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Old 13-11-2019, 20:32   #1
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Check your PFD!

My PFD is one of the high-end ones that has had favourable reviews in magazines. I won't name and shame here because I am currently discussing this with the local consumer protection agency.

The zippered pocket on the front which I use to contain my PLB (as per the user manual) had an alloy slider. Last time I checked the PFD, this slider was corroded to the point that I could not open the zipper, even tugging very hard with pliers. The only way to open the zipper was to spread (and hence destroy) the slider jaws with a screwdriver. This happened over just a few months (since I last worked the zipper), during which time I used it for 4 or 5 day-sails. No need to describe the implications had I gone overboard with it like that.

So please check if your PFD has an alloy zipper and if so, assume worst case and don't use the pocket for any safety-related items. My PFD (which is out of warranty) was recently superseded by a new model which has - guess what - a plastic (ie non-corroding) slider.

Cheers, Graeme
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Old 13-11-2019, 21:12   #2
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Re: Check your PFD!

Every plastic zipper on every device that we have where the sliding bit is aluminum has failed as you describe. Regular use and lubrication retards this somewhat and alerts you when it is junk. My opinion is that all zippers planned for use in a marine environment should be all plastic. These are and have been available for a long time. We have gradually sewn in all plastic zippers as stuff fails. This even happens to zippers on items inside the cabin from the salt I. The air.

Thanks for the heads up and reminder. One wonders why these metal combination zippers are permitted on any safety gear. Do testing authorities even comprehend the basics?
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Old 13-11-2019, 21:40   #3
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Re: Check your PFD!

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Originally Posted by Nicholson58 View Post
This even happens to zippers on items inside the cabin from the salt I. The air.
My first encounter with such a corroded zipper was trying to get into one of those large marine first aid kits. Not a showstopper (that's what knives and ballpoint pens are for), but certainly inconvenient.
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Old 14-11-2019, 04:21   #4
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Re: Check your PFD!

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Originally Posted by Nicholson58 View Post
... My opinion is that all zippers planned for use in a marine environment should be all plastic ...
Or, perhaps, replaced with hook & loop (Velcro) closures.
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Old 14-11-2019, 16:10   #5
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Re: Check your PFD!

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Or, perhaps, replaced with hook & loop (Velcro) closures.
Yes yes yes Gord, especially for safety-related things where zero chance of failure is essential.

I will be hand-stitching a Velcro flap across the PLB pocket.
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Old 14-11-2019, 23:16   #6
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Re: Check your PFD!

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Originally Posted by requiem View Post
My first encounter with such a corroded zipper was trying to get into one of those large marine first aid kits. Not a showstopper (that's what knives and ballpoint pens are for), but certainly inconvenient.
Nice to hear you solved your problem, but please don't be miffed if I opt not to follow your example with my PFD..
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Old 15-11-2019, 02:28   #7
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Re: Check your PFD!

It is quite amazing that a manufacturer of marine equipment would not be sufficiently savvy to avoid corrosion prone materials. Yet it happens all the time. My first experience was with my dive gear bag which had a metal slider and plastic teeth. Same story as those above - it was not long until the slider was completely useless and I had to replace the zipper with all metal.

Earlier this year we replaced our dodger which also had metal/plastic zippers (I was not the owner at the time it was installed). We insisted that for the replacement dodger zippers be minimized in favour of metal twist lock devices but that for any zipper used that it be all plastic. The only downside that I can imagine is that the slider will eventually succumb to UV degradation despite fanatical use of 303 protectant.

Good luck to the OP - I hope that the manufacturer will recognize the design fault and compensate you for the deficiency.
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