Tuesday, December 29, 2015

All Topped Up

Hard to believe I'm saying this, but the weather was nice. Time to get this bimini project wrapped up. We start the day by re-drilling the epoxied holes in the top. Using the drill guide we were able to get the holes drilled pretty much in the center of the epoxy filled holes. It isn't easy holding the drill guide, drill angle adapter, and drill upside down while we bore two inch deep holes in the top, but after numerous breaks due to arm fatigue, we accomplished the task. Unfortunately I made the holes a little too close tolerance in size and had to ream them a size bigger to get everything to fit (easier to do with a guide hole, no guide required this time).

The hole drilling contraption

Of course, in filling the holes, I left a little too much resin on the top side and had to sand off the little "dome" that was created at each hole so we can get the fender washers to seat better against the top. Finally, we were ready to install the supports for the last time.

I decided to create thin rubber pads for the top of the supports where it meets the top.  These pads would help the top of the supports conform to the surface of the top and hopefully more evenly distribute the load.  I used the sheet of nitrile rubber we purchased to create the 1/16 inch pads and cut them to leave plenty of room around the screws (you don't want a seal at the bottom of the screw so any water that might leak through won't be trapped at the bottom). To bed the hardware and prevent leaking, butyl tape that I had previously purchased from Compass Marine was used.  I find this stuff to be an excellent bedding material for anything that is through-bolted, just as is the case for all of these supports.


For each support, I run a strip of butyl tape around the perimeter of the mounting pad that meets the cabin top and encircle each screw hole.  I then insert the screws in the mounting plate and carefully guide the support into position (this stuff is quite sticky, so I find using the screws as a guide is helpful).  We then line up the top and insert the bolts that will hold the top to the supports and temporarily install the fender washers and locking nuts.  Then, for each screw that holds the support to the cabin roof, we remove it, wrap the head with a little butyl tape, and reinsert it.  Once all the screws have the butyl applied, the head of the screw is held stationary while the fender washer and locking nut are installed. The whole thing is then slowly tightened using a crisscross torque pattern until the butyl is compressed a little.  Butyl tape is a bit putty-like, and we will need to re-tighten each of these a few times over the next day or so until it is fully seated in position.

Once the bottom of the support is attached, we return out attention to the screws holding the top to the support.  One by one, each nut and washer is removed, the screw is wrapped with butyl tape where it meets the top, and the tape is pressed around the screw and the top, and the fender washer and lock nut are reinstalled.  Just as before, we slowly tighten each nut using the crisscross pattern until everything is secure.

Three supports later, and the top that we have worked so long on is finally a permanent addition to our boat.  Taking a step back and looking at the whole thing, I have to admit I'm proud of the work that my wife and I have done.  We think the top looks pretty darn good.  Apparently we aren't the only ones as we have received a number of compliments from people who have been here to see it in person. We've been told it complements the boat nicely and looks like it could have come from the factory.  My wife even overheard one of the guys at the boatyard telling someone else that it looked like it came out of a mold.







Not bad at all for two amateur, first-time builders doing hand-laid-up fiberglass in a boatyard. I'd like to say the project is finished, but is any boat project ever really finished?  We have an enclosure to add, and solar panels, and lighting.  But the top itself is done!

14 comments:

  1. hi Mike,
    The top looks great installed and certainly sturdy. You and wife should be proud. You have been lucky with the weather temps recently - days in the 60's and 70's vs 48-50's avg. You going to stick around VA for enclosure work or head south ASAP?
    Doug in VT

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    1. Thanks Doug! Yeah, the weather has cooperated with us recently...maybe to make up for all summer when it wasn't. I think we are going to try to jury rig our current dodger so we have some minimal forward protection, but the goal is to head south as soon as repairs are complete and we get the boat put back together (still need to reinstall the salon headliner panels, put the sails back on, and a few other minor things).

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  2. Congratulations!!! Well done and it looks awesome :-)

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    1. Thanks! With any luck we'll soon be headed your direction.

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  3. Great job Mike, looks very good!

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    1. Thanks! Now that it is done we like it.

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  4. Congrats on getting it done. It's been a long read as I watched you slug thru it day-by-day. I am sure you have a load of pride in building it from scratch like you did. Now, finish it up and get out on the water and start exploring. That is why you bought the boat to start with !!!

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    1. Yeah, it wasn't our intention to spend 5 months building a hardtop, but now it is done. Time to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

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  5. Congrats, looks good. Time to head to warmer weather?

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    1. Thanks! Yes, it is past time to head south and we will be doing that soon.

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  6. Go Mike Go!!! No, seriously, go! It will be nice to see you both enjoying some well-deserved downtime in warmer destinations. Great work, by the way.

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    1. Thanks! Got a few things to wrap up (like turning our project disheveled home back into a boat) and then we will...very soon now. :)

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  7. Congratulations you two!! Job well done and I can't wait to have that champagne toast. Now get down here will ya!?!?!?

    Deb
    SV Kintala
    www.theretirementproject.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks guys! Sounds good. Trying to get down that way as soon as we can.

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