Lifejacket (PFD) Buckles

uscg life jacket buckles

Your lifejacket (PFD) has a broken buckle, wouldn’t it be nice just to replace the broken half rather than buy a whole new lifejacket? If only it was simple to find the correct buckle.

When a manufacturer wants to sell a lifejacket to the public (in the United States) they need to get it approved by the United States Coast Guard. That entails working with a testing laboratory like Underwriters Labs who will review the design and then test product samples to ensure that they meet the proper USCG specification. After passing the results are sent to the USCG who will then issue the approval. Once in production the testing lab will continue to evaluate the production, making sure that every life vest meets the requirements.

Part of this whole process is specifying the materials used. Foam, fabric, webbing, buckles and even the labels are specified and can not be changed without going through the approval process once again.

Since we are interested in the buckles, take a look at the image above. That Kent commercial lifejacket uses two different buckles on its closure straps. If both male halves (the most common part to break) were to break you would need to source two different buckles which might not have come from the same buckle manufacturer. Most of us who sell replacement buckles work with one primary manufacturer. Ours is American Cord and Webbing (ACW) and their parts are not interchangeable with buckles made by Fasnap, ITW Nexus or others. Even to get this far you need to identify the buckle manufacturer and since most “value priced” lifejackets are made overseas, so are the buckles and those buckle manufacturers do not have distribution in the United States.

If you happen to have a heavy duty sewing machine you might think about replacing both halves of the buckle with something you can easily find. Unless you use the exact buckle and sew it in the same manner and use the same thread you will void the USCG approval. The lifejacket would no longer be counted as part of your carriage requirements. Worse yet, should something go really wrong and the lifejacket needed to be used- and then failed, the vessel owner would be liable.

Enough doom and gloom….

We do carry two products made by ACW that are used on USCG approved life jackets.

    1. Type V Side Release Buckle
      Type V Side Release BuckleDesigned for use with 1″ webbing but no longer in production. We purchased the last of ACW’s inventory and as of March 2018 have a good supply.
      Order 1″ Type V Side Release Buckles 
    2. Type V Slide
      Type V Slide
      Designed for use with 1″ webbing.
      Order 1″ Type V Slides

ACW only makes these parts for 1″ webbing. If you need either, or both, of these place an order online or give us a call at (253) 627-6000 and we will get them right out to you.

Cannery gear

We were asked to make a knife sheath and adjustable belt for workers in fish canneries. They needed to be rugged, inexpensive and easy to use.

The sheath is made from our 2″ #673 webbing which is extremely stiff and in commonly used for scuba divers weight belts. A pair of rivets and a bit of sewing and you have a functional sheath.

Every sheath needs a belt and this one needed to be adjustable and easily worn over cannery aprons or waterproof rain gear.

Here we used heavyweight #560 polypropylene webbing in an 1½” width. There are a few inches of elastic webbing to keep it taught without being uncomfortable and a side release buckle to make it easy to put on and take off. Finally a slide keeps the tail end of the belt secure and makes sure it doesn’t decide to loosen on its own accord.

Like the sheath there is minimal labor in producing the belt, helping keep the cost down. Is this something to wear around town? No, but it does fulfill the need if you are working in a cannery.

More load testing

A strap was needed with 1000 pound breaking strength using 1″ polyester webbing that has a minimum breaking strength of 1000 pounds. We needed to test stitching patterns to come up with one that would provide the breaking strength needed and still be economical to sew.

Here is a test of a Double-W stitching pattern using Tex 90 polyester thread. As you can see we have exceeded the 1000 pound requirement and when the load was relaxed both the webbing and stitching looked great.

We also tried a few other stitching patterns but this one performed the best. The others would hold the load but afterwards it was obvious that they had been strained.

If your project requires something a bit out of the ordinary give us a call and let us offer some suggestions. (253) 883-5800

DIY Para Cord Camera Strap

I wanted a wrist strap for my camera and in looking around the internet I found that it would be easy to make one out of parachute cord. The only problem was the best description I could find was a video produced by a German photographer, Bo Ismono (link to his video) and I found that I was always having to start and stop it to figure out what to do. Also missing were lengths so I had to make a couple before getting it right.

My version of this strap used 12 feet of parachute cord and a 1″ split ring. I decided to forgo a carabiner to keep the assembly simpler and quietier. The cobra knot is what we will be tying.

camera-strap-1

First you need to find the center point of the para cord.

camera-strap-2

Then measure about 14″ from the center point

camera-strap-3

Like Bo, I secured the center of the cord to something I could pull on to make it easier to tighten up the knots.

The first pair of knots are the hardest. Below is the first of the pair-

camera-strap-4

Now the second of the pair-

camera-strap-5

Once you have figured out how to tie a pair of these knots you are on your way to quickly finish up the project. Below you can see how I am progressing-

camera-strap-6

Now all I need to do is cut the extra cord and melt it so it won’t unravel.

camera-strap-7

Here is a melted end-

camera-strap-8

All that needs to be done now is attach it to the camera and go take pictures!

Cam buckle straps

Cam buckle straps with heavyweight nylon webbing are just the ticket for securing luggage on your roof rack. Each summer we take a bicycling trip with a group of friends and usually our luggage carrier is overloaded. We have tried getting the group to pack less but that has had minimal success. It has been easier to pile the extra luggage on the roof and secure it with cam buckle straps.

IMG_1134Actually these are the same straps that I use when repairing chairs, heavy weight nylon webbing and metal buckles.

We sell these straps with several choices of webbing colors. They are all made to order so we can set them up to meet your needs. Just give us a call at (253) 883-5800 and we will work with you to get them just right.

If you need something stronger we have ratchet buckles although they are not as easy to adjust.

I am in favor of using more straps rather than one or two super strong models. The last thing I want to do is damage the roof rack.

Battery box tie down kits

We have designed a battery box tie down kit that will work as a replacement on Boston Whaler’s™ along with any series 24 or 27 battery box. The webbing is polyester and and all hardware is stainless steel (although we do not supply the fasteners).

The combination of the over-center buckle and polyester webbing allows you to get the strap quite tight and it won’t come loose. Polyester is the most ultra-violet resistant webbing we sell so this assembly is perfect for use in open boats where the battery box is exposed to the elements. The sewing is done using A&E’s polyester SunStop thread which has advanced UV protection and is non-wicking to provide excellent service life.

Thanks to Eldon and his team at the Sea-Dog Line for the use of a battery box. The stainless steel footman’s loops come from Sea-Dog.

We have these in stock so you can order them for same day shipment.

Locking spa (hot tub) cover buckles

spa-buckle-1

Do the straps on your spa cover look like this? If so we have the solution. American Cord and Webbing’s SPA buckle is a great replacement for any old, broken spa cover buckles.

The SPA buckle is a locking, side release buckle designed for use with 1″ webbing (or other materials as shown). It is made from Acetal plastic to provide exceptional service life.

spa-buckle-2

The female portion of the buckle is attached to the covering sides of your hot tub (or the deck) using two screws.

If your state or municipality requires spa covers that lock to protect youngsters, ACW’s SPA buckle is the answer.

Side Release Buckle Straps- the cat’s meow

  
We have a problem. Our neighbors are remodeling and the fence had to go. Unfortunately that fence provided access to a tree, and then on to the cat door. We tried leaning a piece of latticework against the tree to take the place of the fence. It lasted a night and then blew over. 

When I got home today I was “informed” by the cat that his temporary route wasn’t working and I had better fix it right away. So now the section of latticework is held in place by a side release buckle strap. Quick to install and when we need to move the latticework, quick to disconnect. 

Chance, our cat is once again able to roam freely and I didn’t have to endure him gnawing on my leg.  On top of that the strap blends in so you don’t notice it. 

Life raft container lashings

We can make life raft container lashings (tie downs) to meet your specific needs. Since our parent company, Westpac Marine, sells and services life rafts, container lashings are something we deal with every day.

2″ polyester webbing is the most common material we use however we also have urethane coated polyester webbing in stock just in case you need something that has a bit more grip.

Hardware is always stainless steel and we have shackles, D-rings, triangle rings, pelican hooks and snap shackles in stock meeting 90% of our sales. If you are looking for a real heavy duty product like the one shown above we might have a couple of day lead time to get the necessary components.

There is really no such thing as a standard lashing. Each is a bit different so everything we offer is custom although since we manufacture these in house, the lead time is usually one one day.

Give us a call at (253) 627-6000 and we will quickly fill your lashing needs.

Sail Ties

Straps to Go produces sail ties from both polypropylene and polyester webbing. The standard webbing width is 1″ although we can make them whatever width you want.

Construction

I am a bit “old school” and like to keep my sail ties simple. Just a length of webbing with a loop sewn in one end works for me. A bit better is to have the webbing in the loop twisted so that the eye stays open when you are trying to thread the other end through.

sail tie flat view

On the left you have a sail tie with a twisted loop, on the right (the black strap) the loop is not twisted.

sail tie side view

The side view shows how the twisted loop in the white sail tie stays open even if the loop has been pressed closed.

Others like to have a buckle on their sail tie, once adjusted all you have to do is snap is shut. We have had customers buy these ties in different colors so that they know that the blue ones are the longest, red are a a medium length and black are the shortest (or whatever colors suit your fancy).

The sewing on all of our sail ties is done using polyester thread with advanced UV protection. It is made in the USA by A&E and is a TEX 90 size. We use a Box-X stitching pattern.

Materials

Polypropylene webbing is the standard we use. It is inexpensive and doesn’t adsorb water which is also nice and comes in a bunch of colors. What polypropylene doesn’t like is sunlight. It will degrade if you don’t cover your sail ties with a sail cover.

Polyester webbing will stand up to ultra-violet exposure. It will adsorb a bit of water, more than polypropylene but much less than nylon. We only carry this webbing in black and white. Our white polyester webbing has a much better feel to the hand than the black so it would be my choice if I were replacing my sail ties.

Over the years I have sailed on boats with a bunch of different solutions for sail ties. The most basic, just a length of webbing with no eye works fine but is a bit more difficult to get secured than webbing with an eye in one end. Elastic cords were the rage for a while as was my black eye when I got hit from one of the plastic balls on the end of the cord. Then there were the contraptions that went from your mast to the end of the boom with a number of elastic ties hanging from them. Once you had these untangled and installed, the rest of the crew was cleaned up and in the bar.

Ordering

If you are looking for sail ties with a sewn loop, check out https://strapstogo.com/straps/sail-ties.php

If you want ones with side release buckles, https://strapstogo.com/straps/side-release-buckle-straps.php

In either case they will be promptly produced and shipped to you. We ship using Priority Mail which is speedy and only costs $7.00 no matter how many you order.

Questions? Give Rollie a call at (253) 627-6000.