Author Topic: Boat Lifeline Cushions DIY  (Read 4104 times)

Offline MacGyver

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Boat Lifeline Cushions DIY
« on: June 25, 2012, 06:34:32 PM »
To make the Life lines a little nicer to cross and hang on, etc, we decided to make a set of boat life line cushions since the cost to buy commercial available ones seemed ridiculous... and most that we saw were white and covered in mold/mildew look........ yuck.

We had been given some sunbrella material to try on our home sewing machine, and after some test pieces it worked out, so here is how we made them:
Sunbrella material
Sewing machine
size 18 needle
polyester UV thread for upholstery
scissors, and a seam ripper.
Pipe insulation (Lowes is where we went, 1.97 I think a 6 foot length, with split, no adhesive)
and 1/2 inch PVC pipe, see picture for details below.
Our lowes bill was like 9 dollars, and we have 4 complete cores.

This is what the end looks like

This is the core:

To start, we decided on the length, 60 inches. The material is going to be a bit longer as we will use zip ties or small dacron line in the ends to close them up, and to make the cover removable just in case the interior gets flat or something.

I began by cutting the material square so that it is easy to match up, etc. The measurements I started with was 6 inches wide, by 67 inches long.

Then layed it out and marked 2 inches in from one short end and folded the fabric over then sewed the seam leaving room for what I am thinking will be dacron 1/8 inch line. Be sure to use a back stitch as this locks the stitches in.

Then place the inner parts on top of the fabric, line up the end of the foam with the 1 inch fabric part just past the seam you just sewed.

At the other end, mark the end of the foam, and then 2 inches past. This will give you the 1 inch area to make the seam after you fold it over.

Sew that section, leaving the room for your choice of end closure.

After that is done, lay the finished side UP on the floor (the side that will show)

 and lay the foam inner (with pvc pipe inside for stiffness) on top of the piece. Wrap in the center of the assembly to achieve a seam area with the ends of the fabric matching up. Mark the spot that you feel the overlap with a erasable mark pen.

This will dictate how close you want to be which involves the tightness of the assembly to the foam core. too tight and it will not go together, and too loose and it will be floppy like.

I found that on the foot of my machine I could get about a 1/4 inch from that line and it was a nice fit, not super tight, but not floppy loose.

Sew that section. If the material gives you trouble, I found ironing a line in it to help hold it for sewing worked out using the polyester setting. By having it folded in half and ironing it, the crease held decently while sewing not allowing it to bunch up, or mess with the straightness of the assembly.
Make sure not to sew over the areas the dacron line goes thru, and be sure to back stitch the areas for strength and lock down.

I then cut off some of the remaining material to help keep the interior open for the core.


The next step is to turn it inside out, which takes a bit of time, and by messing with it some you will find out what works best for this. I folded the lower part in half, seemed to help to feed it through the upper.


After this is done, now it is time to feed the foam in, minus the pvc center. This can be done one of several ways, but I found it easiest to fold the foam like this

Get one end in and keep feeding it in, lining up the seam of fabric to the foam fold, folding the foam all the way down. I also had to "milk" the first one through its jacket as I made the jacket a bit tight..... it was either keep working at it or rip the seam out and re sew.....SUCCESS!

Slide the PVC pipe in easily, and it will unfold the foam as it goes.

The finished product is simple, took me a hour or so, and this is my first time doing this, and such a easy project!

Any questions, just ask!
Thanks!
Mac
Former Harbor Master/Boat Tech, Certified in West System, Interlux, and Harken products.
Works on ALL aspects of the sailboat, 14 years experience.
"I wanted freedom, open air and adventure. I found it on the sea."
-Alaine Gerbault.

Offline Norm

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Re: Boat Lifeline Cushions DIY
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2012, 07:22:49 PM »
What a great idea!  Thanx for the pictures.

Offline skip1930

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Re: Boat Lifeline Cushions DIY
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2012, 07:08:51 AM »
This is a great DIY project that the boss just talked about. We need more.

I'm not real hip on the hard PVC tube inside the lifeline cushion. Makes it look too straight when hung in the lifeline. Nor do I like the Pool Noodles sold at Walgreen's and K-Mart, or Wal-Mart. Though they do cushion the line.

What is important to is to slide a collar with a set screw over the line [after unscrewing the peligan hook] all the way up to the first stanchion so when the hook is undone, the lifeline remains taught and not saggy all the way up to the bow, wow, wow.

skip.


« Last Edit: June 26, 2012, 07:14:02 AM by skip1930 »

Offline Tim Gardner

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Re: Boat Lifeline Cushions DIY
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2012, 08:08:18 AM »
Skip,

A slight modification to the system might be to utilize PEX (extruded cross-linked polyethylene ie. water service ) tubing for the hard PVC.  It is flexible enough to dip appropriately AND protect the foam from being cut by the lifeline.

DANG, now I have no excuse for not sewing up a couple of these boogers.

TG
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Offline brackish

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Re: Boat Lifeline Cushions DIY
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2012, 09:08:56 AM »
This DIY section is a good idea to provide a little more detail to projects.

I also sewed up some lifeline cushions.  Method was very similar to Mac's.  I used pool noodles from the Dollar tree because they fit the PVC best without any slit in the foam. Because they were only four foot long, had to duct tape two together to get the lenth, but has held up well.  Another difference is that I sewed a pocket in each end and installed a cinch cord to draw the ends up.  You can get the little buttons from Hancock Fabrics or Joanne Fabrics.  Gives them a finished look and the sunbrella sleeve will stay on the foam core better.   The pvc will move in the foam a bit, different coefficients of expansion, so I'm considering some adhesive on the last few inches of the foam/pvc to keep that from happening.

« Last Edit: June 26, 2012, 01:23:15 PM by brackish »

Offline Salty19

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Re: Boat Lifeline Cushions DIY
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2012, 10:18:09 AM »
I don't use the PVC on the lifeline..I like that it has some give to lay ones' arm over it and to manuever it when approaching a dock.  If the foam wears through, it's like $1.50 to replace them. But I think I will look into some silicone tubing for this purpose (soft yet will keep the line from digging into the foam). Recently remade my covers to include ties like Brackish shows.  No more sliding sunbrella on the foam and it looks "custom".  And also use the collars skip mentioned.

Mac-having worked with sunbrella for a couple of years now, I highly suggest sealing the fabric ends to prevent unraveling.  I use a hot knife (600 degrees C)  to cut the fabric which also seals it. With either a careful hand or a straight edge as a guide, it leaves perfect cuts.  If you think you'll be getting into this as a trade, a hot knife is a must.  For now, you could heat up an old steel knife using a burner then seal the fabric ends with this.  Otherwise the "pinking shears" scissors will leave a cleaner cut and won't unravel as quickly as normal scissors.

Just getting done with a drifter halyard bag (for the base of mast) and working on a hatch screen.  Although my design for the hatch screen isn't so great upon test fitting, so might need to rethink this one entirely.


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Offline bob lamb

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Re: Boat Lifeline Cushions DIY
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2012, 02:07:49 PM »
Ahoy
I also made some lifeline cushions...used flexible water piping instead of pvc.  Got the idea from a Good old Boat mag.
Great idea for this type of thread,

BobL

Offline MacGyver

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Re: Boat Lifeline Cushions DIY
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2012, 07:53:51 PM »
Thanks everyone!
I got the idea from a old junk lifeline setup at work and from reading about the use of pool noodles.
My wife wasnt real happy with the bulk of pool noodles, and flat out refused to let us use the pool noodle itself no covering.... LOL

With this material, it was actually the color I wanted, we decided to do this.
The design I just did in my head as I went. In one picture you can see a finished one, that was the prototype, LOL, worked pretty good.

All around the marina I have watched over the years people use similar methods but quite crude, meaning no covering, and I have found that the pvc holds up the best against chafe from that cable.
With that said, maybe Pex will do better as well, but I had cost effectivness in mind. And never looked at pex as a option anyway.
I plan to put them on the boat this week, and I like the lifelines to be straight, so the bend wont bother me. Yes it will suck though when we take it loose like a gate...... but It isnt like I am a ticket holder at a carnival or whatnot.

As far as closing the ends I am almost thinking a zip tie as it will hold tight and be solid.
If needed I plan to chamfer the foam a little on the ends to round them off so they arent so squared off.

We will see.
I hope this worked good as far as this DIY section, And also I will edit after a little bit and add some finish pictures on the boat. And show the end closure i choose.

Mac
Former Harbor Master/Boat Tech, Certified in West System, Interlux, and Harken products.
Works on ALL aspects of the sailboat, 14 years experience.
"I wanted freedom, open air and adventure. I found it on the sea."
-Alaine Gerbault.