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  1. #1
    Petty Officer 3rd Class
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    Default Home made hard tops?

    Has anyone done a DIY hard top for a boat?How'd it go? what materials did you use for the support posts? Top?

  2. #2
    Moderator Bondo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Home made hard tops?

    Yep,It's more of a Simi-Rigid Bimini......Migged up a bunch of Aluminum Conduit, Hospital Bed Parts,+ a couple pieces of a Railroad Crossing Barricade......... Covered it with NATO Tent Material,+ Had Plastic Windows built to close it in........
    Any Grease is Better,..... Than No Grease at All.......

  3. #3
    Petty Officer 2nd Class
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    Default Re: Home made hard tops?

    Call me crazy but, I plan to "TRY" 1" emt aluminum pipe with 1/2" or 3/4" bracing and Alumaloy. The top itself will be 1/4" ply sandwhiched between to peices of plastic used for shower enclosures and rubber u channel capping. I've used the Alumaloy before with good results. I've been studying many tops in my area and have some design ideas. I figure I should be able to build it for under $500 or so. Will be nice to finally get the radar done!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Home made hard tops?

    Brian, Yeah, sounds like you are confidant in your materials and skills. Good luck with it. I am going the encapsulated fiberglass route. My top is (hopefully) going to look like the MJM Yachts Z34 downeast sportfisher's hardtop. I am taking some of the style elements, and have adapted many of their structural elements too. their site is www.mjmyachts.com I especially like the size of the windows, and how they are using the vinyl sides and back enclosure...Thanks-

  5. #5
    Petty Officer 2nd Class
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    Default Re: Home made hard tops?

    My top will be free standing as my boat is a 23' walk around. I've always like the down east style boats. They have such nice lines. Not too many around here though. I'm keeping a picture log as the transformation goes on.

  6. #6
    Petty Officer 3rd Class
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    Default Re: Home made hard tops?

    Thought you guys might like to check out a manufacturer Sharpe Products that makes all kinds of aluminum and stainless elbows, fittings, etc for your hardtop projects. They can even do custom bending for you, so you can get pretty fancy with your designs if you like. The aluminum elbows are Sch. 40 6063 alloy, which has very high corrosion resistance properties.I thought about fabricating a hardtop for my boat as well, but I've run out of time. I may do it this Fall after fishing is over. Please post pictures of your completed projects for others to enjoy. Good luck!p.s. - To the moderators: I am in no way affiliated with Sharpe Products. I've just searched all over the web trying to find parts that would best fit my project and they came out on top.

  7. #7
    Senior Chief Petty Officer
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    Default Re: Home made hard tops?

    I would use 1 1/4" EMT if you plan to support a sheet of plywood, I bet the 1" would work but i am always trying to go extra on strength.

  8. #8
    Petty Officer 2nd Class
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    Default Re: Home made hard tops?

    I was going to use the 1 1/4" pipe, but the bender is pretty expensive and would only be used for this job. The 1" and 1/2" benders are stock items for Home Depot. I will check a rental place and see if they have one I can rent that would be much cheaper.

  9. #9
    Seaman Apprentice
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    Default Re: Home made hard tops?

    The general rule is that 1" EMT is max that you can bend with a hand bender.

  10. #10
    Seaman Apprentice
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    Default Re: Home made hard tops?

    Got to tell you guys about the hardtop I saw many years ago on Hilton Head Island, SC. This old fisherman had an OLD 25' Bertram, yeh....it was a hardtop...seems he had cut the top, posts included from an old NASH automobile and attached it. Man, but it did look weird, but it kept him dry. The old salt fished weeky, received a pension from the navy and loved his boat. I think about him from time to time and realize that's what its about,...Fish'in and be damned what anybody thinks about my boat...cause it works for me!B O A T bring on another thousand

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Home made hard tops?

    what about rigid exterior foam insulation coveredwith glass or epoxy? would never rot and wouldn'trequire much support due to light weight?thinking out loud....M.Y.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Home made hard tops?

    Foam sounds like a good idea. I plan to incorporate an e-box into the design. Nothing real fancy, just enough to hold 2 VHFs and 1 ot 2 other things. I may also do a smaller e-box on the other side of the helm for the sounder, not sure though.

  13. #13
    Petty Officer 3rd Class
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    Default Re: Home made hard tops?

    If you plan to encapsulate rigid foam insulation (like the kind you can buy at Home Depot) for your hardtop, make sure you use epoxy resin. Polyester resin will eat this type of foam up. Making a hardtop from rigid foam is a good idea because you can easily shape it with a sharp knife. One of the downsides is that it offers no support under the fiberglass skin so it could crush or crack easily. Note that surfboards are made from shaped, rigid foam, then covered with fiberglass mat and resin.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Home made hard tops?

    Hi, Sorry for no update-Thing go slow. I have designed and cut both sides for the top and have sanded the edges. These other methods seem experimental to me. I bit the bullet and am going with 3/4 marine grade plywood. The weight will not be a factor as I'll use fiberglass to reinforce the joints and encapsulate the whole thing. I MAY use square aluminum tube for the arch under the top uin the back of the top, we'll see. I promise pics when there is something to show.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Home made hard tops?

    plywood will work, but is pretty heavy. most boatmanufacturers use balsa wood. good luck and postsome pics for us.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Home made hard tops?

    Mellowyellow, OK, I broke down and took a pic. We see here the side wall of the hardtop. The front lower edge is cut out to fit over the upper edge of the windshield nicely. Weight wise this piece is light, maybe 4 pounds, so I'm keeping an eye on that. The reinforcing pieces are still being "engineered".

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Home made hard tops?

    Mellowyellow, OK, I broke down and took a pic. We see here the side wall of the hardtop. The front lower edge is cut out to fit over the upper edge of the windshield nicely. Weight wise this piece is light, maybe 4 pounds, so I'm keeping an eye on that. The reinforcing pieces are still being "engineered". Sorry, No pic yet as I thought I could attach a file of my pic

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Home made hard tops?

    YES! I did it! I made a real hard top for my boat. I have all the facts.

  19. #19
    Moderator Bondo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Home made hard tops?

    Quote Originally Posted by santa666 View Post
    YES! I did it! I made a real hard top for my boat. I have all the facts.
    Ayuh,... So,.. Where's the Pictures,..??
    Any Grease is Better,..... Than No Grease at All.......

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