Thursday, July 26, 2012


I continue to work and improve on BIANKA's solar bimini. One of priority projects is to replace the clear Plexiglas sheet between the two forward solar panels. This transparent sheet does two things. It helps prevent water from coming down into the main hatch and also allows me to observe the sail as I am raising it. If you have a bimini or dodger made of Sunbrella fabric it will prevent you from seeing the sail unless you have a window sewn into it. 
As I mentioned the clear plexiglass sheet I installed last year  needed to be replaced because it cracked during Hurricane Irene. This time I decided to use Lexan which is stronger and more UV resistant. I found a suitable sized piece in stock at a local Home Depot store. It just need some minor trimming. I also used a few pieces of 1/8" thick aluminum bar I had not used on the solar panel mounting system because I found them too thin to support the solar panels. But, as a  support for the Lexan piece they would be perfect to use.
I've mentioned before how useful having a roll of  Scotch 8981 Filament Tape on board is:

I've used it as strapping to support the solar bimini frame as I was fabricating it. I also found it useful in this project to temporarily secure the aluminum support bars to the bimini frame while I trimmed the Lexan piece and before I fixed them in place permanently:

The filament tape is much stronger than many other tapes and holds very good with minimum residue when you remove it. Once I had the Lexan piece trimmed to fit between the panels I laid it over the support bars and secured it with screws to the solar bimini frame:

I have not yet removed the protective backing material from the Lexan sheet in the above photo but, you get the idea. I'm not yet done with my plans for the solar bimini on BIANKA. But, that project will have to wait for a later date. In the meantime the solar bimini provides both shelter and energy on board and that's a good thing.

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