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Old 27-08-2013, 17:08   #1
Jd1
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Bolt rope on main - fix or replace?

The bolt rope that holds my main to the mast is falling apart. The sewing right after the rope was straight stitch and has zippered open.
I can get a replacement bolt rope which consists out of the rope sewn into a section of dacron sail cloth, ready to sew onto the main sail. I can also get just a replacement piece of sail cloth and re-use the actual rope that is sewn into the assembly.
Is there a reason to replace the whole assembly or is replacing the worn sail cloth around the rope and re-using the actual rope a better solution ?

The prefabricated bolt rope with 8 oz dacron is $2.50 /ft. the dacron itself is $0.95/ft and I will need probably around 45 ft to do the whole edge of the main. $42.75 vs $112.50.

I guess the question is more one of 'does the core rope portion of a bolt rope ever wear out ?'
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Old 27-08-2013, 17:23   #2
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Re: Bolt rope on main - fix or replace?

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Originally Posted by Jd1 View Post
The sewing right after the rope was straight stitch and has zippered open.
Is it a homemade sail? Previously repaired by a DIYer?

Straight stitching doesn't belong on a sail because it won't stretch.

If the rest of the sail has straight stitching (rather than zigzag), don't bother trying to fix it. Replace.
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Old 27-08-2013, 21:51   #3
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Re: Bolt rope on main - fix or replace?

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Is it a homemade sail? Previously repaired by a DIYer?

Straight stitching doesn't belong on a sail because it won't stretch.

If the rest of the sail has straight stitching (rather than zigzag), don't bother trying to fix it. Replace.
I believe the sail is the original Catalina sail that came with the boat when new. The sail itself is all zigzag stitching and even the bolt rope assembly attached to the main sail is zigzag if I recall correctly. The straight stitching portion is immediately next to the rope that is enclosed with the strip of sail cloth. I don't believe there could be anything but straight stitching there.
The bolt rope assembly is the actual rope centered on 5" wide sail cloth, the sail cloth folds over the rope and the rope is then sewn in with a straight stitch. The assembly is then sewn to the sail with the sail sandwiched in between the two sides of the bolt rope assembly.
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Old 28-08-2013, 07:40   #4
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Re: Bolt rope on main - fix or replace?

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Originally Posted by Jd1 View Post
I believe the sail is the original Catalina sail that came with the boat when new. The sail itself is all zigzag stitching and even the bolt rope assembly attached to the main sail is zigzag if I recall correctly. The straight stitching portion is immediately next to the rope that is enclosed with the strip of sail cloth. I don't believe there could be anything but straight stitching there.
The bolt rope assembly is the actual rope centered on 5" wide sail cloth, the sail cloth folds over the rope and the rope is then sewn in with a straight stitch. The assembly is then sewn to the sail with the sail sandwiched in between the two sides of the bolt rope assembly.
This is a common but not universal practice. Unless chafed, the rope is likely reusable and could be sewn into a new strip of sailcloth. Whether this is a practical and sensible solution is somewhat dependent upon your fiscal situation and sewing skills. You will need to pay attention to how the luff rope is terminated at the head and tack of the sail, and to getting the new assembly sewn on without stretching or bunching the sail itself. Unless you have access to a good loft-like floor to do the repair on, the latter may be problematic.

Good luck in the job if you attempt it.

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Old 30-08-2013, 18:36   #5
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Re: Bolt rope on main - fix or replace?

No reason why you couldn't reuse it if the rope is in good condition. Polyprop rope is cheap however and works fine. The dacron tape is normally doubled over at the top and bottom. The rope will need to be siezed at the top and bottom and at each reefing point. Both sail and tape with rope are tensioned out evenly and then attached together with either double sided tape or staples before sewing.
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Old 02-09-2013, 10:57   #6
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Re: Bolt rope on main - fix or replace?

Much easier to reuse the rope than to try to put new. The head and tack will be much more work to get correct, than just sewing a new sleave over the the existing rope. My question is, do you have the tools to reset all of the grommets for the sail slides? Lots of hand sewing for that part of the job. You may be able to find a new foot for your sewing machine that will be narrow on one side, so that you can get the straight stitching right snug up against the bolt rope. Ask around your local Yacht Club or community center about borrowing or renting a large room at an off hour to do the work. I once built a sail on the Sausalito Yacht Club floor and they didnt even charge me. Nice folks there. Good Luck with the project. _____Grant.
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Old 02-09-2013, 15:09   #7
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Re: Bolt rope on main - fix or replace?

A follow-up ...
I have ordered an appropriate Dacron strip to fix the bolt rope issue. I should have the parts next Monday.
The sail is a furling sail so there are no grommets involved just sewing. I do have a fairly large table set up but I have never tried to repair a sail (and most certainly not THAT size). If I run into trouble I can always slink back to my local sail maker
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Old 11-09-2013, 23:52   #8
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Re: Bolt rope on main - fix or replace?

Another follow-up:
I used a 5" wide strip, about 5 ft long (just the defective portion), of 8 oz dacron sail material to lay over top of the existing bolt rope. The previous sail material over the rope was also 5" wide so this new material covers nicely. I used a Sailrite LSZ1 and a left zipper foot to sew close to the bolt rope. I also tried (but failed miserably) to tack the new material down on either side of the rope with basting tape. I have a fairly large sewing table and was able to handle the sail to some extent but found that self feeding was a no-go. With the material being fairly rigid and slippery neither the zipper foot nor a regular foot were able to properly hold the material. Feeding was strictly manual with just a tad of speed regulation from the sewing machine. Basically the material just kinda slides around even with a somewhat increased foot pressure. The teeth on the foot do not deform the material at all and the dacron just slides over the foot teeth tops.
Couple that with my no-existent experience and you get a pretty funky patch with both the straight stitch next to the bolt rope and the zigzag stitches into the sail going all over the place and the stitch length going hither and yon
Having said all that, it looks perfect from 8 ft away
Oh, I also bought 10 ft of replacement bolt rope from Sailrite and that turned out to be completely different from what is currently installed in the sail. The new rope is a flexible three strand affair whereas the old rope is perfectly round with a very stiff feel - almost as if it was heavy piping covered in a fabric on the surface.
If anyone is aware of any tricks to feed heavy sail evenly (where the sewing machine does the work), I would like to hear more details.
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Old 12-09-2013, 11:38   #9
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Re: Bolt rope on main - fix or replace?

I just did this job on a main sail last winter. I have a 50 ft luff. I bought the pre done tape with bolt rope already sewn in. The hardest jobs were taking the old one off and redoing the Tack and Clew. They had to be done with a hand awl sticher. The webbing with all the layers of sunguard and leather proved a bit much for the LSZ1. (furling main). I stapled the pre done bolt rope in place and ran three zigzag runs end to end using V-92 thread. Since I am a bit out in the boon docks, I ordered everything from Sailrite. I had a big floor to work on but prefferred an elevated work space (old age and bad knees). Used three long tables with a helper feeding ( basically just removing the tension of the material getting on the tables). The job is not my first sewing job but the first of this type and it turned out great.
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Old 12-09-2013, 11:43   #10
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Re: Bolt rope on main - fix or replace?

Just a reminder that most of time it is just the thread in the stitching that has gone bad. When "zippered" did just the thread fail, or did the dacron get ripped up? Lots of times all that is needed is restitching (use good UV resistant thread).
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Old 12-09-2013, 18:08   #11
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Re: Bolt rope on main - fix or replace?

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Just a reminder that most of time it is just the thread in the stitching that has gone bad. When "zippered" did just the thread fail, or did the dacron get ripped up? Lots of times all that is needed is restitching (use good UV resistant thread).
In my case the dacron got ripped up along a stich line.
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