Installing a Custom Hardtop
By Mike Gridley
Hardtops are all the rage these days on modern express cruisers and flybridges. Not only do they look sharp, they also provide a superior level of protection from the weather and damaging UV rays.
So what do you if you’re happy with your hardtop-less boat, but you’d really like the benefits of a hardtop? Install one yourself, of course, thought Richard De Melo, who approached me at this year’s Toronto International Boat Show with an interesting proposal. His family had owned a Bayliner Avanti express cruiser since new and he was keen to remove the boat’s original canvas and radar arch in favour of a hardtop. He wanted to know if we would be interested in making it a My Boat project for PowerBoat Television and Boats&Places magazine. Since his boat was close to our studios, I said why not.
Richard started by contacting Atlantic Towers (atlantictowers.com) in Barnegat, NJ, about the project. Atlantic was able to recommend one of the lightweight aluminum and fibreglass hardtops they customize for each boat and customer. Although Richard sent pictures and measurements, Atlantic went one step further by finding a sister Bayliner Avanti in New Jersey on which they could reconfirm the measurements. In April, a very large and well-padded package arrived at Beacon Bay Marina in Penetanguishene, Ont.
Since we weren’t experiencing such a wonderful spring weather-wise, we were fortunately able to move the project indoors and get to work. First, we unpacked the custom hardtop and all of its components to verify that all of the parts were present and as ordered. They not only listed the parts in detail, but outlined the basic tools required that included an electric drill with bits and drivers, flat and Phillips screwdrivers, assorted wrenches, Allan keys, ¼”-20 tap, and metal saw.
PowerBoat Television: This DIY project will be featured in the 2012 season of PowerBoat Television. For a list of broadcasters and airtimes, please visit powerboattv.com.