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Old 08-21-2018, 08:49 AM   #1
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Adding a hardtop

All,

I'm considering adding a hardtop to my 40ft Mainship to eliminate the isenglass and fabric that is a PITA. And to give better shade because it can be sized better and to have a spot to add solar.

Looking for fabricators who can make the hard top, and/or install.

And ideas for designs, materials, etc.

I envision a really light weight product that is strong and easy to work with, perhaps aluminum or some new high tech composite material, kevlar, carbon or something?

And putting real glass in the front. Or perhaps that new replacement of isinglass or stataglass, don't remember what it is.

Don't mind a DIY project, but would hard someone to do most of the work.
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Old 08-21-2018, 09:58 AM   #2
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I have seen lightweight hardtops that replace a canvas bimini and use the existing bimini framing. But you seem to want an integrated hardtop with composite sides or windows like the pic of a Krogen Manatee below.

So, what you want is a composite fly bridge enclosure with glass or plexiglass or ?? sides, right?

It won't be cheap and it won't be light. It will weigh a thousand pounds or so and may affect your boat's stability.

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Old 08-21-2018, 10:55 AM   #3
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We put a hardtop on our current and also a previous boat from hardtotop.com. It is lightweight and easy to install. You use your bimini frame for the structure. It comes in panels so they can ship it fairly easy. I had the front and first panel on each side fabricated out of EZ2CY. They are optically clear like glass. The rest of the enclosure I made myself. For the EZ2CY panels I made a pattern and sent it to a fabricator in New Jersey. He made the panels and shipped them to me. They fit perfectly and are awesome.
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Old 08-21-2018, 11:20 AM   #4
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I am looking at building a hardtop over my aft deck to get more shading as well as support for solar panels. At the moment I look at building this as a sandwich of thin plywood sheet and honeycomb reinforced by fiberglass and epoxy, it should be quite light and not too difficult to achieve. Now I need to think about the vertical structure to hold it though.

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Old 08-21-2018, 11:27 AM   #5
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Seevee,
The PITA isenglass may be a blessing compared to the very high CG of even more weight topside. I’d vote for leaving it as is.
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Old 08-21-2018, 01:47 PM   #6
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All,

I'd bet that there are some light weight solutions. I'm not putting 1000 lbs up there, and heck the isinglass has weight, granted not bad, however horribly unfunctional.

Eric,

Plywood reinforced with fiberglas is heavy. I'm betting there's better materials out there.

With this thread I'm hoping to find folks that have done this, light wight and successful. Found 2 so far.
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Old 08-21-2018, 01:52 PM   #7
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Aftermarket hardtops are fairly common. I would opt for aluminum framework over SS for weight and cost. I wouldn't bother with a solid windshield since you have a lower helm. You can get much thicker gauge of isinglass which doesn't roll up. It is smoother and easier to see out of. I'm not sure how much more shade a hard-top would actually provide.

A simple search for "Custom hardtops in St Petersburg" turned up a ton of hits.
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Old 08-21-2018, 03:24 PM   #8
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My last hardtop for a 37" sport fish was aluminum tube with small square on top and a thin skin of fiberglass on top...supports for radar and a place to crawl out to it.


Whole thing may have weighed a couple hundred pounds.


If I did it to my current boat, I would have the same with EZ2CY or an equivalent front and sides.


The nice light weight ones aren't that heavy, but still a lot of windage.
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Old 08-21-2018, 03:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Comodave View Post
We put a hardtop on our current and also a previous boat from hardtotop.com. It is lightweight and easy to install. You use your bimini frame for the structure. It comes in panels so they can ship it fairly easy. I had the front and first panel on each side fabricated out of EZ2CY. They are optically clear like glass. The rest of the enclosure I made myself. For the EZ2CY panels I made a pattern and sent it to a fabricator in New Jersey. He made the panels and shipped them to me. They fit perfectly and are awesome.


Iíve considered replacing the canvas Bimini with something from hardtotop.com. It looks like a great system.
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Old 08-21-2018, 03:51 PM   #10
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Iíve considered replacing the canvas Bimini with something from hardtotop.com. It looks like a great system.
It is pretty neat. I have done 2 of them now. You can easily install it in a day. I made mine on the current boat larger than the bimini top was. I ran it back and attached it to the radar arch which gives me a lot more headroom going up and down the steps to the bridge. They are located about 2 hours away from where I live so I just drove down and picked them up and put them on the roof of the car. The current top is pretty large and weights about 100 pounds. I made it so the front of the enclosure has a negative angle and the hardtop extends out over the front panel about 6Ē. In a light rain I can even leave the front panels open unless it is blowing. With the EZ2CY panels and 210 wax the rain drops run off pretty well so visibility is good compared to regular eisenglass.
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Old 08-21-2018, 05:29 PM   #11
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Aftermarket hardtops are fairly common. I would opt for aluminum framework over SS for weight and cost. I wouldn't bother with a solid windshield since you have a lower helm. You can get much thicker gauge of isinglass which doesn't roll up. It is smoother and easier to see out of. I'm not sure how much more shade a hard-top would actually provide.

A simple search for "Custom hardtops in St Petersburg" turned up a ton of hits.
Yes, there's a lot in St. Pete, but most want to do fishing boats. I need to get more info about the thicker isinglass and their competitor that I saw at the boat show, but forgot their name. Regardless of the lower helm, I really want rain and sun protection so I can just stay up.

The original canvas design for the mainship was very poor for the front of the cockpit area and a lot of folks have added an eyebrow shade extension of sorts in the front that works well. I'd design the hard top to have this extension.

So many times there's a light or short duration rain that could easily be handled if I could close things up quickly and still see.

Thx for the comments.
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Old 08-21-2018, 09:32 PM   #12
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You might want to look at these folks. They'll make what you want to fit your boat and ship it to you. I haven't actually seen their product, but pics look cool.



Shelley GoldenVice President of Sales & Marketing
Atlantic Towers & St. Croix Marine Products
Box D , 235 Hickory Lane
Bayville, NJ 08721
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Old 08-21-2018, 10:18 PM   #13
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Yes, the Atlantic Towers hardtops are very very nice. I put one on a previous boat. However they are also very very expensive since they are a custom fiberglass hardtop. I canít say anything bad about them since the one they made for me was beautiful and fit precisely.
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Old 08-22-2018, 10:20 AM   #14
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I struggled to add a photo from my Ipad....it shows two of Atlanticís hard tops that I purchased and had them install. The first was over the rear deck and that was 10 years ago. The photo also shows my newer canvas that I made a for it a couple of years ago. Still need to update my avatar
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Old 08-22-2018, 10:46 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seevee View Post
All,

I'd bet that there are some light weight solutions. I'm not putting 1000 lbs up there, and heck the isinglass has weight, granted not bad, however horribly unfunctional.

Eric,

Plywood reinforced with fiberglas is heavy. I'm betting there's better materials out there.

With this thread I'm hoping to find folks that have done this, light wight and successful. Found 2 so far.
I remember being told that I would need a crane to install the last hardtop while our boat was at the dock. So I brought a bunch of guys to help with the install. This much I certainly do recall that surprised me, the hardtop, 120” X 109” was surprising light. I doubt it weighted much over 100#s if even that.

Included is my well worn out dinghy cover before I made a new one
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Old 08-22-2018, 12:04 PM   #16
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Those Atlantic Tower hard tops look good. Anyone have one built and shipped to CA? Work out ok?
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Old 08-22-2018, 12:08 PM   #17
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There are probably 10 guys in a 20 mile radius of me that make them to the same or better standard than Atlantic....who is good and reasonable because they have become good at what they do including advertising, using measurements or old patterns and shipping.


My guess is there are guys close to every boating center that do the same work.


Check around before you have one shipped a long way.
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Old 08-22-2018, 12:39 PM   #18
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The problem with any hardtop like the Atlantic Towers is shipping. When I ordered it I was told shipping would be about $800 to Michigan. The final shipping was over $1500. By the time I had the actual shipping the top had been made and I had paid for it. Shipping to CA would be really expensive based on my experience.
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Old 08-22-2018, 01:01 PM   #19
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Agree, makes sense to have someone in the local area do it so they can get on the boat. Have not done any research on this, but will do it eventually. OP, sorry for the thread drift.
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Old 08-22-2018, 01:02 PM   #20
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Are you planning on adding AC to the flybridge? Otherwise going with fixed or thicker material panels might be even more tedious to open/remove.

Our EB47 came with some that are nearly rigid. You had to basically hinge arc-in-and-up and use straps to lash them to the underside of the bimini. I'm tall and the edges of them were just close enough to be a hazard to me forehead. They're now stowed onshore in a storage locker, waiting for much colder weather (aka Hell freezing over).

A hardtop would buy me a place to mount ceiling lights but that's about all. If mine had one I wouldn't get rid of it, but I'm it's not on my 'must haves' list.

I'd be very skeptical of approaching this as a DIY project. Both from the weight of the top itself and from properly arranging framing (and added support under the existing fiberglass for the it). Outfitting it once someone else designed/fabricated it, sure, but not making it from scratch. I'm thinking top makers have already done all the homework on figuring out the best cost and material weight ratios for stuff like this.
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