Monday, January 13, 2020

Grab rails

Safety Grab Rails on the Dodger

I'm sure that every sailor that heads back to the cockpit after working forward at the Mast or Bow in any kind of Sea has their hands reaching for something to grab and stabilize themselves.

On Eximius, Safety is the top priority just above having fun, and I drool over some of the grab rails I see on other similar sized boats. Having almost finished our new Dodger, I was looking for a way to prevent anyone grabbing at the canvas or planting their hands on the new Dodger Window.

Here's what I came up with:-

#1 Horizontal grab rail between the two dodger frame tubes.

It's basically a SS tube with 316 Stainless Steel Top Cap 1" on each end. Held in place with a 4" SS Bolt and a couple of ABS spacers (1" x 1/2"diaand 1/2"x1"dia) and a nylock nut on the inside where the bolts come through the frame tubes.

There's a 3" leather reinforcement patch sewn to the outiside of the dodger canvas.

#2 Diagonal SS tube with a cap end at the top and bottom.
The bottom end is attached to a 16 Stainless Steel Angled Deck Hinge With removable pin, the hinge is screwed to the cabin top juat aft of the cabin top side wooden hand rail.

The lower end of this rail is inboard compared to the top end that is attached to the top bolt. To enable that angle, I re-drilled the hole in the top end cap at an angle. It turns out that not only allows the tube to align with the deck hinge, but it also adds to the rigidity of the Dodger frame.

This provides a sturdy grab rail that's easy to get to before the horizontal rail is within reach. And it reduces the temptation to try and grab or lean on the window or canvas.

The new dodger side windows provide less shade for our Solar Vents above the head and aft berth, so they are running more frequently.

#3 Rear support tube. This is another 1" SS tube with end caps top and bottom.

The top is attached to the aft Dodger frame using a 316 Stainless Steel Rail Mount Hinge 1" and the lower end is secured to the Coaming top with a deck hinge.

This rail is easy to grab when boarding, the lifeline gate can be seen in the picture. It's also a handy grab when leaving the cockpit.

It has a benefit of reducing the temptation to grab the Dodger side windows, a issue that affected our previous Dodger side windows.

The last thing I have to do to complete the new Dodger is replace the zippers on the front window. I had sewn them on and cut them off several times while trying to get the dodger window to lay flat (still got a bit to go) and the window zipper has stretched quite a bit. That's part of the cause of the current 'bumps' or 'Buckles' in the front window Strataglass. New zippers are due to arrive this week.

Here's the parts all available from

Stainless Steel 315 End Cap

I drilled out the hole in the end tab at an angle for the forward top attachment to the Bolts thru the Dodger frame tubes.
316 Stainless Steel Rail Mount Hinge 1"

I could have used Top Slides but didn't want to take the Dodger frame apart

These can be used Mid tube rather than being slid over the end of a tube.

316 Stainless Steel Deck Hinge With Removable Pin

These were used as the attachment points for the lower ends of the forward grab rails.I already has two of them with bolts which I used for the aft support tubes

I have SS rings and will fit them next time at the boat.

I purchased the 1" SS tubing from Sailorman in Fort Lauderdale and Boat Owners Warehouse in Deerfield Beach.

It's been too long since our last sail, there's a need for a pump out, so we're looking for a weather window and suitable tides to get the boat out. Today is a grey day, but we're keeping an eye on the weather.

See you on the water.


Friday, January 10, 2020

Servicing my Sailrite LSZ-1 Sewing Machine

LSZ-1 Sewing Machine Cleaning and Oiling

I clean the needle everytime I change the Bobbin on my machine, it always makes a difference. I had just finished the major part of making a new Dodger for Eximius and ready to start a new project. A good time to service the machine.

Step 1 is to follow the routine in the Sailrite Instruction booklet to clean any lint from the works and Oil the machine. That's the easy part and the machine runs a whole lot better just for doing that. It takes about 15 minutes all told. Not a big deal but well worth those 15 minutes.

Step 2 is to clean the Thread Route from the spool to the needle tip and anywhere that the thread passes.

I find that the #1 cause of skipped stitches for me is gunk in the 'Thread route'

Here's the Middle presser foot, removed for cleaning.
Notice how that blue gunk is on the back side and in the needle hole.

When the needle moves from it's lowest position (below the  Needle plate when the presser bar is down, the thread is loosened so that it forms a loop that is picked up by the Shuttle Gib Hook, at least that's how is supposed to work. If anything prevents the thread forming a loop, then the hook has nothing to capture and the machine skips a stitch.

The pic shows one place where the thread can 'stick'. The blue residue is a gunk mixture of Basting tape glue and lint from the blue Sunbrella that I used for the Dodger project.

I keep a right angled screw driver on hand to make it easy to manage the Needle plate screws.

Just a few bucks at Harbor Freight

Here's the Needle plate, more blue gunk!

Again, just lint and basting tape glue. The blue patch by the aft most screw hole is build up where the glue has squeezed out because the basting tape was too close to the edge of the material being sewn.

And, of course, the Needle tip!
This pic of the needle removed from the machine shows that there's more blue gunk in the needle hole and the length of the groove in the left hand side of the needle. (The pic shows the needle with the scarf cutout on the left, but the needle should be fitted to the machine with the cutout on the side nearest to the wheel. 

This is what I clean the thread route with. It does an awesome job of removing the gunk. 

I typically remove the piece to be cleaned, place it on a paper towel and spray with a small amount of Goo Gone. Leave it for a few minutes and wipe it clean with a heavy paper towel.

The gunk can be really stuck to some of the surfaces (especially those that are not polished, like the insides of holes) So I use a scriber to push the paper towel into the holes.

For the needle, I use a threader tool to push/pull gunk out of the thread hole.

Nearly clean, there's still some gunk in the thread hole. Time for more Goo Gone and use of the threader tool.

When it's finished, the needle is totally clean.

All cleaned surfaces are then wiped down with clean paper towels until there's no residue of cleaner on the surfaces.

Ain't that pretty.

It's clean on both sides too.

I only fitted a needle the wrong way around once! Won't do that again.

A permanent marker drawing on the top of the machine to remind me of the correct direction of the needle saves looking up in the Manual when it's time to change a needle

A pair of Kelly Clamps can be used to hold the needle when inserting into the Inside Presser Foot. Works great for me with my banana fingers.


I insert a Threader tool into the needle to help ensure I get the Needle rotated in the correct direction.

The Threader tool wires should be at right angles to the direction of the walking feet. ie. The needle hole should be from left to right, parallel to the Arm Body of the machine. 

With everything clean and oiled, the machine runs like new. It takes me about an hour to complete the routine service, but it's well worth it.

Here's hoping your sewing is straight.

See you on the water.