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Old 06-21-2013, 02:12 PM   #1
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Flybridge Enclosure / Isenglass recommendations

We're preparing to do the Great Loop. Our 36' Grand Banks Europa has a bimini top over the flybriidge (it appears to be a vinyl type material, not canvas). We're about to begin shopping for a vendor to extend the bimini stern-ward for ~ 4 feet and enclose the front and both sides with zippered isinglass.
What questions should we ask the vendors? Are there thicknesses of isinglass that work better on enclosures than others? Any brands that are better than others? Anything we should avoid?
We have no experience with isinglass enclosures and have never shopped for one, so all recommendations are welcomed.
Thanks, Sue
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Old 06-21-2013, 02:19 PM   #2
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despite what others say...the top canvas guys in my area and my experience says the thinnest clear vinyl actually lasts better as it stays more flexible.

There are some much clearer vinyls for the front or all over if you want to pay, Strataglass® and O'Sea® are two good ones that I know of.
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Old 06-21-2013, 02:40 PM   #3
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I'll second thin glass over thick. My previous owner used thick on our stern enclosure and its a real pain to roll. When the time to upgrade comes we are going thin.
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Old 06-21-2013, 02:47 PM   #4
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So, would you consider 30 mil to be thin and 40 mil to be thick?? Or are you talking less than 30 mil?
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Old 06-21-2013, 03:01 PM   #5
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Putting screens in the openings will help protect you in buggy locals.
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Old 06-21-2013, 03:10 PM   #6
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So, would you consider 30 mil to be thin and 40 mil to be thick?? Or are you talking less than 30 mil?
As I've never purchased eisenglass before I can not intelligently guide you as to mil thickness. I just know mine is thicker than my neighbors and his is easy to roll and about the same age too.

If anything the thicker seems to promote scratching with frequent rolling, just due to the effort involved. If you won't roll often the thick probably wouldn't be such a pain.
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Old 06-21-2013, 03:16 PM   #7
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40 is pretty thick..on my sportfish enclosure I used 20 on the sides and 30 for the front.

The bigger the widow the heavier I would use but on average the 3x3 sides or so 20 is fine...take it down if it's gonna blow over 50 and ALL canvas has to be snug to last.
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Old 06-21-2013, 04:34 PM   #8
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If you are in the Galveston Bay area, I can tell you from my experience who NOT to hire. I'll even give you a tour of his work.
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Old 06-21-2013, 04:40 PM   #9
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Tony,
Ouch! Sounds like you had a bad experience. I'm in SW Florida, not TX, but you bring up a good point. When I get references from potential vendors & check out their jobs ... what would be "red flags" to look for that signal sub-par workmanship on a flybridge enclosure?
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Old 06-21-2013, 05:31 PM   #10
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Sue: Beings how you're in SW Florida, I'm sure that calling a few of the boat yards around Punta Gorda and Charlotte Harbor would give you some insight into who does decent work in the area. We'll soon be joining you as Gulf Coast residents as we're retiring to Longboat Key from Key Biscayne (Miami) at the end of this month. I've got two friends over in Punta Gorda who may also have references. I'll ask.

Great Blog, by the way. We have to face the two-cat challenge you did for the same reason. The plan is to start the loop in the Spring.
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Old 06-21-2013, 08:35 PM   #11
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I can tell you about thickness. I bought Cyrstal Clear 30 mil to do my first try at enclosure. Crystal Clear is the cheapest of the "sheets" of clear. These panels went across the front of the Flybridge. When I got to making my side curtains, they were out of 30, so I got 40mil. The 40 is a good bit thicker than the 30. And ALOT more optically clear. The 30 rolls better and I'm told by a canvas pro that you really shouldn't roll 40.

I got Crystal Clear because it was cheaper. The Strataglass and Osea are better productions, more optically clear and more scratch resistant than Crystal Clear. But I was just learning how to do an enclosure on my own, and I figured I would screw up a few times so I went cheap. After a year and a half of the 30 on the front, I can tell you that the 40 on the sides is definitely more clear and a better view. I will be remaking my front panels in 40 before next winter. I'll probably also get the new tinted glass for more UV protection. I've seen it in pro jobs and it is fantastic.

Anything less than 30 mil and you will be looking through Saran Wrap.
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Old 06-21-2013, 08:42 PM   #12
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Adding on, any professional worth their salt will bring samples to you and explain the pros and cons of each and let you choose.
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Old 06-21-2013, 10:05 PM   #13
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We use both OSea and Strataglass 40 for our customers. We like the Osea as there seem to be fewer manufacturing blemishes in the pressed sheets. Lesser glass is rolled, OSea & Stratglass are pressed acrylics. Both are quality products, with great clarity. OSea is far more forgiving if you touch the glass with suntan lotion on your hands - Strataglass is damaged by ST lotion. Treat these sheets with IMAR and they'll last for a long time. Avoid cleaners containing ammonia. When it comes to storing the glass for winter, we recommend laying a piece of cotton sheet between the panels and lay them flat if you can. A Google search for Marine Fabricators Association will lead you to a directory of Marine Canvas professionals - plug in your zip and see who is nearby. Good Luck!
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Old 06-21-2013, 10:34 PM   #14
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Any tips or tricks to sewing the Osea or
strataglass? My front enclosure glass cracked this spring. I have done a few canvas projects and sewn the cheep 20 mil rolled vinyl but the 30 and 40 mil pressed products scare me. Seem like they might be hard to work with?
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Old 06-22-2013, 06:05 AM   #15
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Duvie, there is no doubt that pressed products are harder to cut and manage through your sewing machine. We usually mask both sides of the glass before pushing it through the machine, and never leave the tape on for more than 24hrs. It is brutally expensive material and you want to ensure you don't scratch or "imprint" it. It usually comes rolled and you want to let it relax on your cutting table for awhile before you begin cutting it. If there is a canvas shop near you, ask him/her for a scrap to experiment with.
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Old 06-22-2013, 07:32 AM   #16
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I really like the strataglass, it's much longer lasting, scratch resistant and clearer then vinyl. While initial cost may be higher, over the life of the product it's much cheaper while performing better.

Strataglass - The Alternative to Clear Vinyl


This is a shot looking out from the veranda, you can see how clear and glass like it is. This is a full encloser with the ability to roll up entirely or to roll up three of the panels with screening for buggy but breezy days.
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Old 06-22-2013, 08:38 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sue Freeman View Post
..... When I get references from potential vendors & check out their jobs ... what would be "red flags" to look for that signal sub-par workmanship on a flybridge enclosure?
I don't know why, maybe just pressed for time, but I did not check out his work. We thought we would be gone cruising by now but the admiral has been having medical problems. Hopefully we will be able to leave late fall early winter.
1) Sloppy fit.
2) The straps that hold the roll up windows were snapped into the Strattoglass instead of into the webbing trim.
3) 80% or more of the snap fasteners were not 'bedded-in. They were just screwed in with no caulking.
4) The roll-up doors were a nightmare to roll up. You had to get down on the deck on all fours, reach around and unsnap a few sections to get slack to be able to zip down the 2 sections of zipper. Long story, has to be seen.
Lots of other things.
He has since repaired some of the repairable items but said he didn't think it was fair that he should be doing this without getting paid. My response was " So, you get paid to do a job and now you want to get paid again to do it right?"

Very disappointing situation.
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Old 06-22-2013, 08:51 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duvie View Post
Any tips or tricks to sewing the Osea or
strataglass? My front enclosure glass cracked this spring. I have done a few canvas projects and sewn the cheep 20 mil rolled vinyl but the 30 and 40 mil pressed products scare me. Seem like they might be hard to work with?
If you have a good machine like a Sailrite, it will plow right through the glass and the canvas...no problems. If you have a home machine you'll be breaking some needles for sure. I used binder clips to keep the canvas in place while sewing instead of tape. I think there is an art form to using tape that I haven't mastered, so I found a better way that works for me. Also, you need a big working space to slide the glass while sewing. Also recommend covering the sewing table with something soft like beach towels or a bed sheet to keep from potential scratches in the glass while you are sewing.

You can buy the glass online or from local fabric stores that stock marine fabrics.

Good Luck!
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Old 06-23-2013, 02:30 PM   #19
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Tony B, can you PM me a name so I do not make the same mistake in the future???
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Old 06-23-2013, 04:43 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sue Freeman View Post
Tony,
Ouch! Sounds like you had a bad experience. I'm in SW Florida, not TX, but you bring up a good point. When I get references from potential vendors & check out their jobs ... what would be "red flags" to look for that signal sub-par workmanship on a flybridge enclosure?
Sue, try Watermans Canvas right there in Englewood. They are off San Casa across from Walmart in a little commercial section. They have done satisfactory work for me. I'm sure they could give you references and even their jobs to look at.
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