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Old 24-02-2013, 08:47   #31
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Re: Sailrite kits... Do it yourself sailmaking

Islandplanet,

Thanks for all of your efforts on this topic. I realize that you are a sailmaker with a vested interest.

Nice pic by the way........its a beautiful sail. Marblehead sail cloth is and has been my choice of material. That is another point well taken.......

The performance of battenless mainsails is a topic for other threads and forums. I have a full understanding of the aerodynamics and performance issues with foils and wing shapes.......etc. My life and those of my passengers depend on it every time I go to work. We sail an old Chuck Paine designed boat and she drives to windward just fine. Besides much of my past sailing experience has been on gaff rigged boats. Nope..... do not want to go down the path of discussing the merits of various types of sailing rigs.........its just an illustration that we are quite happy with the performance of our boat. Sailmakers love battened mainsails, especially fully battened mains. They are more expensive to build and guarantee lots of future repair. For the type of sailing we intend to do and for the period of time that we intend to do it, the battenless main seems to be the best way to go (IMHO.) That said we have not made a final decision on the shape of the sail or whether to build it ourselves or not.

You mentioned the 3 CAD programs that sailmakers are using. I think that supports my original point that the CAD programs are pretty much universal. And it is a good point that you make with regard to the input of information....... While the programs are pretty much universal the input of info is often times nuanced. And that depends a bit on the experience of the designer......etc. I have had these types of discussions with the Sailrite designer........flatness, cloth weights, intended use and wind speeds, forestay sag, patch reinforcements.......etc. It may be true that your designer is more experienced than say another designer. But that is not the topic of this thread. I think we can all agree that we are NOT reinventing the wheel here. These are simple, rugged, cross cut headsails built with good materials. So I am not sure that I agree with your painters analogy. Its more like framing a house with precut lumber. You can pay a lot extra to have a crew run around with a pneumatic nailer that is more concerned with production and the next job. Or if you are somewhat handy you can frame it yourself. It will take you longer with only one helper and a hammer in hand. But in the end the structure will be sound, built to code, and a hell of a lot cheaper.

As the OP I have to thank you for your input. Its all well taken. But this thread is about self sufficiency and building your own sails. I wanted to get some input from those that have had the experience (amateurs). Its really about the performance, longevity, and shape of the sails (design and cut). So as we continue to build new sails I plan to share my experiences. Hopefully others will as well.
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Old 24-02-2013, 09:34   #32
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Re: Sailrite kits... Do it yourself sailmaking

I totally agree with w32honu. The commercial interest of sail makers will have you believe that this is a Black Art, however if you visit a sail loft you will most often find that the people doing the actual work on the sails have less understanding of sails than the average sailor. They are just production sewing machine operators. The real finesse is the design and that is done by the CAD systems which all production sailmakers use. I have not yet attempted to sew a sail from Sailrite but have used their machine for major re-sewing of the Leech line sunsaver and the replacement of the luff tape on both the main and jib. I have done a fair amount of sewing during my life so the operation of a machine is nothing new. When I need to replace my sail fully intend to get a kit and do it myself. My main is made of 9 oz. Dacron with a 48 ft. luft tape so it is not a small sail. It is battenless because it is a furling main. While working on these sails I realized that I could do as good or better than the original job that was done on the sails that were originally made by a well known North American sail maker. I did find the videos produced by Sailrite to be very helpful so I am confident that the quality of their CAD produced kits would be just fine.
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Old 24-02-2013, 10:38   #33
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Re: Sailrite kits... Do it yourself sailmaking

People seem to be talking past each other.

We've done a Sailrite sail-cover. We enjoyed the experience, have what we believe is a well-made, customized sailcover, had an enjoyable experience making it, and we saved a little. We inherited an all-metal 1950s Singer sewing machine that was up to the job once it was tuned up.

Do I think I could save a ton by making our own sails? Well, IF we were willing to get the right machine, and do some studying, and put in the hours to do the job, re-doing anything that we botch... I think we could do it. But I certainly wouldn't call it a savings, unless we had scads of free time to devote to it.

And unless we had significant prior experience making sails, I have no illusion that we could DIY a higher-performance mainsail, get it right the first time, and save much or any money.

Quote:
The commercial interest of sail makers will have you believe that this is a Black Art, however if you visit a sail loft you will most often find that the people doing the actual work on the sails have less understanding of sails than the average sailor. They are just production sewing machine operators.
You seem to devalue all the R&D put in by the major sail-makers to arrive at these "universal" sail design programs.

A "production sewing machine operator" is using the appropriate sized machine, in a loft setting, and can select and complete the right assembly and stitch in their sleep... because they've already done it a few hundred times. It's the same with anything - do it often enough, you get good at it.

Here's an example for consideration - our main (about a 22' luff) has a luff bolt-rope, we wanted to convert to slugs, and add a grommet for a cunningham. Yes we could have ordered the materials (slugs, webbing, thread, a grommet, sail scraps, etc... maybe $25), except sewing would have been by hand because we don't have a heavy enough sewing machine, or a grommet press. So I took it to a loft where they offered a selection of slugs and advised on which to choose, knew what spacing to use, had the right hydraulic press for the grommet, knew what reinforcement to add, etc. They had the sail for a day, did all the work correctly with very clean workmanship, inspected and repaired any suspect areas ... and all for about $110. Even if we had the right machine, I don't think we could have saved much if any, and we got the benefit of their experience.

So I think we, and most cruisers, could make decent basic sails, and save maybe 20% given a modicum of skill and enough time and practice. I have no illusion that high performance sails could be made economically by any but the most persistent and dedicated DIYers.

For the rest of us with limited time, or wanting a higher-performing and better built sail, a good loft sail is the wiser choice.
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Old 24-02-2013, 11:58   #34
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Re: Sailrite kits... Do it yourself sailmaking

Lake effect,

I respect your opinion, but the numbers don't add up.....

From the quotes that I have received one can realize a much greater savings than 20%. Even your repair suggests that. You could have sewn in a hand stitched ring (which is higher quality and as strong or stronger than a pressed ring) and done the repair yourself for the stated $25 vs. the $110.

I for one do not devalue the R & D or the use of the CAD programs. Thats the point ...... the kits take full advantage of the same technology. And the supplier is fully compensated for the use of that technology.

The pieces are supplied with instructions........... assembly required. But in the end you are right. You have to put in the time and effort to realize any gains. Just like anything else I suppose......
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Old 24-02-2013, 12:08   #35
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Re: Sailrite kits... Do it yourself sailmaking

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Originally Posted by w32honu View Post
Islandplanet,

Thanks for all of your efforts on this topic. I realize that you are a sailmaker with a vested interest.

I have a full understanding of the aerodynamics and performance issues with foils and wing shapes.......etc.

Sailmakers love battened mainsails, especially fully battened mains. They are more expensive to build and guarantee lots of future repair.
While I'm in the business, my reason for participating in this thread is simply to counter some of the patently false assertions you've made, namely that you can produce a sail comparable to the best offered by reputable production lofts. I have yet to see a hobbyist with a $20,000 sewing machine. I think for small boat projects that there is a distinct advantage to sewing your own sails. Lofts like ours cannot economically produce a mainsail for a small sailing dinghy unless we're doing them in volume. So while a practice sail for a Laser or Sunfish can be purchased inexpensively, a one-off sail of the same size would be $400-500. Small sails can be quite well manufactured using the smaller machines like those owned by hobbyists like yourself.

I too have some understanding of aerodynamics gleaned not only from a lifetime around sailboats but from close to 7000 hours in the cockpits of a multitude of aircraft spanning from vintage classics and warbirds to airliners and corporate jets. I suspect if you were well versed on the topic that you would not consider a batten-less main practical for a boat that was designed with a standard main by the naval architect.

If you've ever read my writings on the topic of battens, you'd note that we are decidedly not fans of fully battened sails unless they are on a boat with a freestanding rig or at least without a backstay. While you may believe that there is a conspiracy of sorts, I hope that you don't find out the hard way that trying to claw your way off a lee shore with a batten-less main may not end well. It certainly didn't for a few boats that I know of.
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Old 24-02-2013, 12:29   #36
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Re: Sailrite kits... Do it yourself sailmaking

Quote:
Originally Posted by w32honu View Post
Lake effect,

I respect your opinion, but the numbers don't add up.....

From the quotes that I have received one can realize a much greater savings than 20%. Even your repair suggests that. You could have sewn in a hand stitched ring (which is higher quality and as strong or stronger than a pressed ring) and done the repair yourself for the stated $25 vs. the $110.

.
You didn't read what he wrote which indicates they did far more than just add a pressed ring. Note that the loft was also able to offer their expertise on optimal spacing and placement of the slugs and they did the installation. Sounds like they also tended to a few other areas suffering from wear. Most pros can get more done in an hour than a hobbyist can do in a day. Please have a look at what he wrote which I've pasted in below:

So I took it to a loft where they offered a selection of slugs and advised on which to choose, knew what spacing to use, had the right hydraulic press for the grommet, knew what reinforcement to add, etc. They had the sail for a day, did all the work correctly with very clean workmanship, inspected and repaired any suspect areas ... and all for about $110. Even if we had the right machine, I don't think we could have saved much if any, and we got the benefit of their experience."
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Old 24-02-2013, 12:40   #37
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Re: Sailrite kits... Do it yourself sailmaking

Island planet,

Wow man........ throw me a bone here. I never implied that I could build a sail of the calibre that you are producing. Especially judging by the pic that you put up. Nice work!!! Question is can I build a sail that is well designed and well made using standard tried and true techniques?? And can I learn a bit and save some money?? The answer is yes. I did say that a lot of work produced by "some" commercial lofts leaves a bit to be desired......not yours of course, just some.

Read the OP. This is a post about making your own sails from CAD produced kits. The material is the same. The design is (presumably) the same. Assembly required....

It is not about battenless mains or the aerodynamic performance of certain sail types. And it is definitely not about your skill and knowledge as a professional sailmaker. Performance is not only measured by the nearest tenth of a knot. Performance can also be measured by price, serviceability, and good all around performance. When IOR boats were the fashion I used to beat my brains out with the best of them. Back then it was known as the Clipper Cup Series, which morphed into the Kenwood Cup. In that circumstance a guy like you would be the go to guy for performance sails and the like. I understand that......... trust me.

While I recognize that you are a professional and are here on this site defending your business...........thats fine. Lets not get personal and use derogatory terms such as "hobbyist." I am simply attempting to build some descent sails and put together a nice cruising boat that my wife and I can enjoy and get off cruising with some degree of self sufficiency. I have quite a lot of experience and I do not consider myself a hobbyist.

7000 hours.................. wow your just getting started.
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Old 24-02-2013, 13:48   #38
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Re: Sailrite kits... Do it yourself sailmaking

Quote:
Originally Posted by w32honu View Post
Lake effect,

I respect your opinion, but the numbers don't add up.....

From the quotes that I have received one can realize a much greater savings than 20%. Even your repair suggests that. You could have sewn in a hand stitched ring (which is higher quality and as strong or stronger than a pressed ring) and done the repair yourself for the stated $25 vs. the $110.
Hi,

Not to pile on, but in addition to what Islandplanet read (correctly) from my description of the sail work... you haven't accounted for the cost of time. The loft did all the stuff I mentioned in under an hour (easy-peasy for them, cos they have the right machines and the experience), what probably would have taken me 2+ hours to do. Not to mention running around for parts. I'm still working, so my time is fairly precious. So I remain pretty happy with the choice I made.

Still, it seems everyone here is just about on the same page: it's possible for the committed DIYer to make decent basic sails. For making just one or two sails, it's hard to imagine that the commitment of time and the purchase of the requisite tools (machine etc) will create a serious savings, unless your time is low-cost.

For a more complex sail with newer "engineered" technology (eg fabric, reinforcement, battens) and requiring tighter tolerances and more precise workmanship, I don't think the average DIYer can touch a good sail-loft.

(There are good and bad lofts, too. We have the choice of several; we've found one where the manager is keen and proud of his loft's work)
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Old 24-02-2013, 13:51   #39
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Re: Sailrite kits... Do it yourself sailmaking

Quote:
Originally Posted by islandplanet View Post
You didn't read what he wrote which indicates they did far more than just add a pressed ring. Note that the loft was also able to offer their expertise on optimal spacing and placement of the slugs and they did the installation. Sounds like they also tended to a few other areas suffering from wear. Most pros can get more done in an hour than a hobbyist can do in a day. Please have a look at what he wrote which I've pasted in below:

So I took it to a loft where they offered a selection of slugs and advised on which to choose, knew what spacing to use, had the right hydraulic press for the grommet, knew what reinforcement to add, etc. They had the sail for a day, did all the work correctly with very clean workmanship, inspected and repaired any suspect areas ... and all for about $110. Even if we had the right machine, I don't think we could have saved much if any, and we got the benefit of their experience."

I did in fact read the post.....

22 foot luff....... a small sail. Strapping, plastic slugs, and a ring for his cunningham. Materials $25..........that represents 23% of the final cost. That would be a 77% savings.

Lets through in a few feet of dacron tape (negligible cost). And how about a handful of #2 spur grommets. What do you figure..........Maybe another $10 above his original figure. OK Materials $35.......That represents 32% of the final cost. That would be a 68% savings.

His post read that he could not have saved much, if anything by doing it himself. And I just mentioned that the numbers did not add up............ and they don't.

The difference here is the value added by the professional sailmaker. And thats fair enough. But at the same time thats not recognizing the value added by doing it yourself.
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Old 24-02-2013, 14:45   #40
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Re: Sailrite kits... Do it yourself sailmaking

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Go for it. We have built a set of racing sails for our Columbia challenger and they kicked ass. Tri radial laminated cloth. They cost us what a set of standard Dacron sails from a loft would have, but we're much better. The main was a full battened, the jib was a deck sweeper where four of the panels were made out of X-glass, essentially a giant window. We could always see in front of us with no blind spots. The directions were very good. The support from Sail Rite was excellent. What we saved easily paid for the sewing machine. It took about a day and a half for the jib and thee days for the main. We have also made a storm jib for our 44 foot steel sailboat from one of their kits. Also very well designed. They design in a lot of nice little things that most sail lofts skip due to the labor it would cost them to do. Doing it yourself you save this costs and get a much better product. The most important thing you need in order to put one of here kits together is the belief that you can actually do it. They may be kits, but they are designed to fit your boat just like a custom sail.

Just finished the staysail.......

Time has come up a few times in the thread. Just an update for those considering building their own sails. Valkyrie above was a bit more efficient with their efforts. We have built 2 sails now. Average time to complete was about 3 days each.......

Took a few breaks along the way. Good instructions supplied. Very straight forward.

Next project will be a 110 percent jib........
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Old 24-02-2013, 15:56   #41
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Re: Sailrite kits... Do it yourself sailmaking

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Originally Posted by w32honu View Post
Just finished the staysail.......

Time has come up a few times in the thread. Just an update for those considering building their own sails. Valkyrie above was a bit more efficient with their efforts. We have built 2 sails now. Average time to complete was about 3 days each.......

Took a few breaks along the way. Good instructions supplied. Very straight forward.

Next project will be a 110 percent jib........
Photos of your work?
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Old 24-02-2013, 17:05   #42
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More later....
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Old 24-02-2013, 17:08   #43
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This all I have at the moment.....
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Old 24-02-2013, 17:25   #44
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Both sails.......

It's all I can do at the moment. It's snowing to beat the band.......
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Old 24-02-2013, 17:31   #45
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Re: Sailrite kits... Do it yourself sailmaking

Curious about your choice of dark thread.
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