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.

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here