Tyvek sail started to unglue

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by laukejas, Jun 20, 2012.

  1. laukejas
    Joined: Feb 2012
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    laukejas Senior Member


    I made two tyvek sails (gaff and genoa) for my custom built catamaran which I will sail after a month. I did everything according to these instructions. I used this two sided sticking tape (this is from my local store, no English there, sorry). I tested this sticking tape with two scraps of tyvek before making sails. I twisted it, flexed, submerged underwater, stretched - it held very very strong.
    However, as I finished my sails, and left them overnight, next morning I found many places unglued, some even fallen apart. If I press them again together - they hold very strongly, just like in my test. But for some reason, it unglues after time.
    As I made my sail, I made sure that surfaces are clean, and pressed sticking edges very hardly.

    I'm very afraid that my sail will come apart. I tried to strengthen the weak joints with additional layer of one sided sticking tape, but it won't stick to tyvek.

    What can I do? It's too late to take sail apart and use another type of sticking tape. And I can't remake it, it cost me about 70$, and about 30 hours of work (gaff sail 8.5m^2, genoa 3m^2).

    The only thing I can think of now is running over all joints with hot iron. But I'm not sure what will happen. Maybe it will make things worse.

    Please help me save my sails...
  2. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    There is a tape made for Tyvek. The supplier should have it. The one I used, made by the same manufacturer as Tyvek is red.
  3. CutOnce

    CutOnce Previous Member

    It seems apparent that what you are dealing with is failure of the chemical bond between the adhesive and the Tyvek. Not surprising because the Tyvek is intended to be non-permeable barrier coating for structures. There is not enough roughened surface features to make a mechanical bond work, so you have to help the seam joint.

    I would consider forcing the two Tyvek surfaces into contact with the two way tape in between. I'd pass the seams through a zig zag stitching sewing machine to help keep the taped joint under pressure. I've done this on a polytarp taped test sail and the seam failures stopped. The sewed seam forces the tape under enough pressure that the seam stays together.

  4. laukejas
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    laukejas Senior Member

    But in that link I provided it says that one should not sew tyvek with tape, because needle will break or get stuck in tape.
  5. CutOnce

    CutOnce Previous Member

    I broke two needles, but who cares? What is a needle worth when compared to the time and money of completely remaking the sail. Sometimes you just have to do what works, not what's written on the Internet.

    The area to watch for trouble is the bobbin mechanism under the sewing machine foot. If that gets messed up it is a trip to the sewing repair store. Take your time, stop regularly to clean up any build up of adhesives and git'er done.

    If I were to do it all over, I'd not bother with the tape and just sew it.

  6. sean9c
    Joined: Jan 2011
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    sean9c Senior Member

    Tyvek makes their own tape. I've used it on Tyvek house wrap and it sticks like mad. It's not double sided but possibly they make that also.
  7. laukejas
    Joined: Feb 2012
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    laukejas Senior Member

    Well, next time I'll know to use different tape. But now... I have to make this one work. I'll try seaming. What about hot iron? Would that help?
  8. davhill
    Joined: May 2012
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    davhill Junior Member

    Try a test with iron, but I think your answer is to sew.
  9. Zilver
    Joined: Nov 2007
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    Zilver Junior Member

    You could try spraying the needle with wd-40 or other multi-purpose spray. It will help preventing the thread hole to clog with glue from the tape you're sewing through. Spray - sew a little - spray again - etc...

    regards, Hans
  10. brehm62
    Joined: Mar 2011
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    brehm62 Junior Member

    I wouldn't do this. WD-40 leaves behind an oily film which degrades tape adhesive. If you really want to lubricate you can use a dry silicon spray or graphite.

    I considered rubbing the needle on a bar of soap because that is fairly common to lubricate things like screws but I'm concerned that it would absorb moisture.

    If you are breaking needles what size needle are you using? My sewing machine can take a size 18 (110) which is typically the maximum for a non-commercial machine. However, you might find it difficult to find this size needle locally. Most places will carry a size 16 (100) which is also pretty sturdy. See if you can find a needle for denim fabric.

    I might mention too that sewing this type of fabric is easier if you have a walking foot so that the fabric doesn't have to slide past the foot.
  11. Seafarer24
    Joined: May 2005
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    Seafarer24 Sunset Chaser

    You could lubricate the needle with wax, also. However I second the teflon-spray dry-lubricant suggestion. Hand sewing takes time but you can pre-punch the holes with an awl to make it go easier, and you won't have to buy a machine to do it.
  12. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    I operated a canvas and industrial fabric business for many years. Of course we had industrial grade machines but we also had a few household type machines that were used for some specialized light weight jobs.

    The needle becomes very hot when sewing at even a moderate speed. Industrial machines have needle coolers with compressed air and sometimes water spray. They also run the thread through a lubrication box, usually silicone, before it gets to the needle. Garmet machines run faster than 2000 stitches per minute and the needle will glow red hot if not kept cool by some means.

    A hot needle will pick up adhesives and cause skipped stitches as well as a gooey mess. A trick that will work quite nicely goes like this.....Grind the needle point into a chisel shape with the blade perpindicular to the thread direction. That makes a slit in the fabric rather than a punctured hole. This works very well on fabrics that are tough to sew. It also relieves much of the heat and is much less likely to pick up adhesive residue. Sewing coarse or sticky materials like plastics cause skipped stitches. The chisel point often fixes that problem.
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  13. CutOnce

    CutOnce Previous Member

    Every once in a while someone casts a pearl into this forum. Thank you for this. I never would have thought of this myself, but it make sense.

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