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Thread: DIY Trampoline Mesh

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Madison Wisconsin
    Posts
    10,196

    Default DIY Trampoline Mesh

    I was getting set to build a little mesh footwell panel for one of our small catarafts and needed to make some mesh, so with all the recent proa and mini trimaran threads, I figured I'd talk about the process, as it yields nicer trampoline mesh for small to medium-sized multihulls than one can buy readymade. I've used it in the past to make the wingnets for our Farrier trimaran, as well as a new trampoline for my old ancient Hobie 14.

    The main ingredient is a heavy grade of knit Dacron mesh. I think I remember once reading that it comes from France, but here you can buy it by the yard from Sailrite, or most sailmakers could probably order you some from their suppliers.

    https://www.sailrite.com/Trampoline-Mesh-Soft-White-63

    Dacron is good as it tends to be stretch resistant as well as having better UV lifespan than some synthetics. "Soft" and "white" are not so great for tramps. They might be more prone to snagging and they're bound to get dirty and be hard to clean. To convert it into excellent trampoline fabric we're essentially going to paint it and then rinse most of the paint out. The paint is flat black oil-based enamel, like Rustoleum. The painting vehicle is a piece of rain gutter or PVC pipe about 6' long. I like the rain gutter better as you can see what you are doing better. The ends of the pipe or gutter will need plugging during the process, either with proper end caps or a couple layers of duct tape.

    We roll up the mesh into a long bundle. lay it in the gutter or pipe, dump in the whole can of paint and swish it around for a few minutes. With the pipe, you roll and tilt it. With the raingutter, you can also poke it and agitate it a bit. Next you uncap one end and pour as much of the paint back in the can as possible, giving it some time to drain. Without removing the mesh you now pour some mineral spirits or naphtha into the gutter and start rinsing the excess paint out of the fabric. You may need to pour that solvent off and repeat with more clean solvent. What you are shooting for is an even charcoal/black color without excess paint on the surface of the mesh.

    The final step is to lay the mesh out on a sheet of plywood, cardboard or any flat surface that you don't mind sacrificing for a good cause. Get it nice and flat and orderly looking and let it dry. The end result is a much stiffer, sturdier and more stable mesh with the added benefit of even better UV resistance. I usually bind all the edges with bands of black Sunbrella, Top Gun or other sturdy fabric or sometimes with webbing. The edging gives you some sort of solid layer that will hold grommets for lacing the tramp to the boat. Sewn sleeves in the webbing would also work in some cases and even after the paint bath the stuff still sews pretty easily.

    Anyway, no biggie, but I figured I'd describe the process before I get old (I'm already old) and forget it (forget what?) A couple shots showing the mesh before and after the treatment.

    mesh-2.jpg

    mesh-1.jpg

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    840

    Default Re: DIY Trampoline Mesh

    Thanks Todd, filed for future use.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Charlottesville, Virginia - USA
    Posts
    2,209

    Default Re: DIY Trampoline Mesh

    I like it - thanks for posting, Todd.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Madison Wisconsin
    Posts
    10,196

    Default Re: DIY Trampoline Mesh

    I finally finished the little footwell trampoline this afternoon. On this one I edged the mesh with strips of 1" black Dacron webbing on both the top and bottom sides. A few weeks ago I happened upon some quite decent ratchet tie-down straps at Home Depot for the ridiculously low price of around $2 each, complete with a long black 1" webbing strap. I think I bought eight of them, because you normally can't get either the buckle or the webbing alone for $2. So I pirated some excess webbing from a couple of them to edge this little trampoline. The webbing was anchored in position with 1/2" sail basting double-stick tape to keep everything aligned and then got three rows of straight stitches through the two layers of webbing and the mesh. You want a fairly short straight stitch and a lot of them since mesh is made up of holes and not all of the stitches will catch it.

    Webbing doesn't round corners very well, so everything was pieced. I used my big old Consew leather machine, because I can, but I think you could do it with most reasonably heavy duty home machines. Despite its thickness, a lot of webbing sews pretty well, and fabrics like Sunbrella, Top Gun or similar cover canvas could also be used instead of webbing.

    tramp-binding.jpg

    After piecing and sewing all the edges, all that was left to do was to pound some spur grommets into the edges - #2 at the corners, #0 along the sides..

    footwell-tramp.jpg

    We won't know how well it works until the next trip up to the lake where the boats are. This one is for a Classic Accessories "Wilderness" model solo cataraft. Normally, they just have foot pegs on either side to rest your feet on. We found that to be a bit tedious, especially if you are using the trolling motor and are twisting around on the seat to run it. I connected the pegs with a bar across the front of the frame and the mesh will fill that forward area, so you can have your feet anywhere you choose. Some folks are filling that space with plywood and a bunch of PVC pipe framing pieces as a casting platform. We wanted something lighter and simpler, pretty much just for a foot rest. If I want to cast, I'll do it from the Whaler sitting right next to it on the shore. We just use the catarafts for gunkholing and poking around. This one is my wife's boat and I even found a little Bimini top for it.

    cat2.jpg

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