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  • Easy - Low Cost Bimini


    berndtmj
    • Year: 1998 Brand: Centurion Cost: $0-$249 DIY or Professional Install: I installed it / created it
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    We kept finding ourselves wishing we had some shade when out on the boat. Granted we don't spend the entire day on the boat like a lot of people, we will spend one to two hours at a time and is generally during the peak of the day.

    I recalled a post @TFreeman had done a couple years ago and struck out on my own to re-create it.

    Materials:

    2 - 10' pieces of 1/2" EMT Conduit

    4 - 1/2" EMT corners

    2 - 3/4" PVC Tee

    Grommets

    Para-cord

    Double sided tape

    Tarp or similar material (I had a piece of heavy vinyl tarp from a round top that I chose to use.

     

    Start with cutting the EMT to appropriate length. I cut mine to fit between the uprights of tower so it would install underneath. Remember that each corner adds about an inch in length. I was shooting for 63" wide so cut my EMT cross pieces to 61". I used what was left from the 10' pipe for the fore/aft.

     

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    Before putting the corners on and the cross pieces, I slid the 3/4" pvc tee onto the fore/aft pieces. I cut the 3/4" pvc pipe to about 62", just longer than the inside width of the frame. Goal here is to get a bit of bow out of the pvc so it is arched.

    Next I laid out my material and began cutting it to be slightly smaller than my inside dimensions, making sure to leave about 3" all the way around that would ultimately be folded over.

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    Once material was cut, I started to fold over the edges and double side taped on the underside of the top.

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    The piece I was using had a factory pocket on one edge for nylon strapping and I intended to run the front cross piece through this pocket (think hanging a curtain), I had to re-open the pocket corners after folding the sides under.

    Next step after folding the material and creating a reinforced area all the way around was to install grommets. Grommets got installed about every 8" down the sides and every 6" across the back. I don't have any good reason for the 8" other than every 4" looked like it was too much and I had already marked it out for every 4", so 8" was easy. the every 6" was done because it was about 60" wide and the math was easy.

    Once grommets were in, it was time to lay it on the frame.

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    I used zip ties to hold the corners in place while I ran the paracord through the grommets and around the frame.

    Once cover was tied tight, it was time to install the top on the boat.

    I sourced these aluminum light clamps from Amazon for to act as mounts for the top. They were fairly inexpensive ($25 on sale) and seem well made.

    clamps.JPG.c1d892746275d2f737aa27b4b1ecb0ad.JPG

     

     

    Originally I was going to drill a hole through bimini frame and bolt it to the clamps but decided to wait on that and instead it is currently held in place with three zip ties on each clamp. I figured this way if I needed to change mounting I didn't have 10 holes in the frame of the top. So far the current mounting has held up to 38 mph speeds in the boat.

    Installed pictures:

    IMG_4459.JPG.bd86a9d0c4b241df06ae60d2d016d54d.JPG       IMG_4465.JPG.49ccb5e9f458000e8c8c18a61e1975ee.JPG     IMG_4466.JPG.79e2084de0729a8dbb406fa57d226a3c.JPG   IMG_4457.JPG.12619a16ebeff16ceecc43a4c5d5a448.JPG

    So far totally happy with how it turned out and how it looks. I have to duck ever so slightly to go under it but once under, the added bow in the center provides plenty of clearance that I can stand up straight without hitting my head.

    This winter I'll likely pull it off and paint the frame black, maybe tack weld or silicone corners just so I'm not relying solely on the set screws and my lacing job to hold the frame together.

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    A short update.

    Found at higher speeds with chop/waves on the lake the bimini was bouncing a bit. Not like 'oh my god, where did the bimini go', but more movement than I liked.

    So picked up two more of the clamps from amazon, a 5' piece of emt and a couple emt mounting brackets.

    I don't have any fabrication photos on this one as I was in a bit of a hurry.

    1. Cut 5' emt in half.

    2. Crushed one end of each piece of emt in the vice, about 1" to 1.25" flattened.

    3. Drilled hole in the flattened end of the conduit to bolt the emt mounting bracket to.

    4. Mounted another emt bracket to each of the roll bar light mounts.

    5. Once back at the lake, installed clamp to tower and then ran 2.5' emt from tower mount to the side tube of the bimini out towards the leading edge.

    6. Also to better secure the original mounting instead of zip ties to the tower clamps, I added stainless hose clamps around the tower mount and the bimini frame. These four mounts will be re-done this winter but is more than sufficient for now.

    All said and done, about another $15-$20 in materials but top is way more solid.

    Bimini is quickly becoming one of my favorite upgrades so far. It's been so nice to get out of the sun.

     

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