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Forum LockedAdd a third reef to mainsail

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Ernst View Drop Down
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    Posted: 22 November 2008 at 10:00am

As I confessed last month, I tore my mainsail in a storm and I received excellent advice from Matt and Dan here on how to fix it. Of course, I want to avoid that happening again and that got me thinking about adding a third reef to my mainsail. (I have to improve my reefing technique, too, so the sail flutters less but that is a different subject).

Here is the situation. The boat is a 1976 Columbia 32 with a pretty good mainsail (made by North) with two reefs. It is loosefooted because I have a Doyle Stackpack and I have two reefs. More than once, I wished I had a third one.

Jim Grant's Sail Repair Manual, and Marino's Sailmaker's Apprentice answered some of my questions but not all. I understand that usually reefs are equidistant, i.e. the third reef should be as much higher as the second as the second is from the first (and the first is from the foot of the sail). Now on my sail, the clew cringle then would land directly on a batten so I have to put it either a bit higher or a bit lower.  I am thinking that higher (above the batten) is better, even though the reef would be deeper, because otherwise the clew would be pulling right on the batten. (I am pretty sure of this and am just looking for a blessing from the experts here).

So, this is my plan then:

1) Mark the position for the clew cringle as discussed.

2) Measure (on the boat) where the tack cringle will go, assuming the boom will be slightly (~6"??) higher at the clew than at the tack so the leach will be tensioned when the sail is reefed.

3) I don't plan to put in grommets or anything between clew and tack because I found that with my stackpack, I don't use them anyway. The bunt of the sail is nicely contained by the stackpack.

4) Sew reinforcing patches onto tack and clew, same number as there are on the 1st and 2nd reef, using about 6 oz cloth.

5) Put in a hand-sewn #8 ring with eyelet at clew and tack, each.

Question: I saw these rings and eyelets (plus the eyelet setter, all of which I will have to purchase) a  few weeks ago, when I first contemplated this job but now I can only find everything in #6 size.  I hope you did not discontinue the larger size?? I would imagine I will need it for my sail.

6) Just for completeness (this is not sailrite specific), install a cheekblock on the boom, below and slightly aft of the reef clew.

Does this sound reasonable? Any changes, anything I forgot?

Thank you very much!

--Ernst

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MattGrant View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MattGrant Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 November 2008 at 8:07pm
What you have listed makes good sense. The rings you are looking for are the #9 size. You should be able to find this on our website easily. You will need the #9 rings, #9 eyelets, the #9 eyelet die set, and a hole cutter.
 
The location of the reefing row could be either above the batten or below it. If you go above it the batten angle can make flaking the sail below the reef difficult. Putting it below makes patching difficult with the batten so close to the cringle. I guess what I am saying is that it is your choice.
 
Thanks, Matt
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ernst Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 November 2008 at 8:39pm
Clap
Thank you, Matt. I found the #9 rings, eyelets and tools. I see what you say about flaking the sail, I guess I will have to see how close I can go to the batten.

I won't be able to get to the boat, to measure size and number of patches, before next weekend and will place the order then.

Thank you very much again! As always, outstanding service!

--Ernst
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ernst Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 December 2008 at 10:40am
OK, I just submitted the order for the material and tools. I decided to forego the hole cutter, I will try my luck with the hotknife.

Now I only need to find the time to do this mainsail surgery...

Thanks again for your help!

--Ernst
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Ernst View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ernst Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 February 2009 at 4:38pm

OK, in case someone is interested, here is my progress report. It is
not all finished but I think I am getting there, and I sure have
learned some things.

This weekend I made the final decision where the put the reef. I put
it about the same distance from the second as the second is from the
first. This will shorten sail area by about another 20%. I played with
the idea of putting it even higher but the common wisdom seems to be
to make reefs equidistant. And since this is my very first sail
modification, I did not want to pretend to be smarter than the
experts...

One surprise in the measuring process: "The Sailmaker's Apprentice"
says to 'kick up' the leech cringle a few inches relative to the luff,
to raise the boom. I found that in the two existing reefs, the
opposite was the case! In the end, I decided to compromise and I put
the leech cringle neither higher nor lower but at the same height as
the luff cringle.

Nothing to report from the cutting of the patches. I tried to
reproduce the same pattern as the one used in the second reef (6
patches at the leech, 5 at the luff). Hotknife worked great.  All
patches were cut in less than an hour.

The next 12 hours were pretty much spent zig-zagging! I used heavy
pressure foot pressure and lots of tension. After all, at the maximum
there were 9 layers of sailcloth (about each 7.5oz): the 6 reinforcing
patches, plus the  sail itself, plus the tabling!

I could not have done it without the Monster wheel. The sewer's aid
was also useful, I think. I used V-92 thread and started with an 18
needle but switched soon to a 20. Even of those I broke a few (3 or
4). No big deal, I see needles as consumables.

 I think I now understand better
the causes of thread breaking. On my machine, it really seems to be
caused by needle strikes on the cap spring (part 1603). I found that with the
strong tension, a single needle strike would immediately lead to
instantaneous breaking of the thread, sometimes it was as if someone
just cut it! Fortunately, I had just replaced the cap spring and
ordered two new ones, and even though I tried to smooth them out
(file, emery cloth), over the course of sewing the patches for the
reef I pretty much went through all three of them. I will order new
ones and consider them from now on as consumables, too!

I tried to find out what causes the needle strikes. I think (as the
Sailrite book says) part is still an occasional unfortunate tug of the
fabric, not always to avoid with a huge mainsail. I think that it
helped when, in the end,  I made every effort to reverse only when the needle was
exactly at the very top.

I am all done with all the patches, and have also added leech tape to
cover the reef and surrounding areas. I ended up with more rat's nests
than I would have liked, in particular for the first set of patches.
The second went better since I had gained some insight into the
thread breaking problem, had increased the upper tension even more
etc. The leech tape, which I did last, went a lot better, Partly because
I had gained experience, partly because 'access' to it was by far the
easiest (no sewing within the panels).

After I was done, I wondered why I did not do everything with V-138
thread (and 22 needles). This seems to be what North Sail used to
build the sail.

Sailrite gurus: should I still add a row of stitches per reinforcing
patch with this stronger thread, to compensate for the rat's nests??

Another thing I wondered is stitch length. The experts all seem to say
to choose the longest length you have on your machine, and then adjust the zig-zag
width so that angles are 90 degrees. This is pretty much what I ended
up doing. However, when I look at the original stitches in the sail,
they are actually shorter than those made by the LSZ, and the angles
are a lot smaller than 90 degrees (less than 45, I would guess)). What
gives?

Anyway, the next stages is to put in the hand-sewn rings. To be
followed...

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MattGrant Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 February 2009 at 10:18pm
Hi Ernst,
Stitches should be about 4mm long by 5 mm wide. But longer will not cause any problems (other than perhaps a slightly better chance of bending needles and striking the cap spring). I would probably go back over the areas where the rats nests are really bad. But I would do so with the V-92 thread and a #20 needle. The V-92 is plenty strong. As for the needle, using an SD1 #22 would have helped a bit to reduce the strikes. By the way the rats nest at the beginning of sewing is usually caused by the loose bobbin thread not being trapped to the bed of the machine at the very start of sewing. In other works you should hold the two threads down to the bed of the sewing machine for the first stitch or two to avoid the issue.
Thanks, Matt
Sailrite
 
Best Regards,
Matt Grant
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ernst Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 February 2009 at 10:35pm
Originally posted by MattGrant MattGrant wrote:

Hi Ernst,
Stitches should be about 4mm long by 5 mm wide. But longer will not cause any problems (other than perhaps a slightly better chance of bending needles and striking the cap spring).


Hah! So maybe my long stitches are (another) cause for the needle strikes. Will try to see if slightly shorter helps.

Originally posted by MattGrant MattGrant wrote:


I would probably go back over the areas where the rats nests are really bad. But I would do so with the V-92 thread and a #20 needle. The V-92 is plenty strong. As for the needle, using an SD1 #22 would have helped a bit to reduce the strikes.


OK, I will go back over those areas, and continue to use the V-92.

But I am confused. Do you say to use the #20 needle, or do you recommend the SD1 #22 (which, from the catalog, seems to be better for thick layers of sailcloth). I don't have the latter but need to order cap springs anyway so I could order these needles at the same time. Is that what you would recommend?
[/QUOTE]

Originally posted by MattGrant MattGrant wrote:


By the way the rats nest at the beginning of sewing is usually caused by the loose bobbin thread not being trapped to the bed of the machine at the very start of sewing. In other works you should hold the two threads down to the bed of the sewing machine for the first stitch or two to avoid the issue.


THANK YOU! I am sure that is the case since at the beginning of a new stretch is exactly where it usually happens. This is probably written up in a thousand places, I just could not be bothered to read the manualErmm

Matt, you will end up making a decent seamster out of me...

Thanks again!


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jim grant Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 February 2009 at 3:56pm
The number 20 needle would normally be perfectly OK. But, if you are breaking even one needle in a project like this, switch to the bigger one with the SDI point -- it should solve the problem and protect those cap springs.
Jim Grant
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ernst Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 February 2009 at 9:14am
Thank you, Jim!

I have ordered the SD11 needle on Tuesday (together with a couple more cap springs; this breaking-thread problem is so frustrating that I rather have two or three springs in reserve).

For some reason I cannot track the order, the tracking site (checkout.netsuite.com) seems to have forgotten my login information. Same on the sailrite site (but this forum is OK, go figure!). 

--Ernst
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MattGrant Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 February 2009 at 10:43am
Hi Ernst,
I just found out these needles are on Backorder from Schmetz. It could be a while before they come in. How about if we change over to a #100801 DI needle? This will work equally well. Let me know and I will see to it that the order ships today.
Thanks, Matt
Sailrite
 
Is it your password that is not letting you in the sailrite.com system? If so, please give me a call and we will reset the password. Or you can use the "forgot password" fuction on the website.
 
Best Regards,
Matt Grant
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