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Redoing the upholstery in my 06 SX230

dgfreeze

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There are other threads about redoing upholstery, but most of them are more about the process of removing the seats, and reinstalling them, so I won't be touching too much on that, other than some of the hardware is really fun to get to, and thankfully I'm not (too) fat, and am still able to fit into the compartments and cubbys to reach all the bolts and nuts. Wife did get a chuckle out it when she saw how I had to basically disappear into some of the areas. I'll be talking more about what I haven't seen on here, and that's the process of actually doing the vinyl myself. I'll set the scene really quickly: we purchased this boat this past September (2019), and I'll be honest, it was a deal that fell into my lap. A friend of my brother's had it, and long story short, we got it for a really(!) good deal. The vinyl was in decent shape, but we decided that if we are going to have this thing for a long time, we would rather replace the vinyl now, so we are starting out with a boat we can be proud of. So, fast forward to when I already have the seats removed, and am preparing to actually start the vinyl replacement. Obviously, we need a sewing machine. I did a lot of research, and had it narrowed down to three machines: the Sailrite Ultrafeed, the Rex 607, and the Reliable Barracuda. I really didn't want to spend the money for the Sailrite Ultrafeed, and felt confident that the Barracuda would be quite suitable for what I was doing. Big Mistake. I got the machine, and took an old door, cut out a section just right for the machine to fit into, and made a bottom for it to sit on at just the right height to make it flush fit, like a real sewing table. Hooked it up, grabbed some strips of vinyl (I'll talk more about the vinyl in another post), and started sewing. Realized right away it was not what I would be happy with, at least not without tuning. As it pulled the fabric (walking foot sewing machine), it pulled it sideways, toward the machine. I had to feed the material in at an angle to get a "straight" stitch. It also lurched very badly when I would get it started. There was no slow, easy starts, no matter how gentle and slowly I pressed the pedal. As I would slowly press, the motor would sit and whine, getting louder and louder, until vroom, off to the races! I knew I could get a larger flywheel, so I ordered one, because there was no way I was going to be happy with it as is. As for the feeding issues, I tried and tried to tweak/tune the feet, and finally got it to where it would feed at least half decently straight. Not happy, but I can work with it. Now all this time, I was using regular thread. For the actual seats, I had decided to use PTFE thread, since it's basically immune to everything mother nature and myself would be throwing at it. Basically impervious to sunlight, and most chemicals, etc, etc. The downside is that PTFE thread doesn't work as well in sewing machines. I knew there was potential for some additional hurdles, but I was not ready for what I was about to face. Skipped stitches were common. And by common, I mean I was lucky if I got more than three stitches in a row without it skipping. There were times it would just quit stitching altogether, and just feed the material, with pretty holes where stitches were supposed to be. I read up on how to tune the hook, and what all can be done to improve the reliability of the (ironically) Reliable sewing machine, and spent hours tuning the hook, the timing, trying different size needles, etc, but every time I thought I had it working fairly well, It would randomly start skipping stitches, or balling up the thread on the needle, or have needle strikes, and break the needle..... it was a nightmare. I had in the meantime contacted Reliable, and been discussing the issues, and hoped they could help diagnose, but it always took a day or more for an answer, and I seemed to be always dealing with a different problem by the time they answered the email about the last one. Finally, I'd had enough. I requested a return on the sewing machine, and ordered the Sailrite Ultrafeed LS-1. I had tried for two weeks to get the Reliable to work, and had in that time sewn together one really crappy cover. It was bad, and I knew I wasn't going to use it, but I viewed it as practice. When the Sailrite machine came, I set it up, grabbed some material, and sewed a little bit. Perfection. Fairly decent low speed control (not super awesome, but definitely good enough to be happy with), no skipped stitches to speak of, and it fed straight. I was in heaven. Within a few hours, I had my first cover sewn together. The only thing I did was switch out the standard needle for a smaller needle like Sailrite recommends. I've been slowly working on things as I have time since the end of December, and I've got about 1/3 done now. I'm guessing most people won't take the time to read all this, but I'll post up some more things I've learned throughout the process, along with some pics, and simple how-to instructions for anyone else who's dumb enough to attempt this.

Edit: quick addition, I'm a mechanic, and very mechanically inclined, my father used to repair sewing machines, and my mother is a seamstress. They were very involved in helping me attempt to get the machine to work correctly, because I'm doing all this in their basement, since I don't have a heated workspace at my house. While we may not be expert sewing machine technicians, we are very competent with mechanical items.
 
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dgfreeze

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Here are some pics of the covers I've done. We went away from the original colors, because hey, we are Buckeye Fans!
 

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dgfreeze

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A little bit about the vinyl, I ordered the vinyl and piping from marinevinylfabric.com. I'm pretty happy with it. It might not be absolute top of the line vinyl, but for the money, it seems to be really good. I'm keeping the same designs, but changed the colors to what we liked best. Most of the other stuff, like the thread, hidem gimp, grosgrain ribbon, basting tape, stapler, stainless steel staples, etc, I got from Sailrite.
 

swatski

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Here are some pics of the covers I've done. We went away from the original colors, because hey, we are Buckeye Fans!
Amazing! Hard to believe this is your first attempt on this upholstering job!!

--
 

dgfreeze

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Amazing! Hard to believe this is your first attempt on this upholstering job!!

--
Thank you! Sailrite has tons of how-to videos, and I did the simplest ones first, to get a feel for it. I’m not saying it’s easy, by any stretch, but I’m also pleasantly surprised at how I was able to pick it up fairly quickly and turn out what I think is quality work. I’m in the middle of some of the more complicated covers now, so it’ll be fun to see how they go.
 

Plpbecks

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Awesome job! Good call investing in the right machine, you saved thousands over paying someone to do the work for you.
 

dgfreeze

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Should've gotten the right one the first time, but yes, I'll have saved a couple thousand by the time it's done, and I'll be able to make my own repairs. I'm actually a little surprised more people don't do their own upholstery. It's pretty time consuming, and you have to keep your wits about you, but it's not really all that hard.
 

Beachbummer

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I did my own on a prior boat, and the layout was so simple I just used staples and vinyl. My Yamaha is way too complex for that, but It was one of my likely options until I found Luciano who was starting out at the time and offered to do it all including removal and reinstall for $1500. He is wiser now to the market pricing and charges much more, but at the time it was a deal I could not refuse.

Maybe with your example more folks will see it as a option. (Specially if local pricing for the work seems outrageous)
 

dgfreeze

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LOL, yeah, I would've driven all the way down to Texas for a price like that! It does seem like the market is a little gluttonous in that regard, but at the same time, I am spending a lot of time on these things. An alarming amount of time is invested in patterning the old cushions. I honestly wonder if there wouldn't be a market for a company to make and sell upholstery patterns for boats and vehicles, etc. The nice thing is that most of the cushions are a mirror image of another one, so most patterns I can just flip over, and it works for the opposite side cushion. I will do a little more of an in-depth walk through of the process, but there won't be much (if anything)) that hasn't already been covered in the Sailrite videos.
 

dgfreeze

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Got a couple more cushions done. Left and right of the same design, so some pics are of left cushion, and some are of right cushion. Matchup marks are imperative, you can see on the underside of the old cover all the marks with numbers. From there, I made paper templates for each piece, and made sure to calculate for seam allowance, etc., then traced them onto the vinyl, and cut them out. I included a pic of all the cut pieces, just before I started sewing them together. There was also a fabric pull between the two pieces of foam, which adds a little bit of fun, but not too bad. It really isn’t rocket science, you just need to take your time, and think it all through.
 

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Brad_Ct

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I have always thought those machines were more expensive then that, I know you are not done yet but how much do you think you will have invested in the material needed for the job?

Our boat needs the interior done and I’m pretty good at stuff like this and would definitely give it a shot. I’m retiring in June and moving to Florida, the house we bought has a detached 3 car garage and I need to keep busy doing something while the wife is working.
 

dgfreeze

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Just the material? For the vinyl, piping, and silk film, less than $600. And I got probably double the amount of vinyl that I need. I would wager it’s more than enough to do my boat all over again. I also got stainless staples, PTFE thread, hidem gimp, basting tape, grosgrain ribbon... all said and done, probably about $750 in actual material. The PTFE thread alone is over $100 for a spool, but I’m not trying to regret anything years from now.
 

dgfreeze

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Well, I think I got the upholstery done. Got all the cushions into place, just need to bolt everything in. Acquired a few wrinkles when the cushions formed themselves to the correct curvature of the boat, hoping with some heat and sunshine, they smooth out. It's not a perfect job, there were a few things that I wish I'd have done differently, or known then what I know now, but overall, I'm pretty happy. The captain's chairs were probably the biggest challenge, but I figured it out. They're a little dirty, but once I get them bolted in, I'll clean them up. Once it warms up a little more, I'll also be installing Blacktip Elite traction mats, and a Big Air Cuda tower and their Super Shade bimini. I'm so stoked for summer it's ridiculous.


IMG_2448.JPG
IMG_2450.JPGIMG_2451.JPG
 

Looper7

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Umm holy crap that looks awesome. I'm just down the road a bit also an 06 when would yo like me to drop mine off lol. Seriously nice job.
 

dgfreeze

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Umm holy crap that looks awesome. I'm just down the road a bit also an 06 when would yo like me to drop mine off lol. Seriously nice job.
haha, I’ll give you a really good tutorial, so you can do an even better job! But seriously, I do understand why things like this cost what they do. I enjoy challenges, and learning new skills, but it was quite difficult and tedious at times. That said, just like the infamous tattoo: No Regarts! 😁
 

Jlhtec

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You have a great attention to detail. It is obvious in your French seams, and the way you aligned the material transitions to the corners.

A steamer is your friend for any of the wrinkles.

Good Job!!
 

scokill

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Here are some pics of the covers I've done. We went away from the original colors, because hey, we are Buckeye Fans!
I hope football gets played this year. OSU is getting one of local kids, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and I had the pleasure of watching every single game this kid played. I've seen several Heisman winners play HS Football in person and this kid is easily the best HS player I've ever seen. Just a little taste of what you are getting....
 

Holy Smokes

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Far & away the best DIY interior project I've ever seen. Amazing work! I can't imagine how many hours that would take, let alone (for me) the frustration level to make it all look as perfect as possible.

Any little hiccups that only you know will remain that way; no one else will ever notice.

:thumbsup:
 
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