View Full Version : Dacron sail life ?
08-23-2007, 07:35 PM
My sail on Carrianne an 18'spritsail skiff has over 1700 hours on it . It looks good as far as condition of the material, but I notice it is harder to get the shape I want . Or lets say to get rid of the wrinkles. Tension on the luff and snotter doesn't quite do it. It also looks quite full and I'm thinking the draft had moved further aft. Also the boat seems not to point as high.
Is it time to get a new sail ?:confused:
Todd B ?
08-23-2007, 08:13 PM
Sounds like my sail but cheaper to replace.:mad:
Joe ( Cold Spring on Hudson )
08-23-2007, 08:54 PM
JD if you are going to get a new sail I can't recommend Gamble and Hunter high enough. Excellent work at a fair price. And they advertise in our hosts publication.
Ask PMJ about the sails on DOVE.
TIdbit's are all baggy and patched, I think they are 1964 original :eek::eek: gonna need to $pend some $ :mad: for a nice set of Gamble & Hunter.
08-24-2007, 12:03 AM
The sails are your “engine”
Do you want an old tired engine or a new fresh one?
The difference is always amazing to me.
A sail will deteriorate very slowly over the years, so slowly that you will hardly notice that it is lacking until it finally just doesn’t work anymore.
Nothing is finer than a new set of sails.
Unless maybe it’s a few cords of dry wood in the barn…
08-24-2007, 04:00 AM
With that kind of mileage, it well could be on it's way out. There are too many variations available in Dacron to predict lifespan without knowing more about that particular fabric. Stability and the fabric's ability to hold it's designed shape is generally a combination of the weaving (which is pretty expensive) and the coating (which is relatively cheap once you have the equipment). High-quality Dacron starts with a very high-quality weave, designed to combat the stress that the sail will get in use and then backs it up with the resin coating. Cheaper grades of Dacron rely much more on the resin alone to generate stability and as the resin breaks down over time they tend to lose their stability very rapidly.
When we used to inspect balloons for our buddies at the FAA and tear-test the fabric, it was pretty obvious that by about 400-500 hours of UV exposure most of them had lost half of their original tear strength. Sail Dacron is heavier, of course, but 1,700 hours is a lot of exposure and in addition to fiber tear strength, UV also tends to deteriorate the resin coatings. Throw in some salt air and you get little salt crystals forming on the yarns down in the weave which adds an abrasive to the mix, so you could well be due.
A baggy sail with lots of draft aft and no way to re-shape it can also be caused by shrunken roping. The telltale sign is usually a lot of small puckers along the luff and foot tapes that you just don't seem to be able to stretch out. These puckers gather the panel fabric along the edges and this tends to create too much draft, which then finds it's way aft. It's far more common on Marconi mains than on spritsails or lugs, but it is possible. The question then becomes "Is the rest of the sail in good enough shape to be worth the money invested in a fairly expensive re-roping job?" If so, it can have dramatic results. All the sudden you can flatten it again when needed and the draft moves back to the original position. With 1,700 hours though, most folks would be better off putting that money toward a replacement sail because the old one is living on borrowed time.
I agree with Joe, Gambell & Hunter would be an excellent choice and there are some other good ones who build traditional sails listed in the back of WB as well.
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