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DIY Bimini/Canopy Project


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I've decided my mission for this week is to finally get round to building a budget bimini for my inflatable :dance

Keeping with the "budget" theme I'll be using 22mm pvc piping rather than stainless steel or aluminium. Depending on how much it bends i may have to use something like expanding foam to strenthen the pipes.

All supplies will be coming from B&Q, the piping will cost £8.97 and the 4 corner joints will come to £3.88 so £12.85 TOTAL for the bimini frame.

Currently it looks like I'll be using a handy waterproof canvas hammock as the sheeting for the roof ( fingers crossed its already the right length as it will save alot of stitching)

The only thing I've not fully figured out is connecting joints to the boat but i have a few ideas to test :P

I'll keep you all updated with info and pics as the project progresses (or fails) :Sailing

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I'm all for DIY ideas to save costs, I made my own tonneau cover for my 22 foot boat a few years ago. The heavy proofed material was sourced as an end of roll via Ebay and the fittings came from Jeckells (cheaper than Ebay, surprisingly). I used an old Singer 201 sewing machine (also from Ebay for £20). The total cost was under £50, and the lowest professional quote was £700 !!

Re your idea of using 22mm pvc pipe, I'm also wondering if it would be rigid enough, even when filled with foam. It will get very soft on any hot sunny days too.

Bearing in mind that lightness is crucial, being for an inflatable, how about adapting the thin fibreglass poles and lightweight waterproof material from a cheap tent or fisherman's shelter, about £10 and should contain most of the materials needed ?


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You can buy replacement tent pole packs, complete with all the fittings which can be made up to fit most sizes, available from yeomans or any good camp shop. They are very strong and can be fixed to the boat by a simple ring and pin system, easy enough to attach to any firm surface in the boat.

Having had a fair bit of experiance with awnings, I can vouch for the fact that any plastic piping when under the strain of having to hold up a heavy weight will become mis-shapen and bent in the hot sun, and worse still its often prone to becoming brittle if its the type ment for indoor usage.

A good source of materials for such a project would be one of the camp shows that are dotted around the country, they often sell off for a song the poles and canvasses from returned damaged/faulty tents, especially if you call in on the day they are due to pack away and ask a member of staff. Theres often some nice quality material to be had, plus a selection of either fibreglass or metal poles, ideal for any DIY project. The Yeomans website often lists the dates and places where these shows take place.

Julz :wave

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Quick Update... I've finished all the frame work :party2: I've attached it to the boat using ring & pin system (cheers for the suggestion). Went to a camping shop an picked up the perfect size waterproof sheeting for £7. All that's left is attaching the sheet and some guy ropes tomorrow and the project will be finished :Stinky

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The total cost was under £50, and the lowest professional quote was £700 !!

yes but how many hours did it take you, how much fuel in trips to the boat, how much electricity for the machine and lighting and kettle, how much for the

rent on the room you did it in, did you use decent thread at £75 a cob or cheap stuff at less than a tenner, was the material quality marine grade fabric or just

something waterproof that fades like crazy? etc ..

Its ok to say a pro job was £700!! but you didn't give up a day job to make it and you didn't tot up the actual costs involved like driving to the boat once to estimate

the work twice to pattern three times to fit the canvas and possibly four times to make an adjustment and a fifth time to get paid.. My sewing machine was £4500

and the hand tools I use are over £400 each.

I know you are going to say well he would say that wouldn't he but 'trust me there really isnt that much profit in making canvas' if there was I wouldn't

be working 16hrs a day 7 days a week..

for £700 I doubt they would be making anything after rent and 20% tax.

on the other hand

If you are doing it DIY you can pop along to my forum for any advise

you might need from canvas guys all over the world.

we have professional canvas fabricators from Spain,Florida,New York state,Uk

Or alternatively pop in and see me at my new shop at Bramerton woods end

which will be open mid April.

in the mean time you might like this.. :-)

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It took about 3 days,

my boat is only 3 miles away from my house,

my conservatory was rent free,

the material was an end of roll of 900gm/sq metre proofed grey canvas, (about three times the thickness of my Jeckels canopy),

it's been used for a couple of years now with no trace of fading or deterioration,

the thread was an industrial bobbin of heavyweight rotproof tent and marquee thread, also sourced via ebay, for £9, with about another 20 miles left on it.

I fully appreciate the difference between a Professional's overheads and my DIY savings.

If I had to do it for a living and pay tax etc., then I'm sure I would have to charge the same sort of amount as all the quotes I obtained, it's a very competitive market, so the prices will naturally level out.

The crucial factor though, is that the only way I can afford to run a boat on my pension is by doing as much of the maintenance and servicing myself. There is no way that I could justify £700 plus for a Winter tonneau cover, so it's either DIY, or go without.

It's the same with car maintenance, home electrics, plumbing, etc. etc. I'd love to pay someone to do it for me, but haven't got the dosh... :)

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I agree with Strowager, If you have the money it's well worth investing in a professional custom fit job, but when moneys tight a basic working version will have to do.

On a brighter note I've attached photos of the finished bodge job :P






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Handling could become interesting if the wind gets up, but then you are probably only thinking of using it on calm sunny days.

Won't get much use next week then!

Interesting use of the rowlocks, how easy would it be to use the oars if your outboard fails?

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I'd love to pay someone to do it for me, but haven't got the dosh... :)

Don't get me wrong I do totally understand, for 30 years i've boated on a budget so I get it, but it did sound like you were saying

your average canvas job was a rip off when in fact the margins on canvas is like everything else in the world these days,


I also sell fabrics and fittings to the DIY market and offer free advise on my forum to anyone wanting

to have a go at sewing for their boat.

There may also come a time when I offer some marine sewing courses during the winter.

watch this space :-)


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