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Author Topic:   Bashing Mills
Buckda posted 03-05-2004 02:26 PM ET (US)   Profile for Buckda   Send Email to Buckda  
Reference thread

Bugsy: I don't know why you continue to bash Mills Canvas. Especially in this case, when unprovoked.

So now it's time to do some provoking.

I am calling you on it.

It's time to provide proof or evidence to back up your claims.

You said:
"Again, I cannot stress this enough: Mills is ALL PATTERNS!!!!! It will not fit right to your boat, and after a year or two, your reinforcement is shot!"


Yes, Mills uses patterns. Patterns which were designed specifically for your classic Boston Whaler and which have been tried, true and proven over many years. They fit exactly right to your classic Boston Whaler, because they were designed specifically for it.

Can a local canvas guy do a great job? Yes, if they are skilled enough. The Mills patterns have been proven - they were developed in collaboration with Boston Whaler and fit exactly to your hulls dimensions - yeah they're patterns but they fit right. The measuring has already been done. Your local guy has to measure himself, and theorize what design will work best. Mills has already done that and come up with a system that is endorsed by Boston Whaler and is arguably the pinnacle of form and function of canvas for these boats.

LHG uses his canvas on both of his boats extensively...and has had the canvas for years. I've been in his 18' Outrage (1986) hiding in the canvas at 50 MPH on a blustery, rainy fall day on Lake Charlevoix without a drop of rain. I've sat under his forward shelter in a driving rain and not had a drop of water wet my pretty head. For 16+ year-old canvas, I'm impressed.

That's for an Outrage.

I've also sat in a 25' Revenge (Eagleman's "Our Time") with full Mills Canvas (again in the rain) and been warm, dry and comfortable.

My Mills canvas for my 15 is two years old..the only wear and tear on it is my fault (rubbed the side of the garage while moving the boat). The there are no issues with reinforcements or defective manufacture or assembly. Quite the contrary, I'm impressed with their proprietary clips on the mooring cover, and the cinch straps to complete the snug fit.

Mills DOES fit right on a classic Whaler, and with proper care, even after 15+ years of regular seasonal usage, will still keep it's color, form and function.

For whatever reason - you may have found a canvas guy locally who does better work - you repeatedly bash Mills. That's got to stop. There may be pockets of areas where a custom canvas shop is available that can rig something else up on our Whalers.

But for the majority of people - and on a nationwide basis - Mills continues to be the best, most widely available source for canvas that is custom fitted to your classic Whaler. Their prices are not outlandish (though they're not cheap) for the custom fit that they provide, and the superior canvas system that they have developed.

Most people who own a full Mills canvas system on their Whaler will agree with me on this point. Not very many of them will give their canvas up on a rainy, blustery 40 degree day. Under most circumstances, there is just no comparison, and you should accept no substitutes unless you are confident that your local canvas shop is playing at the top of their game.

So..."put up or shut up". It's their reputation on the line - and while it's your right to say what you will, it is not right to bash them without substantiating your claims.


LHG posted 03-05-2004 03:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
Good canvas on a Whaler is about DESIGN + QUALITY. Although it's not easy, it is possible to get the quality part of the equation locally. Getting both is impossible.

The Mills designs were a joint venture in conjuction with the design work of Bob Dougherty, making them the only canvas specifically matched, DESIGNED and APPROVED for the lines of the Classic Whalers. So if you want to keep your Classic Whaler "all Whaler", buy Mills. As a designer, I approve of the look of the Mills/Whaler designs.

In my own experiences, in my two major boating locations, I have given up trying to find a local shop that can even copy Mills' workmanship and quality. I am now of the opinion that if you need something repaired or replaced on any of the running canvas items (as opposed to covers), send it back to them for the work.

Actually, we are all fortunate that they are still making these classic products, and that the original designs persist.

For those 22 Outrage owners, I would like to see them update the design of the Flying Top to the same interior height as the 18 & 25 Outrages, and increase it's length to same. This would then require revised windshield, side curtains and aft curtains, but it would give better standing height and sun/rain protection for the operator.

ryanwhaler posted 03-05-2004 03:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for ryanwhaler  Send Email to ryanwhaler     
Hi, Dave.

Bugzy(Joe) knows more about canvas then most people. I just thought I'd let you know that Joe's fauther owns and operates a custom canvas shop, and I guess Joe works with his dad.

I have no opioion about this because I know very little about canvas.

Buckda posted 03-05-2004 03:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda he's got industry knowledge. Let's see some hard evidence that there is some other outfit that has the reach, quality and fit that Mills enjoys.

To bash them because your local shop (in his case, he and his dad (and company)) can produce better is doing a disservice to the rest of the nation who don't have access to that pool of design and assembly talent except through Mills Canvas Co. and their previous relationship as an OEM supplier to the Boston Whaler Company.

Show me a shop with those Boston-Whaler credentials, history of design excellence and nation-wide reach, and we have a real argument going...until then, it's unfounded bashing of a company that puts out a highly specialized product of excellent design and workmanship - and that's not appropriate without some kind of evidence.


bricknj posted 03-05-2004 03:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for bricknj    
Or..... we can let the fight die....

I am for letting it go Buckda. All it could accomplish is me vs them.

Gep posted 03-05-2004 03:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for Gep  Send Email to Gep     
No bricknj,
As I see it it's a little more than that.

It's about bashing an OEM product that has been around for as long as Boston Whalers to further your dad's business.

I see that as bad business!

Buckda posted 03-05-2004 03:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
I'll let it go.

I guess I got a little hot under the collar...I just want to understand what the issue is with Mills.

Bugsy - I'm not trying to personally attack's just that I've noticed your contrarian position on Mills surface several times and was trying to call you out on why it was happening.

I'm not convinced it's to further your dad's business...I'm just wondering what reasons you have for your claims (as you're familiar with the business, perhaps you have very good reasons indeed - just let us know what they are).

This site is about the quality of discussions and and content. I may have lowered the discussion quality quotient a little..but I want to be sure we're giving members accurate information to the best of our ability about the quality of various products available for our boats.

To date, Mills has been held up as the standard for others to meet or beat. So far, they have taken all comers and apparently won.

If Bugsy has another option for us to investigate/pursue, then I'm all for it! I want to know about the best options available (especially since I've been looking for a forward shelter for my 15 (which Mills no longer makes)).

Thanks in advance if you have such information and can compellingly share it with us here.


jimh posted 03-05-2004 11:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
As my mother used to say, "if you can't say something nice about somebody don't say anything at all.'

A really good rule to follow in on-line discussions is to avoid self-promotion. It usually has just the opposite effect.

Another rule is to always disclose your own self-interest in a topic when giving opinions, particularly when making endorsements or criticisms.

Gene in NC posted 03-06-2004 09:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for Gene in NC  Send Email to Gene in NC     
Bot my full canvas set for the Sakonnet in 1967. A friend called it the worlds smallest fly bridge cruiser. Impressed with the Mills product but not with the young woman answering the phone recently. Expected better service. Reminded me of local distributors salesperson for Elkay sinks.
greyg8r posted 03-06-2004 09:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for greyg8r    
I very recently ordered a replacement windscreen. I have nothing but great things to say about the quality AND the service. Item came before it was due and of the quality that others have praised on this forum.

Gene, sounds like you either caught a bad employee or a good employee on a bad day - it happens.

Also, since Bugsy did not disclose any conflicts of interest, I'll assume he has none.


ryanwhaler posted 03-06-2004 05:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for ryanwhaler  Send Email to ryanwhaler     
Also, since Bugsy did not disclose any conflicts of interest, I'll assume he has none.

Joe has been buzy, I'm sure he'll have something to say once he reads this.

BugsyG posted 03-06-2004 07:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for BugsyG  Send Email to BugsyG     

Apparently you have something griping your rear-end with me. I was directing my comments to unproper care of canvas.

If you look at the new boats, (other than BW) you notice that some canvas looks terrible. However, if you do look real close (some of you do and don't) then you will note that when canvas is put up to high wear & tear naturally, the reinforcement, glass, etc. goes within a year or two.

Or another good one with mills is, is that it really isn't the canvas's fault. Its YOUR fault. For instance, you have a nice new Mills mooring cover, buckda, and lets say hypothetically you take her down the high way at 70-75 mph with the mooring cover on and you drive for....about 1hr, roughly. Almost within that our you will have a major problem, being that the canvas will be shredded because the sunbrella isn't tough enough to stand that sort of a beating.

Buckda, lets say if you do spend a little extra money getting a nice custom fit. People will say "WOW, where did you get that done?!", its a custom fit. Now, I AM FULLY AWARE that some custom canvas shops aren't that high in expertise, but SOME ARE. But if you have mills, they know where to get it, however if people would like an alteration done, mills doesn't do that because they do not have the boat to do the alteration on.

Mill is all patterns that is made. If you would participate in a canvas seminar hosted by sunbrella, they will tell you too. Because its a fast and easy way to make money.

However I am right to this also: Mills and other companies try to do it the fastest and send it out the fastest. Therefore getting more money, faster. However, if canvas starts to fall apart because of weak stitching, etc, then you have a problem. (I have seen it happen and believe me it is no fun to repair!)

So as the old saying goes, put up or shut up. So I am not replying no more. Forget it, I am not trying to start a war and neither should you. So in a nutshell, buckda, leave me alone.


Buckda posted 03-06-2004 10:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Joe -

"Apparently you have something griping your rear-end with me. I was directing my comments to unproper care of canvas. "

I assure you, there is nothing griping, gripping, or anywhere near my rear end concerning you.

As I stated..I was not trying to start a war. I was just trying to figure out the reason for repeated posts by you that called into question the advisability of purchasing from Mills. (If I was starting a war, I'd doggedly respond to each and every one of your posts...fortunately for you, me and everyone else here, I am in no way that mean spirited, nor do I have the time or inclination, eh?!.) Quite the contrary...I actually appreciate your contributions to the site (in general).

I am not sure I understand your points completely - however I do understand you concerns regarding the highly personalized service that you can get only from a local Canvas shop that knows you and understands your individual needs. (Not available from Mills in the instance of any alterations you may choose to have done.)

"Buckda, lets say if you do spend a little extra money getting a nice custom fit. People will say "WOW, where did you get that done?!", its a custom fit."

Okay...Agreed. However, Mills IS custom fitted to your classic Boston Whaler as they were the OEM supplier for years and, as stated previously, developed their patterns in collaboration and cooperation with Boston Whaler, with (some speculation here) access to each and every model that they made canvas for to develop those patterns exactly to the boat's specifications. I'd respond "Got it at's a custom fit designed exclusively for my Boston Whaler"

I do however, agree that for a newer BW it might be better to shop locally (Mills is no longer the OEM supplier for BW).

"If you look at the new boats, (other than BW) you notice that some canvas looks terrible. However, if you do look real close (some of you do and don't) then you will note that when canvas is put up to high wear & tear naturally, the reinforcement, glass, etc. goes within a year or two. "

---?? No argument there. Mills doesn't make the current canvas for BWs, and aren't likely to be the supplier for the terrible-looking was likely done by a local shop, or bought from a catalog.

"Or another good one with mills is, is that it really isn't the canvas's fault. Its YOUR fault. For instance, you have a nice new Mills mooring cover, buckda, and lets say hypothetically you take her down the high way at 70-75 mph with the mooring cover on and you drive for....about 1hr, roughly. Almost within that our you will have a major problem, being that the canvas will be shredded because the sunbrella isn't tough enough to stand that sort of a beating."

Not sure how this applies to Mills exclusively...I would suspect that this would happen with most canvas.

I do know that Mills canvas will hold up at 50 MPH down a water-highway with very little flapping or chafing. (Have you seen a Mills full-canvas set in person? It's really a sight to see..tight as a drum). I've seen that personally..but I agree...if you pull your boat down the highway at 75 MPH, you are not only breaking the law in most states, but you deserve what you get in terms of damage to your canvas.

"Mill is all patterns that is made. If you would participate in a canvas seminar hosted by sunbrella, they will tell you too. Because its a fast and easy way to make money.

"However I am right to this also: Mills and other companies try to do it the fastest and send it out the fastest. Therefore getting more money, faster. However, if canvas starts to fall apart because of weak stitching, etc, then you have a problem. (I have seen it happen and believe me it is no fun to repair!)"

Well..I agree that companies like Taylor Made and others who offer suntops and Biminis in catalogs...and sold by gunwale width and height measurements are working on this philosphy. And for the most part, these are all high-quality products that with proper care will last for a long time.

Mills made their BW patterns EXCLUSIVELY for Boston Whaler boats. That's the definition of OEM supplier. The patterns were painstakingly made to fit your boat exactly. Now that they've got the "right" pattern, I see no decrease in value whether the canvas is made once, twice or ten thousand times. If the boats are the same, the canvas will fit the same, right? (If I'm wrong - let me's entirely possible).

I'm not mad at you Joe, or picking on you I'll leave you alone...but I'm opening this thread to debate on this. If you wish to participate from the perspective of someone with particular expertise with canvas - please do so (Because I'm still not understanding how Custom Mills canvas is no longer custom just because it's been made for my boat before).

Again - To date, Mills has been held up as the standard for others to meet or beat. So far, they have taken all comers and apparently won.

If anyone has another option for us to investigate/pursue, then I'm all for it! I want to know about the best options available.

Thanks in advance if you have such information and can compellingly share it with us here.


BugsyG posted 03-06-2004 10:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for BugsyG  Send Email to BugsyG     

I was not aware that mills no longer makes canvas for the newer Whalers. I guess that my comments were rather misleading towards the canvas for newer Whalers.


Buckda posted 03-06-2004 10:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
No worries Joe-

I'm just trying to get the best information from all participants.

alkar posted 03-06-2004 11:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for alkar  Send Email to alkar     
I have nothing but good stuff to say about Mills. I appreciate the ingenuity it took to develop their top systems, I like the timeless designs, and their product quality is great. But they're not the only game in town.

My experience has been very different from Larry's.

I have had seven tops, several bras, several mooring covers, and many upholstery pieces made for various personal boats over the last twenty years, two of which were whalers. I've also seen hundreds of quality custom tops made by Bentley's Manufacturing. They're always top quality. Moreover, the best craftsmen, like those at Bentleys, have the ability to customize tops to address unusual needs.

I have found many competent, professional people manufacturing boat tops. The folks who built the top for my 22' Outrage only took a day to build a frame for my new top. They modified the Mills design to give me a few extra inches of headroom, and the panels for the top were measured, cut, placed on the boat, and then sized in place for a perfect fit. The cover for my console is custom fit, with reinforcing panels over the top of electronics and other areas that are likely to chafe. They were able to incorporate my radar arch as a support, thereby eliminating the need for several bows. They also created a great pocket in the arch, so the top fits securely in it's boot - inside the arch.

Sunbrella is great fabric, but it's not the best for every application. It's wonderful for a bimini, but it's not ideal for a trailer cover, for example.

Working with experienced craftsmen has allowed me to get the best of both worlds. I incorporated my favorite components from the Mills system, and made changes, in design and material, that better addressed my needs.

Nothing is better than a custom top if you've got the right folks doing the design and stitching.

jimh posted 03-07-2004 09:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Again, it is important that people who have a self-interest in a topic disclose that self-interest when making endorsements or criticisms. If they do not disclose their self-interest in a topic being discussed, and continue to not disclose that self-interest, then when that self-interest is ultimately revealed, it can be quite embarrassing. It also has the effect of rendering their opinion on a particular topic to be not credible.

Let me give an example:

If the topic is "Who makes the best donuts?", and your family runs a donut shop, you can't really make a statement like "A family run donut shop makes better donuts than Tim Horton's" unless you clearly disclose that your family happens to run a donut shop.

Chuck Tribolet posted 03-07-2004 10:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Furthermore, revealing your self-interest can help establish
your expertise. For example: "My family is in the marine
canvas business. While Mills makes a good product, its all
made to standard patterns and they have only a very limited
ability to customize it to your particular needs. A good
local canvas shop can make you just what you need."

Also, bashing a product that a lot of people here like doesn't
help to make your case. If, in the eyes of the others here,
you are clearly wrong on some points, they will probably
think you are wrong on other points. Note the way I phrased
things above.

BTW, the Mills lack of customization is one reason I don't
have a Mills Bimini for my M167. I'm 6'5", and that makes
the Mills top too short. They said they could add a couple
of inches, but that still wouldn't be enough. (Other reasons I don't
have a Bimini is that it would only get used a couple of
weekends a year at the delta or a lake. For diving, it
would just get in the way.)


gnr posted 03-07-2004 10:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for gnr  Send Email to gnr     

Lighten up fellas.

Bugsy made one comment, presumably based on his experience (which seems to be considerably more then the rest of us)and you go off on him.

Nobody responded to it at all in the original thread and HE never mentioned that his family was in the canvas business. I challenge those of you who are suggesting that he as an agenda here to "provide proof or evidence to back up your claims."

As far as canvas goes... I have never seen a Mills setup in person but I have no doubt that it is a quality product. You don't stay in business as long as they have and gain the reputation that they have without producing quality.

However, I think it is unreasonable to believe that a local shop who is taking actual measurements from the boat then double checking for fit as they go cannot duplicate or exceed the quality of a Mills canvas.

Working from patterns and templates is a great production technique that can increase production and cut costs but that doesn't mean that there can't be slight variances that can add up and have an effect, however slight, on the finished product.

Around here there are two canvas shops that have a reputation for quality. I have seen much of their work and it is top quality and long lasting stuff. That may very well be why I have never seen a Mills in person.

Greg, who doesn't own or have any financial or emotional interest in any locally owned canvas shops and who prefers his donuts from Ann's Bake Shop down on Main St rather then Crisp Creme out by the highway.

Buckda posted 03-07-2004 12:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     

With due respect - as I mentioned in the first post, it has been repeated behavior/claims from this poster. I've called him on it before.

Since I obviously must to refute claims that I'm picking on someone:
I disagree with that because it would be easier to just call Mills...they already have the measurements.
Kudos to Joe *BugsyG* in this one...excellent disclaimer of prior experience in Canvas, and excellent reasoning for his case (Joe - I hadn't seen this one until this search and in this particular case (suntops) I agree with you).
This is the post that originally caught my attention and evoked my disagreement with Bugsy's overall assessment of Mills. It also has links to a general consensus by forum members for the quality and workmanship of Mills.

I agree that it is entirely possible that local shop can take measurements and match the quality of Mills...but consider a couple of points that amount to the stars aligning for you to reach such a result AND PAY LESS than Mills.

Mills developed their system over time. Time, in which they had access to BW original drawings and boats. I'm sure that their design concepts evolved, were tested and received approval from the BW company.

Guess what's most expensive in a custom canvas installation? Time. Time that your canvas guy comes over to take measurements. Time for when he comes back to measure again. Time it takes for you to describe exactly what you want. Time for him to design the bows and overall look of the canvas, and how it will work together.

A really good custom canvas shop might turn out a better product, but it's doubtful that it will be less expensive, and may require alterations as the canvas shop "tweaks" their design to be just right for you.

While Mills does not offer that level of personal assistance (unless you live on Long Island and can take your rig to them), they have developed the patterns, proven them to fit and work over time and many owners, and have already spent the design time do develop the system, and spread that cost across hundreds of customers.


Somewhat of a Whaler purist, who has no financial interest in any boating or boat-related enterprise, Donuts (everyone knows that Dale's Donut Factory in Stevensville, Michigan makes the best donuts, don't they?), or donut accessories.

alkar posted 03-07-2004 01:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for alkar  Send Email to alkar     
Lots of good points Dave.

I have a few counter-points.

First, boat top construction is not rocket science. The Mills designs are great, but they are not difficult engineering marvels to duplicate. Matching, duplicating and tweaking the design was a walk in the park for our local canvas guys. No head-scratching, no agonizing, they just asked me a few questions, had me stand at the helm for measurements, did some arm waving, and whipped it out. The complete frame system was done, perfectly, by the time I stopped by the shop after work.

The guy who built my most recent top is a veteran employee of a second generation family business that specializes in auto-upholstery and tops. They build boat tops as a side-line. In fact, I'd be surprised if they build more than twenty boat tops per year. Still, I saw the quality of their craftsmanship in their auto-work and reasoned that if they could perfectly reproduce the interior on an old Packard, and rebuild a beautiful convertible top on an classic Mercedes from scratch, they were up to building my boat top. I was right. It's beautiful, and it fits like a glove.

They also took the time to show me the MANY alternatives to Sunbrella. Technology does march forward, and there have been advances in fabrics over the last twenty or thirty years. Sunbrella is great stuff, and they recommended it as one of several alternatives for the flying top set, but they made a compelling argument for using an alternative fabric for a trailer/mooring cover.

I think guys who maintain the "Sunbrella-no-matter-what" attitude are being influenced by nostalgia or, legitimately, a desire to keep their boats "100% original". I've forfeited my chance at original on my present boat, so I was concerned only with fit, function, and durability.

There is economy in patterning and mass production, so I suspect that Mills quality may be difficult to match with Mills pricing in areas of the country where labor rates run high. On the other hand, some areas of the country are less expensive, and the customization really doesn't take very much time, so it might be worth getting a hard bid to see what it would cost to get exactly what you want.

Top builders take rough measurements to bid the job and order materials, but the exact fitting and marking takes place on the boat. It's fun to watch, and it really doesn't take THAT much time. They drape the fabric over the frame, slide it into place (like putting a sheet on a bed) and mark it for cutting, reinforcement and snaps.

For the record, I don't have any family or friends in the canvas business.

Buckda posted 03-07-2004 01:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
It's funny..we sound like stock advisors..."Buckda does not own any shares of XYZ stock..."

Alkar -

Excellent points. Again - since I've been considering having a shelter and flying top built for my 15' Sport, I've been very interested in this topic, and how to best go about locating a quality shop. My first choice is Mills, however since they no longer make what I want, I'm forced to choose a custom design.

All of my points from above are the result of extensive back and forth thought process on this topic for nearly a year, and I'm trying now to find out as much as possible before moving forward with a custom design.

I have an excellent photo of Barry's 22 with full canvas set, and would like to take that to them and have it modified to fit my little Whaler.

Right now, the biggest concern is price. Your comments about how much time it took for a satisfactory job are encouraging.


kingfish posted 03-07-2004 01:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
Just a few comments here from this section of the peanut gallery-

Bugsy's initial comments were over the top and misleading, particularly to someone who has not been around the forum long enough to recognize who Bugsy is, or to put Bugsy's comments into the context of his experiences and history here on the website. I strongly considered taking Bugsy up on his comments in his initial post, but then decided to sit back a little while to see what happened. Some of his comments were simply bogus.

I don't think anyone here has a problem with a young man being proud of his Dad, his Dad's business, or the products of his Dad's business; in fact I think nearly if not all of us would applaud the behavior. The rub of course is when the signals of that pride start to become promotional in nature and in a "zero-sum" fashion, so that in order for his favored product to be valued, the other product is devalued. And that is exacerbated further by inaccurate statements from a lack of experience with the "competing" product. I'm happy that Bugsy's Dad has a custom shop, and that Bugsy is proud enough to tell us about it. It's probably a great opportunity for any of us Whalers who happen to live in their vicinity, if his Dad's shop really can put out canvas of the quality of Mills.

But make no mistake: Mills *is* a custom shop in regards the Classic Whaler canvas they produce. The canvas is not made so it will fit any 18' Center Console boat or any 21' walk around. It has been extensively engineered and designed for *exactly* the boat for which it was bought, over a number of years, with the involvement of the boat manufacturer, and if carefully and correctly installed by the boat owner, it is a superb and superior product that is and has been in use by thousands of satisfied Whaler owners. And Mills *will* customize their custom Whaler canvas, or come up with something entirely to your individual likes, if you take your boat to them, just like any other custom shop.

If you don't have a Classic Whaler (or a newer Whaler for which Mills has developed a design, if any), or if Mills doesn't have a design for your Whaler and you don't live close enough to the Mills shop on Long Island, then their canvas may not be for you. But I will say that if you have a Whaler for which Mills has developed a design, you may be able to get something more personalized and different by going to a local shop, but you will not get anything better, or anything as good for the same price, when compared apples to apples, as Mills canvas.

In regards to Bugsy's denigrating comments about Mills canvas, I'd add to jimh's remark ("...if you can't say something nice about somebody don't say anything at all...") by saying, "If you don't know what you're talking about it's best to keep your mouth shut, or it won't be a secret for long".

ryanwhaler posted 03-07-2004 02:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for ryanwhaler  Send Email to ryanwhaler     
"If you don't know what you're talking about it's best to keep your mouth shut, or it won't be a secret for long".

Come on Kingfish,
Thats a low blow if I've ever seen one.

John O posted 03-07-2004 04:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for John O    
Why did Whaler dump Mills? Does anyone really know the FACTS?

Buckda posted 03-07-2004 04:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Good question JohnO -

My speculation, is that Brunswick stuck with the supplier for SeaRay (bigger contract) and consolidated vendors.

It could also have to do with price and/or location?

Perhaps JimH knows - he actually spoke with Jaime Mills for Whaler Radio.

bricknj posted 03-07-2004 05:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for bricknj    
I am sure, as an earlier poster stated, that Mills quality is there. They wouldn't be in business for that long if they did not, especially on that end of Long Island from what I understand.

However one poster's comments that they are cheaper than a local custom canvas shop is factually incorrect (as they don't have to take the time to measure each boat etc...) I know this because I priced a bow dodger (forward shelter) for my 190 Nantucket, and the price was in excess of $900 dollars plus shipping. My local canvas shop, who has made them before also (for different boats, and also uses Sunbrella and stainless steel hardware)measured for the size of my sons, as well as the line of sight of the proposed dodger as seen from the helm (ie wanting to minimize detraction from visibility), and his price was less than $500 (I think it was about $480)

I also had my local gent make console and leaningpost covers, as well as a new bimini top (sans hardware). His price for all was $1300. Mills would have been about $2900; I know... I priced it!) I will attest to my specific product and its quality when it is finished. If it is poor quality I am sure I will lament not going the Mills route. However, I am hopeful that what I have seen already in product from my local gent is what I will in fact get on my boat.

kamie posted 03-07-2004 05:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for kamie  Send Email to kamie     
Yes, Mills canvas sets are made from patterns build from real whalers (whalers are made from patterns too, it's called molds). They do have canvas for new models even though they are not the current OEM supplier. I am sure that they have an arrangement with BW to measure any new model when it comes out. Probably head down to the local dealer and outfit a boat. Mills will not do customizations for you, because your boat is not there. I bet if you live around the corner and can drop off your craft and work with them, not a problem. They don't make awnings for anyone except local folks for the same reason, quality. They seem to have a good line on the design aspect since alkar took the mills design and had a local shop modify it for his needs.

From the Mills Awning FAQ
"How can I purchase an awning from Mills & Co. by mail or phone?"

"Because of the custom nature of awnings--measurements to fit a specific location--and their installation requirements, we only work on-site, directly with local and regional clients. In this way we can assure the level of quality that has always characterized our work."

Mills is a great custom canvas shop, they have been in business since 1880. I can't believe that they would be turning out substandard product and stay in business that long or have been the OEM supplier for BW for that long. If you want canvas for your whaler classic or post classic you can contact Mills. This is especially handy if your local shop doesn't turn out quality product. If you want something custom like the canvas to be taller or wider or some other change because you are over 6 foot and you can't stand under the top go local. Just remember to check the local shop (or several if possible) the way you would any contractor, ask for references, look at their work, check the better business association to see if there have been complaints.

If someone makes a comment like
"Again, I cannot stress this enough: Mills is ALL PATTERNS!!!!! It will not fit right to your boat, and after a year or two, your reinforcement is shot!" without so much as an explanation it's a little unfair to other readers of the site and to Mills themselves. It screams for an explanation. I have not seen a satisfactory one yet. An explanation and references made to a Mills top that fell apart because it was made from a pattern rather than a local shop standing at your craft with a tape measure. There are members of this forum that have the Mills canvas originally purchased with their craft still in great shape.

"Mill is all patterns that is made. If you would participate in a canvas seminar hosted by Sunbrella, they will tell you too. Because its a fast and easy way to make money."
This is a very huge generalization. Did they specifically mention Mills by name, because if they did, Mills should sue them? I doubt they did and I doubt it is the corporate stance of Sunbrella to tell the shops using their product how to conduct business. Now if Sunbrella makes a product that has serious give or stretch from one run to another then there could be a problem with patterns but I don’t think they do. Cloths manufactures use patterns all the time, anyone’s trousers fall apart lately?

‘However I am right to this also: Mills and other companies try to do it the fastest and send it out the fastest. Therefore getting more money, faster. However, if canvas starts to fall apart because of weak stitching, etc, then you have a problem. (I have seen it happen and believe me it is no fun to repair!)”
Have you or your father specifically been called upon to repair a mills top that was damage from bad workmanship and not abuse by the owner? I am sure we would love to hear it, as would Mills. I don’t think mills tries to do it fast and send it out fast. I think they take the time necessary to do the job right. They do probably get things out faster than your local shop because they don’t have to come measure your craft, but sewing the stuff together still takes time.

I too like the quote from Jim’s mom, she and my mom must have hung out together. There is another quote that I like, “put up or shut up” If you have an opinion on a product or a supplier then be prepared to back it up with facts, pictures if necessary. If not then perhaps it’s best if you keep it to yourself.

As to the question why is Mills no longer the OEM supplier for BW, it’s simple. BW moved to Florida and change to suppliers down there. It’s easier to deal with a canvas shop that is local to your factory. They did the same thing to other suppliers, Art’s comes to mind as one.


bricknj posted 03-07-2004 05:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for bricknj    

Please don't take offense at what I am about to say (uh oh):

With all due respect if you do not have "Mills experience" first hand, and/or "local canvas experience", you shouldn't pick on Bugsy, nor chime in . From what I understand, you recently bought your first boat, and congratulations for that. I too am new to boating, and I added my .02 because I could speak to the issue of price. If I did not have that info to add, I would have stayed out of it for fear of being inflammatory.

Have you owned boast prior to your new-to-you outrage? If so did you utilize local canvas techs? Did you order a Mills top for your outrage now? How is it? Those answers I would love to hear; I'd learn something.

paid4 posted 03-07-2004 06:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for paid4  Send Email to paid4     
OK... how 'bout we change to a less controversial subject... who makes the better towing truck? Ford or Chevy?
:o) paid4
bricknj posted 03-07-2004 06:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for bricknj    
Funny paid4....

We are like this about canvas LOL. I guess we are all pretty silly. :)

PS Chevys are almost as bad as Dodges

John O posted 03-07-2004 07:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for John O    

Good point. I forgot about the Brunswick factor and ofcourse the move to Florida.

I must say I have two CC covers for my Newtauk one made locally and one made by Mills. They both used the same material and same zippers. Both had specific design features that were positive and negative for my taste and usage. I carefully inspected the stitchings on both. While they were different they both were excellant.

Why do I have two? I had one made locally in June and then found one on the Mills clearence list this fall for about the same money as I paid for the local custom job. I have a back up and am equally impressed with the quality of material and craftmanship.

"And that's all I have to say about that" F. Gump

WHALER27CC posted 03-07-2004 08:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for WHALER27CC  Send Email to WHALER27CC     
Settle this thing once and for all between you and Bugsy!!!


Proof is in the pudding they say, SO this will satisfy all parties.So are you two game for this solution????You can both report back to this forum as both customer and vendor, now THAT will be an interesting thread.....

As far as Mills go , they should be the best at it , they have doing it for what, 30 some odd years for most of the Whaler models??? Im sure ANY company doing it for that long would get it right over time

ryanwhaler posted 03-07-2004 08:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for ryanwhaler  Send Email to ryanwhaler     
Thats a great idea, WHALER27CC.

A few weeks ago Bugzy made a top and cover for a '84 15-Supersport that him and his dad restoored. Buckda could look at that boat as a reference first.

What a thread we'd have if the two of them are game!

swede5 posted 03-07-2004 09:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for swede5  Send Email to swede5     
Has anyone ever ordered from Mills and had the piece not fit? I have a 1986 22 revenge w/t. The canvas is mint except for the starboard curtin. I replaced the port side last summer. When I received it, it fit perfect. I just received the starboard side and the bottom 3 snaps are each 3 to 4 inches off the mark. Also, the bottom rear corner is about 2 inches to short. At $181.00 a side, I think it should be "right". Can I expect that Mills will fix the problem?
devildog posted 03-07-2004 10:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for devildog  Send Email to devildog     
Canvas shmanvas. My console cover is an x-large grillcover from Wally-Mart. Keeps the rain off. Less Than $20.

I am in no way affiliated with Wally-Mart, Weber Grills or El Cheapo Grill Covers Inc.

kingfish posted 03-07-2004 11:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

I'd contact Mills right away. They have inadvertantly sent me an incorrect canvas part before, and they have immediately made it right by exchanging for the correct one. I'd expect them to take care of you without delay.

kamie posted 03-08-2004 02:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for kamie  Send Email to kamie     

No offense taken.

Your right, I don't have any canvas on my boat. There are two reasons for that. The first being there is a t-top on the boat so no way a flying top or sun top would fit (trying to figure if the forward shelter will though). The second is because although the boat was ordered with a canvas cover for the console, the t-top is bolted to the console so there is no way to put it on. Where is that cover, I hear you ask. Right now covering the gass grill of the man I bought the boat from and in great shape I might add, I did see it. After 12 years on the boat and 4 year covering the grill in his backyard it still looks almost new and yes it was a Mills cover.

As to "picking on picking on Bugsy", I don't think so. All I am asking is for him to step up to the plate. He made a general statement on the quality of the product turned out by Mills. All I am trying to do if figure out if he has hard facts to backup his statement or if he is blowing smoke. As to going with Mills or a local company when/if I endup putting canvas on the boat, I can't say which way I will go, but I have checked Mills prices and to all except Bugsy their quality is top of the line. Since I have not dealt with any local shops, I can't comment on their quality.

In retail/service industry word of mouth is your best advertisement. Better than any print or radio spot you could buy. It can also be your worst enemy, called the rule of 10 friends. I believe that Bugsy's dad owns a canvas shop. So imagine if you will that I am on my there there to purchase my first piece of canvas for my whaler when I stop up the street to get coffee. At the coffee shop I hear one old salt complaining to his buddy that the canvas on his boat is shot, stiches coming out and it's only a year old. Me, I'm walking up to him and asking him what happened to your top and where did you get it. He tells me the canvas shop down the street. Do you think i'm actually going to continue to that shop and risk my cash, or am I going elsewhere?

Please note, the story above is fiction used for illustration only. No animals were harmed in the creating of this story.

Jimm posted 03-08-2004 09:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jimm    
Hey fellas, stand back, take a deep breath and think about the topic of this thread -Someone knocked a former OEM supplier of Boston Whaler! My lord do we have little to talk about!
Bigshot posted 03-08-2004 12:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
I have used Mills and I have had people "like" Bugsy make me canvas....Bugsy types win HANDS DOWN. Mills is nice for being out of a box but they charge MORE than a custom shop does. What if you want an antenna cut out or a DGPS pocket, Mills can't do that.

If you want canvas/bimini and want to pay top dollar, get a Mills and it will blow away ANYTHING you can find in Cabella's or Overton's, etc but I doubt it is any better than a reputable custom shop, and definately not cheaper. My Mills full cover that cost more than my trailer i think is very high quality and the vinyl reinforcements are great, etc but I know someone can custom make me a better fitting top and for less money....I will take the "Pepsi Challenge" between Bugsy's shop and Mills any day of the week if they are a good shop, if they suck.....we'll do another with my choice.

andygere posted 03-08-2004 02:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for andygere  Send Email to andygere     
Here is some objective first hand information on this topic.

On Mills Quality: It is beyond reproach. The forward shelter/flying top set on my '79 Montauk was made in 1981, and it was in near perfect condition when I sold the boat last summer. I will also note that the previous owner did not take particularly good care of the canvas, but it was still in excellent shape. The design of this canvas set is functional, and it is dry and easy to deploy. Without it, there are many days that I would have been off the water sooner, or never have left the harbor.

On Mills fit: My dad ordered a Mills mooring cover for his Dauntless 16 at my suggestion. We took it out of the box, put it on and it fit like a glove. 2 years later, it fits like a glove. The patterns must be pretty good.

On Mills vs. custom: The Mills designs have been refined and improved over the years, no doubt with feedback from customers, dealers, etc. A custom job may be the first one made for your particular Whaler, and it is likely an adaptation of a design used on a similar style of boat. Can this work and be just as good? Sure, but it won't have had 30 years of testing behind it. For my money, I'd rather not own the first one made by that shop for my particular application.

On price: I recently had a custom mooring cover made for my Outrage 22 Cuddy, which was necessary because I have a T-top and aftermarket rails. The price was on par, if not higher than a Mills mooring cover made with the same Sunbrella material. Like all other things Whaler, I think canvas prices vary from region to region, and Mills pricing fits that model.

For what it's worth, my custom mooring cover turned out nicely, however I did spend a great deal of time working with the canvas shop owner to develop a design that met my needs. I also did a great deal of research, and came prepared with phots, sketches and a pretty detailed specification. In the end, her staff forgot a few items (like openings for mooring lines), and some of the stitchwork was not at the same quality as on my dad's Mills cover. She has and is standing behind the work, but I do have to go through the hassle of taking the cover back to her for repairs and/or modification.

Bigshot posted 03-08-2004 02:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Like I said it depends on the shop. You also agreed with me on having somebody else make your 22 because Mills could not do anything custom. Many have custom needs or custom boats.

Lastly and I quote..."Sure, but it won't have had 30 years of testing behind it. For my money, I'd rather not own the first one made by that shop for my particular application." Many newer models are not tested for 30 years. Plus Mills used to use canvas up until the 80's when they switched to Sunbrella. Sunbrella is a company...just like Kleenex. For the same reasons that all tissues are not made the same, neither is fabric. If my shop uses Sunbrella along with Mills(most do) then my fabric will last just as long as your will being it is the same. Look fo rthe label that says "sunbrella". Now as far as the last part of the quote....I would rather have somebody make me a custom fit suit which would be the first one for that particular application, then a store bought for a 6' 210lb man. Lastly(I mean it) your shop may not be the best either...not flaming here, just making a point.

Buckda posted 03-08-2004 03:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
I realize that my original post may have been a bit inflammatory and provoking - it was my intent - to somewhat underscore my point. I did not mean for it to turn into a war (and for the most part, I don't think that it has).

I'd be happy to give Joe's family shop my business if I lived a bit closer, however - unless they've got a 1989 15' Sport GLS with no bow railings available for measurements, I think I'll have to pass...but it was an excellent suggestion for a resolution to this difference of opinion.

Being the perfectionist that I am, I want to be able to check carefully as the process goes along. Sandusky to Chicago isn't exactly a leisurely afternoon drive.

Bigshot - you're right about the patterns not being around all that long for the newer hulls..but for the classics, (which is the topic of this Website), they have been - right? I do agree with depends on Labor rates in your part of the country. Whoever first brought that up made an excellent point. A good shop with access to inexpensive labor will be able to beat Mills canvas (built on Long Island with more expensive labor rates) in terms of price..but'll be a first run job - not a tried and true design.

I do like the option though of having a local shop stand behind their work and make sure you're happy with fit and installation, and able to tweak any problems you might have.

Agreed on the points about the fabric being the same and therefore lasting for similar periods...but I think that the point that was being made about the endurance of Mills products wasn't so much about the fabric, but the fit (reduced rubbing, wear, etc).

I also tend to be of the mindset that when you pay more for something, *MOST* people take better care of it or are better stewards of it. I know my grades in College improved dramatically when dad stopped paying for it and I had to work to finish...I mean DRAMATIC improvement / classroom attendance. Maybe the price of Mills is part of why it lasts so long (i.e. people take really good care of it).

We still haven't figured out exactly why Mills is no longer the OEM. I think the current OEM is located in Tennessee (probably to be near Sea Ray), so the location thing, while plausible, may not be accurate.

Thanks to you who have thoughts on both sides of the fence re: OEM (Mills) vs. Local.


Bigshot posted 03-08-2004 03:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Mills might have cancelled with Whaler. Sometimes quality is better than quantity. If Whaler wants 1000 units at $300, they make just as much money selling 500 units at $600 and don't have to open a new facility, etc. Some people like to stay small, unlike Brunswick.

Funny thing is my "Canvas guy" was in NJ. I have not had any canvas made down here, just some repairs that were not as good as the original. Before i bit the bullet by saving $100, I would probably go Mills unless I knew the guy/gal, had a damn good referral(s), or needed a custom application.

I like Mills but they are not the Aston Martin of boat canvas fabricators. Many others are as good if not better is basically my point. I never criticize a person for buying Mills nor am I disappointed when I buy a boat with Mills in it, I just won't pay up.

As far as their Bimini tops go....friggin ripoff in my book and would NEVER buy one from them.....flame away if ya want.

kingfish posted 03-08-2004 03:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
As I said earlier (and I think others did too), Mills *will* customize canvas any way you want it done. But they *won't* do it without the boat sitting there in their yard, and neither will any other shop of similar quality (or *any* shop whose owner is in his or her right mind, really).

I realize that some of us happen to live closer to areas that support the type of boating that in turn supports high quality canvas shops than some others of us (like me) do. One of the things about Mills that is an advantage to those like me that don't have a good canvas shop close at hand is world class custom canvas for my Classic Whaler through the mail! In order for a true comparison of costs between Mills and a "local" shop for those like me, "X" number of dollars would have to be factored in to the equation for delivery and pickup of the boat to and from a remote shop.

Having said that, I would like to see an example of a full weather set for a Classic Whaler that is better engineered and designed than Mills at any price, or even that is engineered and designed "as good" as Mills but costs less. I mean it. Send me photos and descriptions and I'll post them.

LHG posted 03-08-2004 04:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
Kingfish has it right in use of the term "DESIGNED". Looking at various photos of aftermarket canvas on this site, the Dougherty/Mills "design" stands out. The exceptional quality is an extra plus. There is a lot of awkward shaped, funny colored "wiggly" stuff being exhibited, without even considering whether it's workmanship quality is good or not. Besides looking at Whalers, look at other boats too. Not much else out there that is anywhere near designed as well for overall weather protection, cruising, and aerodynamics while underway. Not talking Bimini's here. You get cold and wet under just a top.

I've had hundreds of other boat owners marvel at the Mills canvas on my boat, many wondering if they could get something like it for theirs. I'm sure that many could copy the Mills designs, but not many have the design ability to come up with it on their own. Most are tradesmen, not designers.

So now we been trolled up by someone with a business agenda.
The end result hardly accomplishes anything, as brick originally noted. No one will change their mind, and relationships suffer.

Jimm posted 03-08-2004 06:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jimm    
Bigshot - who is/was your canvas guy in NJ?
daverdla posted 03-08-2004 10:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for daverdla  Send Email to daverdla     
I would like to state for the record that neither I nor my wife are in the business of producing custom covers, not even from patterns. In the interest of full disclosure however, I feel compelled to tell you that my wife has recently learned how to knit. If you're in south jersey this summer, look for the whaler with the lime green wool engine cover with one sleeve longer than the other.


LHG posted 03-08-2004 11:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
Buckda, Kingfish and I are hoping to get some free canvas work from Mills.
kingfish posted 03-09-2004 10:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
Roger that...
Bigshot posted 03-09-2004 10:54 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Creative Canvas in Manahawkin, NJ have mail on one of the nicest custom covers anyone at the rendezvous has ever seen on Janis(Draftmanswife) 13' sport. Unlike mills, she can tow with this puppy and has been doing so for years.

Mills is great but again it is NOT the Holy Grail.

kingfish posted 03-09-2004 03:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     
Thanks Nick-

I've got the picture (I saw it before I read this post); by return email I indicated that I had asked for comparisons to the Mills "weather set" (front shelter, windshield, side curtains, flytop and rear shelter) but that we can talk about mooring covers too. I also asked you for a "sales pitch" that goes into greater detail about why you like it. I'll look forward to receiving it.

By the way, I have towed a Montauk with a Mills mooring cover on it in excess of 100 miles per hour (more than once). I make that point not to throw my sanity into the argument, (too late for that) but to counter your implication ("...unlike Mills...") that a Mills mooring cover won't hold up under towing at highway speeds. Mine held up at ludicrous speed.

For the record, I never suggested Mills was the holy grail, and I don't think anybody else here did either, (with the possible exception of their weather set, which I really think is as good as or better than anything else around. What we did do was respond to the suggestion that Mills work in general wasn't comparable to a local custom shop. That's suggestion is simply hogwash. Things grew from there.


LHG posted 03-10-2004 02:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
Bigshot posted 03-10-2004 03:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for Bigshot  Send Email to Bigshot     
Amen as well.

Like I said I have used both and I find custom work as good. It just seems like some people who come here for answers are bombarded with "Mills is the best, screw the rest" kind of posts and I just want people to know that yes Mills is some of the nicest canvas out there but you can find local custom work just as good, if not better and/or cheaper. Sorry if I made it sound like Mills bashing, I own Mills and am happy with it but my mooring cover is not road worthy with the gunnel clips. From what others here have said the splashwell section shreds on Montauk covers when towed....I can see how it would. JB shredded his I believe.

kingfish posted 03-10-2004 04:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for kingfish  Send Email to kingfish     

I had my Mills Montauk mooring cover updated for warp speeds at a local shop to replace the splashwell sunbrella with heavy vinyl with a couple of grommets in the trailing edge that I bungeed down the the trailer. I also had them replace the flaps at the bowrail stanchions with overlapping heavy vinyl and industrial strength velcro so theye were wind-resistant. The cover came with loops between the gunwale clips that I double bungeed down to the trailer in a zig-zag fashion (looked like a zipper?). The gunwale clips by themselves were never intended to hold the cover down at even normal highway speeds. I don't know if all mooring covers came with the loops, if the loops showed up later in the production history, or if the loops were the difference between a mooring cover and a trailering cover.

I trailered that rig over 8,000 miles that I can remember, and when I sold it to my sister the velcro was ready for some work, and the trailing edge of the splashwell vinyl was starting to expose the reinforcing a little, but all in all the whole thing had thousands of miles of life left in it yet.

LHG posted 03-10-2004 06:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
PS: My original Mills mooring cover on the 25 is now 15 years old. Except for when the boat is being run, it's been under that cover, outdoors, 365 days a year. Although it's designed for trailering, I trail the boat open. I'll probably replace it when it hits 20 years old.
dfmcintyre posted 03-11-2004 07:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
I've been pleased with the mooring/trailering canvas and the full sets on my Montauks and the 22 Outrage. When I saw the design of the canvas that could be ordered for the 25 Revenge, I decided to go local. From what I recall, the Mills set snapped across the cabin, went straight vertical to about 6' and then back. In short, no design thought in using the short windshield....just strictly utility in function....and ugly in my opinion.

We ended up sketching out a top with a three bow system, with side curtains and a three piece backdrop that had some decent looks when up. My only error was not specifying stainless steel hardware and bows.

For the current Outrage, we again went local, but to a different shop in the Detroit, Michigan area. I'd seen their work and was impressed. Ordered a mooring/trailing cover, bimini and forward shelter. Main reason I went local over Mills, was that I had raised the console, _and_ had a custom windshield frame fabricated that was taller then the origional. I wasn't sure (nor was Mills, in phone discussions) if their OEM mooring cover or forward shelter would fit, due to the modifications.

I still have to order the side curtains and backdrop to finish the set.


Buckda posted 04-23-2004 01:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
I'm having a local shop make my shelter. I've raised this thread not to bring up old arguments, but to provide some closure, and will continue to update you on the outcome of my experience with a local canvas shop.

So far though, I can tell you that any cost savings I am getting in actual purchase price, I have more than lost in the time spent designing and communicating my needs to the local canvas guy.

Don't get me wrong - he's a nice guy, and after reviewing his work, he's competent and skilled.

But I have spent a lot of TIME on this project. Time to communicate my needs, how I want it to work, time to communicate my vision. Time to negotiate price. Time to determine aluminum vs stainless steel.

It's not often that people assign an appropriate value to their time. In fact, we nearly alway undervalue our time.

An hour to change the oil in the car, vs. 15 minutes on your way home from work at Jiffy Lube, cost differential, approximately 15 bucks; but you buy yourself 45 minutes to be with your family and loved ones...what is that worth? (if you change the oil on a regular basis with your son as a father son project, or just value the satisfaction of a job well done by you, this isn't as relevant, but I hope you're getting my point.)

The advantage of Mills is that they've spent the time to do all of this already. The price might be higher than a local guy (guess what? Not in my case..estimates are right in line with price estimates on a Montauk shelter from Mills), but the time-savings of simply calling and ordering with confidence you're getting something that fits, in my opinion, make any nominal increase in cost worth it.

I'll let you know how it turns out. I have high hopes and am keeping my fingers crossed.


dreid posted 04-23-2004 03:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for dreid  Send Email to dreid     
This bears consideration by anyone facing a Whaler canvas purchase, because it offers a slightly different perspective than any of the many posts that precede this one. I have bought eight pieces of Whaler canvas for three different boats over the years: 15', Montauk and Outrage 18', all pre-1990. I purchased every piece used, some as old as 15 years when I bought them, and some from members of this forum. Pieces intended to mate (i.e. windshield to forward shelter and Flying Top) have fit perfectly regardless of the difference in age of the pieces. I have put each piece in its turn to regular recreational use, up to 35 trips a year. And I have never had a piece of canvas fail! Yes, for about $30 a piece Mills has replaced zippers or zipper "slider/closers" on several pieces shortly after I bought them, because those do seem to wear out. But I have never had a piece of the Sunbrella fabric or one of the reinforced wear points fail. This stuff ranks among the absolutely best manufactured products I have ever owned, period, hands down. Mills got every one of my repairs completed and back to me within about three weeks of my mailing it to them. Nice, nice people to deal with. Unbelievable quality. If you have custom superstructure on your boat, perhaps a local custom shop is your ticket. But you simply cannot improve on the quality or the service offered by Mills for their standard issue canvas pieces.
stevesucic posted 04-28-2004 01:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for stevesucic  Send Email to stevesucic     
I have owned my 1978 Revenge since it was new. I a very luckey to be in the next village from Greenport where Mills is located. I am on my third mooring cover made by Mills. Each lasted over 12 years before they has to be replaced. My origional Navy top and side curtans were used until I has them replaced last year. Not because they were no good, I just wnated to be able to stand under the cover while the boat was under way. Mills was able to make new top from scratch with wind shield and all hardware in less than a month. I could not be more pleased with the results.
Buckda posted 05-08-2004 09:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Saw the "skeleton" of the new shelter this morning. We're waiting on some rubrail clips before we can complete the job, but I hope to have the shelter finished in time for the St. Ignace Rendezvous next weekend.

Some notations for those of you following along with 15' or 13' Whalers and considering it for your rig:

1. I have a Sport model. I think that a CC might be the best version for this particular shelter design, because in order to get a lot of headroom, you should be seated higher, or even standing (ala the "mini-Montauk" rig that Steve Farnsworth did years ago).

I expected the headroom to be low, and it actually has more than I anticipated, but with just 2-4 more inches, you could actually sit up inside comfortably. Because I have to be able to see while driving, I had to lower the clearance a little, which will make it a "sleeping" shelter and gear storage only.

2. It looks awesome - I have photos of the frame if anyone is interested to see them - I'll e-mail them to you. (See Profile)

3. We made an adjustment today in the design. It always seems that for this hull, I like to cruise quartering the wind on the cold-dreary spring and fall days. The hull deflects spray down, but at this speed, the wind can still pick up the spray and lightly mist the driver or passenger. We've extended a flap from the shelter to the gunwales on either side that should help to collect this fine mist before it blows across the boat and makes an uncomfortable experience. This design will also be a useful attachment point when I add the flying top and side curtains (this fall).

4. Happy, happy, happy I chose SS bows. You can just tell that its going to make it much better, and because of the length and angle of the two main bows (of four), it increases the strength and gives me peace of mind.

I should have a completed shelter and a trip report (shakedown) after next weekend.


Buckda posted 05-18-2004 11:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Results of new forward shelter:

I picked up the boat on Friday evening (5/14). My first reaction was WOW! “Looks great! The shelter was set and it was immediately clear that it would definitely work as a sleeping shelter once I get the platform finished.

After a full day of use traversing Lake Huron from St. Ignace, Michigan to the Les Cheneaux Islands and back, it was clear that the shelter also will be fully functional to provide respite from cold wind and spray.

Of course, there are a few tweaks that need to be made: the port side is a tad “looser” than the starboard, and allows the wind to work on the snap at the back, eventually causing it to flip free. I also need to add a few snaps along the side to keep spray completely out (in a heavy chop a little water can still sprinkle it’s way up the sides from the bottom…this is mostly because I designed the shelter to fit outboard the gunwales).

Additionally, the cost was a tad more than I expected, but less than the maximum estimate.

Other than that, I am very happy.

The design is very stable, and once the fabric is tightened down on the starboard side, I am confident (because I did it) that it will hold up, even at 40+ MPH (I hit 41.7 on GPS with the shelter up, two guys aboard and 11 gallons of gas in Cedarville Bay, but was going WITH the wind).

As I mentioned, it was designed to “echo” the shelters on the Outrage series, and I think that it does that, with a minor alteration that I made at the last minute to extend the sides back along the gunwale to provide spray protection for the pilot’s hands when operating off plane in a crosswind. The overall effect is that it looks a little like a memensha…I got a LOT of quizzical looks from other boaters in the Les Cheneaux. I’m sure they were trying to discern the model as it truly looks unique (and those guys are no strangers to Whalers).

I’ve managed to downgrade the resolution on a few photos and can share with you if you wish via a series of e-mails (with one photo per), and am working on taking technically correct and detailed photos to share with JimH once I have the platform complete and the boat is fully rigged.


LHG posted 05-18-2004 06:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for LHG    
I think the title of this thread, which keeps coming up to the top, is inapropriate here on this Whaler Forum.
ryanwhaler posted 05-18-2004 07:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for ryanwhaler  Send Email to ryanwhaler     
Dave, could I see a picture? It sounds intersting.

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