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Thread: Zipper Pull Repair

  1. #1
    Principal Partner mherrcat's Avatar
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    Question Zipper Pull Repair

    I have read the threads on headliner zipper repair and have some instructions on the process. But something in the instructions is a little confusing and before I do something I can't fix I was hoping for some clarification.

    The instructions state, "go to the 'open' end of the zipper (the end where the slider would be if it was zipped open). Open about 2" of the zipper from the end..."

    It's the words "if it was zipped open" that have me confused. Am I supposed to leave the zipper "closed" and only open 2" of the end "where the slider would be if it was zipped open", or do I open the entire zipper and then put the new slider on at the end "where the slider would be if it was zipped open"?

    Seems like the latter is the logical choice, but I want to make sure.
    Mark H.
    1985 Ericson 30+

  2. #2
    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Zipping and Cursing

    Quote Originally Posted by mherrcat View Post
    I have read the threads on headliner zipper repair and have some instructions on the process. But something in the instructions is a little confusing and before I do something I can't fix I was hoping for some clarification.

    The instructions state, "go to the 'open' end of the zipper (the end where the slider would be if it was zipped open). Open about 2" of the zipper from the end..."

    It's the words "if it was zipped open" that have me confused. Am I supposed to leave the zipper "closed" and only open 2" of the end "where the slider would be if it was zipped open", or do I open the entire zipper and then put the new slider on at the end "where the slider would be if it was zipped open"?
    Seems like the latter is the logical choice, but I want to make sure.

    I am not sure how helpful I can be... but our old zipper pulls were corroded beyond use (some beyond recognition) and they came off in pieces. (Couple had to be carefully removed with side cutters.) That left the nylon coil zipper halves. The first owner had left the pulls parked about an inch back from the farthest they could go, on average. Some of the aluminum oxide from the deceased pulls remained in the fabric with the nylon and the new ones would not travel over those areas -- like a train that can not roll on a piece of bad track.

    What I had to do in several parts of the headliner was to trim back the nylon coil section an inch or two to reach the useable part. Then I had to thread on the new pulls by holding the ends together juuuuuust right...

    Some went on with a few tries and some took so many attempts that I had to buy a new dictionary of swear words because I ran out! With some spray on dry lube like "MacLube" it goes a little easier.
    Once you get each one of the little miscreants back on, use a curved sailmaker's needle and sew the zipper tracks back together right at the end to keep the blankety-blank pull from ever coming off again accidently.

    Good Luck,
    Loren
    1988 Olson 34 #8
    Sail # 28400
    Universal M25XP
    Fresh Air
    Portland, OR USA

  3. #3
    Principal Partner mherrcat's Avatar
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    Here are the complete instructions, if it helps:

    The zipper slider can be replaced by prying apart what's left of the old slider. Insert a screw driver blade in the slot on the side of the slider and gently twist the screwdriver blade to force apart the upper and lower sections enough to pull the slider off the zipper material. It will probably just break apart if it Is corroded as much as mine were.

    The slider replacement on my Islander 36 was a "YKK # 5 coil type slider". I've learned that zippers come in all shapes and sizes, but this is THE one for the Islander 36.1 would expect that Islander probably used the same zipper in most of it's boats.

    With your new slider in hand, go to the "open" end of the zipper (the end where the slider would be if it was zipped open). Open about 2" of the zipper from the end so you can cut through the zipper teeth with scissors and almost to the stitching that attaches the zipper to the headliner. (The zipper teeth can be opened by forcing a sharp object between the two sides.)

    Make the cut as close to the end as you can and still have room to insert the zipper slider over the separated sides of the zipper. Have the wide end of the slider toward the "closed" end of the zipper. Work the slider onto the two sides of the zipper. ..it may take a few tries...and then gently work/slide it away from the cut section.

    Once each side of the zipper is properly inserted in the slider, the slider will close the zipper sides behind it and you are back in business!

    To preclude running the slider off the zipper where you cut it, you can sew the two sides together with a couple hand sewn stitches.
    Mark H.
    1985 Ericson 30+

  4. #4
    1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
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    Mark, having just done this on one of the zippers on my boat, I would do the following:

    Open the zipper completely so the two sides are apart. Slide the zipper pull onto one end, just enough so it's on and won't fall off (ie. so you can see maybe 1/16" out the back of it). Then thread the other side into it (like doing up a zipper on a jacket). Once you have both sides inserted into the zipper, pull gently on the zipper pull. As soon as you can grab behind it, hold there to steady it as it is moving forward.

    A bit of lubricant will help--Mclube dry spray or silicone of some kind so the zipper slides easily.

    Then sew a stitch at the end where you started to ensure that the zipper pull doesn't fall off if you open the zipper too far.

    Good luck! It's finicky work.

    Frank

  5. #5
    Principal Partner mherrcat's Avatar
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    Thanks. That's the method that made the most sense to me. Seems simple enough.
    Mark H.
    1985 Ericson 30+

  6. #6
    Principal Partner mherrcat's Avatar
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    After finally getting around to replacing the zipper pulls in my headliner here are some final thoughts:

    The zipper pulls you can buy at fabric stores (I got some at Joanne's) don't work nearly as well as original YKK zipper pulls. I found them at Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics; link below. They have tons of them. The #5 coil type is what I needed. They have several types; regular, locking, reversing, double tab, etc. I got the "Coil Locking Slider Large Hole" type because the "regular" style only came in black, nickel or "old style" whatever that is. I wanted the beige color so went with the locking type; works perfect. (The locking mechanism is irrelevant in this application.) And they are cheap, too. I bought 20 of them and the shipping was more than the pulls.

    http://www.owfinc.com/Zippers/zippers1.asp

    Interesting site with lots of fabrics like rip-stop and ballistic nylon, Gore-Tex, even Hypalon. Very helpful on the phone, too.

    Replacing the pulls was actually pretty easy. The hardest part was contorting myself to get to the zipper ends to make the cuts. An Xacto knife with a #11 blade (the really pointy one) works well to get behind the zipper teeth and make the cuts. Spray some SailKote on the zipper when done to lubricate and work the zipper a few times.
    Mark H.
    1985 Ericson 30+

  7. #7
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    Seized zippers

    Last question..... thanks.... I am trying to get at the underside/backend of the pan in the anchor locker on a 1987 E34 and the zipper on the vinyl headliner is badly seized. Think there has been water there.. Don't want to damage it if I can avoid it as replacing it will be a chore.... Any ideas on what i might spray on it or try?

    Thanks Derek

  8. #8
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    Sorry everyone, my initial search of the site didn't come up with the links that were already here. I've read em and will see what I can do.... apologies..

    Derek

  9. #9
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    Zipper Lube.

    Try Starbrite Snap & Zipper Lubricant. PTEF
    I don't recelect if I got it at WM or Defender. It comes in a tube.
    Claims to resist corrosion, & not wash off.
    Sounds like a sun screen or a Politician.
    Good Luck

  10. #10
    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Bringing zippers together...

    Hope no one minds that I combined two zipper repair threads.
    Loren
    1988 Olson 34 #8
    Sail # 28400
    Universal M25XP
    Fresh Air
    Portland, OR USA

  11. #11
    Moderator Christian Williams's Avatar
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    A taut, closed ceiling zipper with no pull whatsoever is the subject.

    Cut the zipper one inch from an end and pull both sides apart.

    At one end, cut the threads holding the zipper tape to the headliner for one inch, then separate that inch from the vinyl so both zipper-tape sides hang down one inch.

    Mount the new zipper pull to the hanging ends using the skills learned as a five-year-old. (I was slow, didn't get my pants right until about age 25).

    Close the entire zipper with the new pull.

    Sew the zipper together at the cut end.

    If, like me, you keep forgetting that the zipper pull is probably a 5mm coil (not a toothed) type, go to Jo-Anns or other sewing chain and get this.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    If you see me and Mark dancing in the notions aisle, feel free to cut in. He always wants to lead.

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  12. #12
    Principal Partner Alan Gomes's Avatar
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    Anyone try either of these?

    http://www.fixnzip.com/

    Or how about this? http://www.asseenontv.com/instant-zi...?p=305861#tabs ("As seen on TV," no less! )

  13. #13
    Principal Partner mherrcat's Avatar
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    If you see me and Mark dancing in the notions aisle, feel free to cut in. He always wants to lead.
    Of course, the real question is, which one is Fred and which one is Ginger...

    The kit you show is the same one I bought at Joann Fabrics. I found the pulls in that kit to not work well even though they were supposedly the correct size. Your replacement method sounds similar to what I did, except I didn't separate the fabric part (tape) from the headliner; I think I just made a cut near the end of the zipper to get the new pull on, then sewed it together behind the pull after it was on.

    One thing I have been doing to try to avoid having them seize up again is lubricate them occasionally and unzip all the zippers whenever I leave the boat between visits. My theory of unzipping them is it forces you to exercise the zippers regularly and may help to provide better ventilation inside the headliner.

    Regarding the Instant Zipper link above; if the guy selling it has a British or Australian accent, it must work, right?
    Last edited by mherrcat; 12-05-2013 at 10:18 AM.
    Mark H.
    1985 Ericson 30+

  14. #14
    Contributing Member Joliba's Avatar
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    I have replaced several of the zipper pulls in the overhead liner using the ordinary replacements over the past few years. One crumbled aluminum pull located deep in a narrow hanging locker in the forward cabin could only be reached with one hand at a time. So, I sprung for one of those $10 "fixnzip" pulls. Though a bit of a challenge, today I successfully installed it one handed....And it functions perfectly. Just thought I would pass this on if others are having a similar problem.
    Mike Jacker
    1988 E38-200
    Universal 5432

  15. #15
    Principal Partner markvone's Avatar
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    Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics - YKK Coil Zipper Pull source

    My source (updated!) for exact match new zipper pulls:

    http://www.owfinc.com/hardware.html

    Under Zippers, Standard Single Tab Sliders, about halfway down

    Item # 5CLS Lg Hole, Coil Locking ST Slider Lg hole in Biege - still $0.19 each.

    Buy a couple dozen to defray the S&H (was $2.50 in 2012).

    I have installed my first two as described above. Once on, work like a charm, exact color match.

    Somebody here on the site found them before me.

    Mark

    Image from website:
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Mark & Ronnie Vinette
    E36RH #21 GLIDE
    Annapolis, MD

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