PS Advisor 12/01/98


Corroded Zipper Heads
Ive been working to restore a 1985 Ericson 32 which had been totally neglected for a number of years. It is now starting to look good. However, I have run into one problem the solution for which I have not been able to resolve.

Down below, the headliner consists of a vinyl plastic material with zippers at various locations for access to deck hardware and wiring. The zipper heads have corroded badly to the point where they cannot be moved. In some cases, they actually disintegrated when I applied some pressure to try to open them. So, Im not able to access most of the under-deck area.

Is there anyway to replace just the zipper heads without removing the entire headliner and having the zippers replaced?

Len Tiemann
Fremont, California

In the March, 1997 issue, we took a bit of space to talk about a 39-year-old Boston-born graduate of Lowell University who has become a zipper repairman of note.

He is Mike McCabe and he sent us three repair zipper repair kits (for different size ranges), which came not only with good instructions but with an interesting bit of history of the zipper, which was patented in 1893, but not much used until the 1920s, when they appeared on galoshes.

We wrote that McCabe had explained that zippers rarely fail; its almost always the slide, which he said is easy to repair or replace. He said further that its a shame that, because the zipper slide gets bent or broken, people often throw out valuable gear like sleeping bags, dodgers, duffel bags, clothing,, sail covers, etc.

At the time, we also wrote, McCabe also is working on a problem he said afflicts Hobie 33 owners. The boat has a headliner, with a 20′ zipper, that opens to permit access to the underside of the deck. McCabe said that he shortly would have a kit ready for them.

We suspect that McCabe is your man. His little company is called ZRK Enterprises. We called to check and learned that hes moved from McCall, Idaho, to Aspen, Oregon, but his telephone number is the same-800/735-4620.

Topside Paint Tests
Although its an exhaustive subject, have you ever completed a study of paints intended for a boats freeboard? Specifically, advantages and disadvantages of, say, Imron, Awlgrip, Awlcraft 2000, Jet Glow, Sterling, etc., ease of application, ease of repairability, longevity, abrasive resistance, etc.?

Ive been in contact with various paint manufacturers and boatbuilders and have gotten so many conflicting stories its made my head spin.

Neil K. Haynes
Charleston, South Carolina

In April, 1996 we published a report on topside paint. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for boat owners), the two-part paints have all lasted so long and so well that we have not updated it.

Weve painted boats with Pettit Durathane, Interlux Interthane and U.S. Paint Awlgrip. Of the three, we found working with Awlgrip the easiest, only because it seemed to require less constant thinning to keep it flowing on smoothly, which is critical. We have not tried spray painting any of them; all of our jobs have been with a roller, tipped off with a high quality bristle brush or foam brush, stroking only down so that excess runs off on the waterline masking tape. Brushing horizontally inevitably leaves sags as all of these paints are very thin.

In our experience, all of the polyurethane paints last about the same. They look great the first couple of years, then ever so slowly begin to fade. While one can leave them for years and years, nicks and abrasion usually begin to add up so that after about five years its time to repaint. Repairs of faded paint are difficult, though flattening agents are available.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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