• April 24, 2012 5:36 PM
    Message # 900759
    Deleted user

    Okie Dokie......

    The economy isn’t as good as the media portrays, and my new sails will have to wait for better times.

    That means that my old sails will have to do, and I mean old! The best that I can determine is that they are 1977 vintage. Despite their age, the sails are in pretty good shape. Each year since 1992, these rags have been washed with freshwater (November), dried, folded neatly, and stored in the closest (climate controlled) until it was time to go sailing again in the spring.

    And, they have been to the sail maker (there’s a good one in Northern Virginia) every few years for mending and tweaking.

    But alas, the threads are giving out. First, it was the Westsail “W” flopping in the wind, then the hull number lettering, and now other seams seem to be sketchy. { Other “seams seems” -  get it?!? } It’s always the thread, isn’t it?

    Now, I’m the type of WestSailor who does everything on his own. Ask Bud about some of my projects, successes, and failures! Not all come out as planned, but most save me money and give me enjoyment of doing it myself. After all Westsail is spelled : D-I-Y !

    Anticipating the day when when canvas, cushions, and sails will need repair,  I stumbled upon a PHAFF walking foot sewing machine. This sucker will sew through the palm of your hand and half way up your forearm if you are not careful. I took the original 1/2 hp motor off and replaced it with a 3/4 hp servo motor that I can throttle back to a reasonable sewing speed. Even though I know nothing about sewing, I managed to sew a deck quilt to cover CAPRICA’s hatches. Multiple layers of canvas and nylon tie-straps are nothing to the PFAFF sewing monster.

    But - my kick-ass sewing machine only sews straight stitches. At the maximum setting it sews a 5mm straight stitch measured between needle piercings.

    My questions are:

    1. Should I try to re-sew the seams of my sails? When I say, “re-sew” I mean stitch over the existing seams and thread. Obviously, I wouldn’t be able to re-stitch  every seam. Even though this is an industrial strength machine, there isn’t enough room under the head to accommodate all the fabric. But, I should be able to sew the foot, leach and luff seams, and some of the panels that fit under the head.

    If the answer to 1. is, “No and Hell NO!” then there is no need to read on,


    2. Given that I straight stitch, should I sew down the middle of the original zig-zags? Or do I run a stitch down each side of the original zig-zags? That would be two stitches per original seam.

    3. If I’m still sewing at this point, how do people know when the bobbin thingie run out of thread? Obviously, it’s when the stitching ceases to be stitches. But that seams (I mean “seems”) to occur at the worst location. Any tricks to share?

    Crazy Idea? Bad Idea? Waste of time and effort? Please chime in. There’s always 3M 5200 for a good repair!

    Ed & Karen on CAPRICA #687

  • April 24, 2012 6:58 PM
    Reply # 900822 on 900759

    Ed and Karen,

    A few thoughts on your sails and what you can do.

    RESEWING- This will cost you nothing but thread and a little time. Sew between the existing stitching to prevent chafe between the old and the new. This will give you practice when you decide to do the options below and get a few more summers from your old sails.

    BUYING USED SAILS- Used sails are available from Bacon and Associates, Atlantic Sail Traders, The Sail Warehouse and numerous others. All you need is the dimensions of your sails. I have purchased used sails in very good condition. With your machine you can easily convert hank on sails to roller furling.

    SEWING NEW SAILS- Nothing magic about this. Sail kits from Sailrite are all computer cut and come with instructions for sewing together. You can straight stitch them as well. My main, staysail and storm sails are all Sailrite kits sewn by me and work just fine.

    BUYING NEW SAILS- Not an option for me but if you can, ok.

    have fun with it-        Lee

  • May 24, 2012 3:14 PM
    Reply # 929696 on 900759

    Restitching with a straight stitch will be OK for a while. I wouldn't suggest running straight rows wever. If you CAN (aka, if the material is mobile enough), run the stitches in long wavy lines, so instead of this:

    - - - - - - 

    You get:

    The point is to spread the load on the seam to discourage a tear from the weakened "line". 

    Also, "Barge Cement" works faaaaaabulously for adding a ton of strength to weakened seams. Use it with its thinner and paint it on, then put the material back together. After it has set, do a couple wave stitches down it. This was our tactic on the tallships I worked on for any split seems and boy do those sails get worked.

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