Information on general Canvas & Vinyl fabrics & manufacturing

Submitted: Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 15:37
ThreadID: 54080 Views:27358 Replies:14 FollowUps:23
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To the members ,etc., of ExploreOz.

I have followed with interest the forum questions asked , and answers received ,by some of you for a while .The area of interest to me is Canvas (and vinyl ) products, as I have been (and still am) involved in the production of a vast range of products in the canvas field for about 40 years.

I intend to keep myself annonymous without promoting my own or denigrating any other make of product although over time some of you may wok out who I am. So be it.

It seems to me that there is very little REAL unbiased knowledge or advice available in the canvas field including the question of what quality of canvas is suitable for what purpose, different types and waterproofing, imports V local canvas etc.

I am offering free advice on any topic to do with canvas and related products, although I will stress that some of the other manufacturers may not agree with some of my answers.

I will not answer questions that reflect on the quality of a specific maker or brand.

I feel that, having seen many questions , one of the problems is that people don't know what or how to ask to get the answer to their problem .

All I will give you is my credentials:
I have worked in the industry at all levels for over 40 years,
manufactured many types of tents, camper canvasses for at least 120 different models, campbeds, blinds & awnings, caravan annexes & accessories and probably 300 other items in both single units and mass production supplying induviduals , governments, distributors and shops. And repairs to all of those items.

If there is a need for this in this forum (and EploreOz will allow it),
ask any question in this field and I will try to answer it.

Hope that this is usefull. Regards to you all.

Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Ircon - Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 16:04

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 16:04
Hi BR,

My bigest concern is how to clean/maintain the apperance of a canvanas awning that is stained by bird droppings, gum leaves, tree sap and red dust.

In my case the awning is plain grey canvas, not vynyl.

Do you have any recommendations.


AnswerID: 284739

Follow Up By: BR - Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 19:21

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 19:21
use warm (not hot) or cold water and a soft broom to scrub it with, stains may not be removed ,but anything that takes out stains also removes the waterproofing.

If you use a hard brush/broom you may scrape any treatment and wash it away with the water, in that case it may need reproofing (a different issue).

red dust (Australia's own) will work its way into the treatment eventually and should be removed asap.
FollowupID: 549543

Reply By: Moose - Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 16:04

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 16:04
G'day BR
I'm sure your contributions will be most welcome.
However this post will be lost to the next page and seen by few after the next day or so. Why don't you simply offer your experience whenever a canvas/vinyl question arises?

OK I'll start the ball rolling:
1. which commercially available product is the best for re-proofing canvas (on tents and camper trailers)?
2. what do you recommend for seam sealing canvas?
3. on my camper trailer I suspect the manufacturer has stuffed up in the design process. The camper has fold-out steps with a vinyl "flap" that gets attached to the inside once they are folded out. Unfortunately this is a source of water entry when it rains. I need to attach a skirt (a flap of canvas) to the outside above the steps so that water will flow off it and not down the "tent" body to find its way to the steps. What is the best way of attaching one bit of canvas to another given that I can't remove the tent from the trailer? I hope that makes sense.
Thanks in advance from the Moose
Incidentally - just for interest sake what state, city are you in?
AnswerID: 284740

Follow Up By: BR - Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 22:35

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 22:35
yours is a longer answer, will get to it tomorrow.
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Follow Up By: BR - Friday, Feb 01, 2008 at 10:07

Friday, Feb 01, 2008 at 10:07
There is no universal waterproofing, it depends on the original.

there are 4 types of waterproofing:
1: "Wax" based proofings, Bees-wax, Parafin wax etc. (thin-out/disolve with White Spirits)
2: Silicone water repellants (they may not waterproof)
3: PVC coatings for vinyls
4: Latex type substances.

Problem is: 2 Canvas producers in Aus use the "wax" type treatment, the 3rd one is a Latex type, All 3 are used in campers, so you need to find out what canvas is used. It is hard sometimes to tell the difference.

most imported tents/campers/other canvas products have a baked on coated plasticky type water"proofing" made to look like good proofing.

You can't use wax on latex or PVC, it just washes of.

Silicone rejects wax and may leak along the join.

PVC is only good for Vinyl.

And hardly anything sticks to polyethelene (except everything you don't want)

Incidently, Contact Glue used by many people for repairing canvas/vinyl in an emergency, is the bain of canvas repairers as most times it goes hard and is VERY difficult to remove and difficult to sew through. Better to use Silicone Glass Sealant which stays flexible and is easier to remove but mat take a while to set.

You can also use it to glue the flap on re your Q3.

Q2: The most usefull item is a Wax stick or Candle but it mainly depends on the original product.

Hope this helps.

FollowupID: 549675

Follow Up By: Moose - Friday, Feb 01, 2008 at 10:22

Friday, Feb 01, 2008 at 10:22
Thanks heaps BR. Much appreciated.
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Follow Up By: BR - Sunday, Feb 03, 2008 at 11:59

Sunday, Feb 03, 2008 at 11:59
Sometimes people have to be promted to ask, some of them think it makes them look silly, but unbiased knowledge of canvas & its uses is not readily available except from makers that just want to sell their own stuff,

The reason I will not reflect on other makers products, (although I also have bias sometimes) is that everybody (or most) people have bought "the best" in their eyes, otherwise they would not have bought it. Sometimes I have to walk a very fine line.

regards, BR.

ps, Victoria, Melbourne

FollowupID: 550109

Reply By: Des Lexic - Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 16:16

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 16:16
BR The context of your thread will be well received by members and visitors alike. Unfortunately as per the above reply, your thread will soon go off the front page.
Perhaps David could design a page where general advice can be featured where the users could simply click a couple of boxes and get the answers they need.
Maybe you could become an advertiser on here and then the users will be able to contact you for specific advice. As a visitor, no-one is able to make direct contact with you.
Good Luck and thanks for your input.
AnswerID: 284742

Follow Up By: Shaker - Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 19:09

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 19:09
I have always thought that some of the most relevant threads should be "sticky", ie: tyres, fridges, solar/batteries & now canvas care.

It may save a lot of bandwidth by stopping the same questions being asked ad nauseum.
FollowupID: 549538

Follow Up By: BR - Sunday, Feb 03, 2008 at 12:09

Sunday, Feb 03, 2008 at 12:09
Two reasons for anononimity is that, as soon as I become an advertiser I become biased, and I can now answer in my own time.

I do apprecaite your suggestion, thanks.

Other members will have to take up your thoughts with Exploroz to get this rolling.
Regards. BR
FollowupID: 550117

Reply By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 17:20

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 17:20
BR, must agree your offer will be well received. My answer to all
my canvas problems, not including tears & the like, has been a suitable silver tarp used as necessary. Not very technical but has so far saved me any hassles with seam sealing, leaking, staining,
packing up wet etc. I look forward to your resonse to particular issues, never too old to learn..cheers...oldbaz.
AnswerID: 284754

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 18:33

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 18:33
Similar to Moose above, I want to know the best way to reseal a good quality Bivouac canvas tent that is 17 years old and is starting to leak a lot in heavy rain.
AnswerID: 284778

Follow Up By: BR - Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 22:33

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 22:33
is Bivouac the canvas or the Brand of the tent? there is a Bivouac canvas made in Australia , not sure that it was made 17 years ago.
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 22:35

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 22:35
Bivouac is the canvas. Tent made by Halls Canvas Goods in SA. Just looks like most other good solid canvas.
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Follow Up By: BR - Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 22:52

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 22:52
Bivouac is an 8oz canvas made by Wax Converters (name of the company) in Sydney, They do sell their waterproofing as an aftermarket item through various outlets, contact them to find your nearest or most convenient one. It is classed as a "wax" based waterproofing. use a soft broom & bucket or roller tray to put it on and spread it as quickly as possible, the canvas does not need a lot of proofing in a small area, just enough to penetrate into the fibres.
FollowupID: 549614

Reply By: Member - Ian W (NSW) - Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 18:40

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 18:40
Alright BR!

Explain yourself!

Where have you been the last six years when I needed advice on canvassy stuff?

In all seriousness, I believe you may be a godsend to the forum in general. The fact that you do not identify your own business and decline to pan the opposition has raised you "cred" in my eyes.

AnswerID: 284780

Reply By: Izey76 - Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 19:59

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 19:59
Hi BR I have just recently purchased a new campertrailer and stupid me left a surfboard leaning against it for a day and ended up with wax impregnated into my canvas, How would I get this out of the canvas.

AnswerID: 284796

Follow Up By: BR - Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 22:28

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 22:28
all you can do is try to disolve the excess wax. But it will most likely also disolve the waterproofing of the canvas and take the colour with it, Maybe better left alone. Unfortunately the choice is a waxed area that is more waterproof or a totaly faded spot on your camper, that has very little protection as it is the colour that stops the sun from burning the canvas fibre.
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Reply By: Member - barry F (NSW) - Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 20:38

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 20:38
Hi BR, well your introduction certainly certainly opened a topic that a lot of people need answers on, and I am also one.
We have a ten year old caravan with a Colorado roll out awning. On a recent trip I noticed that there are two rows of stitching running the full width of it close to where it fits in the channel on the van. Some of the stitching has appears to have rotted and we now have the needle pin holes.
I was told to day that due to age etc it would not be possible to restitch it. New awning instead.
It doesn't appear to be about to fall apart, just lets a little water in.
Any suggestions ? Thanks in advance.
AnswerID: 284807

Follow Up By: BR - Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 22:13

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 22:13
is the fabric canvas or vinyl?
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Follow Up By: Member - barry F (NSW) - Friday, Feb 01, 2008 at 08:06

Friday, Feb 01, 2008 at 08:06
Hi BR the fabric is Vinyl. Thanks
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Follow Up By: BR - Friday, Feb 01, 2008 at 09:13

Friday, Feb 01, 2008 at 09:13
If the vinyl has stiff (hard/cracked) areas in it on the sun side it will be very hard to handle under a sewing machine without damaging or destroying it. The alternative is to get a PVC seam sealer/glue (Acetone/Ketone base) which will glue the seam(s) back together and at the same time fill up the stitching holes . Glue is made by Chemtex in Melbourne available from CanvasCraft (Mordialoc) Melbourne. Contact Chemichal Technology P/L for other & interstate distributers.
This way you don't have to remove the awning from the caravan.
Make sure the vinyl is clean, dry and free from dust before using this product.
FollowupID: 549665

Follow Up By: Member - barry F (NSW) - Friday, Feb 01, 2008 at 19:14

Friday, Feb 01, 2008 at 19:14
Thank you for your advice. It is very much appreciated & will probabley save me heaps. Best wishes.
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Reply By: Member - Ian W (NSW) - Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 21:05

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 21:05
Well BR,
You certainly opened a can of worms.

Hope you don't have anything planned in your spare time cause from these replies to your post you ain't gunna have any.
AnswerID: 284816

Follow Up By: BR - Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 22:15

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 at 22:15
Looks like it, I'll live.
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Reply By: Member - Barnesy (SA) - Friday, Feb 01, 2008 at 06:57

Friday, Feb 01, 2008 at 06:57
Thanks for the post BR. A simple one please. You mentioned the waxy protectors, do these also protect against sun damage?

Are all waxy weather protectors the same, do some have special properties that make them more effective over others? Ingredients, manufacturing processes etc? This will help me make a good purchase.

AnswerID: 284869

Follow Up By: BR - Friday, Feb 01, 2008 at 09:22

Friday, Feb 01, 2008 at 09:22
No, not all wax proofings are the same, the ones from Bradmill or Wax Converters have mildew & rot resistant addetives.

The wax (or most other prooing agents for that matter) does not protect the fabric against the UV from the sun, Only the colour in the original proofing ,or fabric dye before proofing, will do that. to check the amount of protection left, compare the colour on the inside (or unexposed area) to the faded side, if there is a lot of difference you have lost most of the protection as well as a lot of the waterproofing.
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Reply By: cackles - Saturday, Feb 02, 2008 at 10:05

Saturday, Feb 02, 2008 at 10:05
Hi BR,

I will join the chorus of members and thankyou for your open offer of expert help, we've swarmed like flies at a barbie.

do you have any advice for a cigarette burn in a campertrailer cover? I imagine a glue and vinyl patch on the outside would keep water out? or are we better off taking it to a canvas maker?

thanks in advance

AnswerID: 285077

Follow Up By: BR - Saturday, Feb 02, 2008 at 13:31

Saturday, Feb 02, 2008 at 13:31
HI, You are right, a bit of glue and a vinyl patch will do the same as any canvas repairer can do, sewing it on would still need sealing. Any acetone/ketone based glue that does not go hard will do, but if you want the right stuff, check one of the previous replies for details re CHEMTEX .
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Follow Up By: cackles - Monday, Feb 04, 2008 at 09:17

Monday, Feb 04, 2008 at 09:17
Thanks BR, your info is much appreciated.

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Reply By: fergus - Sunday, Feb 03, 2008 at 00:29

Sunday, Feb 03, 2008 at 00:29
Help our tent had an outbreak of mold.
we killed it with some mold killer but it has come back. we have left the tent to dry for a few days in the sun and as soon as it gets damp the mold comes back.
We have a canvas tent only about 12 months old.
Can it be cured or will it be there forever?
Thanks for the help

Thanks in advance..
AnswerID: 285240

Follow Up By: BR - Sunday, Feb 03, 2008 at 11:39

Sunday, Feb 03, 2008 at 11:39
Hi Fergus,

Mould grows fast under humid conditions (moisture) and can be on inside or outside of tent or both.

I will abbreviate a copy of the "Bradmill" treatment for you, although lengthy.

A bottle of White King bleach , a bucket of water and a medium stiff brush or broom.

Most tenting fabrics are NOT colourfast and the mixture should be tested first on an non important section of the tent. if it discolours , weaken the strength of the mixture. Bradmill tenting fabrics are classed as colourfast for this treatment.

Use it outdoors and if possible pitch the tent, tight.

Mixture: 1 part White King + 3 parts water , No other chemicals or cleaners.

Apply solution to fabric at a rate that penetrates the fabric.

Let it work for 15 minutes and thoroughly hose of with water until water is clear.

If the MOULD is not removed, let it dry and repeat procedure.

DO NOT TRY TO REMOVE, or concentrate treatment on, BLACK SPOTS or stains as that may damage the fabric, only kill the mould & spores. Unfortunately, you may be left with those.

Do not leave mixture on canvas for longer than 20 minutes,

It is not a reproofing agent , they can seal in spores, which may be your problem. If tent needs reproofing you have to use a similar or compatible substance to the original proofing, if possible.
Check with previous answers in feedback for more info>

Read safety instructions on White King bottle. Wear rubber gloves and avoid contact with skin & eyes. If splashed, wash with plenty of water. WATER RESTRICTION? IT CAN BE CLASSED AS A HEALTH ISSUE.
It will yellow your lawn but will grow out, otherwise use another spot. It may do worse to plants, flowers & shrubs. so choose the spot carefully.

*White King is a product of Kiwi Brands Pty.Ltd.
* "Duradux" is a reg brand of Bradmill Pty.Ltd.
(freecall 1800 33 77 41)

FollowupID: 550102

Reply By: Trevor R (QLD) - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 15:00

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 15:00
Hi BR,

This thread will go on and on and on LOL!!

I have a question regarding maintenance. I have bought a new Annexe (canvas) for my caravan and am after the best method of storage to maintain it. Many just get folded up and stored in the front boot of caravans, I imagine over the years this wouldn't be too good for it???? Do I create a "hanging" storage spot for the annexe walls in the shed somewhere out of the sun's rays? or is there a preferred method, industry insiders use?

Also how do I keep the roll out awning (vinyl type) from crazing and getting pinholes (as described in a previous response) along the top of the awning when rolled up and exposed to the elements?

As others have said, Thanks for the information and eperienced answers given so far.

Best regards,
AnswerID: 286706

Follow Up By: BR - Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 18:52

Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 18:52
Q1: Re your Q about maintenance of canvas annexe, The 2 major destroyers of canvas are: UV as in strong sunlight which you will get plenty of in Aus, but only when in use, and moisture left in canvas when packed away or aquired during storage. In my experience of repairing canvas products, several major causes are identified .

1; Product (Tent, Annexe etc) stored in a bag with a canvas bottom and then placed on a concrete floor in EG: garage, shed, Concrete usually retains a lot of moisture which willbleed and be drawn through the canvas bottom into the product and eventually create mold and rot.

2: Stored in a shed, garage (or galvanised steel box) with a tin roof, Condensation from the roof picks up chemicals created by electrolises(spelling?) which drips onto the goods and can cause a lot of damage as well as mold and rot.

3; Moisture left in canvas can start a mold cycle after as short a time as 10 days.

Most Australian canvas will withstand many years of handling without much damage unless you drag it across a hard surface and provided it is packed/folded away dry and stored in a place that is low humidity, it should not deteriorate while in storage.
Folding it won't damage good canvas, unless the product contains polyethelene fabric, such as mudflaps etc,

Most good annexe canvas will last at least 4 years of continuous exposure to the weather, so generally UV is not an issue in short term use, only in long term exposure. (Outside canvas Awnings are a good example, many of which are 25 years old or even more)

The question raised about the Vinyl roll out awning crazing, This is caused by the platicizer evaporating (leaching out of) the vinyl by the sun, and unfortunately very little can be done about it, other than put a seperate cover over it when at home. (that may be a pain to do every time). Moisture will only affect the sewing thread in this product, which will deteriorate in the sun and when rolled up wet.

Hope this is usefull to you, regards BR.

FollowupID: 552141

Follow Up By: Trevor R (QLD) - Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 19:36

Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 19:36
Thanks for your response BR.

Regards, Trevor.
FollowupID: 552156

Reply By: KiwiAngler - Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 21:03

Sunday, Feb 10, 2008 at 21:03

I have a chinese imported roof top tent which has been on the roof for 18 months now and in all conditions.

The tent itself is ok it is the VINYL COVERING that is the subject of this message

It is starting to show signs of wear and tear

Zip is starting to come away, stitching is coming apart, some holes have been worn through etc

My thought is to give it to a canvas 'expert' and get them to 'back engineer' i.e unstitch it and use it to make the template for a new (probably canvas cover)

My concern is this:

Obviously over the 18 months the original Vinyl cover has stretched and I wonder if I did " back engineer' it how would they allow for the stretch?

AnswerID: 286775

Follow Up By: BR - Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 19:13

Monday, Feb 11, 2008 at 19:13
Hi, KiwiAngler.

Wth regards to the vinyl cover, you must supply measurements to the canvas maker because:

Vinyl generally SHRINKS under extreme heat conditions, once you remove it from the roof top camper it will not have the same measurements as the original. Re zipp etc, for reasons ,see reply 13 and some others.

I suggest not to use canvas as it has to withstand all the mud and slush thrown at it while traveling and remain waterproof under all conditions.

iIn our trade, back engineering generally does not work for getting accurate measurements.

Also, If made from canvas, the maker will have to allow for shrinkage.

The best material to use for travel covers is the Tonnoeu material with a Polyester backing, very stable, does not shrink and is very high UV resistant, that is why they use it for the back of Ute's and marine covers. It also won't allow water to bleed through under all conditions.

Regards, BR
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