Noob leveling question...

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by Stormpetrel, Oct 13, 2016.

  1. Stormpetrel
    Joined: Oct 2016
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    Location: Block Island RI

    Stormpetrel Junior Member

    Hi everybody,

    I am a charter captain doing a major refit on a gorgeous '72 Dick Ridgeway single engine open express. I added a windshield and extended the hard top out to meet the new windshields six years ago. It gave her an "ugly duckling" look, at least as seen from the side. I don't at all use the tower, and had to remove *everything* above the hard top to trailer her twice a year. (I cut the tower legs off at the hardtop, and had a set of "pins" welded on so that the entire upper station/canopy came off with eight bolts)

    I have taken the tower, hardtop, tower legs, upper station and canopy off, and have fabricated an old school marine plywood and glass hardtop.

    I used the deck to measure from. All good, except I am getting different measurements from the deck as opposed to the gunnels port and starboard!!! It's a very well-built boat, so I am choosing to believe the deck (redone by the last owner) is out of level port/starboard.

    How the heck do I level the hardtop with the boat out of water!?! I expected some fore and aft pitch, but the side-to-side disparity really has me scratching my head.

    I did take waterline measurements, as I plan to Awlgrip the hull, top sides and cockpit. I assume the waterline would be the best starting point for a level hardtop?

    Any pointers, opinions or help would be appreciated!

    (I am also going to replace the cockpit deck and build a trunk cabin to mitigate the abrupt lines of the windshield we added. I'm doing all the work in my back yard with the help of a very experienced fiberglass guy. He thinks we can simply level the hardtop using a water level, and seems impervious to my warnings that "level" is relative, and that if the vessel is not sitting level the hardtop will be out of level when we launch. No matter HOW level it is in the back yard. Ahem)
     
  2. rasorinc
    Joined: Nov 2007
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    Location: OREGON

    rasorinc Senior Member

    They make hand held lasers that give you distance readouts. Could you place one on the deck and one on the roof to give you measurements you need to measure level??????
    Just a thought. Lowes and Home Depot carry them.
     
  3. Stormpetrel
    Joined: Oct 2016
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    Location: Block Island RI

    Stormpetrel Junior Member

    I used a tape measure to check the height of the new hardtop sitting on the windshield, and set it at the same distance from the deck at the after edge of the hardtop. I figured there might be a 1" fore/aft pitch, tolerable in 8'. But when I measured the rear of the hardtop from the gunnels, I got different measurements or either side!!!!! So (assuming the deck is badly out of level) I need to find a different way of obtaining a decent level.......
     
  4. mydauphin
    Joined: Apr 2007
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    Location: Florida

    mydauphin Senior Member

    The yard people should have levelled the boat for you. After that get 20-30' of transparent hose, it can be very narrow. Fill it with water. The old ancient method still works. I sometimes put dye in the water to make it easier to read. I find four points on either side and run a chalk line then use a painters tape to run a new water line... That said I was shocked when working on a larger 60' foot sportfisher, and found the bridge was off square. I had to make the canvas a little shorter on one side.
     
  5. Barry
    Joined: Mar 2002
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    Barry Senior Member

    You want the hardtop to be parallel to the joint between the deck and the hull. Ie there will probably be an extrusion of some type used to join them together.
    It looks like the deck should be parallel to this joint, but I could not find a clear picture

    You do not want it to be level with the water as the hardtop and the extrusion line will not be parallel
     
  6. Stormpetrel
    Joined: Oct 2016
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    Location: Block Island RI

    Stormpetrel Junior Member

    That is what I attempted: measuring up from the deck to the hardtop. The height forward is determined by where it rests on the windshield (which we raised two inches and formed to match the 2" camber of the top) and I measured from the deck up to the top as many inches in the rear.

    So it was pretty good until I checked port and starboard rear measurements from the gunnel. They were 1& 1/2" different! So, on to the next method.

    I am thinking the look of the vessel would be best if the top is more or less perfectly horizontal as looked at from both the beam and forward or aft. Is that not so?
     
  7. Barry
    Joined: Mar 2002
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    Barry Senior Member

    I would follow the line that the joint between the deck and hull makes
    The boat will probably not sit horizontal when sitting still in the water or when moving so trying to make it horizontal will produce two longitudinal lines at different angles to each other
     
  8. PirateTwig
    Joined: Oct 2016
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    Location: Florida

    PirateTwig Junior Member

    So maybe this doesn't quite apply on boats, but from my construction experience I would think that you wouldn't want it to actually be level relative to the waterline. You would want level relative to the rest of the boat. If it is made level to the waterline and the boat isn't level to the waterline the roof will always look jacked up because its angles and the boats are out. I would take a known straight edge, long enough to span the width of the boat, stiff enough not to flex, and lay it from gunnel to gunnel. This will give you a horizontal line relative to the lines of the boat that you can use for measuring roof placement. No matter how the boat sits in the water, the roof should then appear level relative to the rest of the boat. Also having a bit of a pitch to the roof can fool the eye into not noticing if it is slightly out relative to the rest of the boat.
     
  9. mydauphin
    Joined: Apr 2007
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    Location: Florida

    mydauphin Senior Member

    The reason to level the Boat is make whatever decision better. Don't assume boat sits in any particular way unless you mark it and then make sure it is level. This will save countless problems later. Whether you mount roof level or not is your visual problem. On this, if roof is not level it will always look like it is taller on one end or other causing a double take. Best if it can be level on inside, outside should follow lines of boat as stated.
     
  10. Stormpetrel
    Joined: Oct 2016
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    Location: Block Island RI

    Stormpetrel Junior Member

    image.jpg
    Here's how she was looking before the new top on (but still needing a drip edge and perhaps a 4" overhang on the after end)

    My dialup-speed internet is only allowing one image at a time. I'll post an "after", too.
     
  11. Stormpetrel
    Joined: Oct 2016
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    Location: Block Island RI

    Stormpetrel Junior Member

  12. Stormpetrel
    Joined: Oct 2016
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    Location: Block Island RI

    Stormpetrel Junior Member

  13. Stormpetrel
    Joined: Oct 2016
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    Location: Block Island RI

    Stormpetrel Junior Member

    image.jpeg
    Last refit, when we added the windshield and extended the tower hardtop to meet it. It added a lot of weight, and changed the trim of the boat. It also looked really DIY/home made (from the beam at least)
     
  14. Stormpetrel
    Joined: Oct 2016
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    Location: Block Island RI

    Stormpetrel Junior Member


  15. Stormpetrel
    Joined: Oct 2016
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    Location: Block Island RI

    Stormpetrel Junior Member

    image.jpg
    Just found this one showing her in the water....
     
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