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Old 30-03-2009, 14:50   #1
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sunbrella restoration?

Hey folks,

Not sure if this is the right place to ask, but here goes anyway:

My mainsail cover is black sunbrella material, but it's old and showing some signs of fading. I'm a liveaboard with no permanent moorage, in a city where that's somewhat shunned, so I have to keep my boat in immaculate condition or risk harassment from nearby residents, other sailors, or worse, the police.

Is there some way to restore the blackness of the sunbrella material? Maybe a spraypaint or dye or something? Or am I stuck shelling out for a new mainsail cover - I'm not exactly rich at the moment, so I'd like to get around this cheaply if possible!
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Old 30-03-2009, 15:31   #2
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I'm not an expert by any means but your two suggestions of either "spray paint or dye" are something that I personally would be very, very hesitant to even try. That is unless you'd like to be the first in your waters with a "tie dyed" sail. Even new Sunbrella is not waterproof which is why I had my last dodger and bimini constructed of Seamark (but that's a different story).

I suspect that you are looking at a new sail cover. To lessen the expense you might consider putting it together yourself. I've made them and they are not that difficult provided you can beg or borrow a sewing machine. Thus I see three options for a new cover. Buy a new one either pre-made or built by a canvas shop, buy a kit for one from someone like Sailrite, or buy the material and build from scratch. I would once again recommend Sailrite. You might begin by checking out their website to see what kind of costs you might incur. As to a sewing machine, they can be very pricey unless you come across an older used one which is why I recommend finding one to borrow. That might not be as difficult as you think. To my knowledge at my small marina at least three of us own such machines out of a total of maybe 12 to 15 sailboats.

As a final thought, there might be something you can try depending on how bad the present material looks. A common trick to extend the water resistance of Sunbrella is to coat it with something like Thompson's Weather Sealer. A material used to coat wooden decks associated with homes. One side effect is that in some cases it will darken the Sunbrella. I don't know if it would be enough but it is the only thing I can think of that might be safe enough to use next to your sails.

Good luck,
Rich
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Old 30-03-2009, 15:43   #3
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You can spray paint them. It doesen't look very good however and it does effect the water repellancy.

I'd not suggest trying to change the color using the spray paint method, but if it is black to black, you can probably get away with it.

Dyes won't work. At least none of them I tried did!
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Old 30-03-2009, 17:06   #4
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If it has turned whitish on the top half, like a lot of main covers... You could just have another layer sewn on the top half! or better yet... move to Nanaimo!
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Old 30-03-2009, 19:55   #5
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My wife has re-done the sunbrella on both of our headsails. It's work, but really not THAT bad. As noted above, you might just look around your marina, and find someone that will do it for a couple of cases of beer, etc. You can buy the material on fleabay for a fraction of the cost elsewhere.
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Old 30-03-2009, 23:21   #6
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Do not use Thompson's Weather Sealer. Often used trick, but not such a good idea. Sunbrella protectorant 303 will restore its water resistance. Do not send it thru a washing machine. You can take it down and scrub it though. Remember, it's acrylic. That's why dyes don't work. I'm wondering if the whiteish won't clean out. I have cleaned up sunbrella in different ways. One of the easiest is to just soak it in a big tub of Oxyclean. Although a washing machine will beat it up, I have also taken customers badly soiled (read bird crap) to a car wash and used the pressure washer to (carefully) remove the dirt that was hiding the color. Black is actually one of the fabrics that holds up the longest, but the stitching can quit on you, espically if it was sewn with white thread.

If the material has any life left, try the Oxyclean first.
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Old 31-03-2009, 00:15   #7
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Jumping in not with a suggestion to the original poster but I was also not sure where to post so please allow me to piggy back on this thread.

I want to make our 3 year old recently purchased Admiral cat look brand new and can do so by replacing the rather faded sunbrella mainsail cover and lazy jack and the genoa trim. We are trying to decide on colour to replace the existing faded terracotta colour. Pinstripes on the boat are blue and red as are the new boat name decals. So we thought perhaps red or blue for the new sunbrella.

My question: What are the colours that are most resistant to fading? Moorings uses a predominantly blue colour but then I think it is also quite common with private owners. Not that we want to be totally distinctive but that had us thinking perhaps going with red. Suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks all!

teej
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Old 31-03-2009, 08:06   #8
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Teej,

To answer your question, unfortunatley red is second most vulnerable to fadeing. Yellow is worse. As fas as blues go, there's a reason why there is so much of it. I may get lamblasted for having said too much already. But I will say that choosing white thread to sew it all together is to invite a restitch in about 4 years. But some canvas people don't like to use black thread because it reveals how difficult it is for them to sew a straight line.

I know the pull of wanting to be unigue and distinctive. Yacht canvas color choice is not a good area to be too distincive in. But there are quite a few choices in blue that work.
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Old 31-03-2009, 16:22   #9
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We use ONLY Profilen (or Tenara) thread for our canvas projects. It has a lifetime guarantee, it is very expensive, and a pain to work with. But you won't have to restitch. They are available in white/black/gray.

Try Sunbrella Fabrics, Sailmaking Supplies, Sailcloth, Sail Kits, Canvas & Sail Hardware for a selection of sunbrella colors. We've heard that black is the longest lasting - and I can tell you it lasts longer than gray.
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:10   #10
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Minggat,
Thanks for the info on the high propensity for fading in the choice of a red colour. Blue was our second choice without knowledge of fading so looks like it jumps up the ranking list now. Thank you again,
Teej
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:16   #11
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Bstreep, thanks for the info on the recommended thread and the observation on black as a good choice for sail covers.
If anyone seeing this post has black sail covers on their boat and would be willing to post a photo I would be grateful. I am trying to envision the look of black sail cover and genny trim on my white catamaran with blue and red pinstriping and blue and red lettering..

Thank you,
Teej
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Old 01-04-2009, 09:23   #12
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Yeah, our bimini is/was gray with black trim. On the old one, the black trim appeared to hold up much better than the gray. Our mast is black, and this last weekend, I said to my wife "why didn't we use black instead of gray on the headsails". And she said "Uhh. Wow, hadn't thought of that!".

Oh, and our boat is white, with gray and black trim - so the gray goes with it well.

<--------------------- Tiny photo over there. Big photo here:

http://www.sailboatdata.com/viewreco...?class_ID=2810
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