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Can a Fiberglass Hardtop be made by hand?


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Can it be done? Sure.

But I wouldn't use the canvas as a template. You usually see a hard top being flat or with a slight bevel. Attached with four supports, raised from the windshield...then isenglass or strataglass connecting the two. Looks great when done, but alot of work.

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I think you’ll find that boat builders use products that might appear to be fiberglass but are actually lighter weight composites to save weight aloft vs fiberglass.  I know my Proline uses a lighter weight product in the hardtop cover.  Adding too much weight high can effect stability.

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Definitely you will need vacuum press otherwise you will gonna get delamination and there is no other way to get all the bubbles out plenty info on internet how to make one.
I would build form from MDF board (skeleton) and on top ⅜ Bendix plywood

Good luck

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Basically any hull/top modifications can be built using fiberglass. I live in Downeast Maine. I visit boat shops weekly that build/modify boats. If you wanted to get this done by a professional just PM me these guys can do about anything and it will be done right. To give you a idea. These guys often will take a boat thats 35-55' cut it length wise and lengthen it as well as widen it. Sounds easy but there is a lot of science that goes into those kinds on hull modifications to get the boat to sail efficiently. 

So to modify or build a custom top is a cake walk.

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Amazing what can be done with fiberglass. The top is not structural so it's definitely not critical. It can be done using basic fiberglass layup techniques, as I am seeing from all the input here, and online. I do most everything myself to save money, and in my budget.

Basically any hull/top modifications can be built using fiberglass. I live in Downeast Maine. I visit boat shops weekly that build/modify boats. If you wanted to get this done by a professional just PM me these guys can do about anything and it will be done right. To give you a idea. These guys often will take a boat thats 35-55' cut it length wise and lengthen it as well as widen it. Sounds easy but there is a lot of science that goes into those kinds on hull modifications to get the boat to sail efficiently. 
So to modify or build a custom top is a cake walk.


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Yes it can be done.  Typically hand lay up is done in layers of glass cloth of various weights. laid up and rolled out on a reverse mold (good side down) with a gel-coat finish if desired.  This should all go into a 'autoclave' which is temperature and pressure controlled for a pre-determined time.  Bagging and sealing the lay-up and vacuuming out the air before going in.

 

They make aircraft parts our of fibreglass, kevlar, carbon fibre etc. in order to get the strength and lightness into the finished part.  I'm sure you can find some good info on line.

 

The materials are not cheap; the mold will take time and will require 'automotive' type finishing to provide a final product that look perfect; lots of bondo, filling/fairing agents and sanding, sanding, sanding........

 

Good luck

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  • 3 weeks later...

Bob, I wonder what type of aluminum material would be available locally that would make a nice looking top.

Aluminum tubing and a two piece aluminum top. .That's what's on my 27 and the 28.i had as well. Trust me  lighter is better unless your hull is over 28' or so. 


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