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Old 24-04-2005, 03:21   #1
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Making a mainsail from a kit

My wife and I have been reffitting our boat over the last few months. Part of that refit has been getting our sails in order. We had a headsail that was in good shape. We sent that out to Sailcare to be cleaned. It came back and looks great!

The mainsail however was not in salvagable condition. There was serious UV damage all along the leach. We decided to replace the sail. After getting several quotes for sails, we spoke with Jim and Jeff from Sailrite. The sell almost anything a DIY sail or canvas make would need. They also sell custom designed sail kits. You give them the specifications and requirements, they, Jeff, will design the sail, cut the cloth, provide all the fittings and materials you will need and give detailed instructions.

I, with the help of Jim, the owner, convinced my wife she could sew up a new mainsail. Well, the dacron sails were nice, but the cruising laminates, now that's a sail!!!! If you can do a straight dacron sail, why can't you sew one a laminated tri-radial cut sail??? Well, aside from going from 18 panels to 36 panels for tri-radial, there is not much reason you can't! She has just completed the assembly of all the panels. We now have a 44' sail that is ready for final dressing and assembly. She say she is about half way finished, but I think she is further along than that. It sure looks good!!!! Three cheers for Eva!

I'll give an update when we have it completed. If anyone wants any details we would be happy to respond.

Keith
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Old 24-04-2005, 09:44   #2
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So in say a percentage term, what do you reckon you have saved in what would normally have been an over all cost. Like 20%? 50%?. It sounds like a great idea, but I would have thought the time/cost of sewing would have been very small compared to the material costs and the cutting.
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Old 24-04-2005, 14:12   #3
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Saved? Depends on how one costs their time. The least expensive quote we got from a sailmaker was $4966. The kit cost $2143. The most expensive quote was for $6995. It has taken her almost 120 hours so far. It will probably take her another 30 hours before she is finished. So let's say 160 hours to make the sail. The sewing machine cost $880 or so. The total for the project has been $3598. It is hard to apportion the cost of tools across just the sail. She has also make a stackpack like sail cover, a bimini windshield and repaired our bimini with the same machine and dies. We had a quote of $1044 for the sail cover. Our material cost on that was something like $246. That took her about 30 hours to design and construct.

One can do the percentages. A question that arises is, does it make more economic sense for us to hire someone else to do the work. From a strick economic sense, it absolutely make more sense for us to hire someone else. We make more in our old vocations than almost anyone would charge for almost anywork on our boat. But, I have lost 20 lbs, so far, working on the boat. My blood pressure is down about 10 points. Eva has lost a couple of inches, has a nice tan going and hasn't stressed over customers, supplies, employees, schedules etc for the months we have been down doing the boat. In other words, we view it more a an advocation/hobbie than an economically sound endeavour. The truly nice part is the pride we have when we show someone what we have done. That's almost priceless.


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Old 24-04-2005, 14:47   #4
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Keith:
Excellent analysis on the psychic and economic cost-benefit ratio of hired out vs doing-it-yourself.
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Old 24-04-2005, 21:27   #5
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Thanks Keith. That is excellent. I have also been thinking about getting some sort of machine. nothing fancy, but it would be nice to do a repair and I would love to make niknaks like winch covers and rope bags and so on. I am not sure I would personaly tackle a full on Sail, but good on ya. The benifits and rewards are often beyond finacial savings.
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Old 25-04-2005, 03:01   #6
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Once you get a couple of techniques down, sewing the sails is not as hard as you'd think. We did this thing in our cockpit and on the docks!!

But, it is not for everyone. If you are doing something small, almost any machine will handle it. She has a Kenmore that she uses for clothing and light work. The Sailrite machine (www.sailrite.com) is VERY heavy duty. It has sewn through 10 layers of 10 oz lamanate and 9 oz dacron! Sailrite makes a several different machines. I think they start at $600 and go up to as much as you want to pay! (okay maybe just $2000).
I'd keep my eyes out for a used machine. Probably so VERY good values available.



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Old 24-05-2005, 04:00   #7
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Economics ......

Ive been making my own sails for about 35 years. Some from scratch and some from Sailrite kits. As respect to the sailrite kits and when compared to a quality loft I perceive that I save about 40%. The codicile is that when you have the opportunity to add all the little doodads that make the difference between a stock shelf sail and a full custom is where you really save the difference. The doodads -- triple stitching, PECO seam tape, extra leech lines, window panels, adjustable luff ropes, foam luffs, extra/intermediate battens, etc. etc. etc. all add up in $$$ with a pro-sailmaker --- the extra time needed for the 'doodads' is yours for free. For example, I just built a bombproof 450 sq. ft. main (sailrite kit) with 3 reefs, triple stiched and glued seams, jackline slugs and with 9.8 oz. Good quality Marblehead Dacron for HALF of what a 'good' loft was quoting. There are only 3 or 4 computer plotting programs .... so the difference is the quality and care that the 'assembler' takes. The lofts wanted $3800, cost me half. How's that for economics ... and I built in the EXACT changes I wanted.

For the poster who wanted to make repairs and wanted to know what machine: The BEST is an industrial quality zig-zag 'walking foot' machine but really you dont need a sewing machine at all to make most repairs. For small repairs you can use tubes of 'flexible' 3M 5200 (tubes) and simply carefully glue the seams together ... and will never ever come apart. Split seam and long rips can be easily repaired with structural sail tape and simply glue a section to each side of the rip - matching the sail fabric tape to the weight of the original fabric. I dont anymore carry a sewing machine with me on long distance travels.... just tubes of flex 5200 and a few rolls of 1", 2", etc. sail tape - fast, easy, bombproof.
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Old 01-06-2005, 23:16   #8
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The $880 machine from Sailrite is a zigzag, walking foot, deluxe model. It has been WONDERFUL really can't say enough good things about it. It is not quite stong enough to go true 14 layers of material with the final layer being leather, but neither was the next machine up the line, the 1500 proffessional model. To really get up to something that good, you are going to have to buy a proffessional model. Either that, or pay a loft $50 to finish up the reemaining stiches

The sail has worked wonderfully so far. No issues except with some batten slides that I mistankenly thought I could replace with battens made from starboard Anyone know where I can get some SDA batten car slides!?

There is an issue that I hadn't counted on though. My wife doesn't want to fly the sail because she thinks it will get dirty!! Pride of construction deal going on there!

Latter.

Keith
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Old 02-06-2005, 17:08   #9
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Smile Would love to see some pictures!!!

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Old 22-07-2005, 20:21   #10
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I have put a few pictures in the photo gallery. All the digital pictures I have are rather high resolution and are about 5 megs each. I have started cutting some down to a managable size. I will be adding a few more if anyone is interested.

Keith
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