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Old 19-09-2012, 20:30   #1
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Replacing dacron UV protection strip - anyone done it?

Hi -

We are pretty new to sailing. We bought a 1978 26' C&C last year for practically nothing and have been extremely lucky so far in many regards. (but that's a whole 'nother story). We had a hard time getting the jib sail from the previous owner, but finally did, and upon hoisting, I see that the UV dacron protection for the sail (it's on a furler) has started to dry rot and shred in several places.

So I watched a bunch of sailrite videos, ended up talking to the sailmaker there, and put in an order for dacron to replace the dry rotted stuff. The sailmaker said that I should seam rip out all the old stuff and replace. I sat down with a seam ripper and thought OMG there is NO WAY. The seams were sewn into basting tape - I will never get them out. Not to mention the tape over the edge of the leech. I really am thinking of just cutting out the big square sections, making new ones, and then sewing over or near the old stitches. Is this horrible?

The rest of the sail seems in pretty darn good shape and we could probably get a few more seasons out of it.

Thoughts? anyone with this experience? thanks in advance!
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Old 19-09-2012, 20:39   #2
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Re: Replacing dacron UV protection strip - anyone done it?

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Originally Posted by dobeSailor View Post

I sat down with a seam ripper and thought OMG there is NO WAY. The seams were sewn into basting tape - I will never get them out. Not to mention the tape over the edge of the leech. I really am thinking of just cutting out the big square sections, making new ones, and then sewing over or near the old stitches. Is this horrible?
Not to be a smart aleck but you seem to have answered your own question.

As an observation, I haven't seen a UV strip wear out and shred before a sails useful life but of course I haven't seen everything...

You've bought the strip, apparently have a suitable sewing machine so it seems you have confidence you can make a "2-3 season" repair that won't look so bad.

We replaced our genny because it was blown out (shape) and actually split a seam. We repaired it and I have it in a closet as a spare.

Make your temp repair even if it isn't the most beautiful and start putting boat bucks away for a new genny. Honestly the day you get a new sail is an awesome day. You feel really good about the boat. ANd while it may not be going faster it sure feels like it - LOL...
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Old 19-09-2012, 21:01   #3
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Re: Replacing dacron UV protection strip - anyone done it?

G'Day dobe,

Several comments:

You talked to a professional sailmaker, one who makes his living advising newbies like you, and he said unstitch the whole thing. So now you are asking a bunch of non-sailmakers for advice, hoping for an easier way out. Not smart IMO. Further, unstitching isn't that big a deal, really. Last year I did exactly that on a considerably bigger sail (#4 jib on our 46 footer). Took me about three hours, saved me a couple of hundred bucks at the sailmakers (sail too big to sew on board and with our Pfaff 130). I fear that doing it piecemeal as you propose will give your leach a funny, lumpy shape

Second, are you really using Dacron for your sacrificial strip? Most of them are made from acryllic canvas (Sunbrella) which has much better UV resistance than Dacron.

And re Ex-Cal's comment about the sail being used up about the same time as the strip -- depends on the usage, I think. Sails that sit out in the sun and are seldom used often have the UV strip decaying long before the sail is dead... and that describes a sadly large proportion of boats in most marinas.

So, go on dobe, start unstitching and do it right! And good luck with it... doing stuff like that yourself is a really good step towards being a competent cruiser.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 20-09-2012, 07:27   #4
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Re: Replacing dacron UV protection strip - anyone done it?

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G'Day dobe,

You talked to a professional sailmaker, one who makes his living advising newbies like you, and he said unstitch the whole thing. So now you are asking a bunch of non-sailmakers for advice, hoping for an easier way out.
Well, I was kind of hoping that maybe there were a few with experience fixing sails out there other than professional sail-makers, who may have a higher standard than I can ever hope to achieve.

The unstitching IS a big deal - it is stitched over glued down edges. The leech edge has a wide tape covering the edge that is also glued down and then stitched over. I'm going to call the sailmaker at sailrite again (if he'll take my call! I've peppered him with questions!) today to see if there's some solvent that gets rid of the glue. The stitches won't come out through that glue - I tried it and that's when I thought OMG this will never happen!

Regarding using Dacron rather than Sunbrella, I specifically asked the sailmaker about that when he prepared my quote, and this is his reply:

---
Weight on the leech and foot are bad for performance. The UV Dacron will increase the strength of the leech which helps when the sail is partially furled, keeps the leech from blowing out. While Sunbrella has a longer UV life it is heavy 9.25oz v. 4.5oz and adds no strength to the edge. I think with the dimensions you listed this would be around a 26 to 29 ft boat, if its a 140 to 150% stay away from Sunbrella.
I would remove the old cover and install, that is the best procedure. The other nice property of UV Dacron, it does not require a hot kniife.
----

The sail bag that the sail came in was marked 2001, and I know the last owner did not use the sail often b/c he liked a smaller jib. So, I think the owner before him had the sail sitting out, unusued, for a while...

Thanks!
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Old 20-09-2012, 12:42   #5
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Re: Replacing dacron UV protection strip - anyone done it?

I did it on my 26' in Hawaii. Hawaii boats suffer badly from UV and I really liked the sail (Hood), plus it was a custom boat and not so easy to order a sail for. Depending on where you are (how bright the sun is). The condition and fit of the sail. Plus the fact that you can remove it when you are not using the boat, you might want to just use it and save the money for the new sail in a couple of years. Or you might find a used one that is ready to go for the price of the repair. There are several used sail companies online. Also check Lee sails for the price of a new one.
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Old 20-09-2012, 12:50   #6
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Re: Replacing dacron UV protection strip - anyone done it?

You might check with the sailmaker who built the sail. They know how it was constructed and what adhesives and materials were used.
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Old 20-09-2012, 15:58   #7
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Re: Replacing dacron UV protection strip - anyone done it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dobeSailor View Post
Well, I was kind of hoping that maybe there were a few with experience fixing sails out there other than professional sail-makers, who may have a higher standard than I can ever hope to achieve.

The unstitching IS a big deal - it is stitched over glued down edges. The leech edge has a wide tape covering the edge that is also glued down and then stitched over. I'm going to call the sailmaker at sailrite again (if he'll take my call! I've peppered him with questions!) today to see if there's some solvent that gets rid of the glue. The stitches won't come out through that glue - I tried it and that's when I thought OMG this will never happen!

Regarding using Dacron rather than Sunbrella, I specifically asked the sailmaker about that when he prepared my quote, and this is his reply:

---
Weight on the leech and foot are bad for performance. The UV Dacron will increase the strength of the leech which helps when the sail is partially furled, keeps the leech from blowing out. While Sunbrella has a longer UV life it is heavy 9.25oz v. 4.5oz and adds no strength to the edge. I think with the dimensions you listed this would be around a 26 to 29 ft boat, if its a 140 to 150% stay away from Sunbrella.
I would remove the old cover and install, that is the best procedure. The other nice property of UV Dacron, it does not require a hot kniife.
----

The sail bag that the sail came in was marked 2001, and I know the last owner did not use the sail often b/c he liked a smaller jib. So, I think the owner before him had the sail sitting out, unusued, for a while...

Thanks!
G'Day again dobe,

Your sailmaker is quite correct about the adverse effects of heavy sacrificial strips, and I agree that the UV protected dacron will make a better performing sail. But do be aware that it's life span will be relatively short. I did use such dacron once about 8 years ago, and it began to shred within two years of use. The UV treatment may be better now, and that lifespan may be acceptable to you... if so, go for it. If properly sewn on it will indeed add to the strength of leech and foot. Beware of getting it too tight and causing a hooked leech, though, for that will really stuff the sails performance.

As to the unstitching, well, I have done quite a bit, and never encountered stitches that couldn't be pulled out.* There's always a first time, though! However, if you are going to leave much of the old cover in place you will likely have just the excess weight factors that the sailmaker was attributing to use of Sunbrella.

I'm glad that you are persevering with this, for it will be an educational experience for you.

Cheers,

Jim

* I use a pair of surgical hemostats to pull the stubborn bits of thread when I encounter them. They have fine serrated tips that grip the thread well.
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Old 20-09-2012, 17:13   #8
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Re: Replacing dacron UV protection strip - anyone done it?

I got talked into a dacron cover by a sailmaker once. Never again! It looked like yours in less than 2 years, while I have gotten over 10 years out of sumbrella.

Get yourself a good heavy-duty seam ripper and a pair of needlenose pliers.
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Old 20-09-2012, 18:49   #9
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Re: Replacing dacron UV protection strip - anyone done it?

On a 26' boat it's really not that hard to remove the sail if you're not sailing for a while. That helps the suncover last by not exposing it in the first place. Sunbrella is too heavy for small sails in my opinion. You have a 5 or 6 oz cloth for the body of the sail then hang a strip of 9oz on the leech and foot?
If you don't remove the old cover you end up with a 14 or 15oz suncover assuming you're using Sunbrella and leaving the old cover in place.
Professional replacement of the cover is usually about $7-8 per foot.

A new sail for a boat like that is probably under a grand. If I had a 26' with a furler I wouldn't bother with a suncover. I'd get an ATN genoa sleeve instead.
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Old 20-09-2012, 18:51   #10
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Re: Replacing dacron UV protection strip - anyone done it?

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Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
I got talked into a dacron cover by a sailmaker once. Never again! It looked like yours in less than 2 years, while I have gotten over 10 years out of sumbrella.

Get yourself a good heavy-duty seam ripper and a pair of needlenose pliers.
There are different types of Dacron that can be used. On some sails, I've used a titanium impregnated Dacron for the cover. I like Sunbrella for the cover on larger sails but it's a real performance killer on the smaller boats.
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Old 21-09-2012, 09:53   #11
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Re: Replacing dacron UV protection strip - anyone done it?

Hi -

An update: The Sailrite guy (Jeff) was on the phone with me for 20+ minutes yesterday. (Have I mentioned that I LOVE Sailrite with their unbelievable customer service?)

Issue #1 was that I didn't know how to effectively pull out zig zag stitches - I didn't realize I could just run the seam ripper down the entire length and then pull the thread on the other side and get basically one length of thread pulling out. I thought I was going to have to use a needle nosed plier on each stitch - that would have taken a lifetime! 2ndly, he talked me through the sticky tape issue and said that if that didn't come off, it was no big deal. He assured me that once I got the stitches out, the fabric would come off the sticky tape. If I was extremely particular, I could use Goo Off to get the tape off without worrying about damaging the sail. We discussed the peculiarities of this sail (the sailmaker is no longer in business as far as I can tell: St Michael's sails in St Michael's MD) - the leech tape was sewn on after the cover, which makes it difficult to re-do the cover without undoing the entire leech tape. So, I'm replacing that as well. Also, the clew and head straps are on top of the uv cover, and I'm not going to take them off - so, I will get close to them with the new cover, but it won't be perfect.

I started working on it anew last night and made great progress and now I am much more optimistic and energized. Thanks for your replies and interest, and maybe this thread will help someone else out in the future.

btw, I did look at the ATN furler cover and it sounds like a great idea, but since I'm trying to go as inexpensively as I could, I thought I'd try this first.
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Old 21-09-2012, 14:39   #12
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Re: Replacing dacron UV protection strip - anyone done it?

Ah HA!

Mystery solved! I just couldn't understand why the unstitching was causing you so much grief. Well done to persevere and learn a new and very useful skill.

As a beginning amateur sailmaker many years ago, one who made many mistakes, I learned that zigzag stitches were the beginners friend! Easy in, easy out!

Perhaps with this job under your belt, when it is time to replace that jib you will consider building your own replacement. You save some money and get great satisfaction from the process, or at least I did. One of the sad things about owning much bigger boats now is that the sails are just too damn big to deal with if you don't have access to a loft floor.

Cheers and keep up the good work.

Jim
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Old 21-09-2012, 17:39   #13
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Re: Replacing dacron UV protection strip - anyone done it?

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Originally Posted by dobeSailor View Post
Hi -


btw, I did look at the ATN furler cover and it sounds like a great idea, but since I'm trying to go as inexpensively as I could, I thought I'd try this first.
The nice thing about the furler cover is you can use it with any sail. All the time and money you're investing right now is going into a sail which is probably mostly used up. When you replace or add headsails, you can order them without a suncover. If you order a couple of sails, the genoa sleeve pays for itself.
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Old 21-09-2012, 21:02   #14
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Re: Replacing dacron UV protection strip - anyone done it?

Hi - I think the condition of my sail is actually pretty good except for the uv cover. When I mentioned to the Sailrite guy that it was extremely bulky and didn't condense down well to make carrying it from one place to the other very easy, and that I seemed to do more wrinkling of it than I felt comfortable with while trying to move it around by myself, he said that if the sail still wrinkled, that was a good sign. So, we'll go with that. :-)

The other thing is that the materials to do the sail work cost about $160 and my time. The ATN was going to cost $425 plus shipping. So, I get the educational experience and get to drive you all nuts with questions in the meantime. LOL.
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