Last year, we were down at Antelope Point Marina doing our winter estimates. That entailed going from boat to boat and inspecting the covers and upholstery in order to get them ready for the next season. We noticed something about the traditional Big top that made us stop and think. You see, it started raining. Suddenly we were getting just as wet underneath the top as we had been out in the open. We finally understood all those calls we’d been getting; folks wanting to know more about “Hardtop conversions.” We immediately started to brainstorm, looking for creative solutions.A few weeks later, up at the Seattle MFA convention, we got hit with our “aha!” moment. We came up with something called a Banded top. It’s the perfect alternative to a Hardtop conversion for both the Traditional Lace or Snap-on Canvas tops.
Banded tops cost a bit more than the Traditional canvas. The added value, though, is in both the installation and the protection if offers. Here’s how it works. We strip the framework of any and all fasteners prior to stretching fabric over the top using Ratchet tie-downs. To hold everything in place, we use Stainless Steel screws and Aluminum quarter round. Then, with masterful precision, we cut off any excess fabric. Most covers use velcro to hold the fabric tight and prevent it from flapping in the wind. Instead, we run extra durable VHB tape along the cross bars. This approach eliminates the number one cause of rips or tears in the fabric. The final step is to apply a vinyl/architectural Awning fabric called STAM 6002. By welding these materials together, we create a solid membrane that renders the top completely waterproof.
We’re really excited about these tops. Barring unforeseen accidents, they should outlast just about any other top on the market. The finished product not only holds up great, but it looks phenomenal as well. It has a clean, polished, almost fiberglass look. Not only that, since it’s vinyl, the color holds much longer. You’ll be able to choose a white top and have it stay white instead of watching it turn slightly red (due to all that sand being blown around).
If you’re looking to replace the Big top on your houseboat, the Banded top is a great option to explore.