View Full Version : Canvas Cabin Top

03-08-2002, 02:18 AM
Howdy. I need to replace the canvas cabin top(s) (along with numerous structural members, fastenings, engine, etc.) on my Hinckley Custom 36, and I can't find any information on how to go about it. Exactly what kind of canvas should I acquire? Regular old painter's tarp, or what? Do I just stretch it on and slather it with paint, or is some other preparation advisable? Any advice would be appreciated. Cheers.

Art Read
03-08-2002, 02:33 AM
Let go of my leg!

03-08-2002, 02:43 AM
Ummm...how exactly am I pulling your leg, Art? Was the question that stupid? It was an honest inquiry.

I did just now find a recommendation for a canvas decking job in the posts: white lead bedding, #10 duck canvas, and paint on top. Would that same procedure apply to a cabin top?

Art Read
03-08-2002, 03:26 AM
Sorry, no offence meant, but the wording of your original question sounded a bit like some of our "pranksters" here. And I saw your "member name" was a new one. Thought you might be one of the "regulars" with too much time on his hands...

You say you have structural, re-fastening and re-powering issues to deal with with on your boat as well? Re-canvasing the deck would be a little lower down on my priority list is all I meant. If she's leaking badly now, and exposed to the weather, you're right to want to keep the rain and snow out. But if you're just starting to dig into "structural" problems, a good sturdy cover you can work beneath will probably be a wiser investment. These projects have a way of "growing"... You may very well find yourself tearing up that fresh, new canvas again to get at an as yet unknown problem beneath it six months from now... Re-reading your post, I see you're asking about just the cabin tops and not the whole deck. I'd still want to be very sure you don't have any problems with them either. Don't mean to sound pessimistic, but if it was me, I'd get at the "big" jobs first.

(As for how to lay a canvas deck, or cabin top, it sounds like you found a pretty good description of the proccess already. You'll find a lot of other "threads" on the subject by using the search feature above... LOT'S of "opinions" on THAT here! ;) )

[ 03-08-2002, 04:02 AM: Message edited by: Art Read ]

03-08-2002, 03:36 AM
Hi again Art--

Yes, I'm a newbie, which is why I didn't know how to use the search function at first. Once I found that, I found several postings that offered great advice on recovering a cabin top (all of it conflicting, of course).

I'm definitely knee-deep in the big jobs now, but I'm also trying to research what I'm going to do down the road. Sealing the topsides is not necessarily that low on my priority list, either. Working under tarps is a pain in the behind. It is aesthetically displeasing and thus disheartening as well. What I wouldn't give for a nice, big barn to restore her in. Anybody in Jersey have one they'd rent on the cheap?

In any case, have fun with your project way out there on the other coast.

Art Read
03-08-2002, 04:08 AM
She in the water? On the hard in a boatyard? I can understand how "depressing" it would be, crawling under tarps every time you go aboard... Working out of a "self-storage" unit ain't exactly "uplifting" either! I suppose a lot of this depends on the general condition of the boat. I guess my initial impression from your mention of "structural work" was of something sort of like we see on the back page of "WoodenBoat" every other month. I assume you've had a good survey and have at least an idea of what you're up against? If you're pretty sure the reconstruction and re-powering won't interfere with anything you do above deck, well then... as Roseanna Roseanna Danna said, "Never mind!" ;)

(But I wouldn't waste a lot of time fussing over that first coat of paint... Look what happened to mine!)

Bob Cleek
03-08-2002, 12:50 PM
As the other posts will tell you, canvas can be done, and should be if you are laying it over a planked surface. Canvas over Irish felt will allow the sub-surface planking to move without tearing the canvas apart. If the cabin top is ply, however, there is no benefit to canvas over Dynel and epoxy, which looks almost exactly the same and lasts a hundred times longer. Get the Defender Marine catalog. They are the only place I know that sells all the materials you will need. They have traditional deck canvas (not the same as an old tarp, my friend!) up to maybe ninety-something inch widths (no seams down the middle!), plus Dynel and several other cloth choices for specific applications, together with a bit of product information on applications.

03-08-2002, 10:17 PM
Thanks for the advice--I found the order form online for the catalog.

Art, she is on the hard, as they say, on the banks of the Raritan River, in a marina that is soon to be condemned for blighting the half-million dollar homes that overlook it (no matter that the marina was there first). I'm kinda in a rush to get her in the water given the insecurity of her berth, but jobs, new babies, and sundry other details keep intruding on my best-laid plans. I may wind up having to donate her to some sort of good cause.

You're working in a self-storage unit? Must be one BIG unit!

By the way, I believe this boat was at one time or another listed in the "Boats for Free" section of Woodenboat, so that gives you an indication of her condition.

Why waste money on a survey? He's just going to tell me to burn her, and I'm just going to ignore him.

03-09-2002, 01:43 AM
I suggest the survey, anyway. If you're new to this, there are some subtle issues that can come up to haunt you. You can do all that work and then, when the insurance company asks for a survey, and they will, the issues will arise.

In all seriousness, the survey will be money well spent and will give you the basis for your plan of attack.

Art Read
03-09-2002, 01:08 PM
Gotta agree with Rod on a survey. There are two ways to approach a survey. As a potential buyer to warn you away from a bad deal, or as an owner to evaluate her current condition. Any ethical surveyer should be willing to look at your Hinkley with an eye towards pointing out obvious and not so obvious or predictable problems and issues. This is the easiest and most effecient way to plan and organise a restoration/refit. The surveyer should even give you an idea of the priority of the various tasks at hand. True, you may recieve some "unwelcome" news, but it's best to KNOW it now rather than after you've already invested years of effort, treasure and time doing work that may have to be re-done later. Eventually, she WILL have to be surveyed unless you never plan to insure or sell her. Saving old boats is never a totally "rational" pursuit. Even if your goal is simply to make her seaworthy enough to get a few more seasons on the water out of her before giving her a "viking funeral", the money spent on a survey will repay itself by letting you know just what is required to do that without spending time and money needlessly or opening yourself up to liability issues. I think it's a great thing to see folks helping these boats out. I just hate to see another half finished one sitting forlornly in the back of a yard after her owner "gave up". Not saying that's likely, (hell, we haven't even seen her!) just thinking out loud.

Ed Harrow
03-09-2002, 08:46 PM
Chip, Check out my website (you can get to it my clicking on the question mark by my name, that will get you to my profiles, and my web address is listed there). Not a barn, but it works pretty good, if you can find the space to set one up...

Oh, I learned today that the building inspector has been by to check it out. I don't think he was called, or at least the party that told me didn't think he was called. The BI asked John if I might be wanting any doors...

I, too, would suggest a survey. It will no doubt be awful, and there won't be one thing right, but a good surveyor, IMHO, is your best friend with a project like ours. Good luck!

PS: The marina condemnation, that's a whole 'nother topic.

03-10-2002, 01:56 AM
Ed, I'd love to do exactly as you did for the shelter. Looks like a beautiful job. Would you mind telling me how much the shelter cost, all told? Are there plans available for those arch supports?

Thing is, I'll never build anything like that in the marina that, as mentioned, may go kaput in short order. If the wife and I get a place with a nice yard, like yours, moving the boat there would be the first order of business.

Sounds like your project is as extensive as mine. I have a 10-year old survey that looks to have spotted all the problems I've seen except for the major freshwater damage that occurred over those intervening 10 years: The boat was left uncovered, and everything oak under the cockpit is now toast. We've got six new frames in, four to go. All the sheer clamp bolts are being replaced. The bolts tying in the rudder post will be replaced. I'm scheming and dreaming about how I'm going to handle four floors that need to be replaced--preferably without dropping the keel. The keelbolts themselves (massive bronze fellers) are in excellent condition. Basically, everything that was galvanized has to be replaced, and about 10 percent of structural oak needs to be replaced. Planking (mahogany) is mostly in good shape.

The auxiliary power is a graymarine that has few hours on it (got the bill of sale on the brand-new installation, just months before she was laid up). It is a sorry looking mess, however, thanks to the water leakage. An engineer friend assures me that it just needs disassembly, cleaning, and reassembly. We'll see.

The mainmast (it's a yawl) I'm planning to re-glue. The boom has already been done.

Sails I'm not even looking at until I get there. I think the mice have been at them; they may be toast.

Deck was beautiful teak; now is a collander. I'm weighing options.

Oh, and, judging from your website, you'd appreciate this: She has a coal-fired cookstove.

I am proceeding under the philosophy Matt Murphy expounded in one of his editorials: Get the boat functional, and put it on a program from there on out. Use it in season; restore it out of season. I'm afraid that if I refuse to let it touch water until it's perfect, it will never touch water again.

That's the plan at present, assuming all of life's other details fall in line. I am definitely in love with the boat, but convention dictates that I put wife and child at least slightly higher on the list of priorities.

I've bookmarked your page, and I look forward to seeing Phoenix progress!

03-11-2002, 02:10 PM
Oh, and don't re-canvas the cabin tops.

I did mine 17 years ago, absolutely properly. A couple of clods with hobnailed boots and various other dings later.....and it has just been done as I should have done it the first time. All fittings off; plywood and epoxy and Gripfast nails, edges of ply rounded, glass cloth laid in epoxy, new beadings and handrails to finish the job nicely. Looks better, feels more solid underfoot, and is much, much, tougher.

Ed Harrow
03-11-2002, 03:06 PM
I have ~ $1300 into the cover. For somebody, Ian I think, I posted a fairly detailed list. Given the size of your boat you, too, will need to build a knee wall for height. Look for a convenient bit of land with a tolerant owner. (There might be one or two in NJ, I don't know. ;) ) Tell them they can use the structure when your boat isn't in it.

You can get plans from Stimson Marine.

I learned this weekend that the building inspector has been by. I don't think he was called, I think just driving about. My source said he wondered if I'd like some doors. Your building inspector might take a different view...

I appreciate your comment about watching progress, implying that we are, indeed, making some. I question that often.