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Old 14-03-2012, 05:32   #1
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Which Sewing Machine ?

i would like to shorten my mizzen sail by 2' - any recommendations for a suitable machine on ebay? - 42' yacht
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Old 14-03-2012, 05:43   #2
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Re: which sewing machine?

I am a huge fan of Sailrite. In addition to a well set up machine you get amazingly great support. The Grants founded Sailrite and still run it as a family business. While you can buy a similar machine for less the difference goes into outstanding support by phone, email, and if you're near a store, in person. My LZ machine handles 9oz sailcloth well
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Old 14-03-2012, 05:45   #3
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Re: which sewing machine?

I don't use ebay, or browse it, so can't tell you what to chose from - but in my experience the older, sturdier machines are better for this sort of thing.

If you are able to buy a heavy duty one, or commercial machine, even better.

Needs zigzag stich though, to allow for stretching of the sails.
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Old 14-03-2012, 07:16   #4
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Re: Which Sewing Machine ?

I second Scott on Sailrite, save yourself lots of grief and go with the best from the start. In the past there h ave been LSZs on eBay. BTW, Hi, Scott.
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Old 14-03-2012, 07:52   #5
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Re: Which Sewing Machine ?

I've been lucky enough to been able to do some work in a canvas shop, and now do canvas and sail repair as a hobby.

Every machine in that shop was a Pfaff, some of which quite old.

One of her go-to machines was a Pfaff 130. I've now got one myself. If you ask me, the Pfaff 130 is the best bang for buck, comparatively light weight, versatile machine you can find. This one'll go on the boat. Pfaff 130 has no walking foot, but you learn how to help the cloth under the needle. You can find them in the $250 range on eBay.

You'll want to add a second spring to the pressor foot shaft for extra firm pressure, and you can buy aggressive feed dogs (toothed), both of which will help cloth feeding. Keep the old feed dogs to use for sewing clothing and light stuff, as the aggressive dogs will eat finer cloth.

I've also got an old Pfaff 138. This one also doesn't have walking feet, but it does have a larger throat opening which I have to admit is nice. I wouldn't be able to use it for clothing, I don't think. The 138 is more purely industrial. Again, you can add springs to the pressor and get more aggressive dogs. The 138s will start in the $300 range and go up from there, as most will come with a table and big motor.

I had a Sailrite LSZ, and it was a good machine, and Sailrite do support them, but I liked the Pfaffs better and have since sold the LSZ.
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Old 14-03-2012, 07:53   #6
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Re: Which Sewing Machine ?

There are many machines out there that are up to the tasks you mentioned. Personally, I selected a Juki DNU1541S for my canvas sewing. This does only straight stitch sewing. It is a heavy machine that is a pleasure to sew with.

The major feature you want is a machine that has a walking foot. Other considerations should be influenced by how much sewing you intend to do. Things such as how long the arm (throat) on the machine needs to be. If your passing a large amount of material under the arm, the arm length has to be adequate or you're going to fight passing the material through as you sew.

Heavy commercial machines operate with a heavy duty motor that takes practice and skill to use. The machine is either full speed on or full speed off. I had to switch to a servo motor on mine in order to control the sewing speed. Some guys sew much better that I, they have no trouble with a constant speed motor.

Space-- where are you planning to sew?

That is an important consideration in your selection choices.

Just a couple of thoughts you should consider.

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Old 14-03-2012, 07:58   #7
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Re: Which Sewing Machine ?

Saucy,

one sews with zag stitches less for stretch than for seam sturdiness. Picture a straight seam as being akin to a perforated line, and you'll take my meaning. If you don't have a zag stitch, you put two rows of straight stitches, alternating the alignment such that the needle entry is staggered.
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Old 14-03-2012, 08:09   #8
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Re: Which Sewing Machine ?

I wanted a machine that was portable, did zig-zag as well as straight stitch for sail repairs, was heavy duty, and had a walking foot. I bought one cheap machine on eBay that "said" it was all of that but it couldn't sew through 2 layers of nylon webbing and it couldn't even penetrate 4 layers of sailcloth. I checked to see if it would float but it didn't.
I bought a Sailrite and I'm really happy with it. Both of my parents are upholsterers and I grew up in an upholstery shop.
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Old 14-03-2012, 08:13   #9
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Re: Which Sewing Machine ?

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Originally Posted by foggysail View Post
Heavy commercial machines operate with a heavy duty motor that takes practice and skill to use. The machine is either full speed on or full speed off.
The trick for those is to adjust the clutch linkage such that the pivot angle for the clutch linkage increases or decreases. Mine has a screw with a spring for that purpose. There's also an arm with holes drilled in it to insert the linkage from the foot pedal and depending on which hole you choose can change the angle at which the clutch arm is engaged.

The foot pedal needs to operate smoothly, too. I had rusty linkage that bound up/hung up/was bent and with replacement and lubrication the operation smoothed out.

I find that if I place my foot on the pedal at where the linkage attaches I get more control.

And of course.... practice, practice, practice.

PS: I forgot... you can also change the size of the pulley on the motor, effectively re-gearing the motor. Smaller is slower.
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Old 14-03-2012, 16:41   #10
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Re: Which Sewing Machine ?

A plain Pfaff will do as long as you are NOT going thru layers of cloth. This applies especially to old sails (dacron tends to harden over time).

For a heavier job I would look for an older commercial tool or one of the commercial grades of Singer - super duper metal parts and a motor up to the job.

b.
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Old 15-03-2012, 00:32   #11
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Re: Which Sewing Machine ?

The question is 'Are you taking it on the boat?'. The sailrite is probably the best for onboard use, (Pfaff 130's still a favorite). If not and you are serious about doing sails and canvass get a commercial machine, more room to stuff sails through. The sailrite has a 1/10 hp motor and the typical commercial will have 1/2 hp or more. The A/C version uses a foot operated clutch and is best used with a jack shaft to slow it way down. The DC version uses an SCR controller for slower speeds and is more pricey.

I had a beefed up (marinized) machine sold as sail maker that was not walking foot but had a stronger foot spring and added tension device. They called it a "standard no. 7 frame". It had both 12v and 120v motors. But the only good thing was the hand crank.

The walking foot is a must or you'll never get consistent stitching especially when going over layer transitions. Stitching on sails and canvass goes before the cloth. I've gone to a heavy V138 thread, easily handled by the commercial machine.

I did use ebay and bought a new Consew 206b straight stitch (with table) and saved enough money to take it into the shop a number of times if it ever needed anything. So far so good, It will even retime itself if it gets out.

I talked to Sailrite and they told me that modern sail cloth has so little stretch that the zig-zag isn't mandatory. Use three straight instead of 2 zig-zag. I've been amazed at how much I use the machine from creating harnesses and repairing backpacks to sails and sunbrella enclosures.

Barry, S/V Whoosh
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Old 15-03-2012, 04:55   #12
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Re: Which Sewing Machine ?

I have a sailrite to take cruising and use a pfaff 138 for the work I do at the house. Love the 138...sews much smoother and faster than the sailrite.
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Old 15-03-2012, 05:04   #13
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Re: Which Sewing Machine ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tamif27 View Post
Saucy,

one sews with zag stitches less for stretch than for seam sturdiness. Picture a straight seam as being akin to a perforated line, and you'll take my meaning. If you don't have a zag stitch, you put two rows of straight stitches, alternating the alignment such that the needle entry is staggered.
Perhaps so... and I agree that strength is also very important. Perhaps more so! But when patching our beachcat sails last year, it was very noticeable that the sail does stretch different ways when under different points of sail. A zigzag stitch will flex with the sail, whereas a straight stitch won't.

How to Repair Sails
These weren't my sails, I repaired these for a friend... and her mum said she always used to patch her stuff with butterflies when she was younger!
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Old 27-03-2012, 08:30   #14
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Re: Which Sewing Machine ?

I’m in the market for a sewing machine and have been for some time. I was zeroed in on the Pfaff 130, but I read elsewhere today that it does not make a big enough stitch width for a sail for a 35 foot boat. I measured the stitches on my current sail at about 6mm which apparently is a minimum. I read that a Pfaff 130 can only do 4 mm stitch. Also, the Pfaff’s do not have a walking foot and that seems to be a key ingredient. The opposing argument is adding a larger spring and aggressive feed dog and learning how to feed by hand. I’ve also read about buying a home machine and converting it with a flywheel and hand crank.

My head is spinning. I want to focus on a machine for the house that may never go on the boat that will do sail repair and canvas work. I’ll focus later on a portable one for the boat for smaller projects. I’m looking at the older vintages because I can pick one up at a reasonable cost. I’ll spend up to $500 for a great working machine that will do all this. It should pay for itself fairly quickly. Can anyone comment on the above or on the machines below? Thank you as always. Need expert advice

Pfaff 130
Pfaff 138
Pfaff 230
Adler 266
Adler 525
Husqvarna Viking
Singer or any others?
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Old 27-03-2012, 09:19   #15
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Re: Which Sewing Machine ?

I have a pfaff 138 and it sews a wide enough pattern for sails (about 5mm). Also you can find a singer 107w1 which will work on sails. Look on craigs list for both.
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