" for ideas beyond my own immediate thoughts. I asked some folks who had built hard dodgers on Searunners, who sent photos in their Cruisers Forum input. Then I played with some other ideas and have decided on a direction to pursue. I took photos of my own boat, from abeam and forward and from aft, printed them on paper, then went at them with a felt tip pen, sketching various views and ideas. I have now graduated to the cardboard scale model of the surviving idea. Next I will make some full scale cardboard templates (as soon as the winter rains stabilize) and fit them in place to get a feel for the structure. That gives me an idea of the construction challenges I'll face. Then, it's time to cut up some Baltic birch plywood for the components, stitch them together with soft wire, and confirm all is well with the design. Then, I will assemble the vertical sides, using stitch and glue technique, then fabricate the dodger roof. I have wrestled with the issues and compromises of clear plexiglass versus tempered glass, and light weight and cost have won. I already owe a bunch of photos for my current projects, so you'll have to wait until later this spring to see the dodger pics. Having survived the square wave impact of a big greenie off Hawaii (in another boat), the dodger will be a bombproof haven from the real world outside the cockpit.
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Old 17-09-2011, 05:14   #11
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Re: Build your own hard Bimini, how?

I have made several hard tops using Starboard. 3/8 for a dodger or 1/4 for bimini. You can get a 4 X 8 sheet from a commercial plastic supplier for much less than going to a marine supplier. Just bolt it to a standard 1" SS frame
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Old 17-09-2011, 12:57   #12
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Re: How to Build Your Own Hard Bimini

I've built many custom hard tops in foam core and fiberglass. It has many advantages, including high strength and light weight, ability to lay PVC pipe in the core for wireways during construction, longevity, ease of maintenance, etc. etc. Our tops are much lighter than any ply top but can take much more weight than most, walking on it is nothing. We built a large custom laminating table specifically for bagging hard tops. It's upper skin is a finished mold but it has an adjustable camber. We just adjust the camber where we want it and then set up a mold on the laminate table using temporary MDF sides and wax fillets. Perfect part every time. I think light weight and strength are crucial in a hard top and wouldn't go any other way.
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Old 07-09-2016, 21:25   #13
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Re: How to Build Your Own Hard Bimini

So do you recommend 1" SS for a hard bimini? Can regular steel tubing be used?

I am looking at making a hard bimini for 4 solar panels and I would like to put hard bimini material beneath the panels.

Where can I AFFORDABLY buy fittings for this? Where can I buy the tubing? Can I use a bender?
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Old 07-09-2016, 22:13   #14
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Re: How to Build Your Own Hard Bimini

Quote:
Originally Posted by minaret View Post
I've built many custom hard tops in foam core and fiberglass. It has many advantages, including high strength and light weight, ability to lay PVC pipe in the core for wireways during construction, longevity, ease of maintenance, etc. etc. Our tops are much lighter than any ply top but can take much more weight than most, walking on it is nothing. We built a large custom laminating table specifically for bagging hard tops. It's upper skin is a finished mold but it has an adjustable camber. We just adjust the camber where we want it and then set up a mold on the laminate table using temporary MDF sides and wax fillets. Perfect part every time. I think light weight and strength are crucial in a hard top and wouldn't go any other way.
+1 on this. And I covered the how to of laminating a one off top like this in great detail, in this thread Best Hardtop Bimini Ideas - Page 2 - Cruisers & Sailing Forums
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