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Old 10-03-2010, 08:52   #1
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Repairing, Reconditioning Old Sailcloth

I love used sails. They are often cheap, and if your careful you can get someone else's masterpiece. Old Dacron cloth is somewhat of a challenge however. As I understand Dacron sailcloth it is weaved tightly, then treated with some type of enamel that is baked in. As I clean, manipulate and cut old sails, they loose a lot of this enamel, if it wasn't already gone.
Question: Does anyone know where I can get some of this enamel/resin? Ideally, I could find some that doesn't have to be baked in high temps- but I can probably find some larger ovens.
What have others done to recondition sailcloth?
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Old 11-03-2010, 08:40   #2
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Old 11-03-2010, 09:20   #3
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From what I understand most the finish is done with a heat roller press type machinery. in a book titled The Art and Science of Sail, the author delves into the evolution of sailcloth and the advances in sailcloth production machinery. I run by the theory" the less you do to a sail the better". Granted parting seams and worn stitching need immediate attention, but washing and scrubbing is taboo in my camp. I think every action of this type takes away useful life of the sail. From bag, into breeze and back into bag, I found the discussion (in the book) about elasticity and the point of no return enlightening. Shorten sail early as it only takes one instance of overloading to stretch a sail permanently.
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Old 11-03-2010, 17:31   #4
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Thanks Gordon. I guess I am looking for a source that the Sailcare camp uses to buy enamel to refinish the sail. The other product sounds good, and I can get a similar product at Sailrite. Out fishing for sources I guess...
FSBO- I don't wash my sails- just soak them in fresh water with a mild detergent. I do use a little hand cleaning, but not much.
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Old 11-03-2010, 17:49   #5
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most all the sail fabric I use here in the shop is stated it is "in-pregnated" with resins.. My fear would be to get the wrong shape in the sail when I coated it.
If there were some way you could hang it on its side, somewhat like they do when making the 3DL sails where they're formed over a bag.. To get the 40/60 shape desired, you might have a winner...
Years ago when working with fabric and molds, I would use Orange Schlack, spelling may not be right.. to stiffen up the fabric...
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Old 11-03-2010, 17:51   #6
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I bet you could re-lock the cloth by dunking it in some chemistry or painting it with something. But why not just use a new piece of properly finished cloth?

So I guess you mean not a located damage but more along the lines of re-locking the cloth on the whole sail. Here I think if the cloth is this bad shape it is pointless (economically-wise) to save it. Just get a new one. Use the old one as a back-up or in lighter conditions.

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Old 11-03-2010, 20:04   #7
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Randy, you might be on to something. I know the homebuilt airplane guys use a whole group of chemicals to tighten and strenghten their cloth around the airplanes. (Orange Sclack being one of them) B. I do not believe that a mainsail has ended its life just because it crinkles a bit. May just have to start experimenting with different things...
I have plenty of cloth scraps in my home loft...
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