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Old 07-04-2010, 02:48 PM
seansherrod seansherrod is offline
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Boat: Mastercraft, ProStar 190, 1998, LT1, 30th Annv. Edition
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Lightbulb Innovation series, episode 1: glass bimini

I've been pretty pleased with the innovation coming out of the inboard boat industry the past few years and I'd love to see the momentum continue. In an effort to add a little fuel to the fire, I'm going to post some ideas that I've had cooking for years in the coming days/weeks. I'd love it if others wanted to pile on with their ideas too.

The first idea is a glass bimini for boats ranging from the X-14 to the Xstar. I realize that this draws heavily from the Mastercraft 300 but this is just my first post and I've got to save some of my best stuff for the end. Plus, this is a pretty cool idea (literally). I think that it would be awesome to have a simple piece of glass mounted to the tower to block some of the sun. Here in the midwest, we don't get that many months of sun so I hate to totally block it out when I'm on the water. At the same time, it is nice to have some protection from the damaging rays. A glass bimini with low emissivity coating would let some light in but block the bad stuff. Plus, it would be even better than a cloth bimini during a rain shower and it would hold up way longer than a cloth bimini.

As far as material goes, glass or tempered glass might do the trick. I'm thinking that tempered glass treated with a layer of low-E film would be almost indestructible. Plastic might be another option (think motorcycle windshields and fighter-jet canopies). The good folks at MC can noodle on the best material to solve the needs. Other features that would be nice could include auto-dimming like Transitions sun glasses lenses, color match tinting to the boat, feathering in the tint so that there is more tinting in the front than the back, a sunroof in the cover, and the ability to store the cover when the tower is folded down.

Again, throw out some additional ideas if you've got them. More to come. Take a closer look at the 300 canopy for a general idea of how this might work on smaller boats.
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Old 07-07-2010, 05:25 PM
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etduc etduc is offline
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Boat: Mastercraft Prostar 205
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Guess you guys, haven't ridden in or owned a car with glass t-tops. Very hot and interior takes a beating, from uv radiation,etc. Even with coatings, they reduce it, but don't stop it.

Why not a re-trackable hard top?
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Old 07-07-2010, 05:33 PM
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Sodar Sodar is offline
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Idea seems horrible on a skiboat where weight is such an issue. Not to mention the cost prohibitiveness of the glass. Have you ever priced the cost of a windshield from MC?
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Old 07-08-2010, 10:13 PM
seansherrod seansherrod is offline
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My t-top experience is limited to driving my mom's Toyota MR2 when I was in high school. The top never made much of an impression on me either way - maybe that was such as small roof that it did not make much difference. While glass would let more light in than cloth (by design) I view it as very viable especially since there are a bunch of folks that don't even have a bimini at all - like me. That's not to say that all biminis should be glass - I'd just like to see the option. I suppose it would be possible to have the option of a hard top as you (etduc) suggest. You could select hard or soft bimini. Then, If you select hard, you could choose clear (glass) or opaque. That's reasonable.

Regarding the weight and cost issue that Sodar raises, I agree that weight and cost can be serious concerns. So, I did some basic calcs to understand the likely weight of a glass bimini. I'm going to assume glass thickness of 3/16 in. (5mm) and an area 5 ft. by 5 ft. That's 25 sq-ft of glass at 2.5 lb/sq-ft for 3/16 in. thick glass, which comes to 62.5 lbs. I figure a cloth bimini with the various poles is 10 lbs so the extra weight for a glass bimini is about 50 lbs. Fifty pounds is not insignificant, especially at the top of the tower. I'm not sure it's out of question either though. This point could probably be debated on both sides. Cost is probably debatable as well.
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