After many hours spent cursing at two domestic-use sewing machines while attempting to sew Sunbrella, I decided I needed a much beefier machine. Something that could sew through multiple layers of Sunbrella, canvas, leather, and vinyl. Something that would reduce my swearing while working on boat projects. Something that would not cost too many ‘Boat Bucks”. Hence, I chose the Sailrite LSZ (because if you’re going to go all out, the machine better have a zig-zag stitch.) I wanted one right away, but choose to wait to purchase it at my annual wallet-depleting event, aka Strictly Sail.I purchased the “make it loaded” package for the heavy-duty flywheel and binding attachment. I was peeved that the Sailrite peeps did not have a shiny new one for me to take him right then and there.
Two weeks later, “Santa” (the UPS man), delivered. Brian and I assembled it, while watching the very loooong, verrrry boooring video. If there is a cure for insomnia, it is the Sailrite instructional video. I awoke to find it had lulled me to sleep, and judging by Brian’s light snoring from the sofa, it had done him in, also. I don’t think I will ever make it through the educational video, thus, the owner’s manual is a blessing.
The machine is VERY heavy. I reasoned that if it did not perform as I wanted it to, it would make an excellent anchor.
The first project was to fabricate new winch covers. The machine came with a 1oz spool of thread, but I had purchased a 16oz spool so I will not run out for a while, despite how many errors I will be making. Winding the bobbin is pretty easy- just like a regular sewing machine. Same for loading it. Threading the machine is a bit tricky, as you have to follow the diagram. I placed 5 layers of Sunbrella underneath the walking foot and took it for a spin. Very impressive. The machine purred along, and sewed nice stitches. But, just like the old machine, I’m not very good at sewing straight. Perhaps, this will come with practice.
Now, for those of you who have fabricated your own winch covers, you know that sewing a circle on a cylinder is not an easy feat. Especially when you can not sew straight to begin with. Well, with the heavy-duty flywheel, you can move it manually, and better control your stitching. This is one of the coolest things ever- meaning, you can sew without power. Every cruiser should have one of these for sail repairs when underway.
My accessory kits came with the 1″ binding attachment. The only binding I have on hand is 3/4″. It fits in the binding attachment thingie, but I had problems attaching the binding to the fabric. I think I will upgrade to the 1″ binding, or buy the smaller binding attachment. It seemed to work really well when the Sailrite salesguy was showing me at Strictly Sail.
A few choice profanities still escaped my mouth, like when the bobbin was empty (larger thread gauge= reloading bobbins more often, but I wound four additional ones for quick-reloading), and the thread came off the tension knob (I found this after 5 minutes of frustrating troubleshooting.) The owner’s manual is really thorough, too, and easy to follow. The reverse also works flawlessly, along with the zig-zag stitching.
In addition to the winch covers, I also made some covers for our marine Bose cockpit speakers. Those were pretty easy, as they are pretty much Sunbrella boxes that have none of the hateful circles. The ability to sew in a straight line seemed to improve after time. This machine is much easier to control than your standard lightweight sewing machine. My future plans consist of resewing the sacrificial cover to the genny (the thread is coming loose), a new Jim Buoy cover, a new sail cover, a pedestal cover, and the big one is to make a new bimini (the zippers on ours are disintegrating.) So, it will definitely pay for itself in the long run.
Conclusion- Powerhouse of a machine, easy to use, great technical documentation, manual with beefed up flywheel is the best part! Cons- Heavy as all heck, and instructional video is REALLY long and coma-inducing.
– Cap’n Chris