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Thread: retro sail cover

  1. #1

    Default retro sail cover

    Hello,
    I'm having a new sail cover made.
    The current one has a lacing system instead of twist-lock fasteners. It was my first season with the boat and I had never seen a sail cover like this. The line runs the length of the cover and you can secure the cover by pulling on the line after looping it onto the hooks.
    At first it seemed difficult to use, but as the season went on, I decided that it makes a lot of sense. It's quick and easy and you can snug up the cover with just a tug on the line.

    So, the question:
    Has anyone had any experience with a sail cover like this?
    And, is it, in fact, better than the twist locks?
    Thanks for any insights you might have.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: retro sail cover

    On my Beetle
    \"Of all the things I\'ve lost, I miss my mind the most.\"

  3. #3
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    Default Re: retro sail cover

    Ours works like that. I think it’s from the eighties. Or older. I thought they all worked like that.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: retro sail cover

    I don't think that system is necessarily better or worse than twist locks, which are actually called "common sense fasteners", but there is certainly no reason that it can't work just fine. The strength of nearly all canvas fasteners (also including snaps, grommets, rivets, etc.) is usually much more a matter of how well (or not) the fabric that they are installed on is reinforced than it is the brute strength of the fastener itself. This is especially true for the acrylic canvas offerings like Sunbrella which are fairly stiff and have a lot of body when new, but soften up dramatically after a while, despite still performing OK. You do have to consider that with any single-line system, the strength and condition of the line will make or break the system. If it fails anywhere, it is likely to fail everywhere.

    For that type of use, I often use these plastic sewn-on hooks. The large sewn-through base spreads any strain out over a much bigger area, and with only needle-sized perforations from the stitching, rather than with a larger hole or two which most mechanical fasteners have, and which are more prone to elongating or raveling out.

    https://www.sailrite.com/Sail-Cover-Hook-Eyelet-White



    I've also built sailcovers which had one way snaps for the closures. A one-way snap has a bead of some sort of hard solder on its spring on the underside of the snap's cap piece. It prevents the snap from unsnapping unless the strain comes from a specific direction, so they aren't likely to open up on their own. All these methods will work fine and as long as the fabric below them is reinforced as needed and any fastener holes in it are hot-cut, I can't really think of anything that is particularly bad about any of them.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: retro sail cover

    I like the hook and line approach better as it's easier to get hooked up and then get a snug fit. Most of the time it worked out well if I pulled things snug as I went, making the loop of cord larger along the way.

    The twist lock fasteners are better if you have a basically loose fit and the sail cover end hem hangs more freely.

    Both work in different ways when you are securing against a gale. I think the hook and line is ultimately more storm worthy but at that point you have other things on your mind.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: retro sail cover

    I had that style for many years and liked it for its ease of use. It’s security depends on the cover being hauled taut toward the boom end. In a storm, I felt that an external lashing was warranted.
    Last edited by JimConlin; 01-28-2019 at 01:35 PM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: retro sail cover

    Like posted already a lot has to do with how it was made and how the boat is stored. That system is better served for holding sails on a boom UNDER a sail cover...which is 99% where I live. I take it that cover wasn't made by an experienced marine canvas shop? I'm just recovering from eye surgery but it appears they used common nylon clothes line and the hook rivets aren't set on anything but a single folded seam. Fine for minimal weather exposure I guess. The main problem with hooks on sail covers is they can release the line when fabric relaxes (rain and winds) and the non-stretch cord loses tension. Sure you can pull it tight but it's 2nd best to twist locks or threading cord though grommets. Bungee cord is better on open hooks...and hooks are better when mounted to solid surfaces because they often wear through fabric and pull out. There are better ways to keep sail covers secure than hook and loop. Otherwise, snug extra tight keep an eye on it.

  8. #8

    Default Re: retro sail cover

    Ok. Sounds to me like the common-sense (twist-lock) fastener is the way to go.
    Bill P, I'm quite sure you were right about it being an amateur job. When you take a close look at it, it appears to be a cheap version of Sunbrealla (Walmart canvas, maybe?) in addition to the inferior technique of setting the hooks, and the nylon line. (Appears that the surgery may not be having that much of an effect.)
    Excellent insights from all - no where but the Forum could you throw out a question like this and expect to get such great information from six sources, no less.
    Thanks!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: retro sail cover

    In concept, it works fine. In practice, one has to keep an eye out for the line chafing on the hooks. (Pulling the line taunt is essential. The less movement, the better.) If it's subjected to a lot of movement in the weather, it will eventually chafe through. I'd expect the rounded plastic hooks would be a better option than the old sharp-edged metal hooks.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: retro sail cover

    Common sense for common sense fasteners:

    As I mentioned before, the integrity of the fabric base that the fastener is anchored to is a very critical element, especially a couple of years down the road if it is a fabric which tends to soften with age and use. For most covers, the absolute minimum is two layers of cloth, and that's not all that good. My favorite fabric to hide inside hems or back up fasteners with is Dacron sailcloth. It has a very high thread count, it's thin so it won't bulk-up the seams, and it resists the fastener holes stretching out. Inside the hemmed edge or on the inside of the cover it will be protected from UV and will last virtually forever. You can buy narrow strips of it for this sort of use from places like Sailrite, sold as luff tape or Dac tape by the yard.

    Here is my fancy-schmancy setup for installing twist locks.

    CS1.jpg

    A - is the female part with its four prongs and oval backup washer.

    B - is my home made (obviously) super template for hot-cutting the four small slits for the prongs. The hole in the center is for locating a chalk mark on the cover for positioning the template.

    C - This is the standard male stud portion of the fastener, along with its special backup plate.

    D - The template for hot-cutting the prong holes

    E - A filed down soldering iron tip, made to cut the prong holes using the brass templates as a guide.

    If there is a flaw in this system, it is that the stud portion with just two brass prongs isn't very strongly attached. This brings us to a better option - replacing the stud part by using fasteners designed to attach the stud to a hard surface. There are two types of these fittings.

    CS2.jpg

    F - Has a single screw for attaching to wood and is of no use to us on a sail cover. I find that they also have questionable use period. Unless in a very out of the way place, they tend to be trip hazards, or something likely to be kicked, stepped on or otherwise broken. If possible, I'd rather use screw-on one-way snaps for those situations since they present a much lower profile.

    G - The second variety uses two countersunk screws to attach them to hard surfaces. This is the type we want, only we are going to rivet them onto our sail cover, making a very strong attachment. Two holes about 1/8" in diameter will be hot-cut through the cloth.

    H- The "rivets" we will use aren't really rivets, they are the caps from standard DOT marine quality snaps. The large heads on the back side spread the stress over a large area around the hole and also look nicely finished. This installation is much stronger than the usual two-prong male fitting.

    I - The rivets are set with a standard snap setter, consisting of the setter itself and a hollowed back up cradle which keeps the setting process of flaring the rivet's shaft with a mallet from damaging or distorting the cap part.

    A lot of old-style, real hardware stores have a batch of small grey metal boxes somewhere on their shelves which contain various odds and ends. There is often one labeled "Canvas Fasteners" which will contain some or all of the parts shown above - and usually the box hasn't been opened in 20 years. The parts can also be ordered on-line if needed.
    Last edited by Todd Bradshaw; 01-29-2019 at 08:38 PM.

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