How to remove fabric from pontoon bimini top

by Ken
(Marion, Illinois)

One of the interior sleeves ripped during a storm. I went to take the frame apart and slide the fabric over the end to take it to be repaired , but the frame at the pivot points has both a bolt AND a rivet/grommet which prevents it from sliding off at the bottom (its a squared tubular frame {aluminum?}. Have you ever heard of this? Is there a way that I'm missing?

Thanks for the help

Hi Ken,
The part on your pontoon top you are referring to is called a jaw slide. I have seen them riveted to the frame, this keeps them from loosening and sliding by accident. The bolt attaching one piece of frame from to the other can be removed, but the rivet holding the jaw slide to the frame would have to be drilled out in order to be removed from the frame. Depending on where this frame came from, there is sometimes a sleeved joint in the middle of the frame at the top where the frame was assembled after shipment. That joint is usually not present when frames come from the factory, but it is worth checking. Even if you find it there it may be riveted as well, but sometimes they screw the frame together and you would be able to disassemble the frame from the center under the pockets by taking the frame off the boat and sliding the fabric all the way to one side to reveal that joint in each pocket.

If this fails the only choice would be to drill and rivet again. If you simply can't re-rivet after it is drilled out you could use a ss screw instead of a rivet that is just the right size for the hole.
It is easiest to deal with a frame and fabric removal off the boat by laying out a tarp and turing the frame upside down and spreading it apart like a U on the ground. It becomes much less difficult for two people to handle while removing the fabric.

Another option, if the fabric is still in very good condition is to cut away the stitches that hold the pocket on and have someone install zippers into the pockets for easy removal and installation. However that is fairly costly and wouldn't be a good investment on an older top. Pontoon fabric usually isn't the best quality and the fact that you don't have zippers in the pockets already tells me that it probably isn't.

If you would like to send a photo, I might be able to get a better feel for what is going on. I hope it works out for you.
Best Regards,

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