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Old 01-22-2011, 03:32 PM   #1
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Hard Tops for trawler flybridges

I did a search on this subject and didn't find any forum threads so am starting a new one. *We currently have a cloth bimini for the flybridge of our trawler. *Unfortunately, although new, it seems to sit way too high and in our opinion, doesn't really enhance the lines of our Sea Ranger so this year we didn't use it. *We have checked with at least three different companies that make biminies about cutting the frame down to lower the whole thing, but haven't had any positive responses. *

We are looking at the alternative of having a hard top installed instead, but again haven't found any fabricators/installers in our area. (Wilson New York - between Buffalo and Rochester) I am not sure that we have the capabilities to do it ourselves.


So, any thoughts!
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Old 01-22-2011, 04:02 PM   #2
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RE: Hard Tops for trawler flybridges

**I put a hard top on our 40' MT sedan and it does not look as good as the cloth one did. From what I have observed hard tops don't look good on anything less than 50'. The frame and top seem to be oversize for the boat. But what the hey, the hardtop has been on for about 12 years and in that time a soft one would have been replaced at least once if not twice. J.T.Duncan
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Old 01-22-2011, 04:05 PM   #3
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RE: Hard Tops for trawler flybridges

Do you have a picture... I would love to see why you think it doesn't look right on your boat!
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Old 01-22-2011, 04:12 PM   #4
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RE: Hard Tops for trawler flybridges

What size is your sea ranger? It is hard to tell in the pics (speaking of pics, you need to upload pics to the boat picture thread that is a sticky at the top of the "general" section of the forums).

Since you are in the NY area, just a heads up, I have read bad things about a company up that way called Atlantic Towers: http://www.boatered.com/forum/topic....28&whichpage=1

That is from another boating forum. Walter is a straight shooting guy- talked with him multiple times over the years, emails, etc. He's not one to BS.


Other suggestion I would make is to see if whatever top you put up is hinged or easily taken down. Reason being, many buyers of trawlers are looking to do the great loop, inland canals, etc. where air draft can be an issue. A fixed hard top can be a deal breaker for some buyers that don't want to deal with the height issue.
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Old 01-22-2011, 04:25 PM   #5
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RE: Hard Tops for trawler flybridges

Our Sea Ranger is 47 feet. *I will try to upload a few pix to the thread you suggested.*

You are quite right about needing a bimini (hard top or not) that is easy to dismantle.*We brought the boat home from New Hampshire and eventually had to go through the New York Canal system to get her to Lake Ontario, so everything up top had to come down, bimini and radar arch. *We had already changed the radar arch from a fiberglass one to a stainless steel folding arch so it was fairly easy to lower it on its hinges to get under bridges. *We had to take down the bimini completely as it was also too tall.


I will check out the thread you mentioned. *We are hoping to find someone who can help us design a new top... and trustworthy reviews are also important!
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Old 01-22-2011, 06:06 PM   #6
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RE: Hard Tops for trawler flybridges

This is a good option and they have had some very positive feedback. Chuck
http://www.hardtotop.com/
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Old 01-22-2011, 06:44 PM   #7
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RE: Hard Tops for trawler flybridges

Quote:
Woodsong wrote:

What size is your sea ranger? It is hard to tell in the pics (speaking of pics, you need to upload pics to the boat picture thread that is a sticky at the top of the "general" section of the forums).

Since you are in the NY area, just a heads up, I have read bad things about a company up that way called Atlantic Towers: http://www.boatered.com/forum/topic....28&whichpage=1

That is from another boating forum. Walter is a straight shooting guy- talked with him multiple times over the years, emails, etc. He's not one to BS.


Other suggestion I would make is to see if whatever top you put up is hinged or easily taken down. Reason being, many buyers of trawlers are looking to do the great loop, inland canals, etc. where air draft can be an issue. A fixed hard top can be a deal breaker for some buyers that don't want to deal with the height issue.
********* Awkward,* Steve the owner of Atlantic Towers is a boating friend of mine.*

**********He is a nice, honest guy. After reading those posts on the other site it makes
********* me think.** The happy customers are usually the quiet ones. I don't think I will
********* be talking to him about this any time soon.* We talk boats not business.*

**********Small*World.* JohnP*
**********

*
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Old 01-22-2011, 06:57 PM   #8
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Hard Tops for trawler flybridges

Quote:
Delia Rosa wrote:We have checked with at least three different companies that make biminies about cutting the frame down to lower the whole thing, but haven't had any positive responses. *


You might talk to a tubular railing fabricator or whatever you call a shop that specilizes in forming and manufacturing things like bow rails, grab rails, etc.

If the base of your bimini frame is a single tube, with the angled section of the frame mounted on fittings farther up from the base, you could cut the single tube down to reduce the height of the bimini.* This would not alter the geometry of the frame when it opens.* If the frame is more complex with two attach points per side you might stil be able to cut the bases down and maintain the geometry.

A solid top adds weight which may or may not be an issue on your boat, and can add* windage up high depending on how it's designed which, again, may or may not be an issue on your boat.

The appeal to me is that it would be maintenance-free with no fabric and seams to deal with over time.* The disadvantage is that it would always be there. Permanent shade.* Plus I've not seen very many of these things that I thought complimented the lines of the boat except on some Euro-swoop yachts where they tend to work, aesthetics-wise, if you like that kind of boat design to begin with.

High structures are generally not an issue on boats in this area since the major bridges we encounter are either lift spans or were built high to allow the passage of commercial vessels.* I guess things are different on the ICW and inland waterways back east.

*


-- Edited by Marin on Saturday 22nd of January 2011 08:01:17 PM
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Old 01-22-2011, 07:02 PM   #9
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RE: Hard Tops for trawler flybridges

All I know about it is what is in that thread in the link. There may be more or less to that story. I do know that the person who posted that issue is a very well regarded boater and I have known him for probably 8 years or so on that forum. I've never seen him post another thread like that in that entire time. But like I said, I only know what is in that thread. I would just do make sure and do my homework on ANY company I hired and i definitely would NOT pay 100% up front prior to delivery and installation of any product, regardless of anything anyone says.
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Old 01-22-2011, 09:52 PM   #10
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RE: Hard Tops for trawler flybridges

My opinion,
Unless your boat is well over 40' a Flying Bridge (FB) should not be at all or should be kept as light as possible. The best FB for a small boat is one w a framework in aluminum and a canvas cover rather than FG. If your'e handy and it's an old boat light plywood would be a good compromise. The hard top I think your'e talking about is prolly FG so I would advise against it. My opinion will probably be not be supported by the majority here (I think that also happened several years ago) and assuming your boat is in your avitar you probably won't be sorry if you do and it probably will add to the value of your boat.
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Old 01-23-2011, 04:46 AM   #11
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Hard Tops for trawler flybridges

Delia Rosa, I tend to agree with most of what has been said re the hardtop idea.* They look fine on a Selene or Grandbanks of 50' plus, although those same vessels can also look fine with a canvas one if designed right as well.* My boat recently had a need for new canvas, after 50 kn winds ripped the old one to shreds.* I was not sorry, it was nearly cactus, and I asked the trimmer to smarten up the looks and lines by altering the struts a bit in the process, and as you can see, he did a magnificent job.* The lines of the bimini have been changed and flattened and lowered just enough to make it look much less like the hood on a baby's prm, which I never liked, and more flattering to the overall lines.* Your original idea of a bit of fine tuning of your tubing sounds the way to go for mine.
Check the before and after pics below.....
Can you spot the changes to the middle hoop take-off points and length alterations.....
Oh, and yeah, ignore the schizophrenic shifts in the front windows compared to the Avatar, I'm still seeing how I feel about forward raked front screens.



-- Edited by Peter B on Sunday 23rd of January 2011 05:51:22 AM
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Old 01-23-2011, 08:00 AM   #12
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Hard Tops for trawler flybridges

i don't have photoshop on the computer i am on so not able to really edit this photo and all I did was cut/paste a hard top on it but with this sea ranger being a 47', I think a hard top could be put on it and still work with the lines. I lifted this hardtop off a friends boat. His boat is a pilothouse but he ended up finding a hardtop company that makes them for houseboats and one of their stock hardtops fit his boat perfectly.

Again, this pic can't even be called editing b/c I don't have any editing software on this computer so you have to use your creative imagination to see how it could look but I can see how it could look nice on this boat.

P.S. with or without a hardtop, I really like the lines and look of this boat!


-- Edited by Woodsong on Sunday 23rd of January 2011 09:01:38 AM
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Old 01-23-2011, 08:34 AM   #13
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RE: Hard Tops for trawler flybridges

The trouble with a fixed roof, is that it is fixed. In cooler weather, when you don't need protection from the sun, the air flow below the roof can't be stopped without permanent windows, and you will freeze up there. At least with a bimini, you can fold it back and still enjoy driving from up top.
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Old 01-23-2011, 08:52 AM   #14
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RE: Hard Tops for trawler flybridges

Quote:
koliver wrote:

The trouble with a fixed roof, is that it is fixed. In cooler weather, when you don't need protection from the sun, the air flow below the roof can't be stopped without permanent windows, and you will freeze up there. At least with a bimini, you can fold it back and still enjoy driving from up top.
Yes a fixed roof is fixed.* My marina has a 14' maximum air draft (requirement for its permit).* With a fixed roof I could not stay at the marina.* As it is, I have to collapse my bimini frames at high tide to clear a pair of bridges.* They are drawbridges but they don't want them opened more than necessary.

My wife likes to sunbathe on the flybridge.* A fixed roof would kill that.* I am considering a fixed canopy over the cockpit.

*
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Old 01-23-2011, 09:28 AM   #15
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RE: Hard Tops for trawler flybridges

Hi everyone, *thanks for all the input and ideas! *I appreciate all the time people have taken to help out.*We still aren't sure what we will do about the cloth bimini/vs hard top issue, but I can give you a little more info about our particular situation.

The current bimini is, as I mentioned, only two years old, *the frame is original. *The frame is very heavy stainless steel 1 and 1/4" tubing. *There is also a lot of bracing between the cross pieces of the frames so that it takes about two hours to take the bimini down and even longer to put it back up ... it can't just be folded up. *In high winds it feels like we might lose it, we have actually added extra strapping to hold it down... when it rains, we get big puddles up top. *We have tried to stretch the fabric tight to prevent pooling, but still have problems with that. *We've also already had two zipper seams rip. *One of the idea behind *the hard top was to prevent the pooling of rainwater.


I have tried cutting and pasting to lower the existing bimini and see how it might look - I wish I was more computer savvy - and maybe changing the rake of the top or extending it back to the radar arch.


The cut and paste that Woodsong did of a hard top is interesting. *Of course the challenge even with a hard top is that it would have to be able to be disassembled for passage under bridges when we bring the boat south through the New York Canal System unless we can get it lower than 20 feet. *(Currently with the bimini up we are at 21 feet!)


Except for the previously mentioned problems, we are happy to have a fixed roof to provide shade when driving up top. *We are lucky to also have extra room up top on the afterdeck for sunning and if the weather is bad, we drive from the raised pilothouse.


I am attaching a few pix of the existing bimini ...
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Old 01-23-2011, 11:06 AM   #16
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RE: Hard Tops for trawler flybridges

Quote:
Woodsong wrote:

i don't have photoshop on the computer i am on so not able to really edit this photo and all I did was cut/paste a hard top on it but with this sea ranger being a 47', I think a hard top could be put on it and still work with the lines. I lifted this hardtop off a friends boat. His boat is a pilothouse but he ended up finding a hardtop company that makes them for houseboats and one of their stock hardtops fit his boat perfectly.

Again, this pic can't even be called editing b/c I don't have any editing software on this computer so you have to use your creative imagination to see how it could look but I can see how it could look nice on this boat.


P.S. with or without a hardtop, I really like the lines and look of this boat!


-- Edited by Woodsong on Sunday 23rd of January 2011 09:01:38 AM
I think you need to chop it another 12". Low Rider man.

*
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Old 01-23-2011, 12:30 PM   #17
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RE: Hard Tops for trawler flybridges

didn't have time to clean it up and make it look perfect but here is a slightly better version for you. I think it could look pretty nice if you did it with a more solid looking fiberglass arch aft like the one in the picture. The ones that I think end up looking weird are the ones that are just on a light metal frame.You boat is big enough though I think to make a hardtop look good. Being on the east coast it gets hot so a hardtop helps keep the bridge cooled down. If you can keep the top at or under 19' then it would be low enough to do the entire great loop. You could have radar, etc. higher and just put them on a hinged base.
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Old 01-23-2011, 12:57 PM   #18
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RE: Hard Tops for trawler flybridges

Wow... *you did a great job if you ask me! * Now we just need to figure out where we can get the hard top made...

You mentioned that your friend found a hardtop company that makes them for houseboats and one of their stock hardtops fit his boat perfectly. *Do you know which company he used?
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Old 01-23-2011, 02:15 PM   #19
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RE: Hard Tops for trawler flybridges

Delia,
Look at your 1st picture. I'm convinced your bimini extends much too far fwd. Acts like a scoop and it wouldn't take much wind from fwd to exert tremendous force on the canvas top. Think about keeping the bimini top but move it aft 2 feet at least and lower it as much as possible.
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Old 01-23-2011, 02:21 PM   #20
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Hard Tops for trawler flybridges

I think you are right about it being too far forward. *If we end up only modifying the current bimini, we will certainly try moving it back and changing its rake? as well as lowering it... *but we still have the problem of water puddling... it makes pools so heavy that it seems to stretch the Sunbrella fabric which then makes that problem even worse!

-- Edited by Delia Rosa on Sunday 23rd of January 2011 03:26:18 PM
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