Boat Projects Forum

DIY Bimini

by betty boop » 22 Jun 2017, 20:52

So...... after buying a boat exactly a year ago it soon became very obvious it was missing a camp able Bimini cover and it was one of those things that got forgotten int he excitement of buying a new boat. (Lesson 1). After the 1st quote of over £3k it was soon obvious that it wasnt going to be sometime made to measure professionally either. Yes that was the biggest quote likely and it could have come down lower but even the cheapest at £2k wasnt going to happen as Im a firm believer of if it doesnt add value then there is a definite limit to what is outlaid. Anyway ........lots of talk and discussion and mock ups / trials with 22mm copper left over from my plumber days and an ebay Cheap cheap boat cover found that nothing fitted the bill and she needed a full Bimini made. Design 1 was for a full stainless frame in the traditional boat style, bent to form a 2 arch foldable design that would link to the half Bimini that was factory supplied when new. Unfortunately lack of employment caused a few shortages in the project so it was decided to make it all DIY as cheap as possible (sorry if I offend any of the just pay and get it done probably folks out there).

After reading in PBO mag that bending stainless was easy at home 1 sourced 12M of 19mm 2mm wall polished Stainless 316 locally for £85, and £90 worth of 316 Bimini & deck fittings. The belief that 19mm would be easier to bend - HA big mistake (lesson 2) - You cant bend SS at home, YouTube? -forget it. 1st attempt broke the pipe bender and the work mate. I could have persevered with routers and wall mounted benders but it was soon evident that a bimini frame 2300mm or so wide wasnt going to be best for trailering anyway, would spoil the open lines of the deck and be a pain for someone 6'4" walking around the deck on the rivers we frequent with LOW bridges. Plan 2 was formed in the way of a take apart frame that can be stored in the deck long water tight compartment accessed from the cuddy. Using the deck fitting and Bimini hinges it would collapse into 2 legs and 2 roof struts. The problem was/is the corners with a sweeping curve. So far the option is 16mm Ali from Wickes, bent to a curve and slotted in the 19mm - 2mm walled SS. Shop Ali isnt the answer though as it is weak and 1 corner fractured. (this is still on going, the plan is to have a local SS fabricator Mandril bend 22mm SS and braze new corners on the existing 19mm. Other options are to replace al the 19mm SS with prebent 4mm walled Ali -and have it anodised. Lesson 3 wold have been get it done like that to start with but we live an learn for next time. A local Ali Mill will sell 10m of 22mm 4mm walled ali for £30. no brainer really.)

So we now have a frame in place and stored when required albeit carefully for this season.

Material - This was a case of bargain hunting, A seller came up on ebay last years selling off cuts of Sunbralla - I missed those but Fast forward 6 months and he had 50sqM of Weathermax nylon canvas for £50 - in narrow but very long strips or odd shaped panels. Given our weird shape and desire to be cheap as chips that auction was won at any cost & purchased together with 10sqM of window material for £5 in the same courier bag. Weather Max is quite special it seems, like a teflon coated rip stop nylon, no stretch zero light penetration and UV proof kevlar type material but sewable easily. and at £15 a 1.5 SqM retail you see the bargain to be had here.

Sewing machine, the dear young lady who puts up with me was beaten as a kid into sewing lessons so had the know how but not the machine. Ebay again for a £200 Very heavy duty 1960's machine, refurn'd as new with a year G/tee'ed - the idea to sell it afterwards recoup £100-£150 hopefully.

All the other incidentals have been sourced on ebay or via North fabrics - lesson 4 buy in trade bulk. Things like thread I seriously underestimated and paid 3 times the cost for retail then found I needed bulk, but quality stuff. I wasted a few £10's here n there but its all experience. Ebay bargains like zips left over stock from a bulk tarp supplier saved £5 - £10 a zip for a compromise on black to white. If I planned a bit better I could have preordered most stuff from China on Ebay and saved 60% on the stainless fittings too but the lead times of 2 months werent realistic to wait for.

Mrs BB started the roof panels but soon gave up and showed me the art of machining- how hard could it be? (Lesson 5 a day of teaching Ian sewing at the age of 48) well sewing telfon Kevlar is bizarre to say the least. no grip no tension, ultra strong but light weight so slide everywhere and took a lot of practice. We soon realised the machine was too domestic in size, strong enough but challenging for big sheets and the lounge has been a Chinese style sweatshop for 2 weeks,

being a design oriented person it became easy to plan what panels went where to maximise material, joints hidden by poles, windows to save canvas etc. Joining to the existing canopy was a big pain, you'll see in the photos that the overall shape is square in the aft to a triangle in the cockpit esp with the walk around bow to make a door entry but avoiding a wind tunnel. The only 1 Karnic Ive seen with a deck Bimini was redesigned with a radar arch Aft to carry a cover and new cockpit cover so this was a truly 1 off design as we had nothing to copy after much Googling and Marina walks in the winter spring. Overall the cover went together very well, the machine handled me and the material well, ( a modern machine would have died Im told), working in a wind tunnel of Lincolnshire fenland was a big ball ache and required 4 hands most times on measuring (lesson 6 - do it indoors/barn etc if you can, FYI it is always Gf 4 to 5 up here with no shelter - no Geoff I still dont like it ;-)

In all not made in a professional way with patterns etc and I bet a pro would be laughing at the over stitching and suspect corners but this was a project to get a good looking cover at the absolute minimum cost. Ive only the SS poppers to fit now when they arrive from ebay next week. She is air tight, water tight, wind tight and folds away into a small Tesco bag (not the poles though) the cost - £500 max + we have a sewing machine to make new seats and summer overall cover. Time- well I was lucky that I wasnt working, when I was this project moved very slowly indeed on the down side Im stint with no prospect of working as a sewing machinist anytime soon :lol: :lol:
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betty boop
 
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by _Ed_ » 23 Jun 2017, 00:57

That is great, I'm stealing all your lessons learnt in the hope of doing the same!!
www.aboardmyboat.co.uk - boat projects and stuff!
_Ed_
 
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by betty boop » 23 Jun 2017, 07:44

_Ed_ wrote:That is great, I'm stealing all your lessons learnt in the hope of doing the same!!


Ha no problem I can provide consultation services or counciling service depending on how you get on :lol: I forgot to mention that a lot of the know how came from Sailright.com and their youtube channel/downloads. The material made a big difference against following their plans as this stuff was more forgiving on miss fitting/errors/adjustments I didnt feel the need for a patterning material (despite having it ready) but you dont get the stretched crease free look of an acrylic canvas material, swings and roundabouts I guess. As with most things proof will be in the using and redesigns and I would do a few things differently a 2nd time but Im happy with the result.
betty boop
 
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by lewlew100 » 23 Jun 2017, 23:25

Very well done Ian. That canopy does look cozy and purposeful. I think that the shape needed to fit your boat was actually quite a challenge, Let us hope that it fares well (NOT farewell) in the GH monsoon season. Geoff.
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