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Old 14-01-2010, 15:30   #1
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Sewing Machine for Onboard Sail Repairs ?

Has anyone tried to use an old conventional sewing machine for sail repairs ? We want something to use onboard for the occasional repair and also to make some shade and dodger articles with. A Sailrite would be nice but that is not in the budget. Is a solid old Singer capable of most repairs ? Any modification that can be done to improve performance of a standard machine to help it with the thick materials.

Any models or brands suggested ?

Any tips appreciated
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Old 14-01-2010, 15:40   #2
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I know you can get different feet for most machines and of course, thicker needles are needed for tougher fabric but I dont know if they will handle thick sail fabric
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Old 14-01-2010, 15:43   #3
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I would not want you to go over your budget, but there is a thread about a used sailrite in the classifieds right now.
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Old 14-01-2010, 15:43   #4
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For some reason, I think that Pfaff made a model that was pretty heavy-duty, and used successfully on board.
Maybe others can elaborate...
Good luck,
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Old 14-01-2010, 15:50   #5
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My very first backpack I made on my mothers regular machine (Plamer - I think), it was great but never sewed Mums dresses quite the same afterwards, oops.

As we are in Oz, the chances of getting a cheap Sailrite are pretty slim. Never seen one here, though I am sure the exist.
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Old 14-01-2010, 15:54   #6
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Can work but ...

The main problem you'll have is not the weight of the thread, you can get some extra duty needles for most standard machines that are used for sewing denim etc., it's that most machines are just not designed to handle the thickness of several layers of sailcloth.

The sailrite is a special sort of machine called a 'walking foot', this means that the presser foot literally 'walks' over the fabric whist maintaining the pressure. Without this, it's not completely impossible, but you'll find it very heavy going.

Also you really need to find a machine that does a pretty large zig-zag stitch. You'll need that in areas which may be subject to stretch.
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Old 14-01-2010, 16:03   #7
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Thanks, that's good info.

Walking foot, will have to investigate that facility.
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Old 14-01-2010, 16:28   #8
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Walking foot is a means of feeding the material and has nothing to do with punch power. Sailrites are chinese made machines that are way overpriced. For the price of a sailrite you can get a singer 20u which is a real commercial duty zig zag machine with a much larger throat. Browse miami industrial sewing machines in the specials/ canvas upholstery machines. There are some new economical machines with attached motors and many capable table heads for less money than a sailrite.
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Old 14-01-2010, 17:14   #9
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source in Texas

220515768656

go look at e-bay and check out the auction listed above.
These are not Chinese knock-offs and quite heavy duty and for $295 free shipping they are a bargain.
I bought one just before Christmas before the price increase and even at todays' price, I'd buy one again.
They can sew 4 layers of latigo leather belting and I think they're good to over 1/2" thick of material, the motor is sufficiently powerful to handle anything you'd ever sew on a boat.

These people live and breath sewing machines and if you don't see one you like or think this is too much, check out they're other ones. They're reputation is unstained and I'd trust them for any repair to a machine.

No, I don't know they except for the purchase last month and I'm not related to them either! LoL
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Old 14-01-2010, 17:54   #10
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Thank You ! That looks like a great machine, we are searching to see who sells them in Oz and what they sell for. We need a 240V motor so the US units would not be suitable unless they have a dual voltage motor.

For $300 US we would buy a new one and my wife is hankering for it now as she can see the potential to replace our old domestic machine that hardly works on dress materials.
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Old 14-01-2010, 18:27   #11
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The older and heavier the better, but how to keep them in a boat - the weight, the rust ...

But YES. But a newer one will give you the zig-zag too, priceless for sail repair. Anyway, if I had the space I would have the machine.

As it is I glue my sail when they break.

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Old 14-01-2010, 19:34   #12
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call them!

That supplier actually rebuilds old reliable machines, Please contact them and I'm sure they could swap out the 120 VAC for a 220 VAC motor if you ask. Also, they have other machines, many they repaired and brought back from the scrap heap, some 25 years old and working like a fine swiss clock.
You have to clal them and chat or email them, they are so nice and friendly and they've been in business for decades!
OH, if you find a reseller down there, the going prices in the US are around $700.
certainly worth the cost of shipping... or find a fellow sailor who is trusted not to open the box and test it out (You'd probably never get it back if they did! LOL) and have them bring it down your way for free...

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Old 14-01-2010, 20:10   #13
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At the risk of sounding like a know it all (like I usually do), I think I know this field quite well. I am a Certified Bernina Technician and I repair sewing machines for a living at home. I have quite a following.work on everything from $25 thrift store restorations to $12,000 "Series 8" Berninas. Google that if you want to see the stretch 747 of home sewing machines!

Ebay is full of ads for "heavy duty" and "industrial" machines, but 99 percent of those ads are total BS including the one for that Necchi. It's an ok machine, but NOT any more heavy duty than any other garden variety machine.

If you want to take a machine with you for sail repair, I'd suggest a mechanical Pfaff with the drop down walking foot. My personal machine is a Pfaff 1471. It's not any more powerful than any other home machine, but it will handle my sails and canvas quite well. I use 110/18 needles and I get my sail thread from Sailrite.

Vikings of the 70's and '80's vintage are dying for the most part because they were originally sold as "never needing oiling" (HA!) but if you can find one in good shape, they have a switchable low gear. We carried one when we cruised and my wife made all the shade awnings for the boat at anchor.

One of the more bulletproof machines but again, no more powerful than any typical machine is the basic Kenmore of the last few decades. Usually kind of a beige or snot green color, they're basic, but indestructible and CHEAP. Parts are available.


Another good one would be a Singer 401, although it doesn't have an electronic foot control which gives better torque (punching power) at low speed, and it's heavy.

Don't get anything with plastic gears, and whatever you take, keep it warm and dry.

If you need a different voltage, some of the newer machines have voltage and frequency agile power supplies. Newer Berninas just take whatever comes in and automatically spit out the right stuff to the innards, while some newer Pfaffs have a 110/220 switch on the bottom.



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Old 14-01-2010, 20:14   #14
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Nicchi

I have a Nicchi 4575 machine .7 amp, not as powerful as the one shown on ebay but it has been a pretty good machine. I have repaired my mainsail and my sunbrella full boat cover more than once. It was able to sew through about 8 layers of dacron, don't know the weight. Went through 6 layers of sunbrella + 1/8 leather without a complaint just have to get a running start. The walking foot attachment wasn't as affective as I would have liked, and it takes up more clearance than the other feet, but when you get into that many layers nothing but a true walking foot is going to pace the material for you. You just have to get a feel for how much you need to help it along. If you help too much, you draw the needle out of tram and you crash it. Last time I did that I broke the tip off the hook. For the money, you cant' beat them.
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Old 14-01-2010, 20:39   #15
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You need two things for sails and ost Sunbrella fabric - a walking foot and zigzag. We bought the "Reliable Barracuda", which is identical to the Sailrite LSZ from Ralph at www.lotathings.com and have been very happy with it. Sews through 8 layers of Sumbrella with ease. It's $500 with shipping. He may not have one listed on his site but you can contact him if you research the machine and find it will meet your needs. I have read it's made in the same Tiawan factory as the Sailrite. He also carries the Sailrite.
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