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Old 07-31-2020, 01:37 PM   #1
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Replace canvas Bimini top with hard top

My canvas Bimini top is getting to the point where it needs to be put into well deserved retirement. I was thinking about getting a new one, but then someone suggested that I might want to try a hard top, such as offered by hardtotop.com


I looked at their website, and it looks interesting. Anyone besides Comodave have experience with one? Recommendations for or against?


Once thing concerns me, and that is that Florida has a lot of hurricanes. When one is brewing, I just take the canvas on the boat down and put it down below. But a permanent hard top might be more of a problem, I would think.


Anyway, any good advice is always welcome. Even bad advice, for that matter, since I would hope that I have been in the business long enough to distinguish between the two. :-)


Thanks,
John
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Old 07-31-2020, 01:56 PM   #2
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Caveat: I live on the West Coast and no dick about Florida. However having said that, if it were I with my boat in your marina with the same questions, I'd haunt the marina looking for others with a hard bimini and ask them about their experience. If no one in your marina, I'd search out other marinas and ask the question there - regarding hurricane issues.

I have a hard time believing you would be the first boat with a hard top and I expect many boats in your area have been around for a long time with hard tops so that alone might begin to answer your question.

I am considering building a hard top bimini. I am active in the model railroad hobby and I'm known to step outside the box when approaching a problem. I have seriously considered a few options.

1) To use my current bimini soft top and lay medical guaze used for casting for broken bones in the hospital. You don't have to be a doctor to order this material (I already checked). I would lay this material on top and once it set, its sets like a rock. There is another step I would do so as to use a lighter plaster type material that sets very hard but is lighter called Hydrocal. I would then cover all this with fiberglass.

2) Here is a video of a guy using very cheap material to build his hard top. His method seems very viable to me and I am seriously considering using this method. Video below. I would still use the framing (tubes) I have currently and set this on top of it, instead of the canvas.

This video starts out slow, just hang in there, you will see what I am talking about:

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Old 07-31-2020, 02:17 PM   #3
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We have used hardtotop.com for our current boat and the previous boat. They are simple to install and work well.
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Old 08-01-2020, 07:27 PM   #4
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Your conversion may be inadvertently impacting boats ability to travel portions of the loop.
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Old 08-01-2020, 07:50 PM   #5
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Quote:
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Your conversion may be inadvertently impacting boats ability to travel portions of the loop.
We could not do the western Erie already due to the arch. We only gained about 1Ē in height with the hardtop.
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Old 08-01-2020, 09:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Comodave View Post
We have used hardtotop.com for our current boat and the previous boat. They are simple to install and work well.
I looked at the website. Very interesting system. A hybrid of sorts. I like the way polycarbonate structure lets light in but not heat.
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Old 08-01-2020, 09:51 PM   #7
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Yes, this is our second boat that we have installed them on. We like how well lit the bridge is.
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Old 08-01-2020, 10:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bgillroy View Post
Your conversion may be inadvertently impacting boats ability to travel portions of the loop.

Well, I did my looping many years ago (1995 to 1999, to be exact), and now just enjoy being a river rat. No bridges, no locks, no intricate patterns of crab craps to thread through. :- ) But thanks for the comment, since it may be advice that someone else would be grateful for.


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Old 08-02-2020, 06:36 AM   #9
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Ive been looking at Hardtop for a while and they look good.

When my bimini wears out I am leaning to a hard top/

But two concerns:

how do they fair in heavy winds (when I would have taken my bimini down)

what kind of extra support will I need on my SS bimini frame?

Waiting for those who have these (and they do look nice, strong and well worth the money and effort) to add their experience

Tim
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