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Boat canopies


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Although my boat is only 4 years old, the canopy is showing the effects of being exposed to the elements, in that although the sides and rear of the canopy are in vgc and and colour, the roof has pretty much turned from blue to black, with the underlying substrate material beginning to show through the vinyl in places, where it has broken down. I guess from the effects of UV.

The canopy is still fully watertight, as it is also vinyl on the inside, but the roof outside looks unsightly.

I have looked around at specialised paints for vinyl, just to coat the roof, but cannot find a colour anywhere near that of the original canopy.

I'm guessing that 4 years is about the expected lifespan for a vinyl canopy. Would that be a fair assumption?.

Is there any coating that can be applied to the vinyl roof to extend it's working life, and improve it's appearance. Bearing in mind that the back and sides are still in vgc?

Or, do I need to 'swallow the bitter pill', and buy a new canopy?. If so, I would assume that canvas, as opposed to vinyl, is the way to go, as this can be kept in good order with the likes of Fabseal.

I have read some worryingly negative comments about the quality of work, from a certain well known canopy maker in Wroxham, so who else should I consider.

Of course, I could go back to the boat manufacturer (Viking) and see what they can offer. I believe that they have now switched from vinyl to canvas, which perhaps says something about vinyl canopies.

Dave

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Hi Dave

You could try giving snugtopz a pm he might be able to give you some advice or quot you on a new canopy or surgest what material to go for. He also recovers some bath cushions for Brian.

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Dave,

I have experience of "canvas" canopies from both Jeckells and Horning Marine Covers. I won't even look at vinyl because I don't like it and I imagine that it is less pleasant to be underneath on a warm day.

The Jeckells one lasted well beyond the accepted normal lifetime of 7 years and our Horning one is too new to compare lifespans, but it is looking good after it's first year.

Comparing the two, my personal preference is the Horning one.

I had minor issues from both manufacturers, both of which were quickly rectified.

With Horning, you need to be very clear on what you want and this will be laid out in a job sheet that you have to sign. You also have to sign a "customer charter" and pay 50% up front. They seem to be obsessed with paperwork there and little extras that I had made also needed both pieces of paperwork (which I started to find irritating).

If you have them do any upholstery, be thoroughly clear on every detail (to stop Adrian doing his own thing, which you may not necessarily be totally happy with).

cheers,

Steve

p.s. you are welcome to see our canopy etc if you want

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Thanks Steve, that's useful feedback, and I've noted what you say, along with Jonny's suggestion.

The only advantage that I can seen with the vinyl canopy, is that the windows are all RF heat welded in, and not stitched as with the canvas ones. Also, the inner surface is light grey, which gives a light/bright look inside.

That said, the vinyl on the roof area of mine has broke down, and gone powdery in just 4 years.

I would want my canopy made to fit the existing frame, as there is nothing wrong with this. Also, the 'push the dot' fasteners would need to be located in the same position as the existing canopy, as the studs are all screwed into the GRP and the windscreen frame.

Not having a Tonneau cover, having to supply the existing canopy as a pattern, would be a bit of a problem, although I could cover the cockpit with a tarpaulin I guess.

Dave

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Some interesting info obtained this morning, but is it true?

Spoke to Viking this morning, and was told that they do still supply vinyl canopies as standard on their boats, although acrylic canvas is an option, albeit considerably more expensive.

They put me in touch with the company that make the canopies for all their boats.

Had very interesting conversation with the guy, who told me that I wasn't the first person to report the vinyl of the roof area breaking down, and going powdery.

He had sent such a canopy back to the vinyl manufacturer for analysis, and their findings were that the breakdown was not due to UV, but a chemical reaction.

Further analysis of the location of each boat where the canopy had suffered in this way, found that each and everyone had been under the approach flight path of a major airport. Other boats that where not so located, had vinyl canopies that were 7 or 8 years old, and still in good condition.

My boat spent its first three years on the upper Thames, and directly under the approach to Heathrow. Two other boats that had suffered the same problem with their canopies, where moored on the river at Bishops Stortford, directly under the Stanstead approach. At both locations, aircraft would have been quite low.

The vinyl manufacturer, said that exposure to aircraft fuel over a prolonged period, would cause the vinyl to break down in this way. So, coincidence or a genuine reason for the break down? The fact that only the roof has suffered and not the canopy sides may add credence to the aircraft fuel theory.

Three canopy manufacturers contacted this morning have all said that PV8 vinyl should last 8 to 10 years in normal use, and eventually needs to be replaced as a result of normal wear and tear, and not UV damage.

The company at Horning, tell me that they have been making and supplying vinyl canopies for many years, for boats and boat manufacturers in the Broads area, and had never had anyone report the problem that I have with my canopy.

The cost of acrylic canvas in the quantity needed for my canopy is around £300-£350 more than PV8 vinyl, and the labour cost almost half as much again than for vinyl. So, a significant cost difference it would seem.

I guess the choice depends on how long we are likely to keep the boat. Current thinking is maybe 2 years, before moving onto to something bigger.

Decisions, decisions. :?

Dave

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Interesting feedback on the vinyl (not a worry to us for the reasons stated).

From memory, our canopy cost about £900.

Fixing locations is not an issue as the canopy is tailored to fit your existing frame / fixings etc.

We had extra side panels made up with the first canopy (Jeckells) - these were substitute panels for hot, mozi-laden nights (see pic)

post-210-136713712442_thumb.jpg

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Very smart Steve, and a really nice blue.

I spoke to the lady at Horning this morning, who was very helpful. However, 'the man' who does the technical bits, and quotes the price, was out fitting a canopy.

He called back this afternoon, when I was out, and now (4:30) there's no answer, so I guess they 'shut up shop' early. I'll give them a call in the morning.

Sent an message to Jeckells this morning, via their website, as there was no answer when I tried phoning them. Still nothing back from them. Not impressed!!.

I have to say I do like like your 'Mossie net' side panels, a brilliant idea :clap .

Dave

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Hi Dave,

I would strongly recommend a phone call with Brian Taylor of Herbert Woods, as from what you have said, I would have thought that a fairly cost effective route could be to replace the affected area of your canopy. Brian has done some exceptional work for us and has just completed a complete interior refit of our boat. Top man!

cheers!

Andy

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Thanks Brian and Andy, I now have plenty of options to explore before deciding on the 'way ahead'.

I did like what the lady at Horning said, and that was they would come to my boat, make all the necessary measurements to ensure that none of the existing 'lift the dot' studs would need to be moved, and they would return and fit the new cover to ensure that everything was as it should be.

This means that the existing canopy would not need to taken away for use as a template, and could remain in situ and use until the new canopy arrived.

That said, maybe other canopy makers in the Broads area would operate in the same manner, which is something I've yet to ascertain over the next few days.

I could be wrong, but I guess the workmanship of any of the reputable canopy makers, is going to be pretty much the same, and so it may come down to who can offer the best deal.

With VAT likely to go up to 20% next week, it might be a good idea to place an order ahead of that.

Dave

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I have had a very helpful and positive repsonses from both Horning Marine Cover and Snuggtopz *(Richard), but despite e-mailing them yesterday, and having spoken to someone there, first thing this morning (who promised me a call back), still nothing from Jekells.

If no response before 'close of play' today, then Jekells are out of the equation.

One of the 'flies in the ointment' at the moment, is that both Snuggtopz and Horning, have a lot of work on, so getting a canopy made would be a 'later' rather than 'sooner' event, which I may have to accept.

Are there any other canopy makers in the Broads area?. I say the Broads area, because I want the canopy to fit onto the existing attachments on the boat, so an on-site visit and measure is needed.

Dave

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Does anyone know the answer as to why boat canopies are so much more expensive than caravan awnings?

It does puzzle me that having had numerous touring caravans, and latterly quite large ones, for which I have always bought an awning, is why are they so much cheaper than boat canopies.

My last awning, which is made of Acrylic material, includes all the aluminium poles, and is something like ten times the size of my boat canopy, was infinitely cheaper than what a replacement canopy (excluding the frame!!) is for my boat.

Is it perhaps that in front of the word canopy, is the word 'BOAT' :roll:

Any thoughts? :?

Dave

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definately the word boat, small aluminium hooks 23p at B+Q, small aluminium hooks £2.39 each chandlers in wroxham!

Yep, I guess it must be that word :(

Are us boating people gullible or what :?

Dave

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi to you all

This is my first day on the site, you were recommended by snuggtopz

I have been making canopy's cushions and curtains for almost 20 years (scary thought)

I learnt my trade on the Thames with some great guys before coming back home to Cromer.

I have worked on dingys, racing yachts on the south coast, all the Windsor trip boats (some I have re-fitted for a second time), private cruisers/sailers, etc etc etc.

To answer a couple of questions :-

Canopy material : Each material has advantages and disadvantages, each needs to be taken in the context of the boat, its use, where its kept. I prefere Acrylic for many reasons, but have made covers for my own boat in Polyester as it's more suitable for it's purpose.

Why are canopys so expensive : Each replacement canopy is unique and has to be individually templated/measured, made, fitted to the boat on its original fittings or onto replacement/new fittings (on a bored day add up all the fittings on your boat, male and female, go into Wroxham Marine and price it up). The whole job is time comsuming.

I do many caravan awning repairs. usually they are fitted to the caravan via a luff tape fitted into a track so no precision fit is required. Awnings have basic templates as the poles can often be adjusted to fit the ground. The acrylic fabric is inferior to that for boats.

In otherwords, sometimes adding the word BOAT does not increase the price.

Happy Cruising

Canopy Anni

07860 773385

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Welcome to the Madhouse Annie, I've never seen any of your work, but I've certainly heard some good reports on it, Just out of interest what are the advantages and dis-advantages between Vinyl and Canvas, I have a canvas canopy on my Seamaster 813 which is going to need replacing soon, I like the look of canvas and it's a lot easier to handle when putting it up or down, but someone else told me that canvas is not really suitable for the Broads and I should go for a new Vinyl one, so now I'm confused :?

Regards Frank,,,

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I should go for a new Vinyl one

Frank, if you saw how the roof area of my four year old Vinyl canopy has broken down (powdery and fast disappearing), you might not want to spend money on a Vinyl canopy.

I should add that it was already well gone when we bought the boat at only three years old, and subsequent enquiries have revealed that mine is most certainly not an isolated case. You are very welcome to come and have a look for yourself, if you wish. I note that you are at Lowestoft, so my boat is not far away from you.

If you don't want the expense of replacing your canopy too frequently, then IMO, it has to be Acrylic Canvas (as opposed to cotton canvas). Initially more expensive than Vinyl, but much cheaper in the medium to long term.

Dave

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Thanks Dave! all my other boats have had vinyl canopies and I've never had any problems with any of them apart from the odd leaking seam, in fact my old Seamaster 25 that I sold some 15 years ago still has the same vinyl canopy on, it looks a bit tatty but it's still got a bit of life left, I suppose a lot of it is down to the quality of the materials used and the workmanship, The reason I was thinking of keeping the Canvas type on my new boat is I basicaly like the look and feel of it, but another Canopy maker told me canvas is ok if you live in the South of France but no good for places like the Broads, he never explained why so I can only presume it's our climate, the fact you need to clean it and re-proof it, it all seems a bit odd when you see how many boats have canvas canopies,,

Regards Frank,,,,

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I suppose a lot of it is down to the quality of the materials

That is quite likely Frank, but as customers, how can we be sure of the quality of the Vinyl we a buying. We can only go on what the canopy maker tells us.

Only time in use would tell it seems, and by then its too late, and the expense of another canopy is called for.

I wouldn't like to think that the manufacturer of a boat, boat costing in excess of £30k, would put a crap quality conopy on it, but the vinyl material used on mine, seems to be just that. :mad:

Given the condition of the roof after just three years, I would guess that it was on it's way out in less than two years.

So, as you might understand, I have lost faith in Vinyl, and will be going for an Acrylic Canvas one.

Dave

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I wouldn't like to think that the manufacturer of a boat, boat costing in excess of £30k, would put a crap quality conopy on it. Dave

Don't see why not Dave, some of those that build 150k + boats do. :(

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi to all

Just thought I would let you know my opinion of the difference between Polyester (vinyl) and Acrylic Canvas as I have been asked by some of you.

VINYL Actually its not vinyl it is woven coated POLYESTER.

Advantages :

Cheaper than acrylic canvas

Tough fabric

Available with grey on inside so lighter than self colour if you only like

dark colours

Washes easier than acrylic canvas, but as with acrylic canvas dont use household

cleaners.

Disadvantages :

Heavier weight

less flexible

Goes brittle after a few years, the outer coating can wear off on roof

courtesy of UV from the sun

ACRYLIC CANVAS

Advantages :

Lighter weight fabric

After the initial stiffness wears off it behaves like a soft fabric

More colours available than polyester

Can have cushions made in upholstery version

Now is available with a light coating but it is expensive

Available with a thicker waterproof coating

Disadvantages :

More expensive than polyester

Stains if under trees and harder to clean.

I think that for big canopy's they take a bashing from being on very windy

moorings

Unless there is a strip of stronger fabric hidden in the seams the fittings

can pull through (I use strips of waste polyester to reinforce)

I dont quote life expectancy as it depends how and where you keep your

boat.

When it comes to choosing a fabric environmental factors need to be considered

good luck

canopy anni

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Hi All,

Thought I'd give you my experience. I've had two vinyl canopies in the past and have just had a another one made by Horning Marine Covers. The two, which did eventually expire, lasted 9 years and 10 years respectively. They were both used in a variety of locations around the coast of the UK without any apparent ill effects, although never used directly under a flight path.

I'm quite pleased with the new cover from HMC, just a couple of niggles which I'm sure Adrian will sort out when I get round to letting him know.

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It has also been said, on the Viking Owners Club forum, that there are several boats 'out there', with original vinyl canopies, that are over 10 years old, and still quite serviceable.

Maybe mine was made from a 'duff' batch of vinyl, or there is some truth in the jet fuel theory, I don't know, but the roof was well gone in less than 3 years. A telephone conversation with one of Viking's canopy makers, informed me that mine was not an isolated case. I believe that Jeckells now have the Viking contract.

I approached three Norfolk based canopy makers, Jeckells, who priced themselves out of 'the equation', another had a lot of work on, and couldn't take anymore on until sometime in July, and finally Horning Marine Covers (HMC), who contracted to supply and fit the canopy within 4-5 weeks.

So, back in June, I placed an order for an Acrylic Canvas canopy with HMC, and now await to see if they are 'true to their word', and supply the canopy within the contracted 'time scale'.

Hopefully, if all goes well, I should have the canopy very shortly.

I could have saved quite a bit of money by having the another PVC canopy, but as I'm sure you will understand, I have lost confidence in the material, being 'once bitten, now twice shy' ;)

Dave

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