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  • 289. Top Tips Tuesday - Panic Over, Diary Found

    Christmas Gift Guide 2019 - Issue 1

  • 286. Top Tips Tuesday - The Key To Long Life

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    They say the secret of a long life is to avoid smoking, drink moderately, a healthy diet and exercise! Well I don't smoke, as for my alcohol consumption, two pints on a Tuesday night in which we discuss in detail why we didn't win last Sunday's cruiser race! Friday it's a G&T and maybe a glass or two of wine, Saturday would probably be the same until Jen reminds me that I've a blog to write for next Tuesday. Sadly if I don't find inspiration and start the blog by Saturday night I then hit the bottle Sunday, seems that the more I consume the easier the words flow (usually rubbish). As for my diet, Jenny is an excellent cook however my downfall is the 'just one cheese and biscuit’.

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    As for exercise, brisk walking of our dog at the moment is out of the question. I am fully mobile from my replacement hip op two winters ago, so much so that I even rejoined my childhood dinghy club last Christmas and as a present to myself bought an RS400 dinghy for some Wednesday night racing. However before I had the opportunity to waggle the tiller, after some 45 odd years of crawling round loft floors sailmaking, my knee decided enough was enough so for Christmas this year Santa is buying me a replacement. My exercise at the moment consists of cycling down to the beach each day at 6-30 in the morning where I join three other hardy folks for a dip in the North Sea, all of us shunning the benefit of wetsuits. Jenny thinks that we are all mad as hatters, however, after we have thawed out, it does set you up for the day and you do, as a bonus, get the benefit of some spectacular sunrises!

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    Anyway enough of my rambling, back to the subject matter. Colin Fletcher, these days the Scottish and Northern rep for Wessex Resins (manufacturers and distributors of West System,) called in the other day unannounced. Andy was on his 1/2 term week and seeing the boss wasn't around, Colin collared me and asked if I was still writing a weekly blog, to which I replied, 'yes'. He then dropped his car key onto the table and proceeded to tell me that as a canny Scotsman he had saved himself a truck load of money by mending his VW camper van key using a little blob of West G/Flex.  Apparently the metal part of the key had snapped off in the lock, fortunately he managed to extract the business end. Priced a new key, which was not cheap so decided to put G/flex, one of his companies products, to the test. Colin admitted that he didn't practice what he preaches, proceeded to mix a tiny quantity of the two components and joined them together with no surface preparation! A few thousand miles down the road the key is holding up, he is a happy chappie, and perhaps seeing he has saved himself a few quid the next time he calls in to see Andy at short notice, to keep him sweet, he brings with him a packet of shortbread!

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    When fitting out the Mystery we eventually used G/flex to bond the Whale grey water tank, which is manufactured from hard to bond polyethylene, to the glass-fibre bilge. We had initially tried Sikaflex 291i but whilst it stuck to the abraded GRP it didn't to the tank. By passing a flame across the surface of the waste tank and then setting the tank down onto 4 blobs of the mixed resin/catalyst mix we ended up with a tremendously strong bond. We also used, with great success, the same epoxy to glue a thin stainless plate to the wooden cover for the cooker. It means as soon as we had stopped cooking we could safely put the 'lid down' over the hot cooker surface freeing up a valuable serving surface. G/flex's ability to absorb the stress of expansion and contraction was invaluable and three years down the line no sign of the wood metal join failing. As can be seen it can be used with success to bond dissimilar materials and most importantly damp and difficult to bond woods! Incidentally if you're having a bad day, or perhaps on a diet day like me and my blog hasn't cheered you up, try watching the G/flex Epoxy Kayak challenge. If Sinbad the sailor was still around I am sure it would bring a smile even to his face!

  • 285. Top Tips Tuesday - Salt! It's bad for your health (except with your fish and chips)

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    My better half, many years ago, forbade me from applying a liberal sprinkling or ‘dusting’ of salt on my food. However there is still one exception to the rule for both of us and that’s salt on fish and chips (not that we regularly participate in this most wonderful of British dishes) As for the fish, it has to be haddock, not cod. I am told by one of our regular customers who, apart from sailing his beautiful Rustler 36 on the West Coast of Scotland, owns and runs the ‘best fish & chip shop in Sunderland’ his words not mine! Apparently line caught Haddock is far superior to net, mind you when we did get our visas approved, stamped and ventured into 'Mackem' country to sample his wares Jenny and I did agree that with that sprinkling of salt they were superb! In the village of Tynemouth where we live, just North of the river Tyne, there are two chippies, Marshalls which we used to frequent many many years ago after our Wednesday evening racing (Jimmy Hendricks allegedly bought his fish supper from there after playing a gig at the old CLUB A'GOGO in Newcastle. There is even a plaque on the wall to prove it!) The new kid on the block is the Longsands fish restaurant eat in or take out, always good but my and Jenny's grouse is that they, like a lot of other establishments, serve this dish when its a take out meal in a cardboard box, not in good old fashioned paper. This does, from my vast gastronomic experience, keep them warmer and absorbs the surplus oil. Mind you this marvellous British Institution always tastes better if beef dripping is used in the frying process but of course, like salt, apparently it's bad for you!

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    However salt is bad for your engine, your rigging, sails, sprayhood/canopies and of course clothing! If you are lifting out/winterising your inboard or outboard and you click on either of those two words you will get Andy’s wise words of wisdom on how to go about it and very importantly keep everything’ tickety boo and salt free!’ Incidentally the image below shows that even though I had run my little 2.5 Yamaha in fresh water for over 30 minutes there was still salt in the cooling channels  when I dropped the bottom end off to check the condition of the impeller. Next year I will be leaving the outboard out in Greece having checked out the bottom end this year but will make sure I run through some diluted Salt Off (I will add some to the very large plastic container I use when I flush this small engine) For larger outboards one can, of course, use muffs and they can also be used to feed the water/Salt Off mixture through my yachts sail drive using the handy reservoir which is part of the Salt Off kit, attach between your hose and the muffs.

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    As for your rigging, try and keep the lower terminal salt free as much as possible, by regularly washing down with fresh water, and if you have a spare few minutes, read online, ‘How to Keep the Stainless Steel Stainless’, The subject matter appears on page 9 in the Blue Wave wire design catalogue which you can view it by clicking here. For cleaning stainless fittings, Spotless Stainless is brilliant if your carrying it out in the summer in the UK or in warm climates. Daveyshine cleans, polishes and protects, bronze, brass, alloy, chrome and of course stainless and temperature is not an issue. We also sell this product to a few museums and stately homes! Have used both and can recommend them. Starbrite Chrome & Metal polish is another we stock, personally, I have never used it however, if it's as good as their Non Slip Deck Cleaner it will be a winner.

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    Salt deposits on sails, canvas work and foulweather gear can and do create problems. Salt crystals are abrasive, damaging stitching and can eventually break it down. If you have the need for speed do remember that spinnakers and assymetrics don’t ‘float’ so well in light airs due to the weight of the salt so regular washing in fresh water is essential. As far as sails and canvas work goes we use a dedicated sail laundry to wash and proof if a customer wants us to send them away but if you want to DIY we do have an excellent range of sailcloth/canvas cleaners and proofing agents. For foul weather gear always follow the manufacturers washing instructions and note if your breathable foulie(s) are now leaking (and they are not manufactured with Gore-Tex) nine times out of ten it will need recoating with something like Gill proofing spray. You would be surprised at the number of sprayhoods, stackpacks etc we get in for repair where the zips have ‘frozen’ solid or rotted away due to the presence of salt! If they are beyond repair we can sew in new however a little zipper lubrication never goes amiss where the article has a zip, my favourite brand is Shurhold’s Snapstick Zipper Lubricant.

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    If your power-boating or sailing is carried out on the sea when you get back to the marina it pays to wash down the decks using Starbrite non-skid deck cleaner and the top sides with Meguiar's one-step cleaner/wax on a regular basis to help maintain that shiny look and protect your investment, and of course, if laying up at this time of year don’t forget to give it a polish!

  • 240. Top Tips Tuesday - Whodunnit?

    The other month, August the 7th to be precise, I was called down to our local boatyard on the river Tyne to have a look at a furling system that a customer had an issue with, I signed in, grabbed a key fob for the security gate and entered the yard. Once in the yard some three or four hundred yards away I thought I could see a hi-tech racing yacht minus its keel sheltering under a temporary structure . Being a nosey sort of guy I decided that a closer inspection was the order of the day and lets forget about inspecting the suspect furling system for the time being. Well, as I got closer, it became apparent that this 'state of the art flying machine' had never set sail nor was ever likely to be launched, on closer inspection it quickly became apparent that it was a mock up of a hull and lying next to it were a couple of shafts and plastic propellers!

    After my initial interest faded I did the necessary inspection on the furling system(condemned it!) exited the boatyard, handed my key fob back to the office and asked the question,” What is it?” Apparently it was a prop for the TV detective Vera series and, if you are like me not a telly watcher, let me enlighten you. Vera is a British crime drama series based on novels of the same name, written by crime writer Ann Cleeves. It was first broadcast on ITV on 1 May 2011, and up till then I have missed all eight series! I have read that it stars Brenda Blethyn as the principal character, Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope. Vera is a middle-aged employee of the fictional Northumberland & City Police, who is obsessive about her work and driven by her own demons. She plods along in a constantly dishevelled state, but has a calculating mind and, despite her irascible personality, she cares deeply about her work and comrades. Bit like me I hear Jenny say!

    Since that sighting of the 'boat' I have managed to watch an episode of Vera, enjoyed spotting local landmarks in some of the more obscure locations, but as my boss Andy says and he is a great fan of the series, “some of the accents need a little bit of polish.” However not the kind you put on the topsides! As I wrote above, Andy is a great fan of Vera and if there had been a Christmas special of this program no doubt he would be (assuming his two girls are tucked up in bed) sprawled out in front of the telly with a tumbler of Jack Daniels in his hand. Speaking of Christmas my boss sends his Christmas greetings and the compliments of the year as do I and all the members of staff. Thanks for supporting us through an uncertain year and we look forward to being of service in 2019. As for Vera’s racing machine apparently we will be seeing it on our screens in 2019.

  • 238. Stocking Filler Ideas from the Top Tips Tuesday Team

    This year we have pulled together our  'Top Tips Tuesday's Top Christmas Picks' to create a series packed full of Christmas gift inspiration. Just follow the links below to see what we have on our 'Christmas List' this year...

    Top Tips Christmas Picks - 1

    Top Tips Christmas Picks - 2

    Stocking Fillers

    More Nautical Gift Ideas

     

  • 222. Top Tips Tuesday - Toilet Tips

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    Alliteration, apparently it's when the first letter of every word in the sentence is the same, according to my retired school teacher wife! However let's get back to the subject in question. Most sailors would agree that it's in or around the heads, be it a yacht or powerboat, that more often or not we end up with an issue. In our years of owning a boat and having sailed with friends on their yachts,  touch wood it's always been in the headscompartment that we have come to a 'sticky end' and not at the seacock! However if the problem is down below where the discharge pipe exits the hull, its not usually a costly lift and a couple of days lost as that excellent device the Seabung could save your wallet as no expensive lift out nor time on the water lost!

    A well known marine toilet manufacturer recommends that, after visiting the heads you should pump the waste away with the minimum of seven strokes (both up and down) per metre of discharge pipe, but having on occasions being awakened by the sound of a manual toilet pump being used in the middle of the night methinks not a lot of guys adhere to this guideline! As for me, and having in the past had to unblock the outlet on more than one occasion, the first image of the blog was taken on the pontoon at Graciosa a small island off the tip of Lanzarote, Jenny abandoned ship whilst I cursed and sweated buckets! Nowadays I usually pump through some more 'fresh' water to help prevent a build up of uric scale. However, I am also a great believer in a dose of LeeScale on a regular basis, not for me I hasten to add, but a 10%  mixture (20% if you have a large build up) flushed down the toilet to help clear build up on the inside of the outlet pipe. Incidentally, LeeScale can be left in the system overnight for maximum effect.

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    Starbrite Toilet Bowl Cleaner & Lubricant, which we keep in our heads compartment, helps remove stains and water deposits from bowls easily and quickly. It can be used with confidence in all plastic and china bowls, and as it contains no harsh chemicals it will not damage seals or valves. Starbrite Toilet Bowl Cleaner will not interfere with the action of most holding tank treatments and the product that I now use is Odourlos. It breaks down waste, is 100% organic and biodegradable and prevents unwanted odours!

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    When working on the interior of Hindsight and concentrating on the heads area, we fitted an Oceanair Brush & Stow Compact toilet brush. The Brush & Stow is wall mounted and has a lock-in lid which keeps shower water out and odours in! The brush head is the perfect size for all marine toilets and replaceable brush heads are available. From the same company we also flush mounted their DRYroll waterproof toilet roll dispenser. As its name implies, it's perfect for keeping the toilet paper dry and the clever design means that when you close the 'lid' it automatically rewinds any spare paper! The dispenser can also be surface mounted, all in all an excellent bit of kit!

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    The saying 'don't put anything down the toilet unless it's been eaten first' is a rule that should be strictly adhered to and for the crew of Hindsight that includes toilet paper! Yes you can get soluble paper but why increase the risk of a blockage and hours spent taking the plumbing apart? Been there, got the medal!

  • 202. Top Tips Tuesday - Preseason Prep - Topsides

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    WASH


    It's a well known fact that all GRP gelcoat surfaces will benefit from at least one application per year (or preferably 2) of a good quality wax such as Meguiar's Flagship Premium Waxwhich not only seals the surface from ingress of dirt but also protects against UV degradation. To get the best result and protect your investment, we recommend that you first wash the surface down to remove any surface contaminants. I always use and recommend Yachticon GRP supercleaner. If after carrying out that task, you then discover you have some minor gelcoat damage that requires attention, now is the time to tackle this.


    GELCOAT REPAIRS


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    For those annoying unsightly hairline cracks (often found round stanchion bases) MagicEzy Hairline fix is the business! It's great for stress cracks, crazing and scratches. For best results, first scrape out any dirt/wax/grime with a sharp needle/pin. In our experience, simply washing the area is not as effective. It's worthwhile also flushing the surface to be treated with acetone. Use MagicEzy 9 Second Chip Fix for ‘sorting’ nicks, chips and gouges. This excellent product is available in 11 colours (inc five shades of white).

    For larger dings that you may want to tackle, we suggest you clean the immediate area with 1200 wet/dry paper. This will remove any oxidised gelcoat still remaining, without doing this your repair will end up having a miscoloured ring round it. Getting the correct coloured gelcoat can be a pain, however we always recommend in the first instance you contact the original boatbuilder or importer of the boat whilst armed with the hull build number to see if they can supply. Once you have ascertained the correct match and prepared the surface to accept ‘catalysed’ gelcoat, apply with a soft brush leaving the material slightly proud. Carefully apply a piece of clear Sellotape or cling film over the gelcoat, this will prevent the gelcoat drying tacky. When set remove the tape and carefully sand to shape using a sanding block with 400 then 600 and finally 1200 wet/dry paper and plenty of water. Do this carefully so as not to damage or rub through the surrounding gelcoat. The repair can then be polished to a mirror finish using Farecla or a similar compound and then to seal the surface a good quality wax polish such as 3M marine ultra performance wax.


    POLISHING


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    After the wash down we recommend that you use a mild cleaner such as Meguiar's Colour Restorer which will safely remove light oxidation and most stains from the gelcoat either by hand or machine. By using a machine to do the hard work the task will be completed quicker than buffing by hand using a 100% cotton polishing cloth. If using a machine we recommend a variable speed machine like the Shurhold Dual Action polisher with either a microfibre or foam polishing bonnet. Keep the speed slow and don’t stay in one area as it is all too easy to overheat and damage gelcoat. Don’t be tempted to use an electric drill with a polishing bonnet, they are usually too high a speed and can result in burn damage to the gelcoat. If there is no power available, the OrbiPro Cordless Orbital Tool is a useful investment, particularly as you can rent it to your neighbours when they see the fabulous finish you have achieved.

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    An oxidation remover will bring life back into a hull, however, if the topsides are very chalky and dull (dark green & blue gelcoat are particularly susceptible) you can start with a coarse paper 200-300 working up to 800 or 1000 grade, or after using the more aggressive grades spread compound evenly onto the hull in areas of about a square metre so it doesn’t dry. Work with the polisher in lines. While working, don’t place your polishing mop on the ground or on the plank you are working on; one speck of grit on its surface can have disastrous results on your topsides! When applying cleaner or oxidation remover always work on a cool surface in the shade.


    BRIGHTENING AND RESTORING YOUR TOPSIDES


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    Don’t try to polish or wet/dry rub down rust or black berry bird droppings marks from your decks or hull, the stains can be deep into the gelcoat. Instead try using a stain remover based around oxalic acid such as Y10 or Davis FSR, either should bleach out the stain. After thoroughly cleaning with either the mild cleaner or the oxidation remover the surface must then be sealed using a good quality uv resistant wax, for best results apply at least 2 coats with a day between each coat to allow the wax to harden. Applying the second coat too soon will only remove the first! For GRP cabin sides and other smooth gelcoat surfaces the technique is the same, however for cleaning and removing oxidation on moulded in nonslip I always use Vistal Hard Surface Cleaner. Vistal can also be used to help bring a sparkle back to dull painted or varnished surfaces; its also great for brightening your stainless pull/pushpit, alloy stanchions other metal surfaces and of course fenders.


    TEAK DECKS


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    Teak decks can suffer badly in our damp climate growing algae and moss during the winter months and I have no doubt that boats in other locations suffer similarly. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to clean them with a pressure washer. They will certainly be clean but the pressure of the water jet will tear out the soft grain leaving them like a ploughed field. It is best to clean them with one of the proprietary teak cleaners my choice being Teak Wonder cleaner, however we all tend to have our favourites.

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    Anyway following their instructions, use Starbrite Magic Scrub and, for the awkward corners, a stainless bristled Detailing Brush or a Shurhold Scrubbing Pad and ONLY scrub across the grain. After cleaning, the decks should be given a wash with Teak Wonder brightener, this will restore their colour. When dry, spray with ‘Wet and Forget’ which will stop any moss or algae growth.


    LAST BUT NOT LEAST


    Should you have halyards, webbing lifelines and other items that are resting on the deck and have turned green over the winter months don’t despair. Don’t get the pressure washer out (destroys stitching/fabrics etc) but spray Wet and Forget on these items and leave. The 5:1 diluted solution will do all the hard work and prevent re-growth. If any covers, dodgers or spray hoods are also looking green they will also benefit from a spray of the same solution. Once the green has gone (may take a few weeks depending on the weather) wash with fresh water, allow to dry and then proof with Graingers Gold, not only will the water bead and run off instead of soaking in but it will help repel surface contamination.

  • 200th 'Top Tips' Competition - Questions and T&C's

    *** SORRY, THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED ***

    To win one of the six prizes featured in our 200th anniversary blog you must answer all of the questions correctly. Send your answers to 200anniversary@storrarmarine.co.uk

    Q1. How long is the guarantee on Bynolyt Searanger II Binoculars?

    Q2. What weight is used to keep the danbuoy upright on the Seago 3 in 1 rescue & recovery system?

    Q3. What length is the sender cable on the Topargee water tank gauge.

    Q4. Name the award given to the Boarding Ring glasses in 2013.

    Q5. There are three natural ingredients found  in Vistal, what are they?

    Q6. What is the standard dilution ratio for Wet & Forget?
    The closing date for the competition is midnight Tuesday the 27th of March 2018 (UK time)
    The  names of the entrants who get all the correct answers will be put in Andy's lucky hat and the winners will be drawn in order.
     

    1st prize - Bynolyt Searanger II Binoculars

    2nd prize - Seago 3 in 1 rescue and recovery system

    3rd prize - Topargee surface mount water tank gauge

    4th prize - 1 pair Boarding Ring Glasses

    5th prize - 2 X Vistal hard surface natural cleaner

    6th prize - 1 X 5L Wet & Forget

    PLEASE NOTE:

    Prize winners on UK mainland will not be charged shipping, however  for Highlands, Islands and abroad we reserve the right to charge carriage at cost. We would notify and need payment before shipping.

  • 61. Top Tips Tuesday - Let There Be Light - Cockpit Lighting

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    As the days get warmer and the nights shorter we sailors tend to migrate from the cabin to the cockpit after a day’s sailing. For me nothing beats the company of fellow boating enthusiasts whilst enjoying at least a couple of G&T’s and some nibbles (including Aldi’s peanuts’ at ½ the price of KP and just as good). Having said that I have, over the years, also enjoyed quiet evenings in the cockpit catching up on my reading when the temperature has been suitable and there has been sufficient light to see the page! However help is at hand as this spring we have seen a number of new products which I think will make your cockpit time more enjoyable, certainly mine. The first is an excellent  flexible LED strip, for either ‘permanent’ fixing to the sprayhood bar using say cable ties or alternatively velcro if you want to just attach when the mood takes you. For mounting under the boom or bimini use self adhesive velcro. Being LED, the current draw on your battery is minimal; there is also the option of a dimmer switch which gives you four levels of illumination.

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    Davis Instruments fully marinised LED rail lights, two sizes available which come complete with clamp or screw mounted options, are also worth considering. Both are solar powered so once again no worries about battery drain. New also on the market is a rather nifty inflatable solar lantern. Originally developed for remote communities in Africa, this technology is now available for boaters. It features either low or high settings as well as a ‘flashing’ mode! This coming Bank holiday weekend, yes ‘let there be light’ but let there also be no rain nor strong winds to allow us some evening cockpit time.

     

    Cockpit Lighting.

  • 59. Top Tips Tuesday - Pimp Your Wheel - Leather Wheel Cover Kit

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    Had a brilliant sail Sunday night and the bonus? We just made the pub before last orders! Cast off from City Marina Newcastle 6-50pm waited five minutes for the Millennium bridge to open and then motored down the Tyne past the  old Lloyds hailing station where we went head to wind, hoisted full main, bore off, unfurled genoa and settled down to a close reach to Schuuper’s home berth at the RNYC Blyth, perfect sailing conditions with 15 gusting 20, flat sea and a cloudless sky. No lobster pots were seen (makes a pleasant change) our only incident was being ‘targeted’ by some idiot shining a green laser beam over our sails off St Marys Lighthouse! I was glad that Pete’s wheel has been recovered with one of our Leather Wheel Cover Kits as in my haste to help Pete ‘escape’ the bridge I had forgotten my warm gloves!

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    If you want to 'pimp' your wheel cover, the Leather Wheel Cover Kit is supplied with all you need to complete the job:

    • Leather strip, pre-punched holes for easy sewing
    • Strong needle and waxed thread
    • Step by step instructions
    • Colour fast and resistant to mould

    Having now ‘sorted’ the wheel why not now consider covering your guard rail/pulpit/pushpit connection with leather as well? It will help eliminate chafe, stops split pins snagging clothes or hands.

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