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Old 12-08-2016, 04:58 PM   #1
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Converting to a hard top

Well - I've thought about it for a while and its time to make it happen.
My bimini top over the cockpit is ancient. It is at least 20 years old, possibly even original from 1980's. The composition is close to 10% duct tape.

I want to mount solar panels, vhf antenna, lights etc up top ( and possibly the dinghy) so I've decided to go with a hardtop.

The negatives of having any sort of cockpit cover are: ducking it under when entering the cockpit from dock or foredeck; and a cover makes it difficult to keep an eye on the sails. To address these issues, I've decided to go with a T-roof arrangement by adding 2 mini-gull wing access doors.

I'm building the hardtop out of epoxy coated 9mm marine ply, with a laminated Tasmanian oak curved outer frame. I haven't weighed it yet, but it feels like about 40kg (88lbs) all up.

It is shaped to suit my rounded stern, and will be supported by 38mm stainless tubing. I plan to trial fit it tomorrow if all goes well.

My phone's not downloading photo's but I'll post some when I get that sorted out.
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Old 12-08-2016, 06:11 PM   #2
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If there is any obstruction for you to see your sail why not to make it using some polycarbonate sheet? You can have some tinted so protect from the sun, and still be able to see through it. And you can even bend it to certain extend.
Just a thought...
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Old 12-08-2016, 07:32 PM   #3
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Another thought: I once saw an Albin 27 with a hard top. What he did was have a folding panel where he boarded. That way he would not clobber his head when getting on the boat. Hinged, with a hook to hold it open. It was nifty...

Just tossing that idea out. The one on the Albin was 24"x24" (give or take)

A cross section with thin lexan would allow you to see.
Heat will be an issue so plan on a way to create shade in those areas not shaded by the solar panels.

Good luck.
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Old 12-08-2016, 09:15 PM   #4
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Sounds like you are well advanced with your design and build, so probably too late. But I think building a frame for solar panels, and using the panels as the hardtop is the best solution. You may well end up fitting solar panels to the hardtop anyway, and then the hardtop structure is kinda redundant and excess weight.
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Old 12-09-2016, 01:28 AM   #5
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Have a clear hatch above the helmsman's position to have a view of sail trim.



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Old 12-09-2016, 02:54 AM   #6
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Thanks for the input but it's ready for a test fit already.
Lou - I considered clear polycarbonate but thought if I needed an opening hatch I just can leave it open for the required vision.

Janice - I did go with similar hatches as you suggested. They will fold inward toward each other and lay flat in the middle. I just need to trim them up tomorrow when I do the test fit.

Mark - I've got a clear hatch above the helm but I would like vision when I'm trimming the sails from the cockpit.

I think this should work ok.
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Old 12-09-2016, 05:37 AM   #7
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Very nice . I think it wil keep the cockpit cooler than canvas also . Nice job .
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Old 12-09-2016, 06:42 AM   #8
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Looks great
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Old 12-11-2016, 01:46 AM   #9
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I had a trial fit of the canopy. A couple minor adjustments required. I will make a small alteration to get the bumper aligning with the cabin better.

So far the canopy is just supported on the old bimini tubing which I cut up. I'll be replacing the 25mm upright posts for 38 mm tubing to make it a bit beefier.

I'm happy with the way the hatches are working out. It's just what I was after.

I still need to paint it after the minor mods are done. Nothing too fancy. Just a single pack, - I may continue with Hempel Multicoat if I can tone down the whiteness a bit. I have one coat on it and it is fairly bright compared to my chalky gel coat.
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Old 12-11-2016, 04:14 AM   #10
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Looking good, but as Brian said - just way to enticing to not put some solar panels up on there - clear of the hatches of course.
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Old 12-11-2016, 06:35 AM   #11
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Nice design and workmanship.
I think you will really like the hardtop.
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Old 12-11-2016, 07:22 AM   #12
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That is great workmanship. Where do you buy the material?
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Old 12-11-2016, 09:38 AM   #13
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Great to see an unconventional modification take shape and turn out perfect! I am sure you have considered adding Solar, and either have no need, or another good reason for going without. I would never rely on SPs to be structural, so I think nothing is lost in waiting until you need them, rather than designing the roof to depend on them for support or rigidity.
Congrats!
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Old 12-12-2016, 02:05 AM   #14
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Thanks for the kind words. Nothing ever turns out perfect, but I'm happy with the results so far. It's a work in progress, and its giving me nice shade.

Al fairly simple materials; marine ply and oak core from the local hardware store, epoxy resin, glue and filler from a marine store. I've been using Bote-Cote instead of West Systems epoxy and I like the way it sets less suddenly.

I picked up the 38mm stainless tube and fittings today from this place. http://www.hammersmith.com.au/ They sell some cool stuff.
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Old 12-12-2016, 11:37 PM   #15
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Converting to a hard top

AusCan,

Very nice work. We have a hardtop cockpit cover on Ebbtide with removable canvas sides and it is wonderful. Do you have a photo of your entire boat with the new installation?

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Old 12-12-2016, 11:54 PM   #16
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It fits nicely with the design of the boat. Good sun protection, just the spot for some solar panels, as Peter already suggested.
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Old 12-13-2016, 12:51 AM   #17
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I'll get some more photos's in the next day or two as a I progress. I completed one 38mm support post in the final position, I'll do the other tomorrow.

It's taking some adjustments to get the lines of the new hardtop blend in well with the existing pilothouse. The pilothouse roof is virtually flat from fore to aft. Rather than a continuing in a straight line, I decided to curl the back of the canopy up slightly to match the slight rise of the lower sheer line. Easier said than done, but after a day of tweaking, its looking the way I want it.
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