This is what I bought, a Sailrite walking foot sewing machine. There are many companies that promote a variation of this product. I understand they all come from the same place overseas. However Sailrite substitutes several of the parts for American made parts, and the assembly and quality control is done at their factory in USA. Is it worth costing more than twice the cost? That is what I am going to talk about. Here is Sailrite’s input which is worth listening to, it is straight from the horse’s mouth.
It is almost twice the cost, but also…I am in Canada, the machine is in USA, I believe shipping was about $150 USD. The currency conversion got me 30%, and then the real shocker was the customs for importation, close to $400 Canadian!!! So just the shipping and importation alone I could have bought a similar machine online and still have spent less, even sometimes the machines are PRIME, free shipping, which is nice for a 50lb sewing machine.
I should say, you can probably do 80% of your onboard sewing with a vintage straight stitch Singer machine, I spent $40 buying one used, and adding a Chinese hand crank to it. However, I did have two headsails that need restitching. I wasn’t going to pay $250 twice to have headsails restitched when I could buy a machine, learn it, and do it myself. And a vintage Singer is not going to restitch headsails, unless you’re lucky and get your hands on an ANKER vintage sewing machine. I suppose if I restitch 6 more sails the machine will have paid for itself? Actually I did good repairs to my heavy duty winter jacker, giving it more years of life, so it is for more than just sails.
I considered hard and long about getting similar walking foot machine instead. You can see they are significantly cheaper, but they lack the assurance of quality control and aftermarket support that Sailrite offers. Barracuda even almost gave me one to do a photo shoot on my boat, but I never heard back after initial email conversation.
The one thing I don’t have lots of is money, and after that is time. It is a common argument that one can buy a cheaper machine, and since they are all similar, replace the broken parts with SailRite parts, thus saving money initially and only changing out what you need to. And I have met people that do just that, mostly without complaint. It certainly is a great way to learn your machinery well.
If you go that route, well, you can buy the excellent Sailrite manual for the machine, and then be able to tune it and do your own maintenance. Also Sailrite has many hundreds of how-to videos that are free to watch on youtube. What I’ve heard is expect about half the cost of a SailRite to buy the cheapie but you guarantee many hours of frustration and downtime waiting for parts which you had to buy to replace the cheap chinese ones that SailRite changes on their machine. So, I don’t see the advantage in the end.
Here are a few of the similar machines.
The Barracuda the most common seen alternative to Sailrite in the sailing community. They also market directly to the boating community.
REX seems very similar, here is a YouTube review.REX 607Z Portable Walking-foot / Zigzag with LED LIGHT
Consew brand is on many larger industrial machines.Consew CP206RL Portable Walking Foot Machine- (New Style)
So, after all of my own research, you already know which I chose. I don’t regret the decision, but I am always tempted to get myself a Consew or a REX just to compare side by side. Maybe OMEGA wants to send me one to do a face to face video between the two?