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Old 25-01-2013, 20:12   #16
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Re: Frequently Asked Canvas Questions

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What is a less expensive but durable alternative to Sunbrella?
Three materials that I would recommend if you are looking for a direct Sunbrella alternative are Coastguard, WeatherMAX, and Recacril.

Coastguard is made by Glen Raven (the makers of Sunbrella) and is an acrylic fabric that is only about a quarter of an ounce lighter than Sunbrella. This fabric is so similar to Sunbrella that I don't exactly understand why they make both. The most obvious difference is that Coastguard is only available in about 15 colors compared to 70-something for Sunbrella.

WeatherMAX is an acrylic as well and according to testing has higher abrasion resistance and is generally tougher than Sunbrella. The only strike against this fabric is one that can't be helped, the fact that it is a relatively new product and therefore real-world examples of colorfastness and durability are not readily available in every marina like they are for older products.

Recacril is the only one of these fabrics that I have not personally used. This is a marine acrylic fabric that weighs in at 9 oz. per square yard just like Coastguard.

These fabrics are options that are competitive with Sunbrella and are slightly less-expensive (approximately 30-40% less in some cases). On average for a canvas project that doesn't include frame-work and is priced around $1000 substituting one of these fabrics might save anywhere from $60 to $130.

One thing to consider for some projects where material price is a concern: Sunbrella (and its direct competitors) is not the only fabric out there for boat stuff, sometimes there are other types of fabrics that would suit the specific application better.
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Old 25-01-2013, 20:32   #17
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Re: Frequently Asked Canvas Questions

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Is there any correlation between light and dark colors and how long a canvas will last?
According to my research there is a link between the amount of pigment in specific colors of Sunbrella and the colorfastness and there is also a link between some colors and slightly increased durability. Colors like burgundy are over-dyed to achieve the finished color and therefor tend to have increased colorfastness as well as good durability.

Overall this becomes a non-issue in most applications because the way that the canvas is used and maintained has a much greater effect on the longevity of Sunbrella. A natural (white) dodger that is well taken-care-of will last longer than a burgundy dodger that is abused.

The one exception to "color doesn't really matter" is for sailcovers. I have seen light-colored or white sailcovers come into the shop and they are almost see-through due to age. An old sailcover that was a darker color to begin with is going to provide more UV protection for the sail below than a light one but this only becomes an issue if the sailcover is really deteriorating.
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Old 25-01-2013, 20:47   #18
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Re: Frequently Asked Canvas Questions

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Why is sky blue so common when there are dozens of colors?
The sky blue that you are referring to is actually "Pacific Blue" Sunbrella. Pacific Blue gained a reputation for being the Sunbrella that was best because it maintained its color the longest. The reality is that Pacific Blue actually fades quickly but faded Pacific Blue doesn't differ from the original color as much as darker colors do when faded. Other than that the only thing that I can say is that people seem to prefer it, maybe for its familiarity.
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Old 25-01-2013, 21:07   #19
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Re: Frequently Asked Canvas Questions

Thanks for this thread!

I am currently doing all of my canvas (full enclosure) and was wonder what type of details/add ons could I consider adding to my project? I'm thing of things like extra chafe protection, hand rails, pocket on the inside of the dodger, d-ring on Bimini to hang light......what good ideas have you seen/sewn?
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Old 25-01-2013, 21:14   #20
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Re: Frequently Asked Canvas Questions

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Typically, how long does a Sunbrella dodger or bimini last, e.g., fabric, not thread?
This is another difficult question because it really can vary greatly. It varies depending on latitude as well as care/maintenance and usage (seasonal or year-round). I can tell you about canvas here in Maryland.

I would say that a well-maintained Sunbrella dodger or bimini in Maryland should last 12-18 seasons. The average Sunbrella dodger or bimini in Maryland lasts somewhere between 10 and 14 seasons. The "seasons" that I am referring to would be sailing season and off-season, not actual seasons. So if a dodger lasts 12 seasons that could be 12 years of taking it off in the winter or 6 or so years of year-round installation.

Another thing that varies widely is what you as the owner deem "still lasting". Some dodgers are used until the Sunbrella resembles cheese-cloth, others are retired due to a color preference.

I wish that I could nail down a specific time-frame as an answer but that's kind of like asking how long does a pair of jeans last or how long does a sail last.
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Old 25-01-2013, 21:17   #21
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Re: Frequently Asked Canvas Questions

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I'd like the answer to an essay question: compare and contrast the following fabrics:
Stamoid; WeatherMax; and acrylic canvasses...

Thanks,

Ann Cate, s/v Insatiable II, lying Kangaroo Bay, TAS
I am working on an in-depth blog post to cover this topic and I will post on this thread when it is completed.
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Old 25-01-2013, 21:31   #22
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Re: Frequently Asked Canvas Questions

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Why so many sailmakers allow their clients to order too big and too heavy (at the same time) fore sails?

b.
This question is not much of a canvas question but since I used to work in a sail loft I'll take a stab at it.

I would say that the simplest explanation is that most customers get exactly what they think they want. People come in the door everyday saying that they want a 150% genoa that is bullet-proof and built for sailing around the world. Most of the time salesmen are able to adjust these requests a bit but not always.

The other reason might be that sometimes the sails are built for sailing in the region where they are purchased but then the boat heads to the Caribbean. A 150 in Annapolis might be great but would be way too much sail for a lot of Caribbean sailing on the same boat.

One other thing that contributes to the weight is the desire for convenience. If a boat has a hank-on sail there is no need for the added weight of a UV leech cover. Not only do most boats have roller-furling headsails now but a surprisingly high number of these boats sit all winter on the hard or at the dock with furled sails still hoisted and the purchaser still expects a long life-span out of those sails.
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Old 25-01-2013, 21:37   #23
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Re: Frequently Asked Canvas Questions

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I guess I'd want to know why they call them canvas makers. I went to my local canvas shop and ordered two bike bags to hold my folding bikes, to be built of 24 oz canvas. They recommended Sunbrella. When I insisted on 24 oz canvas, they said they'd have to order the fabric. Hadn't built anything of canvas in a good decade.
Just as the term canvas has roots in cannabis despite a lack of hemp in even the 24 oz. canvas that you required the title of canvas-work or canvas-maker as well as the field of "marine canvas" has much weaker ties to its roots related to cotton and hemp canvas nowadays.

Do you have a suggestion as to what a modern "canvas-maker" should be called? The commonly accepted title in the industry is a "marine canvas fabricator" as much of a mouthful as that seems.
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Old 25-01-2013, 21:48   #24
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Re: Frequently Asked Canvas Questions

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Thanks for this :-)

Is there a difference in thread/stitch life/durability due to color?
What is the best chafe material you have found for dodgers and such.

Thank you
If you're the least bit concerned about thread life or stitch durability go to a shop (like mine) that uses PTFE thread such as SolarFix or Tenara, these threads are available in black, white, "clear", and some are available in colors and they will even outlast the fabric that is sewn with them. If the canvas piece will be installed for any extended stretches of time (as most of them are) then polyester thread only guarantees that you will need re-stitching done in order to maintain the integrity of the product.

If you must use polyester thread then the best thing would be to go up one size to V-138 thread instead of V-92 for added longevity. The color-matched threads sound like a good idea but they fade quite quickly as does black.


My favorite chafe protection for the chafe strips on a dodger or bimini is Top Gun acrylic-coated polyester fabric. This material provides at least as much resistance to chafe as sailmaker's leather without the issue of drying out, shrinking, and cracking over time. Also, it provides a nice variety of colors to choose from.
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Old 25-01-2013, 22:18   #25
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Re: Frequently Asked Canvas Questions

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Alan Woodyard, thank you for asking. My three burning questions are, What threads do you use? What sewing machine do you use? Do you sub out any work?

Ancillary questions are, What is best thread? What premium, if any, is there to use premium thread? What stitches do you use most usually? How are grommets stitched?

(Given, thread is UV, salt water, resistant.)

EDIT: Upon customer inspection, what is process to address incorrect grommet or snap installation, and, what backstitch is used?
Thread: SolarFix PTFE

Machine: Juki LU-1508N with Con-Serv (by Consew) servo motor and needle-positioner

Do I sub out any work?: I can recommend providers of complimentary services but I don't "sub out any work" that is in the range of services that I would normally provide.

What is Best Thread? I like SolarFix PTFE for the combination of sew-ability with the fact that it is guaranteed for the life of the fabric (no restitching!).

What premium is there for premium thread? Unlike a lot of shops that advertise the use of Tenara or other PTFE thread and then offer it as an "upgrade" the use of SolarFix PTFE is included in any estimate that I send out whether it be a repair or a new fabrication.

What stitches do I use? I use a 5-stitch-per-inch straight stitch for 99% of the work that I do. The only change that I might make for a type of material would be to increase or decrease the number of stitches per inch.

How are grommets stitched? They're not. I don't do roping work for eyelets and bolt ropes. This is not to avoid work but because that sort of work is not required with the advances in materials that have happened over the last hundred years.

What is the process for incorrect grommet or snap placement? This one really depends on the situation. If the snaps or grommets on a piece are way off then it could make the whole project a do-over. If a single snap is a bit off sometimes an incorrect snap can be left in place and a correctly-placed snap can be added without disturbing the aesthetics of the piece. Again, this really can only be answered on a case-by-case basis and shouldn't be an issue if steps of a project are done in the proper order.

What back-stitch is used? The only "back-stitch" that I use is a standard 5 or 6-stich-length back-tack at the beginning and end of a seam.
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Old 25-01-2013, 22:25   #26
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Re: Frequently Asked Canvas Questions

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Originally Posted by Kindle View Post
Thanks for this thread!

I am currently doing all of my canvas (full enclosure) and was wonder what type of details/add ons could I consider adding to my project? I'm thing of things like extra chafe protection, hand rails, pocket on the inside of the dodger, d-ring on Bimini to hang light......what good ideas have you seen/sewn?
One good thing about doing your own canvas is that you probably have a great idea of how you want to use it. I would recommend a pocket or two inside the dodger for a flashlight or a handy led head-lamp. D-rings are good but in moderation.

Add chafe protection in the form of Top Gun fabric to the aft edge of the dodger and anywhere else that you might drag things in and out of the cockpit (including yourself and/or your crew).

Grab-rails can be great but it's best to mock-it-up on the frame long before you begin the canvas portion so that the grab-rails are at the proper height and in the correct location in order to be useful.

Also, just a tip. Think about all of the places that you will want roll-up or tie-up straps and make sure that they are included in the original fabrication instead of trying to go back and add them after the fact.

Feel free to ask for tips along the way if you encounter some difficulties.
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Old 25-01-2013, 22:36   #27
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Re: Frequently Asked Canvas Questions

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Originally Posted by WMarineCanvas View Post
Three materials that I would recommend if you are looking for a direct Sunbrella alternative are Coastguard, WeatherMAX, and Recacril.
...

WeatherMAX is an acrylic as well and according to testing has higher abrasion resistance and is generally tougher than Sunbrella. The only strike against this fabric is one that can't be helped, the fact that it is a relatively new product and therefore real-world examples of colorfastness and durability are not readily available in every marina like they are for older products.

...
I believe that WeatherMax is polyester based canvas, not acryllic. That, and the fact that it is filament based rather than spun yarn likely accounts for its superior chafe resistance.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 25-01-2013, 22:45   #28
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Re: Frequently Asked Canvas Questions

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I believe that WeatherMax is polyester based canvas, not acryllic. That, and the fact that it is filament based rather than spun yarn likely accounts for its superior chafe resistance.

Cheers,

Jim
You are correct on both counts. Sorry for the mistake, I will edit my post. Thanks!

Edit: Well, I apparently can't edit that post.
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Old 25-01-2013, 23:15   #29
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Re: Frequently Asked Canvas Questions

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As someone else has already mentioned I would assume that this behavior is one that is born of a desire to keep as much of the income as possible that is generated by each job. Having a credit card terminal and merchant account is a recurring monthly cost and on top of that there is a percentage charged for each transaction that is processed. All of this I'm sure most of you know.

Also, as has been mentioned the fact that canvas shops are a small business means that we don't get the benefit of high-volume rates on our transactions. Another thing that raises these costs is that I would say a majority of canvas customers tend to pay with rewards cards and these rewards cards are payed for by the merchants who accept them (you didn't think that citi was actually giving you money back did you?). Rewards cards can raise the transaction charge as much as 2% higher than the same sort of credit card without rewards, this can essentially double the cost of accepting these cards.

One other reason that some canvas "shops" don't accept credit cards is that they are a side-business or a fly-by-night whim of someone looking to make a few bucks. These operations are relatively easy to spot but sometimes it's hard to tell the new canvas guy in town from the new scam artist in town until part of a boating season has gone by. Google the business name or the person's name and check it out, it will be pretty easy to tell if the "shop" is legitimate or not.

All of this being said, I accept all credit and debit cards
As a merchant or as customer, I intended to avoid incurring the transaction fees. As customer, I strive to help the vendor to avoid those costs, therefore I pay in cash as often as possible.

EDIT: I hear fees may go to 4% in USA.
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Old 25-01-2013, 23:36   #30
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Re: Frequently Asked Canvas Questions

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People come in the door everyday saying that they want a 150% genoa that is bullet-proof and built for sailing around the world. Most of the time salesmen are able to adjust these requests a bit but not always.
Other than that salesman promise the moon and leave it to others to deliver, are you saying you also do sails?


Quote:
One other thing that contributes to the weight is the desire for convenience. If a boat has a hank-on sail there is no need for the added weight of a UV leech cover. Not only do most boats have roller-furling headsails now but a surprisingly high number of these boats sit all winter on the hard or at the dock with furled sails still hoisted and the purchaser still expects a long life-span out of those sails.
All I can say is some customers are full of it. Maybe you, as vendor, are not in the position to say that in hopes of not scaring away potential customers so let me say it for you; any customer who makes such demands are full of it.
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