Hard Tops for trawler flybridges

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Delia Rosa

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2011
Messages
372
Location
Canada
Vessel Name
Delia Rosa
Vessel Make
C & L Sea Ranger 47 Raised Pilothouse
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!
 
**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
 
Do you have a picture... I would love to see why you think it doesn't look right on your boat!
 
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.asp?TOPIC_ID=116528&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.
 
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!
 
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.asp?TOPIC_ID=116528&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*
**********

*
 
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
 
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.
 
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.
 
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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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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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.
 
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.

*
 
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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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.

*
 
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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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?
 
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.
 
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
 
nomadwilly wrote:

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.
As far as the bimini being too far forward, I say it is not. If it doesn't exend well beyond the passengers, it won't protect them from sunlight or rain as they come in at an angle.As to scooping more air because it is further forward, I also say no. The angle of attack being the constant, it would make no difference whatsoever whether you move it forward or back.

*



-- Edited by Carey on Sunday 23rd of January 2011 07:08:56 PM
 
Now I'm confused!...
 
* I'll see if I can find one. J.T.Duncan
 
Delia Rosa,
I emailed my friend- he said they used this company:
http://www.fiberglassconceptsinc.com/aboutus.html

if you click their hardtops link it looks like they have several standard sizes:
http://www.fiberglassconceptsinc.com/htop.html

Looks like 12'x6' is their smallest top- may be too big for your boat?? He said the hardware was fabricated by a local shop and the vertical stock ordered from Taco Marine.

Hi s boat is a 54' pilothouse so those size tops fit his boat just right- you'd have to measure and see if they are too big for your 47.
 
Delia Rosa is shrink wrapped for the winter, but come springtime, I will double check her measurements..... this could be an interesting solution! *Thanks for all the research and ideas!
 
Delia Rosa,What if you had a new Bimini and frame built that let the Bimini attach to your radar arch? I found an old pic of our Present 42 prior to the current Bimini being installed. You can see it was a vast improvement. We never have water pooling problems but have had the zippers ripped loose a couple of times in high winds. We had our canvas guy sew heavy line/ loops at the beginning of the zippers to strengthen the area the last repair and we tie this string around the SS frame.
 

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The current Bimini top is fairly flat. If you decide to stay with a bimini canvas top consider Forkliftt's suggestion but also have the top bows made/remade with much more bow or curvature.

There are a lot of longitudinal spacers between the bows also. Can you remove them or some or get them mounted with a hinge and socket setup for easy setup or removal.

It may take some talking to a fabricator to get what you want, lowered, no puddling, and quick knockdown. The original owner may not have worried about those issues.

Look at lots of other boats and of course hopefully some ideas will be of use from here.

-- Edited by C lectric on Monday 24th of January 2011 12:48:06 AM
 
Have no desire for a flybridge.* It's only for "fair weather, smooth water" cruisers unless one enjoys paying twice the cost of controlling one's boat by also*having an inboard helm station.* Saw a video of an experienced boater passing over a harbor bar for the several-hundredth time, and the breaking waves*shoved his boat over something like 45 degrees, and he was tossed out, breaking his neck, and permanently leaving this world.*
 
Carey wrote:
As far as the bimini being too far forward, I say it is not. If it doesn't extend well beyond the passengers, it won't protect them from sunlight or rain as they come in at an angle.
Carey is correct.* Whether this puts the front of the bimini forward of the flying bridge depends on the seating configuration.

The photos show our bimini deployed--- it is the stock frame for this boat.* While it looks tall it's actually not much higher than it needs to be to let a tall person stand up beneath it.* Unlike the bimini on Delia Rose, however, it's about a three minute job to deploy or stow it as there is only one moving frame section.* When deployed this piece is held in place with a pair or lines that clip to fasteners low on the forward corners of the flying bridge.

The uniflite I did a lot of fishing on in Hawaii had a factory-installed bimini and it, too, extended forward of he flying bridge face.* Not a lot, but enough to keep the sun off us for a good part of the day.

But Eric is also correct, a bimini can catch wind from the front because it's deflected up by the face of the flying bridge.* While we never drive from the flying bridge we often leave the bimini up on cruises since we like to sit up there once we get where we're going.* While we've never had a problem with side winds or winds coming from aft, there have been times when we've gone up and stowed it because a wind from the front looked like it was putting too much of a strain on it.

Even when stowed* a bimini is susceptible to strong winds.* In our marina during the winter gusts of 60 to 80 mph are not uncommon.* So we install an "X" brace of transverse diagonal lines to keep the bimini frame from whipping side to side in the gusts.

*
 

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Would love to see the staysails flying.* Or is there a sailboat hiding there?


863136


-- Edited by markpierce on Monday 24th of January 2011 01:44:29 AM
 
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