Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I can fix that for you... Brian Jansing / Matt Borden

It was a slow start to the day. The Sailrite machine was suffering a case of the blues and, as a result, so was I. Once in a while a person just gets tired of rowing against the tide. Trying to get this summer's work finished so we could get back to our cruising life was starting to to feel a bit like rowing against a very strong and persistent tide. Though we really have been making progress, it wasn't feeling that way.

With my morning coffee mostly downed, and with no good excuse not to get with the program, I called the help line at Sailrite to try and get a handle on this latest set-back. A Mr. Brian Jansing had sent us yesterday's email on possible fixes, and the young lady who answered the phone connected us right up. After a short conversation Brian suggested I had already gone further into the machine than he could follow, wrote up a report, and sent in on to the tech department with our contact information. Normally I would consider that the dead end of doom when dealing with a customer service department, the internet equivalent of “the check is in the mail.” It didn't do much to cure my blues.

However, in just a couple of minutes an email landed in the inbox from a Mr. Matt Borden. Matt has helped Deb before, and has been a big help to our friend Nancy, another seamstress who works her machine pretty hard. Matt included links to two Sailrite training videos that he felt would address our problems. One of them was spot-on in fixing the walking foot / feed problem. The other got me 90% of the way to getting the upper thread tension problem solved. A second round of emails, again answered within minutes, helped me clear that last 10%. A touch of super glue in just the right spot, reassembly, and all is now well in the Sailrite world aboard Kintala. The only disappointment is that we didn't figure this stuff out a week ago. It turns out we have been struggling with a badly misbehaving machine, one that compromised the work on the new Bimini top more than we realized. It also didn't make my learning curve any easier. None of this was Sailrite's fault.  We didn't contact them until yesterday afternoon when the machine quit working altogether.

All told, from the first conversation this morning to having the machine singing along, was less than two hours.  It is sewing big wads of canvas together with an easy shrug, all the frustrations of the last couple of days have simply melted away. 

Perfect stitches through 8 layers of fabric. Yay!
In our experience Sailrite stands as the example the rest of the Marine Industry should use as a standard. Not only for support and customer service, but as the measure of building a good piece of equipment in the first place. If sailboat manufacturers were half as good, all of us would spend and lot more time cruising and a lot less time fixing.

And that would fix my blues for well and for good.


Robert Salnick said...

I second that - Sailrite is a company that sets the standard for all the other marine companies. And most do not meet that standard.

Kudos to Sailrite!

Mike Boyd said...

Glad to hear you got your machine working and glad to hear at least one company stands behind their products and the customers who buy them.

Now, if you can only convince Deb to hold a sewing class...I'd figure out how to use our Sailrite better. I've got a dodger set to create once I get this hardtop bimini built. :-)


Unknown said...

You indicated in an earlier post that there was a broken part that would need replacing. Did this turn out to not be the problem? What was the part?

TJ said...

The broken part was the shaft connection to the core in the thread tension mechanism. Every time we tried to set the tension, instead of the spring applying tension to the compression washers, it would just pull the shaft out a little more. We fixed the broken part with a spot of super glue to fix the shaft into the core. Then, when I installed the tension mechanism back into the housing, instead of seating it all the way against the housing, I positioned it so the pin of the tension unit was the proper distance from the plate that works to release the thread tension when the walking feet are lifted.

We will order a new tension unit to have with us when we head south this year, just in case the super glue isn't up to the task long term. But for now it looks like it will get us through, at least until the Bimini project is finished.