Rather than just tell you how to fish the line through the middle of the
sleeving, I'll tell you the whole story. Even people who know how to sleeve
might pick up a tip or two (or find something to correct or argue over...)
I quite enjoy sleeving lines, I find it relaxing. I take time away from
the flying field to do it properly...
If you're like me, you buy your line un-pre-sleeved in a reel of say 300'
in order to make a pair of lines 150' long.
Find some sleeving of a suitable diameter. I use soft white polyester
line. I take care to avoid the coloured dacron which is quite abrasive.
Choose a suitable size of polyester line to suit your Spectra. The smaller
diameter braided line is hollow and immediately ready for use as sleeving.
For thicker line, you will find a twisted core which can easily be extracted.
I like my sleeving quite long, for example 1 foot. Since this is a doubled
length and there are 4 ends on a pair of lines, I start by taking an 8 foot
length of sleeving. The exact length of the sleeving doesn't matter, but
it helps to have them all exactly the same as each other. I squeeze the
braid of the sleeving along the whole length to ensure that it is all
stretched evenly, then fold the line over, holding the ends in one and pulling
with the other to find the middle. In this way, I find and cut the sleeving
in half, then each piece in half again, to make 4 identical lengths. Next,
heat each cut end *briefly* in a flame to seal them and prevent them from
fraying. Take care to ensure that they seal open, not closed...
With your collection of sleeves prepared, unwind a few feet of line from the
spool of Spectra. You can spend money on a sleeving needle at a kite store,
but it is just as effective to use a piece of piano wire. Any nearby
guitarist should be able to give you an old G-string... Make your sleeving
needle by folding the wire in half. Poke the folded end of the wire
all the way through the middle of the sleeving until a small length of
the wire emerges from the far end. Thread a length of Spectra through the
fold in the wire, then pull the wire (and thus the Spectra) back through
Having managed to get the sleeving onto the Spectra, slide it carefuly to
the end of the line (so that the end of the line and sleeve both co-incide),
hold firmly on the end and stretch out the braid of the sleeve to it's full
length. Tie an overhand knot in the loose end of the sleeved line to stop it
slipping. Now fold the sleeved length of line in half and tie and overhand
knot in the doubled length to produce a loop. I like to tie two overhand
knots next to each other, to avoid any tendancy for the line to slip through
the sleeve. I tie the knots in opposite directions so that the sleeving lays
You now have a reel of Spectra with a sleeved end. Drop the sleeved end over a
peg in the ground and walk away unreeling the Spectra. As you unreel, let the
reel spin to unreel like a fire-hose (if you hold the reel still and let the
line fall off the side, you'll be putting twists in your line).
When you reach the end of the line, sleeve this end also. Make sure that the
peg is firmly in the ground, put a handle on the newly sleeved and pull. This
takes the initial stretch out of the line. You pull on the whole length as one
to ensure that you stretch it evenly. Take the newly sleeved end and hook it
over the same peg as the first line. Now you need to find the exact middle of
the line. Pull the loop away from the peg to find the mid-point. To find
the centre precicely, I loop the line round one finger and pull the line.
If you look at the difference between the *sag* in the two halves of the line,
and turn your finger slightly to adjust, you will be able to find the mid-point
of the line with a surprising degree of precision (a 1mm or 2mm difference in
length makes a quite visible difference in sag).
Simply squeezing the fold in the line at the mid-point will make a
kink that you can use as a guide for cutting (trying to cut under
tension may lead to fraying problems). Now sleeve the two remaining ends as
When finished, some people like to mark the lines (typically using a mark to
signify the right-hand line), but I can always tell which side of the kite
the line is attatched to and so don't bother.
Simo makes a practice of always storing a piece of sleeving on his sleeving
needle, so that it is ready for immediate use for on-field repairs.
There are some who never sleeve, but since the knot weakens the line
considerably, the old engineering maxim is only re-enforced "If it don't
break, it's too heavy!"
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