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Posted by Kevin Simmons on Oct 8th 2020
Sewing can save an unusable harness, but the equipment and material investment is huge. Even the largest departments don’t do these repairs. Dalmatian refurbishment can rescue a harness.
Wear and Tear
Heat damage weakens a strap. Although they seem strong, heat damaged straps can break, and must be replaced.
Dalmatian’s skilled team can do amazing repairs, and the first step is identifying what can be saved. The mantra is: It’s not what you replace, it’s what you keep . Even in the roughest straps, much of the fabric can be reused. And the core OEM components cannot be changed: the pads and buckles are always OEM.
Lumbar pad from original harness
Buckles are cleaned and restored. They often require temperature stabilized industrial ultrasonic cleaning machines to remove deep carbon deposits that result when used in fires.
1) Kevlar and Nomex
Kevlar and Nomex are not normal fabrics. They are heat resistant, expensive and
tough. (Kevlar is used in most
bullet-proof vests.) They can only be
purchased in bulk. The equipment to cut and sew these fabrics is not normal.
First quality Nomex is only sold in bulk and it doesn’t come cheap. A roll of Nomex costs more than $7,000. Although most repairs do not need a large amount of Nomex, it comes by the roll.
Kevlar strap is also not cheap. A roll costs about $2,500. And packs require a wide array of sizes and patterns.
Thread for SCBA’s is specific. Kevlar is heavy, heat resistant, strong, won’t fit in a normal machine, it only comes in a full cone, and of course – it’s expensive.
Even techs at the largest departments don’t keep this stuff on hand.
2) The Equipment and the Skill
Dalmatian uses original manufacturer modified, custom upholstery sewing machines. At the core, they must be heavy duty to sew Nomex and Kevlar each day. The base machine is rated to attach material directly by sewing through plywood. Then that machine is factory redesigned to pull Kevlar. It is not just a thick thread, it is coarse and requires special pull to feed correctly. Custom designed machines are not easy to find, or inexpensive.
Each repair is completed with skill, care and attention to detail.
3) Reflective Surfaces and Snaps
Many straps have reflective surfaces that wear out. The reflector has to be laminated to the strap with a heat press.
Finally, any damaged rivets or snaps must be pressed back in place.
Hand-me-down packs from well-funded neighboring
departments have been
replaced for a reason -- aging is difficult to correct.
Sewing harnesses is labor intensive, capital intensive and requires the loving care of dedicated technicians. Proper refurbishment is capital intensive. Refurbishing harnesses is not easy. But it can be done.
Dalmatian made that investment; take advantage of it.
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