Zipper Pull Repair [Master Thread]

mherrcat

Contributing Partner
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.
 
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Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Zipping and Cursing

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.
:esad:
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.
:nerd:
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
 

mherrcat

Contributing Partner
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.
 

Frank Langer

1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
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
 

mherrcat

Contributing Partner
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.
 

mtntosea

Junior Member
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
 

mtntosea

Junior Member
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
 

Vagabond39

Member III
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.:eek:
Good Luck
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Bringing zippers together...

Hope no one minds that I combined two zipper repair threads.
Loren
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
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.
zipper repair kit.jpg
If you see me and Mark dancing in the notions aisle, feel free to cut in. He always wants to lead.

+
 

mherrcat

Contributing Partner
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? :rolleyes:
 
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Joliba

Contributing Member
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
 

markvone

Sustaining Member
Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics - YKK Coil Zipper Pull source

My source (updated!) for near match color, new YKK #5 coil 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, color is slightly lighter beige but unnoticeable once installed. Also the zipper pull is slightly shorter.

Somebody here on the site found them before me.

Mark

Image from website:
 

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markvone

Sustaining Member
Headliner YKK #5 Coil Zipper Pull Update

Shown below in the center between two original pulls is the new YKK #5 coil zipper pull in beige from Outdoor Wilderness Fabric. The color difference is not noticeable when installed.

I've been able to slide the new pulls onto the zipper using both sides of the pull. It's relatively easy with the wider end of the pull designed to join the zipper sides and close the zipper. It takes some patience and fiddling but getting the pull on the other way, to a closed zipper on the end that starts the zipper opening can be done.

Once you've got the new pulls on, I suggest you hand sew some stops to keep the new pull from running off either end of the zipper. I sewed the two sides of the zipper together on the end of the zipper where the pull ends up after the zipper is opened. I sewed a pair of stops on each side of the zipper to the end of the zipper where the pull ends up with the zipper closed. Most of the time the headliner trim will keep the zipper pull on the zipper but if you have the trim off you may forget like I did and run a couple of pulls off the either end of the zipper.

Mark
 

Attachments

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
looks OK.JPG

Looks OK, eh? Nope, stuck. And at the wrong end of the zipper. That is, the position after zipping closed.

So, can a new YKK #5c zipper slider be fitted on the teeth so it traverses the zipper "backwards?" So you don't have to take apart the other end, and can install the new zipper where it is? Mark (see post above) managed to do it with some fiddling. I used the whole orchestra and had no success. (The reverse end of the slider isn't flared, making more challenge to initially engage the teeth.)

However: the new slider will run the other way if the flared end is used. It doesn't care if the zipper is already zipped or not. That puts the slider at the "wrong" end when closed, but otherwise, no problem .

It's important to have and inch or two of tape showing for the initial slider insertion. The tape is gently unstitched from the vinyl and sewn back together later.

tabs.JPG

Yes, I will pay even more attention in future to exercising and lubricating the sliders. Otherwise the pot metal, or whatever it is, corrodes against the coil and even minor inside corrosion means permanently stuck. But almost every slider issue can be solved, and the Nylon coil zippers are very durable. That's good, because if the zipper teeth fail there is no easy solution.

compare.JPG...fin.JPG
 

nquigley

Member III
Yeah - for all the extremely impressive design effort (and build quality) that went into my boat, I think the headliner is it's achilles heel. I guess the zippers worked fine initially, but as Christian said ... not so much now. I have two zipper runs that the PO actually welded closed with a blob of epoxy after the zipper failed in the half-open position. I'd love to have flat plastic headliner panels that clip into tracks on each side, - would provide easy access to the wiring mysteries above the headliner, but, that conversion will likely never appear even make the 3rd page of the 'to-do' list.
 

1911tex

Member III
FWIW I do occasionally work all the original zippers after lightly rubbing the edge of a bar of soap or candle (no staining or drips as does spray liquid perhaps) along the zipper trail. Many decades ago my grandma used to rub a little Ivory bar soap on my zipper jackets as a lubricant...thats where I got the idea, and it works and the soap residue lasts all season. Try it on a jacket or a jeans zipper...makes an easy slider! Funny, I just remembered she also used to rub a candle on wooden drawers so they would not bind....may try that on the boat drawers...
 

trickdhat

Member III
Blogs Author
I finally tackled this one last weekend. I spent 2 years trying on my previous boat before ripping the headliner out and 6 months with my current boat before I was finally able to successfully fix a zipper. The key, I'm embarrassed to say, was actually buying the correct sliders I'm not sure what I tried on the previous boat, but Segue came with a spare parts container with 40 - 50 sliders. All of them were the wrong size and I didn't figure it out until I nearly tried every one. Thankfully, I didnt find any hidden surprises behind the zippers this time. At least I can scratch major core repairs off the list.

I like the idea of pulling trim off to get access to the end. That would have been much cleaner. I just cut a section of the zipper out large enough to get the new slide in and used a zipper stop thing that pressed through the zipper. I used pliers to fold over the tangs on the other side.
 
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