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Old 30-08-2013, 14:49   #1
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constructing a sunfish sail

I am going to attempt to make sunfish sail in the near future. My intention for doing so is not so much that my Sunfish needs a new sail, but more to practice sewing. I can't find anything in the way of how-to on the web. But I do have my old sail that I can use as a pattern. Is cutting the panels and sewing pretty straightforward. Is there any camber to the sails? Or are there any other tricks that I need to know. I don't want to buy a kit or spend anymore than I have to.

If anyone has any advice or knows of any how-to articles on the internet let know know. Thanks.
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Old 30-08-2013, 18:43   #2
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Re: constructing a sunfish sail

A couple of tricks that might help.

- get the old sail and stretch it HANGING by its three corners - you will see how much camber there is,

- build your sail with the minimum camber you accept,

- get stickyback tape, build the sail with this first,

- hang it (see point 1 above) to see if the camber is where you want it and as much as you want it (the sail will have no corner grommets at this point - use spikes),

- start with panels, camber, then mow it (zigzag or triple step),

- build corners and other strong points, use stickyback to place them on the sails (corner patches are built flat), mow them on,

- build tapes, attach them with big office stapler (I like to attach each end, then center, then each mid-center, etc.), mow them on, remove staples, remember about any trimlines (if they go into tapes)

- finish the corners (grommets or webbing) you will need grommet tools for grommets, webbing you just mow it on,

- if in doubt, build a polypro mock first,

- notice the shape of the edges - if they have any curve, build your sails with the same amt of curve, most sails have slight inward curve, unless they use battens (then they may have roach curve STILL keeping slight inward curves between the battens!)

ETC. Hard to express everything in a short msg but others will chuck in.

Have fun,
b.
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Old 31-08-2013, 09:16   #3
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Re: constructing a sunfish sail

One assumes that you are making a new sail because the old one is not in good nick. Copying an old sail that is stretched out of shape will result in a new sail that has bad shape. So, unfortunately you need to design the new sail from scratch.

The folks at Sail-rite used to publish a series of small pamphlets with beginners level design instruction. Years ago I successfully used these simple guides to design and then build a few sails for a Yankee 30... much bigger and more complicated sails than what you propose. I've not dealt with those folks in years, and I'm sure that they have moved on to more modern means of tuition in sailmaking, but I bet that they still have some means of showing you what you will need to know, to buy and to do to make a successful sail. I'd sure recommend that you contact them directly.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 31-08-2013, 14:49   #4
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Re: constructing a sunfish sail

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
One assumes that you are making a new sail because the old one is not in good nick. Copying an old sail that is stretched out of shape will result in a new sail that has bad shape. So, unfortunately you need to design the new sail from scratch.

The folks at Sail-rite used to publish a series of small pamphlets with beginners level design instruction. Years ago I successfully used these simple guides to design and then build a few sails for a Yankee 30... much bigger and more complicated sails than what you propose. I've not dealt with those folks in years, and I'm sure that they have moved on to more modern means of tuition in sailmaking, but I bet that they still have some means of showing you what you will need to know, to buy and to do to make a successful sail. I'd sure recommend that you contact them directly.


Cheers,

Jim

Actually the old sail is in pretty good condition. I am just building a new one as an easy way to learn sailmaking. I hope to move on to more advanced sail making as my skills progress. Sailrite does have a lot of helpful videos on a variety of project on their website. But the only one I have found for a Sunfish sail comes with a kit that has the entire sunfish sail. Since this is just a practice run for me I am trying to do this on the cheap.
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Old 31-08-2013, 15:08   #5
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Re: constructing a sunfish sail

Just go for it, see what happens.

I looked up the sail and you can build it nearly flat. It is only some 8m2 of canvas, not a huge investment.

Read some about how sail fabric is built - how it stretches and thus how your panels must be cut out of the roll.

If you can chose between light dacron vs. heavy nylon, build in dacron; this may be the easier material for beginners.

Hotknife panel edges. Lock the seams. Use polyester, not nylon, thread. Build a larger table, if using a home grade machine. Avoid too many layers if the machine is a wimp.

You will not learn sailmaking like this but you may build a usable sail for your Sunfish.

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Old 31-08-2013, 15:18   #6
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Re: constructing a sunfish sail

I guess when I say learn sailmaking its the next progression in the learning process. I now have a large college of ditty bags and tool carrier's that will probably become christmas gifts for all my friends and family. Builing a sunfish sail just seems like the next progression on what to sew.

What do you mean by lock the seams?
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Old 01-09-2013, 06:22   #7
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Re: constructing a sunfish sail

Overlock them by moving the fabric to and fro before you cut of the thread.

You can leave the seams that fall under other elements (patches, tapes, etc.) open - you just come to the end of the seam and cut off without reversing the machine.

Taylors say: measure twice, cut once. This is also very valid in making sails.

Have fun building and let us see what ensues!
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Old 11-09-2013, 09:45   #8
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Re: constructing a sunfish sail

I have cut out the panels for my new sail. Evidently I have some area's that need work before I consider myself a "master sailmaker." Measuring correctly would be a good place to start. As well as drawing straight lines. It seems like I would have mastered these skills in grade school but evidently I didn't. I would like to blame it on how stretched out my old sail is, some of the old panels had 2 inches difference in length. After making some slight adjustments all of the panels on the new sail are the same size. Although, my new sail is going to be a little bigger than my old one. I guess instead of being class legal it will be considered a turbo model.
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Old 11-09-2013, 19:30   #9
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Re: constructing a sunfish sail

Do not worry about the lines to be all that straight.

1) you can cut panels from full width of the roll (this gives you straight internal edges),
2) once the sail is glued, viewed and stitched, you will then trim the outer edges,

Look up online (maybe y outube has some vids) on how to use stickyback tape. This will save you plenty of trial and error.

When you have the thing glued together, pin the two corners to a table and hold the third one in hand, now stretch out the sail - you will be able to see if you have the draft where you want it and as much of it as you want it.

Good job, go for it. Only those who do nothing never make mistakes. That's the biggest mistake one can make though.

Let us know how it goes.

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Old 17-09-2013, 17:08   #10
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Re: constructing a sunfish sail

I wasn't expecting to work on the sail for a few days, but it rained yesterday so I had some free time. Yesterday I sewed all of the panels together and put the requisite number of spur grommets on the sail. Today I bent the sail onto the booms (or whatever they are called on a lateen rig.) Although it is a little bigger than class specifications it turned out nicely. I definitely learned what to do differently next time I make one. One thing that I will try to find is a way to stake my panels out when I cut them so they will all be closer to the same length. Although it all turned out ok when i folded the edges over and hemmed them.
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Old 17-09-2013, 17:11   #11
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Re: constructing a sunfish sail

Although the wind wasn't blowing a lot today I did get a test sail in. I couldn't ask for anything better. Now once I get some more free time I will put a window in it as well as sew a skull and crossbones on it.
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