T-Top Canvass Replacement: Easier than you Think?

When it comes to replacing T-top canvass, might the job be easier than you think? Nope—that headline was just a tease. Actually, this job is an unadulterated pain in the you-know-what. Why? Because it simply takes a lot longer to string and weave through all those grommets than you’d think. Then, after you get done and realize the canvass is off-center or wrinkled because of uneven tension, you have to pull it down and start al over again. Sounds like fun, huh? Lucky for you (but not so much, for me) I just went through the process, and learned a few tricks that can make it easier. Here’s what my top looked like, at the end of the season last year.

canvass t-top

Ouch – that rip in the canvass meant my T-top needed some attention!

As you can see, it clearly needed a face-lift. The rip was formed when I towed into a friend’s driveway, which had over-hanging trees. One hung just a little too low. Surprisingly, the first challenge was finding someone to do the job. The first three canvass shops I contacted failed to respond, despite multiple phone calls and emails. The reason? These folks get busy as boating season starts, and are notoriously unreliable when it comes to getting back to you. Finally, I found a shop that not only picked up the phone, but was responsive and helpful throughout the process: A-Team Marine.

Not only did Dave at A-Team get the job done, he also told me about a few tricks and tips that made installing the canvass easier. If you need to do a T-top canvass replacement any time soon,  make sure you keep these in mind.

1. After you center the canvass on the frame, use zip-ties to secure it in place. That way, you won’t draw the canvass out of kilter as you secure one side or the other.

2. Start at the center of the top, with the center of the rope, and work in one direction. Then, go back to the center and work in the other. Working this way you’ll only have to pull half the rope’s length through the grommets. Otherwise, you have to pull the entire length of the rope through. This may not sound like a big deal, but believe me, in the long run it saves you a lot of time—and a sore arm, from pulling, and pulling, and pulling over and over again.

3. To be sure your new canvass fits right, measure over the top of supports, from the inside of the pipe to the inside of the pipe. The first time I took measurements I went from the center of the pipe—and got a phone call from Dave, when he realized my numbers didn’t seem to make sense.

So, how’d that new top come out? Was it worth the three to four hours I spent pulling the old canvass off, removing my radome and VHF antenna, re-stringing the new top, and replacing the hardware? I say heck yes, but you can see for yourself:

T-top canvass

Ah, now that’s better – new canvass makes all the difference in the world.

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