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Old 01-26-2017, 01:58 PM   #1
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Cockpit enclosure design questions

I have my handy dandy sailrite sewing machine.
I have completed several small projects and have built enough skills to start my rear cockpit enclosure.
I have also watched the sailrite video series on building a cockpit canvas, so I have their opinion of the best method.

I still have some questions though. Especially since there are lots of different ways to design the enclosure.

1. Thinking of the zippers between panels. Some jobs I've seen have little flaps over the zippers, others don't cover the zippers. What do you do?

2. Thinking of the zippers between the panels. Has anybody used industrial velcro instead of zippers? Are there reasons velcro might be a bad idea? The reason I ask is my current bimini has 2" velcro beteen two sections and has held up well.

3. Thinking of the panel design... Do you use trim tape, or do you hem or double hem to finish your edges.

4. Thinking about the windows... Do you prefer to build your panels around the windows, or attach your windows to the panel, possibly cutting out the window? For example how would it look if you built a panel, positioned the window, cut out the panel and finished the edge, then sewed A window to that with a piece of trim tape around the window.

Thanks!!!
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Old 01-26-2017, 02:06 PM   #2
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I had our canvas guru install covers (continue the excess material) over the panel zippers, with velcro holding the covers down. My thinking was additional strength, less stress on the zippers themselves in high winds (or maybe could be thought of as "augmentation"), keeps salt off the zippers, etc.

That paid off almost immediatetely. A surprise derecho came through, straight-line winds somewhere between 80-100 mph apparently, and our newly installed (a few days before) panels survived nicely... whereas most of the canvas in the marina was trashed. As was the 100+' oak tree in the yacht club next door...

OTOH, the design doesn't simplify re-installation, as for after cleaning, or after winter storage (we dismount the aft 5 panels during the hottest part of summer...). Remounting isn't horrible, just takes a bit extra.

We did not do that with the coil zippers for the opening "smileys." Coil zippers work much better around corners and curves; dunno why the OEM maker used big YKK zips for those, but they (the heavy YKKz) failed early and often in that role.

I think I'd be inclined to use a few more semi-rigid Markrolon "windows," with zippers on all 4 sides, in place of a few roll-ups... next time.

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Old 01-26-2017, 02:06 PM   #3
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Greetings,
Mr. ks. The only comment I would make is regarding point #2 (Velcro in lieu of zips). Zips will give you a positive connection that is always in alignment whereas Velcro can easily be misaligned and needs be pushed from both sides to effect a tight and positive seal.
Edit: Just saw Mr. r's post. The flaps covering the zips with the excess material and then fastened with Velcro is a good idea to protect the zips from salt and UV.
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Old 01-26-2017, 02:14 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by ksanders View Post
?... Has anybody used industrial velcro instead of zippers? Are there reasons velcro might be a bad idea? The reason I ask is my current bimini has 2" velcro beteen two sections and has held up well...
On our sailboat we asked our sailmaker about Velcro for the sail cover vs zippers. His comment was that the Velcro would not hold up well in the sun.

An observation about our enclosure. I don't think we could get it tightht between the 8 sections/panels using using Velcro to look good and for a proper fit. With zippers, the enclosure is tight, sometimes to the point it is a pia to put together. We remove it when we're cruising (warm weather desitinations) and during the summer time.
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Old 01-26-2017, 02:18 PM   #5
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I have Velcro zipper covers on some of my zips. I have mixed feelings about them. Yes, they do provide cover for the zippers, but they collect dirt and dust and other wind blown crap. They're a PITA to keep clean.


I'm probably going to get new windows this summer. I'll probably eliminate the Velcro unless the canvas guy can give me a good argument to keep them.
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Old 01-26-2017, 02:19 PM   #6
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The last enclosure I had made I specified Velcro on the zipper cover flaps. Some areas it worked well. Some not so much. Like GFC said it does tend to catch and hold dirt. Down south with the rain Velcro is also bad to wick water and allow it to run into places that it might not have otherwise. Everything so far that I have sewn I put flaps over the zipper to help keep out blowing rain. And with cutting the glass after the zipper is sewn the gap is tight enough to also keep out water. I also learned that it's best to use the smallest needle you can with the largest thread the needle will sew in the chosen material. This helps cut down on leaks through the needle holes.
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Old 01-26-2017, 02:42 PM   #7
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As to the flaps, our boat already had canvas and does not have flaps so when it rains that is where the water is able to get in. Wish ours had flaps just to limit the amount of rain coming in the seams.
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Old 01-26-2017, 03:41 PM   #8
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I also have a Sailrite machine but it is the 111. I would definitely have zippers between the panels, not just velcro. As to covering the zippers, that would be nice if you want to do the additional work. I use Sunbrella facing to trim around the "eisenglass". It is 2" and makes a nice easy finish to the edge. Facing is available in some colors of Sunbrella but I think that not all colors have it available. I make the panel around the eisenglass rather that cutting out the area after making the panel. I say eisenglass and I know lots of people have a problem with that but I am using it generically to refer to the clear vinyl...
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Old 01-26-2017, 08:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Comodave View Post
I also have a Sailrite machine but it is the 111. I would definitely have zippers between the panels, not just velcro. As to covering the zippers, that would be nice if you want to do the additional work. I use Sunbrella facing to trim around the "eisenglass". It is 2" and makes a nice easy finish to the edge. Facing is available in some colors of Sunbrella but I think that not all colors have it available. I make the panel around the eisenglass rather that cutting out the area after making the panel. I say eisenglass and I know lots of people have a problem with that but I am using it generically to refer to the clear vinyl...
Thanks!!!

Just so I understand fully...

Do you double hem two pieces of sunbrella and then sandwhich the issenglass between them? That way each side looks finished? Then at the outer edge do you use a piece of trim fabric to go over both?
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Old 01-26-2017, 09:12 PM   #10
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If I want a small border around the eisenglass, I just fold the facing around the edge of the eisenglass and sew it two rows of stitching. The facing is 2" and finished on both edges so when you wrap it around the edge of the eisenglass you get 1" finished Sunbrella on both sides. It is also thick enough to put snaps in. It is a bit pricey at .90 per foot but it looks good and saves a lot of time. If I want to add a piece of canvas to the edge of the eisenglass then you can do that several ways that look good by either using facing and folding the canvas in with the eisenglass or not using facing on that seam. If you haven't used facing before, you can use basting tape to hold it in place while you do the sewing. Or what I have been doing lately is fold the facing before you put it on the eisenglass and take my scissors and run them up and down the fold to help it take the fold while you are sewing. Look in Sailrite catalog for some.
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Old 01-27-2017, 10:58 AM   #11
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Thanks much, I just ordered some of the facing. It looks like it will save time in places it works out in, like the top, and the sides of a panel.
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Old 01-27-2017, 11:25 AM   #12
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Good luck with your project. I use the facing in lots of places and love it. They have a tool to make your own facing, but it looks like a lot of effort.
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Old 01-27-2017, 12:12 PM   #13
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Do you (or anyone else) have a diagram of how the pieces come together. Like a edge view showing the different layers that make up a typical panel?

Thanks!
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Old 01-27-2017, 12:43 PM   #14
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I had covers made over zippers to protect them from UV rays. I would not use Velcro for the same reason - UV will degrade it.
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Old 01-27-2017, 02:08 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ksanders View Post
I have my handy dandy sailrite sewing machine.
I have completed several small projects and have built enough skills to start my rear cockpit enclosure.
I have also watched the sailrite video series on building a cockpit canvas, so I have their opinion of the best method.

I still have some questions though. Especially since there are lots of different ways to design the enclosure.

1. Thinking of the zippers between panels. Some jobs I've seen have little flaps over the zippers, others don't cover the zippers. What do you do? I did not do flaps but when I made the panels and went to install the zippers, I laid the panels tight together and with double sided tape applied, laid the zipper down on the joint. I have very little gap if any.

2. Thinking of the zippers between the panels. Has anybody used industrial velcro instead of zippers? Are there reasons velcro might be a bad idea? The reason I ask is my current bimini has 2" velcro beteen two sections and has held up well. Velcro is good in the short term but over the long term, heavy zippers win out IMHO. Alignment, as others have pointed out is also an issue.

3. Thinking of the panel design... Do you use trim tape, or do you hem or double hem to finish your edges. I used a binding on all my panels. I would suggest 1" and not 7/8' or 3/4' as it is much more forgiving especially on multiple layers. The binding attachment for your machine will make this job much much easier. I did it the first time manually but would never go back.

4. Thinking about the windows... Do you prefer to build your panels around the windows, or attach your windows to the panel, possibly cutting out the window? For example how would it look if you built a panel, positioned the window, cut out the panel and finished the edge, then sewed A window to that with a piece of trim tape around the window. I used Strataglass and made the Strataglass the full size of the panel and then added material panels to the four sides. It makes the panels much firmer and straighter and easier to work with. It is a little for expensive but worth it IMO. Watch when added material to the lower side of the panel that you don't come too high and obstruct your view.

Thanks!!!
Good luck, have fun, I did. Here are a couple pics.
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Old 01-27-2017, 04:40 PM   #16
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Thanks to everyone who replied!!!

with all of your advice, and some conversations with the folks at Sailrite I am prepared to start my cockpit enclosure.

Here's a diagram one of the sailrite guys made for me showing how it all comes together.
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Old 01-27-2017, 11:21 PM   #17
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That is one way to do it. The problem with it is you have 4 pieces coming together along with a fold and binding. The fold will have to be kept uniform which is sometimes hard to do without basting tape, another step. The binding is way more difficult to use than facing. I tried to draw a couple of ways to do this, but my drawing is not too good. I drew a way to finish a plain vinyl edge with just facing. With this method you get 4 layers of Sunbrella to put snaps through so they hold well. I also drew 2 methods to finish the vinyl edge if you are going to have a panel of canvas next to the vinyl. One method does not hide the seam on the inside. The other method uses facing and both sides are finished. In the first method you do need to use a factory edge on the Sunbrella so it does not ravel. Unfortunately, my drawing uploaded upside down and I don't know how to fix it. Hope you can work with it anyway.
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Old 01-27-2017, 11:25 PM   #18
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I forgot to add that doing straight panels it is a help to use a guide. I use a magnetic guide which is easy to position and remove. The guide will help give you straight stitch lines.
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Old 01-28-2017, 08:53 AM   #19
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However you decide to do it, the only advice I can give is to keep it as simple as you can on your first attempt. Enclosures are very complex and hard to get right the first time... at least as a very self critical person such as myself. Luckily, the highest cost, by far, of professional canvas work is the labor, but since you are doing it yourself, you will be saving enough money that you could do it yourself 5-7 times before you even approach a professional price. So learn from your first time and apply it to the next try. Buy lots of extra material and expect a fair amount of seam ripping. (Buy a lot of seam rippers tools!)

Good luck.
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Old 01-28-2017, 10:39 AM   #20
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Kevin
Thought I'd chime in w/ my $0.02

I agree w/ comments re; durability issues of velcro - I've done some panels w/ velcro on the flaps - mostly on panels on go fast boats subject to driven rain while underway - because other panels on the owners boat had them and wanted to be consistent. I've always done velcro in addition to zips never instead... unless it is just a shade to block sun on inside of a clear window... The panel will outlast the velcro so if you use it to seal think ahead about the design - can you remove / replace the velcro w/o disassembling the panel?

Black zippers stand up better to UV than white - not what you might guess but I think it's due to the black filler used to color blocks the UV

If the panel is basically clear vinyl w/ trim - I much prefer the approaches mentioned that make the clear basically full size of the panel and add the trim & zippers to the clear

If there is a large panel w/ a smaller window in it best to make the solid sunbrella panel first and add the window at / near the end. One caution - I always sew the clear inside the Sunbrella at the outer edge of clear - then cut the sunbrella inside the stitching leaving enough material to tuck under a small hem to finish the edge and sew a second row of stitches inside the first row. If you cut the sunbrella before attaching the vinyl it's nearly impossible to maintain the shape of the panel and get stuff to align properly.

How ever you design the panels - seamstick tape really helps align parts prior to & while stitching and the finished job just looks neater than if you try to align & hold as you stitch...especially useful when installing zippers as sometimes the foot tends to move the zip around as you are stitching.
Seamstick also helps make the joint more water tight - especially helpful at the bottom of a window to minimize water getting under the trim on the bottom edge.

If you are making panels w/ basically full size vinyl and adding trim it helps to make a sketch and note the order you will be adding the trim pieces so you do it the same on all panels - e.g. will all the vertical edges go on after the top & bottom and extend the full vertical ht. - probably the best way if the zips go full top to bottom.
If you need more flexibility to the top, bottom or an edge of a panel to lay neater at attachment point (e.g. going over a railing or rub rail) you can make the trim piece w/ Sunbrella and stop the vinyl at the obstruction (rail) and have just sunbrella extend to the attachment point for that side only.

Are you planning on making patterns? I think it's well worth the time to learn & make patterns - end results better - IMHO - and it sure saves on waste - easier to arrange patterns on the material for better usage.

In any case - look at lots of other boats & note the different approaches to canvas work - see which ones you like the look of best and draw a sketch and/or take some photos.

Good luck w/ the project
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