How to Repair Sail Luff Tape

Eric: This video is brought to you by Sailrite.
Visit for all your project supplies, tools, and instructions. This support tape is pretty well damaged,
and we’re going to show you how to go over the top of that and put a new piece of material
in. Eric: That’s Jeff Frank, Sailrite’s sail
designer for over 24 years at Sailrite. I’ll try to keep it as small as possible.
But again, whenever you do this, you always have to be concerned about this part entering
your, whether it’s a furling sail, or entering your extrusion or your tough luff or what
have you. Whenever it comes to this, we’re adding a layer here. To begin with, it may
be really tight at this point where it starts. Then pretty much once you get it going, and
you get it in the extrusion, it’s going to hoist just like everything else. So it’ll
be fine. It’s just when you go up and down with this stuff, I always have to watch this
point and make sure whoever is feeding it, even in the pre-feeder, is up there watching
this. But, you know, it’s cheaper than replacing the whole luff tape.
The first thing we wanted to do is just take the measurement. Typically these tapes are
about 5”. I just wanted to check to see what we have here. This will be about 5”.
This measures 2 ¼”, but that doesn’t into account the two ropes. So it’ll be
about 5” so that’s what we’re going to cut.
The tape is typically around 6oz cloth. We’re going a little bit lighter here; we’re going
to go 5oz. I’m cutting this from scrap, but Sailrite does have different Dacron tapes,
and if you look at them up on our website, you’re looking for it should say Dacron
tape non-adhesive. Now we’re just going to fold this in half. This is the way I like
to do it. The other way you can do it to get it started is just to hold it the right way
and go over the edge of something. I’m going to get some seamstick on this. I am doing
a couple of rows here because I don’t want this to move.
Alright, we just used a scrap piece. I made this bigger; you don’t need to make it near
that big. What you’re looking is damage up to here, damage to here. You want to go
at least 1” on either side. This is not a rocket science thing so let’s just go
ahead and eyeball that. There’s no hemming on the tape because, obviously, that would
make it even thicker. So we never want to hem it. You want to get rid of things like
this- the fabric’s tucked under so you want to pull that out. It doesn’t really matter
here. We can trim this up a little bit which will help thin this out. But again, it’s
not the middle that’s going to be an issue. It’s always the start and stop point.
This is just a little bit long, but I can work with that. It’s easy to get started
because it’s already away. So I’m just going to remove two sides, and I’m going
to get it centered. Here, you can see that it is a little bit too long so I’m going
to just peel this up. This is the one thing about doing your own thing, it’s a little
bit of art involved. But I can get it to where I want it to fit, the way I want it to fit,
if I was off a little bit. I’m going to take this off back here because I know it’s
a little bit too long. Eric: Jeff will remove the transfer paper
from the basting tape and baste the other side of the tape to the sail. Let’s move
ahead. Now that we’ve got everything, we’re going
to stitch down. We’ve got the machine set on the widest zigzag. We tested it out so
the zigzag looks sharp. Eric: To perform these sail repairs, we’re
going to be using the Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1 Sewing Machine. This is a walking foot, portable,
heavy duty sewing machine. It is the best portable walking foot sewing machine in the
world. Highly recommended for sail repairs like this.
At the end and the beginning of the stitching, Jeff did a little bit of reversing to lock
the stitch in place. To sew next to one of those ropes, we need
to install a roping zipper foot. We’re going to use the roping zipper foot left. To do
that, we need to remove the standard foot via the screw. Here’s the standard foot. Here’s a roping
zipper foot. If you see the difference, we’re going to have just as if you cut this right
here. We’re going to get rid of this part so our rope can get closer to the foot. Underneath
there and then up; make sure it goes up all the way. Just going to tighten this down. Eric: Using the roping zipper foot left, we’ll
be able to sew right next to that hard object- in this case, a rope. We’re going to move, if you notice on the
zigzag machine, there’s a left for setting the needle over to the left, center is for
your zigzag stitch. We’re going to go all the way to the right because we want it again
as far away from this foot, but as close to rope as we can get it. Then we’ve got to
take this zigzag width all the way to zero because we want a straight stitch. Stitch
length for this should be all the way up so as high as it can go, as far as you can go
for whatever machine you have. Again to get this tight, I’m going to start
with this secondary rope here. Here you can hear it drop in, but you’ve got to be careful
not to- it doesn’t really matter because this doesn’t go into a group- but you don’t
want to just stitch right over the top of the rope. That’s not what we’re going
for. You just want to use up some of the material. Here, I’m going to hold onto the thread
so I can get this buried. Eric: After sewing a straight stitch next
to the secondary rope as close as possible, we’ll next sew next to the primary rope
as close as possible. Here we want to drive that in so being careful
not to go over. You as we can. You can see that this is pretty tight. There’s not much
of a gap there, but there is some. So that’s why you’ve got to watch that because in
the pre-feeder that might catch and tear that and then you’re back to doing this all over
again. The other thing to note, on this stitch, you can see right here, I’m not quite up
to that. In some cases down here I got a little tighter because I actually rode part of the
center foot onto the rope so I could get a little tighter. If you sewed this and you
weren’t happy with it, let’s say you were further away, just go back, put it right in
your machine again and correct that problem- sew even closer. Eric: Here’s yet another sail from the Islander
37 sailboat. This is a Genoa, and on the luff at the top at the head of the sail, the continuous
support tape for a furling system has been damaged. So we’ll use the Sailrite Edge
Hotknife, and we’ll trim right beside the secondary rope- not cutting into the secondary
rope- with the Hotknife, which helps seal the sailcloth. So this basically creates a
new end of the continuous support tape. After everything is sealed as best as possible,
we’ll take some of that Dacron tape that we used earlier and cut a strip that can go
in between the secondary rope and the primary rope. By folding this little piece of Dacron
over the top of the continuous support tape at this location, that will keep this, the
head of the continuous support tape, from getting damaged as quickly as it would without.
Using the Seamstick 3/8” Basting Tape from Sailrite, we can baste it in place so it doesn’t
move on us when we take it to the sewing machine and sew it. Using the Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1
Sewing Machine, we’ll put the machine in zigzag and we’ll sew across that strip reversing
a few times to lock the stitch in place and also keep that Dacron tape in place. That’s
all there is to repairing a continuous support tape at the head of a sail.
Here’s the materials list and tools that we used to repair this sail. You can purchase
these at Sailrite. Be sure to watch our videos showing how to inspect your sails for next
sailing season where Jeff Frank, Sailrite’s sail designer, explains how to check and repair
a set of sails for the Islander 37 sailboat. For more free videos like this, be sure to
check out the Sailrite website or subscribe to the Sailrite YouTube channel. It’s your
loyal patronage to Sailrite that makes these free videos available.
I’m Eric Grant, and from all of us here at Sailrite, thanks for watching.

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