One of the tasks I've been struggling with on this hardtop bimini build has been how I was going to apply the edge detail. I wanted to use PVC for all the reasons I had previously mentioned (makes a good handhold and can integrate supports for the enclosure) but thus far my attempts to get it to follow the curve at the front of the hardtop have been foiled.
I decided the only real option I had if I wanted to use the split-in-half PVC pipe was to use heat to attempt to curve the pipe by hand. No tools or jigs, just the heat gun and a flat piece of board. I did trace the curve from the top onto the board to help use as a guide, but that was it. I would heat up the pipe until it was somewhat flexible (but not so hot it would deform or flatten on its own...which it will do at the right temperature) and gently curve it along the line. Every so often I would take it over to the top to test the fit.
The result was a curve that wasn't perfect, but using clamps I could get it to stay in the right position along the edge of the top. I had heard that superglue could be used to hold it in place until it was glassed over, but the texture of the raw fiberglass made me wonder if it would stick well enough. Not having any better ideas, I gave it a try. The superglue did the trick and I was able to glue each section of tube down in 5 or 6 places using clamps. After a couple minutes I could remove the clamps and the tube stayed put.
So, now I have all the PVC pipe attached to the top and it looks like it will work just fine. So, I guess my stint playing with plumbing is over for now. Next, I need to create the finishing pieces for the ends of the PVC.