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Old 10-02-2009, 11:35   #1
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Hardtop to Replace Canvas

We are livaboards and are considering replacing our canvas bimini and dodger with a hardtop on our sailboat. Any comments re pros and cons and/or suggestions would be appreciated.
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Old 10-02-2009, 12:48   #2
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I am in the process of building a hard top (fixed Bimini) with 400 watts of solar panels and a fixed dodger. I have the solar panels and ordered pipe & fittings yesterday. I am building all aluminum, 1/16 thick bimini and probably 1/8 thick dodger. The solar panels will be recessed and be part of the top (to reduce weight over full skin) to follow crown with awning track aircraft riveted on edges all around for full enclosure ability and beam strength. The dodger will have smoked acrylic with the forward lens operable/removeable, awning track riveted on trailing edge. I will spray using Awlgrip. I have spent roughly one third on all required materials (except solar panels) compared to replacing bimini and dodger in canvas. I have lots of experience with both sheet metal and fiberglass. With some help, I will fabricate bimini frame and top panels in less than two days, dodger in about one day, not including design time, patterning or painting. I am choosing aluminum for speed of fabrication and weight, I could not build that fast in fiberglass. If I were to use fiberglass I would core with honeycomb for strength, but the top would still need a frame and I would build molds. Wood and glass would also take more time. I have previously threatened to post pic's!
Jim
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Old 10-02-2009, 13:02   #3
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I guess I forgot to mention that the fixed bimini frame will also incorporate dinghy davits, outboard lift and a mast for my wind generator, future radar mount and antennas...basically an (radar) arch aft.
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Old 10-02-2009, 13:10   #4
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Celestial sailor built one. Maybe he will weigh in with comments.

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Old 14-02-2009, 01:05   #5
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Good idea as canvas bimini's are usually allways left up.
Previous owner of my yacht Minaret built a solid bimini out of ply, somewhere for the solar panel and strong enough for me to stand on. Getting the engine out would now be difficult, but apparently it unbolts.
Prevous owners new boat will also have a solid bimini soon.

http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~maxlev/images/Minaret2.jpg
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Old 18-08-2009, 14:28   #6
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Ready to Install If'n we don't get a hurricane!

Took a bit longer than planned. How regular work gets in the way. The bottom right Photo is the "Before" a bit hard to see what a mess this will clean up, but I did get my OUTBOARD LIFT! Plus Red and White LED cockpit lights.
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Old 19-08-2009, 19:42   #7
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Ok, so I throw this out there, only cause living in heart of hurricane country, I consider everything. What about the added windage that it creates? In a threat of severe weather, I can drop my bimini, but a hard top, you cant get rid of the top without serious work. Yes, another Irwin same size as mind has it, and I look at it as a liability. Thoughts?
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Old 19-08-2009, 22:01   #8
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We have a fiberglass hard top on what could be called a "bimini-like structure" over the bridge deck (ketch, so no real bimini's for us). It has a welded stainless steel frame and 4 big solar panels on top plus antenna's, lights etc. etc.

And then hurricane Ivan came. The top survived, had a small crack where a fastener between fiberglass and steel frame failed and a couple of welds of the frame were cracked, but it survived well. The reason is that it's a horizontal surface with very little windage.

See attached photo's.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 19-08-2009, 22:47   #9
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Without doubt there is windage to consider. For a real hurricane threat, I could get the panels out in an hour or two...disconnect leads, 30 odd 10-24 through bolts, slice caulk bead. The aft canvas removes quickly. That would reduce windage considerably with the two 21 x 82" openings, not perfect but protecting the solar panels. As added insurance, I have provisions for two shackles on the front bow, to run straps to toerail. The top frame is really stiff with a 1/8 x 2 x 4-1/2 channel welded from the forward arch to front bow/brim. I think lift on the brim is the weakest point, hence the strap provision.
The top is 6' wide x 7' long, not huge but enough to push me around, like my bimini did. Like anything on a boat it's a compromise, added weight aft/aloft, fixed windage, loss of sailing performance...for 400 watts of energy.
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