Good sailcloth for JR

  • 20 Feb 2016 22:54
    Reply # 3834329 on 1206989
    I'm not enttirely sure about that, Arne.  There are plenty of boats arriving in NZ with very expensive sails that need extensive work on them after fewer than five years.  (A 28ft pointy-rig boat that has just hauled out here has 11 sails on board!  I have to assume that most are second-hand or they'd have cost more than the boat.)  If your boat is well thought out and very simple, the sails are a large part of the maintenance programme.  For long distance cruising - by an enthusiastic sailor - 5 years would equal 50,000 miles - not bad for el cheapo sails.  Maybe a little closer to the time, I'll chase up the Tyvek option myself.  Certainly, if you can get it in black, Alan might fancy trying it out for Zebedee - he's talking of making some new sails to experiment with different ideas.  I'll send this link to him.

    I think it's worth trying out a 'new' fabric before dismissing it out of hand - particularly if other people have had some success with it. 

    Last modified: 20 Feb 2016 22:59 | Anonymous member
  • 20 Feb 2016 08:52
    Reply # 3833443 on 1206989
    Anonymous member (Administrator)


    I can see the point in using dead cheap material for experimental sails for dinghies. The very first sails I made, at the age of 16, was from of a sheet of yellow polyethylene, meant for camping. The sprit-sail and jib was not sewn at the hems, but partly glued and partly ‘melt-welded’ with a home-made solder iron. Anything works when below 10m2.

    However, if you need serious sails for a serious yacht (your 34-footer?), I suggest you don’t invest a lot of time on making sails which will last for less than 5 years. The cost of the sail material will anyway be small (when spread over the years of use), compared to the other costs of keeping the yacht operational.



    Last modified: 20 Feb 2016 20:01 | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • 20 Feb 2016 03:33
    Reply # 3833209 on 1206989

    Searching a bit more, I find Spenic Graphics in the UK selling Tyvek 1082D, which is one of the "paper-like" versions, in several different weights and widths. For example, you could buy 25metres at 1300mm wide and 105 gm/sq m for £65.37 (£2 a square metre - the price is right!). That would be enough to make a 25 sq m sail, which is about the biggest experimental sail of Tyvek that I'd want to try, initially. There are "paper-like" and "fabric-like" versions of Tyvek - I would think that  the "paper-like" version would be more like polyester sailcloth.

    The fact that it's easily printable may get over the lack of colour options - if it's printable, presumably it can be tie-dyed?!

    Last modified: 20 Feb 2016 03:39 | Anonymous member
  • 20 Feb 2016 01:38
    Reply # 3833116 on 1206989

    Painted Tyvek is  also used for fabric covered canoes and dinghies I see. It performs as well as or better than canvas perhaps?

    I have some spinnaker nylon and a Tyvek envelope. I just managed to tear the nylon. I could not tear the Tyvek. That is a cheap test anyone can perform.  Try rubbing and perforating both samples.  Put them in the washing machine. You will be amazed at Tyvek . Non UV treated Tyvek has a sunlight rating about the same as Dacron. My first experience with the material was a caravan cover which was replaced after five years because of grime and mould. The material did not breakdown but that (grey one side  and white the other !) sample was a little too thick for a sail and I did consider it.  Tyvek has largely replaced other fabrics in that caravan cover application. The cat loved the cover - soft and cosy to lie on in the sun and excellent for sharpening claws! He liked the grey colour so I am glad I did not buy the olive green alternative. 

    I have new sails now but one day might experiment with camber when I finish sailing back to NZ. By then my flat sails will be shot (but I have treated the Dacron with space age UV protector which could well be snake oil). Hoping there is a Tyvek knowledge base relevant to Junks when the time comes to replace those sails. Retired, I will never be able to afford again the Scanes manufactured sails l have now. 

    So I am very interested in weights of cloth, longevity and experience with the material etc. Someone out there is cruising around with Tyvek sails who could either inspire junk experimentation or  end Tyvek speculation. Certainly there are enthusiasts who think it is a wonder material but more hard  data is needed from genuine cruisers. 

  • 20 Feb 2016 00:37
    Reply # 3833090 on 1206989

    This quote from the catalogue entry for 1460C is enough to put me off it for cruising sails:

    "Unlike other grades of Tyvek, style 1460 has a UV stabilizer package which allows the Tyvek to maintain approximately 50% of its tensile strength for up to 2 years under normal UV exposure."

  • 20 Feb 2016 00:28
    Reply # 3833086 on 1206989

    Comes in black as well. It can be dye printed permanently any colour and there is guidance. Link is to the heavier fabric. That is three times price of the light fabric which has been used for mainsails on 30 ft yachts. They also make a " woven" fabric . Lots of choice. Drill down and there is every fabric for every engineering situation. It is even used as barrier on ground and sharp gravel poured over it then subjected to traffic. It is tough. 

    According to Wooden Boat Forum the lighter is impossible to tear or deform even when old and worn. It also has limited stretch that amateur sail makers find useful for designing headsails. Some appear to be very knowledgeable.  Articles on broad seaming Tyvek are interesting and relevant for junk cambered sails no doubt. Lots of PDFs can be downloaded for guidance as been used by amateur sailmakers in US for decades.  There is a cult following.

     Fabric has been  used offshore because it can be engineered to take reinforcing on sail corners without tearing and reef points and eyelets do not pull out.  

  • 20 Feb 2016 00:02
    Reply # 3833062 on 1206989

    I'd try it for a dinghy. Tyvek 1460C is made from high density polyethylene at 1.74 oz/sq yd, so a similar weight to spinnaker nylon. It comes in brilliant white only, which I wouldn't want for a cruising sail. It doesn't seem to be as strong as a woven material, but may be strong enough for small junk sails.

    Perhaps more suitable might be Tyvek 2462C which is a laminate of two layers, so twice as heavy and twice as strong. It's grey one side, white the other, and is UV protected.

    Last modified: 20 Feb 2016 00:32 | Anonymous member
  • 19 Feb 2016 23:25
    Reply # 3833008 on 1206989
    At that price, it would be well worth trying.  Have you any idea of its weight (oz/sq yd; gm/sq m)?  Does it come in pretty colours or only white?  What is it designed for?
  • 19 Feb 2016 22:04
    Reply # 3832918 on 1206989

    Has anyone in the Junk Rig Association used Tyvek for making junk sails?

    It is UV protected. On the Wooden Boat Forum there are many people who have made their own sails using it and on the Internet lots of guides to sewing sails and using purpose made double sided sticky tapes. 

    Price is right. $100 US for 100 meters, 60cm wide. It can be bought in plain white ( no maker logo). 

  • 17 Feb 2016 00:45
    Reply # 3826218 on 1206989

    Importing anything made in China is very, very much a case of "buyer be aware" because the results are extremely variable, even with supposedly the same product from the same factory. Quality varies from batch to batch.

    I work for a company that imports extensively from China and just about every year we land up dumping two or three entire 40ft containers of stuff... and we have a representative in China which supposedly should prevent the problem.

       " ...there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in junk-rigged boats" 
                                                               - the Chinese Water Rat

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