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Discussion Starter #1
It's time to upgrade my beach-umbrella to a bimini.

looking at this:
Bimini Top 4 Bow 61"- 66" Wide 8ft Long Gray PREMIUM RANGE With Rear Poles

but wondering if I need this:
https://www.riversombrero.com/collections/mount-kits/products/expedition-aluminum-frame-mount-kit

it's going on a 14' maravia willawa with an NRS frame with no decks... (though I've been thinking of upgrading to some HDPE or plywood side-decks if needed for this!)

should i be looking for a 6' long bimini? what am I missing?
 

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Go with an 8' if you can. I have an 8' on my 14', and it is barely big enough for the rower and passengers in the front bay. As far as the mount goes, I designed a custom one for my application so I am not sure if you need the river sombrero mount or not. I have seen a few mounts made with u bolts and a piece of wood or cutting board using the base that comes with the Bimini... Seems like a cheap and easy solution.
 

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I have the same one on a 16 foot. I like the grey color. I left the back poles off so I can lay it down flat in the wind and use some long straps to keep tension. Go with the 8 foot, you will be happy for the shade.
Like above, I think you could work out a mounting bracket that would work. but if you don't want the hassle, I'm sure they would work. Motor boat repair places also carry replacement parts if you don't like the plastic mounts, but I thought they worked just fine. I have wood decking and mounted to that.
 

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I bought a slide track to attach my bimini:

https://www.amazon.com/Carver-Slide-Track-Kit-1Pr/dp/B000S5VCM2/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1495582721&sr=8-2&keywords=bimini+slide+track

I don't have a deck, just round side rails. The track was very easy to attach with hose clamps on either end wrapped with some good old duct tape to cover the sharp spots. The bimini removes from the track with two set screws. I leave the track on.

It survived the Grand Canyon last year and several other trips since. I got 2-foot tracks. It is also nice to be able to move the attachment for and aft a bit as well. My bimini is a gray 4-bay Leader Accessories brand I found on ebay. I'm all-in with the tracks for less than $150 total. Fits perfect on my 14' Aire. The width is the key measurement. You can see the slide track if you zoom in on the attachment point.
 

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I got one of the 8-foot "leader" ones in tan from amazon and mounted it on very little time, solo, to my modestly decked frame for my 14 footer. Fits the frame length just right. Will be using it for the first time this weekend. Pretty sure it's going to be awesome. I did notice that the slightly narrower version I bought is not on Amazon at the moment.
 

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Contact Darren Smith at Frontier Play... he has some aluminum plates that mount your bimini to the frame with NRS frame bolts. he threw them in for free with boat package purchase, so i doubt he'd charge much for them...

The ones from River Sombrero look sweet, but are SO expensive!i though of making something similar out of laminated 3/4" plywood but realized the plates i got from frontier play would work perfect...

also, i second the "leader" bimini in an 8' version from Amazon.
 

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I mounted mine "backwards" to give more clearance to my oar towers and just used stainless machine bolts, nuts, and washers straight through my wooden deck.
 

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I bought a cheap bimini off ebay, ripped off it's bottom mounting hardware, filled the bottom of the pipe with a wooden dowel for rigidity, drilled a hole through it. I used a Hollaender Adjustable Elbow Tee Body 17M to connect it to my frame. I used spare snap pins to connect the bimini to the Hollaender fitting.

I can easily slide the fitting along my outer frame rail (but only on one side of the oar towers). And, it uses the same parts/tools as needed for other parts of the frame, which keeps the repair kit small.

Worked well for me and was all said and done for about $120. Well worth it for a windy trip on San Juan.
 

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I would skip the version with the rear poles, or just remove them.

To eliminate interference with oar handles, and to make it easier to deploy and take down, we removed the rear side straps from our biminis and replaced them with one river strap that is mounted in the middle of the aft cross bar (had to cut the material and reinforce it with duct tape). We cinch the river strap down to a strap or d-ring that is aft of the gear pile in the back of the boat. This gives you a wider range of rowing freedom, allows us to ship the oars while the bimini is up, and makes it easier for the oarsman to loosen or tighten the bimini at will, including a one-step loosening that allows a passenger to easily undo the hooks on the front straps to lower the bimini in a hurry. I think 3 straps provide plenty of strength -- I've been using similar biminis on waterski boats for years and they have held up to a lot of abuse/wind/waves.

I think we also (as mentioned above) mounted our biminis backward so that they will lay flatter on the deck when taken down.

I've been tempted to buy the adjustable tracks, mentioned above. Our biminis store just aft of the oarsman's seat and in front of the gear pile when not deployed. I believe that this placement dictates that the rear edge of shade is just above the oarsman's head, no matter the length of the bimini you install. While you can often adjust the orientation of your boat on the river to maximize the shade (and who gets it), it would be nice to be able to slide the main mounts fore and aft.

I'd also give consideration to the height of the bimini you buy, and would base the decision on the length of the upright poles you will need to have it mount and store given the constraints of your boat, and the under-bimini height you will want when it is deployed.
 

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+ 1 for 8 foot length - the longer the better. The drawback is it takes up more boat length when folded down. That is where the rails become key. I can adjust mine on rails so that it covers from the just behind the rower to the just beyond the front bench but when I lay it down and slide the mounts forward it folds up right behind the rowers seat. This makes rigging gear a lot easier. I just cut slots in my rear bench behind where the bimini folds down so I can tie my gear pile back from there. It allows me to deploy/fold up very quickly. The rails are key for my 15' rig and I think they'd be even more important on shorter boats. It can be difficult to balance coverage of the bimini when up vs rigging options when folded. You certainly don't want it sitting in the middle of your gear pile. The rails make this much simpler.

One thing on width. It's easier to fold the bimini inside your towers, so think about his when ordering width. A good rule of thumb is same width as your frame minus 2-4 inches (depeding on oar stand style and/or angle). I recently upgraded (sort of) to the newer NRS towers and they are much wider than the older ones. I could go a few inches wider than my frame width and it'd fold up inbetween the towers with them.
 

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I have clearance issues with my oar stands and side rail mounted ammo can captain's boxes that require me to fold it forward. To do that, I have two small carabiners that I unclip on the rear straps, then the whole thing just falls forward. My passenger then wraps a strap around it a couple of times and secures it to front of the boat. This takes about 30 seconds. After the rapid, reverse the process and back in the shade in less than a minute. It came with a zipper bag to contain the fabric part over the poles, but we only put that on in transit on the trailer.

I resisted for years, but for our hot weather trip last June/July in the GC (it got to 120f) it was an absolute lifesaver. It also works well for sitting out rainstorms, even when there is wind. They beat the hell out of umbrellas.
 

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Aluminum or SS Bimini Replacement Parts

I'm trying to put together a package of emergency spare replacement parts for all of the more critical nylon fittings of my bimini top (Westland) and have been pondering whether it would be a good idea to just go ahead and replace the nylon fittings with either aluminum or SS and whether or not anyone else has done any such mods to beef up their bimini tops.

I have been extremely pleased with the construction and performance of the Westland bimini and it has proven to be a tough bastard and a good friend on hot or rainy floats; however, even though nothing has failed to this point (2 years old, with approx. 50 + days on the water), I have always been concerned about the nylon parts. I'm getting ready for an April LF to Pearce trip and I am in the process of acquiring all the replacement parts to add to my repair kit for various stuff that might break and figured it would be a worthwhile idea to outfit the kit with some spare bimini parts also.

One complication is that several of the existing nylon fittings are either pressed or riveted onto the 7/8" aluminum tubing frame and I am concerned about having to drill these out to remove or do any repairs and then how to go about replacing anything in the field, so with that being a major issue that could potentially limit any repair work done in the field, I thought that it might be necessary to do all of that first in the shop, and to drill out and replace all the pressed part and rivets with bolts and nylock nuts or something similar so that repairs can be made if anything breaks.

I noticed there are lots of places to buy spare parts but not much is said in regard to actually doing any repairs or what it might take to replace the nylon fittings with the aluminum or SS parts that are widely available without doing a bunch of drilling and adding bolts/nuts and I dont really want to re-rivet anything back in as that wouldn't solve the problem of having to drill out a rivet in order to fix it in the field. SO, was curious here if any others have done any such modifications or replacements to these nylon parts. Ideally, I reckon it would be best if I could replace everything with metal fittings but I also don't want to F up a great piece of gear... if it aint broke don't fix it kind of thing but its really only a matter of time before one of those nylon fittings craters and heads south.

Thoughts, ideas? Experience? I've heard some stories of bimini repairs involving duct tape and rope, straps etc., and figure I'd like to be ahead of that some but it aint as easy as it seems.

Thank you in advance for any ideas you might share.
 

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I keep heavy duty zip ties in my repair kit and they are immensely useful. This could solve most of your possible consequences with rivets and fittings; they hold up pretty damn well, are cheap and very multifunctional. It is also handy to have a wood paint stirrer and duct tape to make a splint if the tubing starts to fail.
 
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