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Author Topic:   MONTAUK 170: Canvas Position When Trailering
bigjohn1 posted 10-23-2004 08:30 AM ET (US)   Profile for bigjohn1   Send Email to bigjohn1  
I have a 2005 MONTAUK 170 with factory bimini and am very happy with it.

What is best way to stow the canvas while I'm trailering? I only tow at speeds of 35-MPH or less, as I live only a few blocks from the marina. On the first outing when we took her out of the water, I simply stowed the canvas in the upright forward position (in the zippered sleeve), and all went fine. Mind you, if I were highway towing I probably would not do that. The real pain is that when stowed in that upright forward leaning position, the canvas is too high to clear the carport. I have to unhook the legs and gently lay it down (forward) once I'm home and backing her in the carport.

Now when I leave for my next outing, I must pull the boat out of the carport, then re-stow it in that upright leaning position for the ride to the water. While this works, its a pain in the butt. Am I missing some much easier way of doing this so I don't have to reposition the bimini multiple times from the ramp to my carport? I am very mindful that earlier model biminis could scratch the gelcoat if you weren't careful when stowing.

When I picked her up brand new from the dealer three weeks ago, we leaned the frame all the way forward, down by the bow locker, and tied all the legs up to the grab rail with rope. Although this was the way the dealer felt was best, in retrospect it was not a good plan as the bimini rails (tracks) that the legs slide in took a lot of upward pressure and they now have a "dimple" in the middle of the track that prevents full range of motion - in other words, the aft legs will not smoothly slide in the tracks from aft to forward. Good thing though, this has not prevented the bimini from being used at all. Am I missing something here? The factory manual really did not address this in very good detail. Big John

jimh posted 10-23-2004 09:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I have the same situation on my boat (although not a MONTAUK 170). The canvas is designed to stow in the upright position, and if the frame is laid down it does not land in a well-supported position in the cockpit. It lands so that it puts a great deal of upward force on the hinges, as you have described in your situation.

I don't have the problem of clearance that you do in my storage location, so I tend to just leave the canvas stowed upright. If making a really long trip, say over 250 miles, I might take the canvas down. If you drive at night in the summer with the canvas up, after a few hundred miles there will be thousands of dead bugs on the cover. It can be a real mess.

Too bad your track rails were deformed! I would try to fix them, or get the dealer who suggested that stowing technique to fix them.

One idea that has come to mind for the canvas: Disconnect the poles that support the frame in the upright position--not the ones at the hinge point but the ones more forward in your boat--from the deck. Buy an extra set of fittings. Find an arrangement of the support poles from the cockpit deck level--not the gunwales--that will hold the canvas and frame in a lower position than fully upright. If you use a quick-disconnect at the fitting instead of the more typical threaded fastener, you should be able to move the canvas and frame from the upright position to the low storage position without much fuss.

Stowing the canvas lower will also make it possible for a mooring cover to protect it. It you get a cover designed to work with the canvas stowed upright, you have to have cut-outs for the frame, and this can make the cover less water-tight.

I have been thinking about doing this on my boat so that I could:

--tow it with the canvas out of the wind stream and the bug stream
--use a mooring cover and really cover everything in the cockpit

In your situation, this arrangement would also solve your problem with the lower clearance in your storage pad.

pvonk posted 10-23-2004 10:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for pvonk  Send Email to pvonk     
Hmm... I've always kept my bimini (2005 170) down aft, not toward the bow. However, I have a stern seat and the bimini (in its sleeve) rests on the back of the seat. I hadn't thought about not having a stern seat - I guess the bimini would just hang in thin air across the stern of the boat, bouncing a lot? With the seat, the bimini is well supported. I've determined that the bimini can be lowered toward the bow, but it's not as convenient there. In the aft position, it never gets in the way. (I don't fish.)

Through use, I've found we rarely use the bimini. On the Cape, waves and wind force us to keep it down. On lakes, we've had it up a few times when the air is still and sun is hot. We don't even keep it zipped up in the angle position, only down.

Perhaps you can rig some sort of support for the aft position.


Barney posted 10-23-2004 10:58 AM ET (US)     Profile for Barney  Send Email to Barney     
Along the same line as Pierre, I put a cooler under mine in the stern. jim
BMR posted 10-23-2004 04:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for BMR    
There is a miss conception that the engine should be all the way up an resting on the hinged support. This is not correct. In the Merc owner's manual, it states that this is a service support bracket and not intended for trailering. The engine is best position in a more vertical position, high enough so the skeg will not hit the ground, but closer to verticle than many think. The engine in a more verticle position will put less stress on the transom.

On a 170, it is my experience that if the engine is not fully in the up position, the sun top will lay across the boat ner the front on the engine well.

bigjohn1 posted 10-24-2004 06:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1  Send Email to bigjohn1     
Thanks guys for each of your great ideas; they all have merit and will no doubt help me. I have already purchased a cover - I opted for the cheaper canvas/duck/cotton one from (I think it was about $250.00) but I am pleased with as its good for my purposes. It has enough room to easily cover the bimini if it is stowed aft so that is likely what I will do. I don't have a stern seat but sitting coolers back there sounds like it would work adequately for now at least. Also, I had not thought of the engine position and its effect on being able to lay the bimini aft.

I must admit that I have been screwing up though and have been towing my rig to the marina with the engine up and resting on that little bracket (115EFI). I realize the manual says don't do it but I guess I am scared of messing up the hydraulic cylinder unit in the tilt/trim unit. I have used transom engine supports in the past but honestly I had not intended to buy one for this boat. As has been discussed in some many previous threads, I think its a matter of opinion. I think my opinion could be swayed though if I started hearing Merc tilt/trim units were going out at a high rate due to people leaving their engine in a near-vertical position while trailering. Absent that, I think I will simply trailer my boat with the engine near vertical but slightly tilted up (as BMR states) and use the room immediately in front of the engine to stow the bimini. Much thanks to all for your help.
Big John

pvonk posted 10-24-2004 10:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for pvonk  Send Email to pvonk     
Before reading the threads on using a "transom saver", I tilted the engine up and used the small support for it for towing. The bimini still fits well when down aft. I have since purchased a "saver" for towing and the engine isn't tilted up as far. Either way, lowering the bimini aft works. Due to the track that the bimini attaches to, I can slide it forward or aft a bit to adjust its locaton wrt the engine when it's tilted up. As I mentioned earlier, aft is more convenient - in fact, I hardly remember the bimini is there at all, when down aft.

The suggestion of using a cooler for support seems to be the best one when no stern seat is available. At least I assume a typical cooler is high enough to offer good support for the bimini when zipped up.


Jim Bennett posted 10-24-2004 05:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jim Bennett  Send Email to Jim Bennett     
Don't know if this helps or not but thought would put in my $0.02. I have a restored 1973 Outrage 21. No bimini but do have forward shelter or dodger which lays down at bow and has zippered cover. In order to keep the shelter down while underway on water or trailering I installed 2 pop-up cleats near front which allows me to tie down the shelter. Works great!!. Also installed 2 same cleats about midship which holds tielines for shelter when it is up. Believe those of you with bimini could use same approach.


P.S. This should link you to photos of my restoration

hooter posted 10-24-2004 06:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for hooter    
If it were me, Ah'd call Whaler direct and axe them how they intend one t' stow his canvas, then post those instructions here for all to share.

And that pretty 21' of Jim Bennet's is the finest all-stock restoration of that model Ah've ever seen. Great woik, there, Bud:-!

chopbuster posted 10-24-2004 08:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for chopbuster  Send Email to chopbuster     

The Williams Mills Canvas Co. manufactures a Bimini top that is superior to the factory product provided with the BW Montauk 170. It is so designed that the entire top assembly with the stowing "Boot" can be collasped forward and will come to rest fully supported under the bow rail and on the gunnel. They accomplish this with a unique slide rail system. Brunswick/SeaRay/BW in their infinite corporate wisdom elected to drop the Mills Canvas Co. as a vendor, save a buck or two and provide their 170 customers with an inferior canvas product. Were you to conduct a search of this site you would confirm this data for yourself.

Barney posted 10-24-2004 09:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for Barney  Send Email to Barney     
I've done the search and don't find a whole lot. Not many have reported on the Mills Bimini top for the 170 Montauk. Do you own one Chopbuster?
Joe Kriz posted 10-24-2004 09:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for Joe Kriz  Send Email to Joe Kriz     

You might want to check the Cetacea photos..
Here are some photos of the Mills on a 170 Montauk and a description to go along...

Barney posted 10-24-2004 09:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for Barney  Send Email to Barney     
Thanks Joe, I forgot about those photos. Looks like the Mills top is taller than the factory by a few inches also.

I like the quality of the factory top, Sunbrella, sewed well and stainless parts. Stowing it down is the only problem.

Jim Bennett posted 10-25-2004 02:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Jim Bennett  Send Email to Jim Bennett     

Thanks for the compliments on my Outrage. Lot of time, effort and $$ but worth it all. Sorry my photos don't show how shelter is secured relevant to question. If anyone interested, I can shoot some specific photos and post.

Hooter, one of these days I'll get around to posting album showing the before condition of my Outrage - then you'll really be impressed!

bigjohn1 posted 10-26-2004 08:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1  Send Email to bigjohn1     
I too like the quality of the factory top. I will however throw in a complaint about the manual not really covering how it should be stowed properly. Had I known it should be stowed aft - which seems to be the concensus here - I would have never had a problem to begin with. As far as the fit, finish, and durability of the fabric and stainless frame, it sure looks to be a quality piece. If the Mills top is better, so be it...perhaps that will be my "next" one. Going factory was a no-brainer for me. While I could have saved a few bucks by going with Mills, that savings would have been off-set by shipping charges to get it way out here to Guam. No UPS trucks deliver here...must be the 7,000 miles of ocean between California and here. At least I have learned my bimini should be stowed aft on a cooler or something similar.
Big John
Goosedog posted 10-26-2004 09:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for Goosedog    
Big John, we stow our factory bimini (2004 170 Montauk) aft supported with adjustable straps hung off the rails to keep the hardwardware off the boat. We also secure the base on the bimini in the track rails to prevent sliding. This set up seems to work well when on the trailer, and when using our mooring cover.
chopbuster posted 10-26-2004 02:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for chopbuster  Send Email to chopbuster     

I have been in contact with the mills Co. regarding a
near future purchase of their excellent product. In my conversation with them, they described the hardware and installation technique which prevents the condition that Bigjohn1 describes.


pvonk posted 10-26-2004 06:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for pvonk  Send Email to pvonk     
Well, now I'm confused! I have a 2 month old 170 which came with most of the "factory" options. Chopbuster indicates that Whaler dropped Mills, but mine came with a Mills bimini! This was from Nausett Marine - perhaps they provide their own bimini (made by Mills) when a customer orders a bimini option and not the one from the factory - I don't know. But the options I ordered (bimini, fishing package, CC cover, pilot seat cover, etc) are all the "usual" ones listed in the Whaler brochure.

Does anyone have a new 170 with factory bimini that isn't a Mills?


chopbuster posted 10-26-2004 07:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for chopbuster  Send Email to chopbuster     

Perhaps Brunswick/SeaRay/BW saw the error of their ways in that enough 170 customers complained and they reversed their decision to drop Mills as vendor. At the time I had my conversation with the Mills people we were refering to the 04' 170.

jimh posted 10-26-2004 11:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
In reviewing this, I think I got off on a tangent because, apparently, the stock canvas installation does not include fixed support poles to stow the canvas in an upright position on a MONTAUK 170. So ignore my suggestions about mounting those poles to the cockpit deck.

I don' t think that the factory has adopted Wm. J. Mills & Co. as their OEM supplier. Last I heard the factory was supplying canvas from a maker up in the Tennessee area, the home of the Sea-Ray company and the headquarters for the boat division of Brunswick in which Whaler is subordinate.

It is somewhat akin to having a brother-in-law who is a car salesman; you tend to be obligated to buy your cars from him, and I think Whaler perhaps has a similar filial obligation to this other vendor. Who knows?


bigjohn1 posted 10-27-2004 09:27 AM ET (US)     Profile for bigjohn1  Send Email to bigjohn1     
Pvonk, my factory bimini IS NOT a Mills and I just took delivery of my '05 three weeks ago. I need to go out and take the boot off and read the manufacturer tag again. Not sure on the company but I think it is the one Jim refers to in Tennessee. It definitely not Mills.

I am being very careful to stay objective in what I am about to say. I looked hard at the picture in the link that Joe Kriz provided (cetacea) of the tall Mills bimini.
Compared to that cover, my non-Mills unit has both a
"beafier" frame and thicker material. It is blue sunbrella but is very thick. God I sure don't want to knock that beautiful boat but I am being completely honest.
Big John

SteveFC posted 10-28-2004 02:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for SteveFC  Send Email to SteveFC     
Like Pierre, I have a Montauk with the Mills top from Nauset Marine. the top lays flat inside the bow rail with no stress on any components (or me.) From comments in other threads, I gather that it’s not only a question of which top you have but how it’s installed. I don’t know whether mine was done by the factory or Nauset Marine. Either way, it works great for me. Here’s some details: .

Hope this helps. Steve

Joe Kriz posted 10-28-2004 03:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for Joe Kriz  Send Email to Joe Kriz     
I am not going to knock either TOP here and I don't know much about the 170 Montauk top..

I had a Bimini on my 1997 Outrage 17 that was non mills and I believe it is the same brand as Big John as others have mentioned.
It did have a much heavier SS frame then the mills on my 1985 Outrage 18.
Allmost too heavy to lift up in place. The Mills bimini on my 18 is much lighter in weight but still Stainless Steel. Which top is better, I don't know but the one on the Outrage 18 is almost 25 years old and still going strong.

The photos that Steve provides shows the bend in the lower leg of the support frame, this is to take the pressure off the mounting slider and to allow the top to lay flat upfront..

Some people like their tops layed upfront and others in the rear..
Whatever Floats Your Boat....
I like mine upfront and completely out of the way for fishing...

I had a tough time figuring out how to get the top on the 1997 17 Outrage II to lay upfront and out of the way... Well, I used quick releases at the mounts and manually layed it down in front of the bow rail. Worked great for me and here is a photo..

pvonk posted 10-28-2004 03:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for pvonk  Send Email to pvonk     
Thanks for the pics, Steve. Yes, my Montauk 170's bimini looks just the same. The bimini's label says Mills, and it came as the standard bimini option. Considering John's new purchase with the non-Mills option, I'd guess that individual dealers may have their own hands involved in outfitting the boat.

But echoing Joe's comments - I don't really care who manufactured the bimini, if the quality's there, then there's nothing to complain about. My equipment has good stainless rigging, seems to offer good support, and the canvas is as good as the seat covers I got as options and as good as the Sunbrella mooring cover from Mills.

The bimini easily goes down forward or aft, a nice piece of equipment.


MantyMonty posted 10-30-2004 01:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for MantyMonty  Send Email to MantyMonty     
I bought my 04 Montauk one year ago, this October. It came with the factory bimini and I believe it is a Great Lakes Tenn. model. It does not have the crook in the support arm and it does lay on the gel coat near the mounting point. I put foam canoe blocks under the framework near the cover boot to hold the asembly up and off the gel coat. If I were to move the tracks forward approx. three feet, the tracks would be by the non-skid entry point on the gunwale. Maybe thats why these factory tops are mounted aft more. I personally would rather have the mounting point further forward to rid the bow seating area of the hindering frame and boot. Maybe a longer section of track material is available so the exisitng holes can still be utilized.
SteveFC posted 11-01-2004 01:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for SteveFC  Send Email to SteveFC     
I picked up some interesting info at Nauset Marine Saturday. Great Lakes is the exclusive OEM supplier for Boston Whaler (and parent Sea Ray.) So if you order a boat from the factory with a top, that’s what you get. Nauset Marine, and probably a lot of other dealers, typically orders boats for stock without a top. If a customer buys a boat off the lot and wants a top, they can install the aftermarket Mills product in less than an hour. So unless you specify a brand preference, this strategy may well have determined which one you got. Echoing many comments in this thread, the person I spoke to rates the two brands equal in quality.
mdmonroe posted 09-09-2005 11:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for mdmonroe  Send Email to mdmonroe     
This is an old thread, but hopefully someone can help.

We bought a 2005 170 Montauk and just received the bimini from Great Lakes Boat Top. Their installation instructions are less than revealing. Still, I think we have it figured out. Before doing anything permanent, can any of you folks provide better instructions/input and perhaps some photos of the installation? Any tips would be much appreciated.

Dave Monroe

mikeyairtime posted 09-09-2005 07:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for mikeyairtime    
I didn't mount the sliding track. My experience with them has been that they get beat up and stop sliding properly. I instead put two regular mounts, one set forward for when the bimini is stowed in the bow along the bow rails, and one set further aft for when the bimini is up. Basically one set for each end of the slider. I pull the pins and slide the bimini forward for storage or aft for use and repin it.

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