Tuesday, December 27, 2011

SOLAR BIMINI PART FOUR: Locating and trimming the rear frame

 After the rear bimini frame arrived from Sailrite the next thing was to try and see:

1) Where it needed to be located. It had to be in a location where it would not interfere with the operation of the boom. It also had to allow for operation of the mainsheet cockpit winch and allow access of the deck cleats.
It also had to take into account the dimensions of solar panels and how they would fit between the bow frame and the existing dodger.

2) How wide it should be. It not only had to fit outside the cockpit coaming it also would have to avoid things like the wind generator support poles which were already installed.Since the stainless steel bow comes in three pieces with a width of 106 inches. It can be cut if you need to have less width by cutting equal lengths on each side of the middle bow piece. Happily, when I put the assembled frame on deck I found that the width as it came from Sailrite was perfect. So problem two was solved for me.

3) How tall should it be? Again the bow frame comes in at 61 inches in height. If you need less height it is simply a matter of trimming the vertical side pieces of the bow. It turns out I needed to trim off  about five inches of the 61 inches provided by Sailrite. At that height it was high enough to allow me to stand at the helm without hitting my head but, not too high that it would interfere with the boom. An added side benefit of making this Solar Bimini is that it will protect those in the cockpit (especially the helmsman) from a falling boom should the topping lift ever give way.

Once I had the three above dimensions decided upon. It was time to cut the two pieces of stainless steel side pieces . Since I only needed to trim the height of the frame by a few inches.  What to use? Sailrite says a hacksaw will work but, the right tool is a tubing cutter:

Sailrite sold a tubing cutter with a blade to cut stainless steel tubing for about $50. But, it looked like a regular tubing cutter that I could get cheaper elsewhere.  Like this one. It too is made for cutting stainless steel and if you will be doing a lot of cutting of stainless steel tubing it is probably the way to go. But, since I only had two tubing cuts to do and was in a hurry I went to my local Home Depot and checked out the plumbing department. They had similar tubing cutters but, they stated they were for softer copper pipe.

I asked the fellow working the area if their tubing cutters would work on stainless steel. He asked how many cuts are you doing? I said two. No problem was his response. So I bought it and made the cuts on the frame and it worked well.  So now that had decided where the rear frame would be located, trimmed the tubing to the desired length. All I needed to do was use the Drill Steady tool shown in the previous post to drill a pilot hole in the stainless steel tubing and install the rivet to connect the two frame side pieces to the middle bow.  This makes the frame one complete piece. Once this was done it was time to move to attaching the frame to the deck.

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