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Thread: Sailmaker vs Sailrite LSZ-1

  1. #1
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    Default Sailmaker vs Sailrite LSZ-1

    I own three sewing machines, all mid century imports. I've used a Japanese Stradivaro Deluxe for several years for sail repair and covers. The clutch is starting to slip, maybe because I've over-worked it on heavy cloth. I'm thinking of springing for the Sailrite LSZ-1. There is also a second hand Sailmaker (Brother 652) I can get for a hundred or two less. For those with experience, what do you suggest?

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    Default Re: Sailmaker vs Sailrite LSZ-1

    My 1980 TZ1-B652 Sailmaker has made literally hundreds of sails, plus assorted covers, bike bags, dog leashes and anything else that needed to be sewn. Before that, I spent about three years working on hot air balloons with it. It would be awfully hard to beat and there is little in there that would ever wear out. The LSZ-1 is also an excellent machine and not to be confused with the Thompson Mini-Walker which is the basic platform that it was built on. I was an "official witness" for legal reasons when they were patenting, trade-marking or whatever it was for recording the changes, additions, part substitutions and re-machining they did on those heads to turn them into the LSZ-1 and they sent me copies of the plans and modification detail sheets before the machine was released. Compared to the original stock Mini-Walker, the LSZ-1 is a substantially better machine. Beware of anyone telling you that they can buy the same machine elsewhere for a lot less, because it may look like the same machine, but internally it is not.

    Given the option though, the increased space under the arm of the Sailmaker, its more substantial weight and the amount of punching power you can generate with it if you have the big balance wheel would send me toward the Sailmaker. I can literally sew through an issue of WoodenBoat and then turn around, adjust tension and sew two layers of .75 oz. spinnaker fabric. Stock speed with my original portable motor is up to about 25.5 stitches per second for mine, which is too fast to generate much control most of the time. I'm set up with the big flywheel and their original jack-drive pulley system, which both slows it down to a more reasonable speed for most projects and sails, and at the same time it increases the punching power. I suspect they probably still have the parts sitting around to build a jack drive if you needed one.

    Sailmaker with big balance wheel and jack drive, set into a hunk of countertop on saw horses. The hand crank can also be screwed on when needed and you can run with no electricity and 3-4 stitches per turn of the crank.

    sm.jpg

    Set into the floor for sewing sails.

    sm020.jpg

    The jack drive is the large silver double pulley, which gears the machine down for more power at lower speeds. Gee, it's such a good machine that maybe I should clean it once in a while.

    jack-drive.jpg

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Sailmaker vs Sailrite LSZ-1

    Thanks Todd. The seller says this machine has a "Monster Wheel" which I know they use on the LSZ line. It looks different than your Jack Drive but appears to function the same. Is there anything I should look out for when I see the machine? It can't be young, and I have had some trouble with used machines. My wife thinks I should just pay the extra for the new machine, though she likes to shop, and I like to save. Seriously, I want the best machine I can afford.

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    Default Re: Sailmaker vs Sailrite LSZ-1

    You should look for obvious rust or corrosion, but most of the important guts are metal on the Sailmaker and not likely to wear out. Industrial machines do sometimes get a bit "loose" after a few years, where they will no longer consistently sew at high speeds, but most of the time it is because they have been run at those speeds for a very long time and moving parts have worn down. That's not likely on one which has seen the use that most of us would put a Sailmaker through. The monster wheel is good and was introduced a few years after I got my machine.

    You can certainly expect that with any sewing machine you may occasionally have short, frustrating periods when you are trying to get the timing right and it is skipping stitches or cutting the thread, but they're usually a matter of getting everything adjusted properly and no machine in immune to them. I have an old 1998 Sailrite catalog sitting here and the Sailmaker is listed at $1,845.00. The LSZ-1 is currently much less and I believe there is a reason for that. You will sacrifice having the walking foot with the Sailmaker, but I certainly never felt hindered by not having one on mine.

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    Default Re: Sailmaker vs Sailrite LSZ-1

    I have an LSZ and am confident I will never need another machine for sailmaking. I previously had a "home" sewing machine and the LSZ is leaps and bounds ahead of it and has improved my sewing. I'm not the greatest technician and the walking foot makes all the difference for me. Todd has effectively and concisely laid out the argument for getting a LSZ instead of a look-a-like. You should know that the Monster Wheel is a just a massive flywheel that provides increased power via momentum. There is no gear reduction involved. I have the stock flywheel and for the small sails that I make I never felt the need for more power.

    You may be able to get the LSZ for cheaper than the price offered on the Sailrite site. When I purchased mine, maybe 5 or 6 years ago, I looked around the net quite a bit. Seems that Sailrite also sells the machine to other dealers, who often discount the price below Sailrite. I called Sailrite and they had no problem price matching. I was looking for a package deal and ended up saving a couple of hundred bucks. Unfortunately I don't have the links anymore.
    Last edited by Dusty Yevsky; 08-03-2018 at 11:29 AM.

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    Default Re: Sailmaker vs Sailrite LSZ-1

    Quote Originally Posted by Dusty Yevsky View Post
    I have an LSZ and am confident I will never need another machine for sailmaking. I previously had a "home" sewing machine and the LSZ is leaps and bounds ahead of it and has improved my sewing. I'm not the greatest technician and the walking foot makes all the difference for me. Todd has effectively and concisely laid out the argument for getting a LSZ instead of a look-a-like. You should know that the Monster Wheel is a just a massive flywheel that provides increased power via momentum. There is no gear reduction involved. For the small sails that I make I never felt the need for more power.

    You may be able to get the LSZ for cheaper than the price offered on the Sailrite site. When I purchased mine, maybe 5 or 6 years ago, I looked around the net quite a bit. Seems that Sailrite also sells the machine to other dealers, who often discount the price below Sailrite. I called Sailrite and they had no problem price matching. I was looking for a package deal and ended up saving a couple of hundred bucks. Unfortunately I don't have the links anymore.
    Or purchase at a boat show. IIRC @ Annapolis a few years ago, as a "boat show special" SailRite threw in some extra gear + knocked a hundred or 2 off.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

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    Default Re: Sailmaker vs Sailrite LSZ-1

    Thank you all for your input. I'm going to call about that machine today, though I may not get to see it until next week.

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    Default Re: Sailmaker vs Sailrite LSZ-1

    Keep in mind that the purpose of a walking foot is to feed the top cloth and the bottom cloth at the same rate, since with loose material, the bottom cloth (up against the teeth of the feed dogs) will sometimes feed a bit faster than the top layer, which just slides against the presser foot on a non-walking machine. However, for sailmaking, cover making and just about anything else we do with the machine which is boat related, the seams should already be basted with double-sided basting tape (and/or often stapled if it is cover canvas). The two (or more) layers can't slide through at different rates because they should already be glued together by the tape or stuck together with the staples. The walking foot really doesn't (can not) do much at all because the stuff is already feeding evenly.

    The other thing about this is that taped and sewn seams are vastly stronger than those which were only sewn - especially as the sail ages and the thread starts to break down. Some of the big production lofts skip the basting tape and baste seams with a series of pin pricks with a hot needle device, melting a tiny spot together every few inches. They do this because it is faster and cheaper. It makes a substantially weaker seam than one which has been tape-basted and sewn, and when the thread deteriorates enough from UV, it falls apart.

    I have a walking foot on my big Consew leather machine, where it is quite handy because leather tends to be rather sticky up against a normal presser foot. When sailmaking though, about the only similar situation is sewing window vinyl in sails, and there are ways to avoid that issue. I think a walking foot would be a lot handier for making clothing than it is for sailmaking. The fear of lack of a walking foot is very similar to the fear of amine blush on epoxy resin - mostly rumor and very often the product of those with very limited experience dealing with the issue.

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    Default Re: Sailmaker vs Sailrite LSZ-1

    Thanks again. I really appreciate that you share your experience.
    I'm using basting tape or staples to make the covers. I'm just about finished the main cover with the Stradivaro (identical to many other badged machines from department stores) Cleaning the clutch plate and oiling the machine has helped. Also working on cloth no thicker than denim. Your point about the walking foot is well taken. I'm not having any trouble as long as I keep any strain off the cloth, holding it up and guiding it. I did jam one of my other machines by trying to feed sailcloth too fast. That seems also to have altered the timing. I'll either repair that or have it repaired.

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    Default Re: Sailmaker vs Sailrite LSZ-1

    And the machine sold before I could see it. Which tells me that $700 is an attractive price for a Sailmaker.
    I'll keep looking for machines and this thread may help someone else too.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Sailmaker vs Sailrite LSZ-1

    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Bradshaw View Post
    The fear of lack of a walking foot is very similar to the fear of amine blush on epoxy resin - mostly rumor and very often the product of those with very limited experience dealing with the issue.
    As always Todd, your posts amount to an advanced online course in sewing. No doubt there is a lot of truth in the above statement. I got my machine when I was inexperienced and before I knew what I needed it to do. Regardless, a walking foot is a godsend on a lot of projects.
    Last edited by Dusty Yevsky; 08-03-2018 at 05:59 PM.

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    Default Re: Sailmaker vs Sailrite LSZ-1

    Hey Todd, my wife's looking at a Consew 315. any experience with those? On the surface it looks like a pretty good machine but looks can be deceiving. They're asking $400 with the table and it's a 175 mile drive to pick it up. but our old Elna has died and it's time for a new heavy duty machine.

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    Default Re: Sailmaker vs Sailrite LSZ-1

    I've only worked with two Consews. At one point I worked for three days at a tent and awning manufacturer when I needed a job. I was using a fairly new Consew to sew heavy vinyl laminated, truck tarp fabric. It was fast and smooth in a straight line, but somewhat hard to stop on cue until you learned the clutch timing. As it turned out, I had some sort of contact allergy to something in the fabric and they had lousy ventilation, so I was very itchy and out of there in three days. It was a pretty nice machine though.

    The other Consew is my old leather machine - straight stitch, walking foot, model 206RB-5, which is really a blast to use and watch chug through heavy leather. I have found it very easy to find parts and accessories for it from sellers on eBay and the manuals can be downloaded off the web for free. These are both worth looking into before buying any used industrial machine, but you will most likely be impressed with the available selection, even for rather old machines. There are even some helpful YouTube videos for adjusting and using some industrial machines.

    The one thing I did which made a huge difference was to remove the big, heavy clutch motor (probably 30 lbs.) and for about $135 I replaced it with a modern servo motor. It is much smaller and lighter, runs very smoothly, has good punching power, and best of all, it has a governor knob which will adjust the limit of its top speed, so that it can't run away on you. Sailrite has an even better digital system that is supposed to have more power and control, but it is very expensive. It was absolutely worth every cent to get a basic servo motor for my machine for projects where you need precise sewing and a lot of control. I don't know whether all Consews are that good, but those I have used were quite nice.

    belt4.jpg

    DSCF0761a.jpg
    Last edited by Todd Bradshaw; 08-03-2018 at 09:01 PM.

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    Default Re: Sailmaker vs Sailrite LSZ-1

    Thanks Todd! I'll pass that on to my lady. Nice belt, belt he way! Did you cast the buckle, too? I'm always astonished by the varying skills I see on this forum!

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    Default Re: Sailmaker vs Sailrite LSZ-1

    No, I found the buckle on-line from a accompany in England that sells ren-fair stuff. My wife was making herself a dress from one of our wool tartans and needed a nice leather bag and belt to go with it. I just happened to stumble upon that buckle and it was perfect for the task and not horribly expensive (like $30 or so I think).

    T6-navy-dress.jpg

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    Default Re: Sailmaker vs Sailrite LSZ-1

    That's interesting!

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    Default Re: Sailmaker vs Sailrite LSZ-1

    Quote Originally Posted by johngsandusky View Post
    I own three sewing machines, all mid century imports. I've used a Japanese Stradivaro Deluxe for several years for sail repair and covers. The clutch is starting to slip, maybe because I've over-worked it on heavy cloth. I'm thinking of springing for the Sailrite LSZ-1. There is also a second hand Sailmaker (Brother 652) I can get for a hundred or two less. For those with experience, what do you suggest?
    The sailmaker is a slightly modified brother b652 and the mods are simple if you can find a used b652 cheap. If you want a "jack drive" it's the same gear reduction found on most miniwalkers these days and probably easily sourced. But I'd go with the walking foot sailrite if those are the only choices.

    With that said, I've got a Jap "Domestic" brand which is identical to the Stradivaro and use it mainly for the zig zag to repair sails (V92 thread). In the past I had a Pfaff 138 (non walking foot & V138) for sailcloth, sunbrella and vinyl. Later bought a Consew 206RB1 (walking foot & V138) for large boat and building awnings, etc. Also have an industrial straight stitch singer (V92) used a few times on canvas (sunbrella) mostly for backup as in no reverse. The last machine I bought was in 2002 and a Mercury M520 mini walker. Bought it because I was curious about mini walkers and they were relatively new to the portable sewing machine scene following Thompson. Same as all the others still sold with different names. $200-$300 in 2002 and $300-$400 now. I've had a couple others strictly for clothes but they are long gone.

    There is no way I'd buy a primary machine without a walking foot unless all you are doing is small lightweight cloth covers. Yes you can sew without one and "back in the day" many sail lofts used Pfaff 138s, but more lofts used Singer walkers than anything else. The walker pulls large bulky fabric through better...period, no contest and gluing or taping seams is no substitute or equalizer. In the end a small walker makes sewing more enjoyable and a better choice for boat stuff.

    I've posted on this before...My china mini walker has been sewing mostly sunbrella for about 15 yrs and has to have over 1000 yds through it (didn't count) Its completely stock and without issues using V92 thread. I also use it free standing. Never even had to re-time it as the clutch works as designed. It appears the nay-sayers didn't get the memo on how good these little machines are in stock form. I keep it clean and well lubed. FWIW it's the same machine as first version sailrites when compared to my copy of the early sailrite parts list exploded diagram. These mini walkers for the most part started breaking and needing modded parts when the monster wheel arrived on the scene. I sewed with a monster wheel and didn't like the continued momentum when the pedal was released and it restricted my speed, so no monster wheel for me. But if a monster wheel is in the future and you need someone to call for help, buying a sailrite is the best bet. Just be aware if buying used that the early sailrite machines were only cosmetic and did NOT have the later improved mods. Otherwise, save money, consider another brand and keep it simple. I would buy another in a heartbeat but go with the zig zag.

    Good luck.

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    Default Re: Sailmaker vs Sailrite LSZ-1

    Thank you.

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