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Big Green Machine:

Tube bending is not as easy as it sounds and that’s because to set the tubing right so the canvas fits means there’s several bends to be made. There’s the two side bends and a ‘crown’ bend: don’t include this and your canvas will sag. Plus, unless the measurements are exact you’ll get a ‘Conestoga Wagon’ effect and, again, the canvas won’t fit.

When we started the canvas/upholstery department at Brigantine it didn’t take long to get the fabric side as we wanted it yet getting the frame bent right took longer. We went through a heck of a lot of polished aluminum tubing finding the right percentages of bend: now we know it. Trust me on this; if you’re out fractions of an inch you’re hosed.

What we found was all canvas work is custom. No two boats, even from the same mold, are the same. That’s why we ask the boat come in so we can work on it. We can’t put a top on a boat guesstimating the fit.

As for tubing you have a choice of polished aluminum or stainless steel (stainless costing a lot more) so I’d go with aluminum. Does the job and lasts years.

One last about bending tubing for boat canopies. We spent a lot on bending technology and, truth be told, wasted money. Tubes crinkled at the bends and the fit to canvas was poor. What we learned was to get the fit right we had to bend consistently. Don’t do that and patterning of the canvas is a waste of time because it won’t fit. I mentioned we went through a lot of tubing but, also, we spent far too much time on resewing to fit because of the variances in tube bending.

As I said, now we have it down pat and my best advice is don’t do it yourself. Guaranteed, if you do, your canvas won’t fit.

Up to you. I’d suggest calling us at Brigantine (ask for Faith) and get a quote. We can do it lickety-split and faster than if you tried to bend your own tubing.


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