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Author Topic:   Canvas: Forward Shelter
DJS posted 12-17-2001 10:59 AM ET (US)   Profile for DJS   Send Email to DJS  
Right after Thanksgiving I bought my first Whaler, a 1987 22-Outrage. It is equipped with a T-top and leaning post. I want to install a forward shelter, similar to those shown in cetacea, 45-1,2,5 and 13. If possible I would like to be able to fold it forward to the bow, just inside the bow rails. I know I could buy one from Mills, but I want to do something else with canvas that Mills won't have a pattern for. I want to add a windshield curtain that would attach to the forward shelter. This windshield would come up to just under the roof (fiberglass) of the T-top, and extend to the gunwales. Then I want to attach windowed side curtains to the windshield curtain. The side curtains would extend to the gunwales and as far back as the rear of the T-top. I have searched the last two years of the following forums: Repairs, General, and OEM. I used the key words of canvas and forward shelter and have not found answers to questions I have.

I have some questions about the forward shelter. In cetacea 45-2 & 5, it appears there are two "metal bows", which I shall merely call bows in further discussion, supporting the shelter. In 45-13 it appears that there are two bows that come from a central point at the gunwale; pivoted off of the rear bow there is a third bow. Which is the better method for supporting this shelter? What is used for the pivot, and how, and where, is it attached?

It appears that the forward shelters attach to snap-fasteners that are mounted on the outer slope of the fiberglass "toe board" or coaming; I shall refer to this as the coaming in the future. My question: is there wood on the inside of the coaming: If not, is it just fiberglass with a foam core? If it is just fiberglass with a foam core, what is the best way to mount the snap-fasteners and not endanger the structural integrity of the coaming? Please let me know of anything else you think I should take into consideration

I value everyone's opinions on this site. I have read most of every one of the forums. As a matter of fact, having this continuous wave available was one of the things that helped me decide to buy a Whaler.


andygere posted 12-17-2001 01:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
You may want to consider a hybrid. That is, buy a forward shelter from Mills with the windshield zipper sewn in, then have a local canvas shop fabricate the windsheild and side curtains to fit your T-top. I have a full Mills canvas set on my Montauk (made in 1983) and can't say enough about how well designed and constructed it is. The system you describe sounds like it would work quite nicely.
lhg posted 12-17-2001 01:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for lhg    
David - None of the "dodgers" shown in Cetacea page 45 are Mills' Forward Shelters, and therefore must be aftermarket items.

To see a Mills Forward shelter, see Cetacea Page one, and many of the pictures in the Rendezvous section. All of Mills' shelters have the long "side tails", and completely enclose the bow of the boat to the console rail.

You might consider getting the Mills Shelter for your boat. I'll bet it won't cost any more (I think they're about $1000), and will be designed to specifically fit your hull. It does completely fold down inside the bow gunwales, and stows on the angled bow ledges in its boot. It has two bows that mount on the inside vertical surfaces of the hull. Then your local canvas guy can make the custom windshield and side curtain connections you desire.

All of their shelters do snap onto the outside of the raised lip of the bow gunwales, to the point where the curve ends. The snaps simple screw into the glass/resin. Then there are lashing hooks to secure the rest of it. It's very ingeniously designed, and I doubt any local canvas shop could do one as well.

jimh posted 12-17-2001 02:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The canvas shown in Cetacea 45-2 and 45-5 was made in Florida by Rich Eastwood.

The canvas shown in Cetacea 45-13 not specified as to the maker. It might be Mills, then again, it may not. LHG and kingfish both have Mills forward shelters on their boats, and I am certain will jump in here with advice and expertise.

Hey, I knew when I added the reference number feature in the caption [begins with Cetacea Page 31] it would be useful sometime!

hauptjm posted 12-17-2001 03:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for hauptjm    
Question? Where does Mills put their label. My shelter, which is supposed to be original, seems to have had the label removed. There is a trace of one once sewn in.
kingfish posted 12-17-2001 03:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

Considering your choice in boats, you are obviously a man of discriminating taste...

Anyway, congratulations! The 22 is a wonderful boat.

If you open up my identity and click on my personal website (*very* limited - nothing like jimh's)you will see a photo of my 22 sitting on the trailer in the driveway with the Mills front shelter, side curtains and windshield flying. If you have any misunderstanding about what Mills canvas looks like on a 22, that should help.

The Mills forward shelter does indeed snap to the outside of the coaming, and as I remember my coaming either has foam or air inside it; not wood. That in and of itself does not pose a structural deficiency. As with any hole drilled for a screw in fiberglass and gelcoat, use a bit just slightly undersize for the screw, carefully use a countersink to enlarge the hole in the gelcoat, so entering the screw does not cause the gelcoat to flake, and use a daub of something like 3M 4200 caulk/sealant in the hole before screwing in the snap stud. The pressure exerted against the snap studs by the flying canvas is well within that which can be accomodated by fiberglass by itself.

Gotta run for a meeting - e-mail me with any other questions; I'd be happy to e-mail you more photos of my application.


kingfish posted 12-17-2001 03:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
Meeting cancelled-

I concur with andygere, to consider ordering the Mills forward shelter and have a local canvas shop fabricate the pieces between it and your t-top, but (and I don't mean to confuse things here), I think you might find you have more flexibility if you *don't* have Mills sew their windshield zipper on. The zipper might work out with what you wind up wanting to do, but it also might not, depending upon how all the geometry develops between the various pieces and parts. Just my $0.02.

I have not only a fly top from Mills, but also a suntop, and one of my many potential projects is to do something similar to what you are considering with your t-top, except in my case I'd need the local shop to fabricate pieces between the forward shelter and the suntop. LHG has suggested (and he may be right) that at least in my situation the fabrications might be able to be minimized if I decide that I'd utilize the Mills windshield and side curtains as well as the forward shelter, and just have something fabricated between them and the suntop. I don't know if that would be a consideration for you and your t-top or not, but food for thought...


David Ratusnik posted 12-17-2001 04:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Ratusnik  Send Email to David Ratusnik     
David--This is David, one of the 22 OR's to which you refer is mine in photo 45 etc. Congrats on your new classic 22' OR- we have really enjoyed ours for about 2 yrs. Let me give you my take on the dodger/spray forward shelter item you brought up. Many Whaler owners on this site will direct you to Mills and going there is a good solid rec by gentlemen who I respect (they know classic Whalers). However, you seem to be looking for shelter that does not fall in the "factory correct" arena. That is fine- build just what works for you and the family. I recommend finding the best canvas shop in the area, then sitting down with the owner and going over just what you want. Ask the canvas guy to come to the boat- imagine nothing. A quality canvas shop will build you anything you want. Now, I had my work done by Rich Eastwood who has done a ton of Whalers over the years. Make sure you use good quality canvas (Sunbrella). I do not believe that stainless steel poles (bows) are necessary (the guys will disagree). Good, solid aluminum is plenty strong plus lighter. Do not use anything but stainless steel for the fittings- bows go into the fittings just above the gum ridge fiberglass of the bow. Some owners claim the 3 bow set up is superior to the 2 bow as seen in Photos 45. I had an old 2 bow set up so Rich adapted it for me. I like the shape of mine plus the forest green is the color chosen by my wife- she is an emerald nut as well. Correct is "Whaler Blue" as seen throughout the photo section of the Forum. The one item you did not bring up that should be discussed with a quality canvas guy is clear vinyl and/or screen. I have a large "picture window" zip in/out at the front of my dodger. It's clear vinyl. Since you are going to through around a whole lot more canvas, maybe certain canvas pieces should have doubles made out of clear vinyl and/or screening. If the bugs are out, you may wish to run with the dodger up, but screen instead of canvas up to the t top and down to the sides. If caught in big rain/wind you may wish to bury every one under canvas and clear vinyl. I rec sitting down and talking with the best canvas shop owner you can find. They can build anything you and your family wants for your 22 OR. Good luck David
David Ratusnik posted 12-17-2001 04:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Ratusnik  Send Email to David Ratusnik     
It's "throw" not "through"- I'm at it again. How old are you guys.?? D Must be the vino [A good Red will do that do you--JWH]
David Ratusnik posted 12-17-2001 04:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Ratusnik  Send Email to David Ratusnik     
David- You may want to factor another option into your thinking- wrap around clear vinyl hanging straight down from the t top inward to the electronics box of the t top. I have such a set up, it zips in at the top and snaps around the console. It is WONDERFUL with squal coming at you in big sea. I store it in the front fish locker. If you do not have this vinyl, look and see if a zipper or snap system exists from the previous owner. Bring the item up with a quality canvas guy- fine item if you intend to go off shore. David
jimh posted 12-18-2001 09:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I hope DJS is taking all this fine advice in!

Here is a link to the first of the Rendezvous articles which show more forward shelters:

Note the canvas on MEMORY which was done by a local guy.

DJS posted 12-19-2001 09:58 AM ET (US)     Profile for DJS  Send Email to DJS     
Jim, I have taken all the advise in and have accepted Kingfish's generous offer to send photos of his application.

Thanks to every for your feedback on this. I still need to know how close the Mills Shelter come to the console.

Chap posted 12-19-2001 10:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chap  Send Email to Chap     
I have seen the application you desire.
I agree that a retro fit of a Mills forward shelter is the way to go. One of the cleanest fiberglass top arrangements I've seen used low profile extruded aluminum channels mounted to both the underside of the top very close to the outside edges and the gunwales. Gigantic enclosed flying canvas wedge area provided when buttoned up. The side windows slid into the channels. The channels are like tubes with open ends and a slot its entire length. The canvas had a corresponding "male" rod the entire length and you would just slide it into the tube from the end. I think zippers connected the forward shelter to the windows. No snaps etc. on the outer edge of the top. My friend is looking into this enclosure for his Scarab Sport next Spring. Tower Power on Kettle Creek Road in Silverton, NJ did his glass t-top and will do the enclosure. Maybe a phone call lead on hardware or a photo.
kingfish posted 12-19-2001 10:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

I'll get some photos off to you asap, and I'll be happy to measure distance between my console and forward shelter. Our consoles may not be the same size or shape, and even if they are, may not be in exactly the same location. I think I have some sketches that locate my console in relation to some other points on the boat that I will try to scrape up, and armed with this stuff you may be able to get closer to where you're trying to go.


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