Aluminum Hard top

Discussion in 'Modifications/Customizations' started by hillsideshortleg, Jan 10, 2018.

  1. Lazy Daze

    Lazy Daze Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor

    Apr 21, 2009
    PA
    Various
    Various
    Those are truck bed spray in liners? I've only ever seen them in a "wrinkly" type finish. Can they be smooth? What about just painting it to match?
     
  2. hillsideshortleg

    hillsideshortleg Member

    175
    Feb 5, 2012
    Lake Pend Orielle, Idaho
    89 Sea Ray 280 Sundancer
    2 350's Mercruiser drives
    I am trying to figure out if the slight color mismatch over time would look worse than an obvious contrast or mismatch in colors.
     
  3. fwebster

    fwebster Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor PLATINUM Sponsor

    Oct 6, 2006
    Middle Tennessee ; Panama City Beach, FL
    1996 450DA
    3116 Caterpillars
    At least one paint manufacturer, AwlGrip, has a premix paint that matches Sea Ray Arctic White, which is what I believe your hull and deck are. It will not fade and has superior gloss retention over time. I used it when we remade the seat bases on our old 390EC, and it still looks great now, 20 years after it was sprayed.

    If it were me, and since you are doing a good job in making the tops looks "factory", I would paint it with AwlGrip, PPG or Imron closely following the paint manufacturer's recommendation for preparation and painting of aluminum. Not following the instructions for cleaning, etching, priming, dry times, etc. will cost you an expensive do-over.

    One other thing I would consider is to line the inside of the tops with a thin structural foam like Klegecell or Divinicell to add strength to the shape and save the weight of building a supporting structure out of metal. That would also solve the noise and condensation problem, but would add the cost of the foam, a gallon of West Systems epoxy, fiberglass and gelcoat. You would paint it with the Awlgrip at the same time the top was painted.
     
  4. Lazy Daze

    Lazy Daze Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor

    Apr 21, 2009
    PA
    Various
    Various
    I don't think you'd have any issues over time, especially if you use a high quality paint like Frank mentioned. AwlGrip is top of the line stuff. Your existing gel an and the Awlgrip might fade at different rates, but I think it would be extremely minimal - and if you keep up with your waxing routine on the gelcoat, it should minimize that even more.

    IF you wanted to go contrasting... maybe match the color of the canvas? But the problem there is that the texture will be different so I think that would actually be worse. Just thinking out loud here... is there a way to glue a piece of matching canvas to the top?

    If it was me, though, I'd paint. I like Frank's idea of the structural foam. As an alternative to finished gelcoat on the bottom, you could make a underside skin of aluminum? Essentially making an aluminum-foam-aluminum sandwich.
     
  5. hillsideshortleg

    hillsideshortleg Member

    175
    Feb 5, 2012
    Lake Pend Orielle, Idaho
    89 Sea Ray 280 Sundancer
    2 350's Mercruiser drives
    I had planed on gluing some sort of high density insulation with some sort of fabric ( what ever my wife & I agree on)to the under side for the finish. The sheeting is 3/16 aluminum. Do you guys think I need to worry about rigidity with 2 support poles in the front section coming off the top of the wind shield and 2 in the back? I figured that walking up there wouldn't be an option. Also where they attach to the arch I used a 1 1/4" tall x 3/4" aluminum flat bar and at the back we used a 3/8 x 1-1/4 flat bar standing up. I was thinking about making the front only 3/4" thick at the leading edge. I think I will post a couple more pics later to see if you guys think I need more support built into it.
    Thanks for the tip on the AwlGrip!! I think that was the tip I was looking for. I will be having the painting done professionally.
     
  6. Woody

    Woody Well-Known Member

    Nov 20, 2007
    N. Wisconsin/Lk Superior
    2005 420DA
    Cummins 6CTA8.3
    FWIW, when I purchased some gelcoat repair paste from Spectrum I told them I had SeaRay Arctic White gelcoat. They asked what year because there was more than one 'Arctic White' used by SeaRay. Just something to verify for best match if using the AwlGrip 'Arctic White' paint.
     
  7. Lazy Daze

    Lazy Daze Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor

    Apr 21, 2009
    PA
    Various
    Various
    Rigidity... See where your hand is in the picture of you on the boat with the top being test fitted? You just KNOW that that is EXACTLY where many people will grab onto to steady themselves getting onto the boat or moving around from the platform back into the cockpit... possibly with the boat rocking... possibly someone with a little too much alcohol... possibly someone that just thinks it's a great place to steady themselves. You can probably see what I'm getting at. If it was me, I think it needs to overbuilt. It only takes once for one person to put a little too much downward pressure onto it and you end up with a big crease. Now, I'm not there with you to actually see what it feels like in person, but my thought is that without some type of horizontal bracing, you could asking for trouble.

    I do think that one pole on each side of the top is more than sufficient, though. Especially since you have rolled edges, making it much stronger there. In fact, you can likely go with an angled pole from the arch to the top - meaning, you won't need a vertical pole going straight down the top of the gunwale. You can clean up the look and allow for better access to the boat off the sides.

    Back to the rigidity question... creating the top with a core (sandwich) will add TREMENDOUSLY to it's rigidity. You could even hide a piece of angle iron (use fiberglass or PVC, though) near the trailing edge of the top (and front edge of the front top) INSIDE the core to even further stiffen it. Even with a core setup, you can still add your vinyl to the bottom side to dress it up. Maybe use either "expanded back vinyl" (has a thin foam layer) or just a sheet of 1/8" or 1/4" foam - which will give it a plusher look/feel.

    Here's a quick and dirty look at what coring can do. I did this really as just a test (fun) before I rebuilt a hatch on my Grady. The purple stuff is just 1/2" foam board insulation from HD. There is 60lbs of weight being used. If you look closely in the "uncored" picture, the weight plates actually bottom out on the edge of the foam... meaning, it should have bent even further if I had used a taller piece of spacer wood, and probably broken. The same weight is on the "cored" piece. NOTE: I didn't even create a "true" core since there is no fiberglass over the vertical edges of the foam. That would have made this MUCH stronger.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  8. hillsideshortleg

    hillsideshortleg Member

    175
    Feb 5, 2012
    Lake Pend Orielle, Idaho
    89 Sea Ray 280 Sundancer
    2 350's Mercruiser drives
    Where the visegrip is there will be a sheet of 3/16 aluminum around 6" wide from side to side since that will be outside the back window area. We have 1 1/4" angle around the sides and the center has the channel that they bent into the piece. We had to make it in split sheets since it was either too long or too wide to make out of one sheet. I am glad we did it this way as it makes it more ridged and also cut the cost WAY down on getting the bending done and metal bought.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    We still have a lot of fine sanding to get the corners looking smooth and consistent.
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Creekwood

    Creekwood Well-Known Member

    Apr 26, 2009
    Oakville and Georgian Bay, Ontario
    '97 330 Sundancer, Raymarine C80 suite with radar, Mercury 310 Hypalon w/8hp Yammie 2stk
    2X 454 carbs w/ vDrives
    If you filled in the space with a foam core epoxied to the aluminum and skinned with a layer of glass that would be REALLY rigid and not add much weight. It would also eliminate the "drum" effect that you are going to get with that top as a result of vibrations while running.

    If you do that, consider adding some PVC wire conduit along the rails to allow running wiring inside later if you wanted to wire lights or speakers or something later.

    Looks like you are doing great work. Way beyond typical DIY.
     
  10. Lazy Daze

    Lazy Daze Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor

    Apr 21, 2009
    PA
    Various
    Various
    That's looking really nice. The formed edge around the perimeter is great for strength. The result is perfect - essentially a "pocket" to make the core. The bottom sandwich material (skin) could certainly be whatever you choose... fiberglass, aluminum, etc. Although with your aluminum welding skills, it seems like a perfect fit for an aluminum skin. If you left the bottom skin a little bit shallow of the perimeter/edge (the edge a little proud of the bottom skin), that could allow for the vinyl layer that you and your wife choose to fit right in there. The edge of the aluminum will give it a nice, finished look around the edge.

    Oh... even without permanently securing a bottom skin, just epoxying the structural foam to the top skin will vastly increase it's strength and rigidity.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2018
  11. hillsideshortleg

    hillsideshortleg Member

    175
    Feb 5, 2012
    Lake Pend Orielle, Idaho
    89 Sea Ray 280 Sundancer
    2 350's Mercruiser drives
    Thanks. I am doing this as I sell stuff on craigslist and am over what I brought in cash wise so far. So I might have to just get them up after paint. Then I have to have the isinglass windows made before we get back on the water. I think the interior is something I can work on while it's in the water. I will google the structural foam and see if it is at all in our budget.
     
  12. aquaholic

    aquaholic Member

    79
    Jul 7, 2009
    new jersey
    37 express cruz, 3126 cats, all new garmin electronics,
    3126 cats
     
  13. aquaholic

    aquaholic Member

    79
    Jul 7, 2009
    new jersey
    37 express cruz, 3126 cats, all new garmin electronics,
    3126 cats
    wow looks great, i am looking to do similar, how do you plan to attach to the arch, and im assuming you will reinforce with supports on outer areas
     
  14. hillsideshortleg

    hillsideshortleg Member

    175
    Feb 5, 2012
    Lake Pend Orielle, Idaho
    89 Sea Ray 280 Sundancer
    2 350's Mercruiser drives
    Well don't laugh but we pre drilled holes through both front and back aluminum mounting bars so they will match. My idea is to run all thread through the arch and sandwich the arch between the front and back aluminum tops. I think the holes were drilled on 8" centers or something like that. It was very tough getting the holes drilled at the right angle. Which we missed on the angle but we will make it work. We have made quite a few mistakes but we back up and do it over again. and again and even again once.
     
  15. fwebster

    fwebster Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor PLATINUM Sponsor

    Oct 6, 2006
    Middle Tennessee ; Panama City Beach, FL
    1996 450DA
    3116 Caterpillars
    That is the great thing about working with metal……..just weld up the mistakes and go again.
     
  16. hillsideshortleg

    hillsideshortleg Member

    175
    Feb 5, 2012
    Lake Pend Orielle, Idaho
    89 Sea Ray 280 Sundancer
    2 350's Mercruiser drives
    I am not happy with the back corner of the back cover so we will rebuild or reshape them.
    [​IMG]
    these are pics of the front cover. It is setting on the bench and we noticed once we flipped it over that we need to encourage it (bend)to have a better front profile. We still need to lay out where the front windows are going to land on the inside then cut the underside sheet metal to the shape of the window at the front. After we cut the under side sheeting we will weld in structural work that will also support the zipper track. This has turned out to be a lot more of a challenge than I ever guessed it would. For some reason I have been a lot more nervous over this project that any of our other high dollar gate projects. We still have a lot of fine sanding to do to make the lines flow better and cleaner looking.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  17. hillsideshortleg

    hillsideshortleg Member

    175
    Feb 5, 2012
    Lake Pend Orielle, Idaho
    89 Sea Ray 280 Sundancer
    2 350's Mercruiser drives
    I had an auto body guy come out for an estimate on doing the finish sanding and paint. I was off on my guess of painting cost by quite a bit. So we will try our hand and getting it closer to a final finish.[​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  18. hillsideshortleg

    hillsideshortleg Member

    175
    Feb 5, 2012
    Lake Pend Orielle, Idaho
    89 Sea Ray 280 Sundancer
    2 350's Mercruiser drives
    A before pic [​IMG]
    This is the first fitting of the front top
    [​IMG]
     
    tdschafer and Krazzeeddie like this.
  19. Quint4

    Quint4 Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor SILVER Sponsor

    Oct 6, 2006
    S.W. Ohio
    330 Sport Bridge
    5.7 MPI 350 Merc Bluewaters
    Looking good
     
  20. Getaway

    Getaway Member

    875
    Oct 13, 2010
    Bay City, Michigan
    Lowrance electronics, Fishhawk speed-n-temp, Scotty electric downriggers and custom arch
    Single big block 454 Mercruiser engine and outdrive.
    Nice fab work!
     

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