Sailboat Winch Covers. I Made It at TechShop

Introduction: Sailboat Winch Covers. I Made It at TechShop

About: I am an auto safety engineer. In my spare time I like sailing and radio control airplanes and boats.

This is an instructable that will show how to make covers for sailboat winches.  These are really expensive if you have to go and buy them from a traditional canvas shop or generic ones from WestMarine.  They will easily set you back $30-$50 each.  They can be made with about $5 in materials.  It's a handy skill to learn how to make boat canvas yourself if you own a boat as the going rate for marine work usually tends to be $100/hr up. It's very easy to save money doing it yourself.  I will make these using the Industrial Straight Stitch Machine at TechShop Detroit.  These can probably be made on a home sewing machine since you never have to sew through that many layers at once.

I made it at TechShop.

Step 1: Measure Your Winches and Cut the Canvas.

The primary winches on my boat are 5.25" diameter and 7" tall.  Take the diameter and add 1.5 inches to it.  This gives us 6.75'.  I went with an even 7" diameter circle of canvas.  You use 1/2" margin on all around and you want some extra room for it to fit.  That's the reason for adding 1.5" to the actual size when cutting out the canvas.  For the sides of the winch cover.  You take 7" and find the circumference which equals 22".  Add a few inches to that so we will use 27".  We want some extra distance going around.   We need a to take the height of the winch which is 7" and add 2 inches to that. This is for 1/2" margin at the top and to fold it over twice at the bottom, 1/2" each fold.   You need a rectangle that is 25" x 9".  You need 2 pieces of 1" webbing 6" long.   When you cut the webbing, it's a good idea to use a soldering iron and melt the ends so it doesn't fray.  You will need about a foot and a half of 3/16" bungee cord.  To make it so you have a flap to put on the winch with a rope loaded on it, you will need about 4 inches of velcro to sew in.  I bought all my materials from Sailrite.  I am using Sunbrella Marine Canvas and V92 polyester thread. 

Step 2: Load the Bobbin and Thread the Sewing Machine.

For this project I am using the Juki Industrial Straight Stitch machine at TechShop, Allen Park, MI.  I tried to use the walking foot machine as it's a little easier to control, but the tension kept breaking the thread on the needle half.  I moved on to the regular foot straight stitch machine instead.   I am using a size 18, DBX1 needle for this project.

Step 3: Sew a Hem on the Bottom.

Sew a half inch hem along the bottom.  It doesn't matter which side is which in this step.  Sew a half inch hem along the long direction on one side.  

Step 4: Sew Hems Along the Sides

Sew half inch hems along the 2 short sides.  Make sure they are folded in the same direction as the bottom hem was.

Step 5: Sew the Top On.

Sew the top circle onto the body of the winch cover.  Start at one edge.  I find it easier to work with if I am feeding so that I am building the cylinder to the outside of the machine.  As you are sewing this, the seems should be down.  You want the clean side to be inside the cylinder as you are sewing so when you turn it right side out at the end, the hems are towards the inside.  This step is very tricky, especially when using a sewing machine with a clutch.  Working slow is essential and work around the circle.  Try to sew roughly 1/2" in from the edge of the circle and keep the edge of the circle along the top edge of the side.  Sew completely around the circle and stop.  You should have several extra inches of side at this point.

Cut off some of the extra side. Leave yourself an inch or so to sew another half inch hem.  You are cutting off one of the side hems when you trim it.  You want enough extra to overlap so you can velcro but not too much.  When you sew the hem, pay close attention so that it's folded so that the clean edge is inside the cylinder.

Step 6: Make Some Holders for the Bungee.

Take the webbing strips and sew a loop in each one.  This is so the bungee can go through the loop.   Sew each strip to the seam along the circle.  Sew them roughly 180 degrees apart along the circle.  

Step 7: Sew on the Velcros Strips.

Turn the cover right side out.  Work as much out of the top as you can.   Sew a piece of velcro to the 2 edges.  This allows the flap to be closed by the velcro with a rope passing through it.   Make sure you use a loop and hook side to the velcro.  It doesn't matter which side goes as long as you don't sew in 2 of the same.  

Step 8: Add the Bungee

Take the bungee and pass it through the 2 webbing loops and tie the ends together.  A sheet bend works good for the knot.  It will stay and not slip out with the bungee.   The goal of the bungee is that it will hold around the top flange of the boat winch.  This way when you put the cover on, you slip the bungee around the top of the winch drum and it will hold it from blowing away.

Step 9: That's It.

That's it.  It's finished now.  

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