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Aftermarket T-Top recommendations


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Hope this won't be too lengthy, but have been going nuts with online research & calling the last couple days.  I just bought a 2020 R180.  LOVE the boat, the Bimini top not so much!  I want to replace it with a T-Top.  Aside from custom jobs, I've come across 3 brands over and over:  Dolphin, Stryker, and Fishmaster.  Dolphin and Stryker only seem to come with a 1 year warranty; Fishmaster comes with a 5 year one.  I'm heavily leaning towards buying the Fishmaster Pro Line for that reason.  So my questions are:

 - Any other brands I'm overlooking in my search that I should check out?

 - Is Fishmaster as good as they claim?

Regardless of brand, I have a couple general questions, looking for any advice/pointers too.  They are:

* Do the 6 rod holders on the side of the console (3 port, 3 starboard) present a problem installing the T-Top?

* I've called about 1/2 dozen marine dealers asking if anyone installs or has installed after-market T's - the general consensus seems to be "no".  SO, is this a job I should feel reasonably confident about doing well, i.e. DIY?

* Any pointers on doing this job, also recommendations for GOOD YouTube vids or other resources?

THANKS!   

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Hi Jeff_K and welcome to the forum.

First, I do not have a t-top on my boat; been running a bimini top for 20+ years.  I do have an aluminum radar arch with 6 rod holders.  The only possible issue i can think of is the connecting point where it folds being loose and rattling in rough conditions.  What does the cost of a custom top compare to the Fishmaster pro?  If within $1000-$!500 installed, I would seriously consider going that route as a custom top would mount to both the floor and console.

Of the 3 listed, Fishmaster would be my choice.  The warranty and reviews seem to be decent.

Not sure of the height of the Fishmaster, but good chance your rods will not fit in the rod holders if 7 ft long (6' 6" rod may also hit the fabric).  See if Fishmaster has a custom style top that has a velcro flap over the rod holders that would allow them to extend thru the top.

Installation...drilling the holes is the easy part.  The challenge is in knowing how to get a good, permanent install.  I am not sure what the floor layup is next to the console.  Does Robalo have solid mount points in the core to allow for drilling, tapping, and sufficient pull out resistance?  If no hard points, is there any access under the deck where an aluminum backing plate can be installed?  Another option is to use stainless toggle bolts made for this purpose.  Also remember that all holes need to be properly sealed prior to installing the fasteners.

Hope this helps.

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Hi 2-N-TOW,

Thanks for the quick reply!  I have calls out to 2 custom service places reasonably close (less than 125 mi).  Somehow I doubt a custom job will come out anywhere near the $1000 to $1500, BUT, since I'm willing to go around $2600 for a good (ish?) aftermarket, and was seeking to get that professionally installed, IF I can come out of it for maybe $3500 or so...

Anyway, I was shocked at how many dealers/service centers, at least in our area, do not install aftermarket - and how few do customizations, or do not work on center consoles.  It seems the vast majority of work anywhere near here is  on pontoon boats and small skiff types (bass boats and the like).  I did speak at length with someone from Fishmaster today (they did call me back, good sign!), they said everything needed is included including a copious tubs of sealant.  DIY was never my first choice, so to be honest I haven't looked at the underdeck configuration & access much.  Yet.  (have only had the boat 2 months).  That will change obviously.  Meanwhile I will await callbacks from the two custom places, and also see what I can find on good ol' YouTube.

 

Best Regards,

JK

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