Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A fairly exclusive club

Here on Eolian, we have joined a fairly exclusive club - owners of Sailrite's walking-foot sewing machines.
Sailrite LSZ-1
Our cockpit canvas, custom-made for us at great expense 9 years ago is starting to come apart.  The thread is failing.  When we had the canvas made, the tradesman (Barrett Enclosures) asked us if we wanted to use the very expensive Tenara thread, or the regular UV-stabilized polyester.  Given that the Tenara cost more than $100/spool and that the Sunbrella itself is UV stabilized polyester, we selected the less expensive thread.

Big Mistake.

Tho the Sunbrella is clearly aging, it has years to go.  But the thread has failed on all of the horizontal surfaces.  I have been stitching it back in with a hand stitcher, but this is extremely tedious, and it is difficult to do a good job.   And we have lost four zippers to UV exposure, so far.

So I have been on the lookout for a sewing machine capable of sewing multiple layers of heavy canvas.  A couple of weeks ago, I responded to a craigslist ad and bought a used Sailrite LSZ-1.  This is a walking foot machine: the presser foot on top of the fabric moves, at the same time and for the same distance as the feed dogs on the bottom of the fabric.  Your standard home-owner machine has a stationary presser foot, which means that with multiple layers of fabric, the top-most layers tend to be dragged back by the stationary presser foot, causing the seam to pucker and curl.  The LSZ-1 also has a powerful double gear reduction drive.  How powerful you ask?

Eight layers of Sunbrella: with ease

This machine is a monster.  Here you see 8 layers of heavy Sunbrella that I sewed across - the machine didn't even break a sweat.  It just went ker-chunk, ker-chunk, ker-chunk, with no hesitation and no manual persuading from me - like it was sewing butter.  This is not your Mama's sewing machine.

So I am now busy re-stitching all of our canvas.  And yes, I did spend the $$$ for a spool of the lifetime warranted fluorocarbon thread.  I wish I had done that 9 years ago.

But then if I had, I wouldn't be learning the trade of cockpit tailor.


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