Bimini Frame Repaired

Here’s the end of the story I started here last week in the aftermath of leaving my bimini up overnight in a rain storm.

This repair took me all day.  For such a simple job, it was incredibly time-consuming.  Taking the old frame off the boat isn’t hard, nor is stripping the canopy off of it, but it’s big and awkward.  It just took a while to get the thing unattached and over to the deck next to my garden where I worked on it.

You may recall, someone had reenforced the long upright supports with steel rebar (no, really!) and after years of galvanic corrosion, the uprights broke at the places where the rebar stopped and the aluminum tubing was unsupported by the rebar.  I used the tube sections with rebar in them to stake up my tomato vines.

Then at the hardware store I bought metal conduit, thinking it was aluminum.  It wasn’t.  It was steel.  I learned this while cutting it with my angle grinder.  It took much longer to cut than aluminum, and it sparked against the grinder wheel.  Aluminum doesn’t do that.  Well, here we are with steel and aluminum acting together again.  If the old one lasted 20+ years, this will do okay too, as eventually we’ll have a custom dodger and bimini enclosure built for all-weather cruising.

I sleeved the conduit and old bimini frame with smaller diameter tubing, securing both ends with bolt and nylock nuts.

DSC_2522The sleeves run down the new section of tube about 10 inches, and up the old section as far as they would go before being stopped by the bend in the tubing.

And you can see one of the kinks in the old tube that I couldn't straighten completely.

And you can see, above the sleeved section with the bolts, one of the kinks in the old tube that I couldn’t straighten completely.

While I had the canopy off the frame I took the opportunity to wash and dry it, and repair a section of chafe that rubbed against the back stay.  I don’t have a photo of it, but it looks very much like the leather chafe guard on the bimini cover pictured below, only it’s oriented with the strip of leather along the tubing, rather than parallel to the backstay.

DSC_2524I sewed the chafe guard onto this cover, and onto the canopy with a Speedy Stitcher sewing awl. This is one of those old technology tools that simply can’t be improved upon.  It allows you to sew a lock-stitch pattern by hand quickly and neatly, through very thick material – like this heavy-gauge patch and Sunbrella material.  You can see a video demonstration of it here.

So the frame is repaired, after various difficulties with fittings, etc..  It doesn’t look as bad and distorted as I feared it would, so I would say it’s serviceable for a couple more years.

 

 

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4 comments
  1. Jan Sopoci said:

    Congrats! Looks like you did a decent job, even if not strictly “according to Hoyle”, LOL.

    • Rick Bailey said:

      Yes, it’s more than a bit make-shift, you’re absolutely right. But if it keeps the sun off for a couple more years, we’re good with that.

  2. ShimonZ said:

    I know the pleasure of a repair well done, even if it’s not exactly ‘by the book’. Hope it lasts many years.

    • Shimon, owning a sailboat seems like such a luxury that I am loath to spend money on a new item when I’m sure I can repair it and “make do” for while. And because of this, it is both a challenge and a triumph when I’m able to put back together an old piece of broken gear. Sometimes that’s not a wise course of action, but in this case it is. We are very blessed to live on the water and own a boat – purely a luxury possession!

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