Get nylon webbing wet and what does it do? Shrink. Does this matter? It depends on your Coast Guard inspector.
Years ago we used to service inflatable life rafts. For quite some time a US Coast Guard inspector would spend all day at our shop overseeing what we were doing. Generally they knew what we were supposed to do and stayed out of the way unless they saw something questionable (either with the raft or our work).
Seattle was a training port so there were times we would get untrained inspectors. Either they used their time to learn or once in a while we would get someone who wanted to make our life difficult. One day we had one of the latter classification and he checked the rafts out we were working on, regulations in one hand, tape measure in the other. He came across an older raft that had been stowed in a very wet place on the vessel. The inspector went around the raft measuring the distance from the exterior grab line to the floor. When new there is a specification for this distance but on this raft the grab lines were too far off the floor.
The image above shows the black webbing grab lines and how they are supposed to hang down.
The inspector told us that he would not certify the raft until we had moved all the grab lines down so that the distance would comply with the regulations. He did not understand that nylon webbing shrinks when it gets wet, and this raft had been really wet. Also missing from his understanding was the specification was a manufacturing spec, not one for a raft that had been in service. Still he would not accept our reasoning and once again informed us that we must rectify the situation.
Several phone calls later the head of inspections in Washington, D.C. set the new inspector straight. He signed off the raft and we never saw him again.
So if you are designing a strap where the length is critical, consider the environment it will be working in. If you are using nylon webbing and it is going to get wet, allow for shrinkage.
The rainy season is upon us and some of your recently planted trees are leaning over due to really wet dirt or maybe strong winds (or a combination of both). The tree needs to be supported so it can grow straight up, unlike the one above. In the past many have used wire to do the job. It is easy to work with and we usually have some laying around the house. While this is a quick fix, the tree won’t like it. Over time the wire will cut through the bark and in to the tree and then nutrients have no way to travel past, really damaging the tree.
Arborists tell us to provide padding wherever we support a tree. Wire passed through garden hose has been used or a couple of pieces of wood between the wire and the tree will also work. A simpler way is to use a web strap.
Here we have a tree planted in a sidewalk cut out that has been staked using three ratchet straps. This allowed the tension on each strap to be easily and quickly set and adjusted if needed. The way the webbing was attached to the tree is better than a single piece of wire but would not be good in the long term.
The National Forest Service does not allow tree attachment points for backcountry horse pickets or even hammock suspension to damage the bark. The minimum with webbing used to comply with this requirement is 2″ and that would be a good place for the homeowner to start. A simple endless sling will protect your investment and provide a safe place (as far as your tree is concerned) to attach a rope, wire, ratchet strap or whatever you plan on using to get your tension. You could also use a single loop strap but this would require tying a knot in the webbing where you plan on attaching your tensioning device. We could also make you a strap with a loop in each end which would really be the best alternative. This way it could just go around the tree and not “choke” it. It would need to be placed above a limb so that it wouldn’t move down the tree as it sways in the wind.
Even though we don’t sell zippers we all use them and know how frustrating it can be when one becomes frozen. This morning I was going through my email and noticed an article published by BoatUS on how to unstick frozen zippers.
I have not tried using vinegar but the next time I have this problem with a corroded zipper my first trip will be to the pantry. My guess is this will work with salt water corrosion, zippers stuck for other reasons might require different techniques. With the nylon coil type I have found when they get stiff and difficult to use some baby oil does the trick. If you have other tricks, let me know.
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.
We received an order to produce a bunch of straps from polypropylene webbing. I loaded the sewing machine up with a fresh pound of polyester thread, wound a bunch of bobbins and thought I was at the start of a productive day. By the end of the day I was confused. Nothing was working right and I had spent the day trying to get my machine to sew. Thread tensions were checked, knives for trimming the thread were replaced, manuals were read and after work a cocktail or two were consumed. Not having long hair at least I didn’t have to worry about pulling it out.
Day two wasn’t any better and by mid-afternoon the frustration had really kicked in. I called my thread supplier and they informed me that their supplier had been having problems and I was not alone in having real issues. They gave me a credit for the bad thread and said they were changing suppliers and did not have a similar thread in stock which did a great job of raising my blood pressure. After some discussion we decided that the particular project I was working on would be just fine if I switched to nylon thread. The next day five pounds of thread came in the door and with great trepidation I wound bobbins and tried to make some straps. Lo and behold everything worked, stitching was fine, thread cut properly and my blood pressure returned to normal.
I was getting near the end of this project, the webbing straps were coming off the sewing machine but I was running out of thread. A quick call and I found that my supplier had received their polyester thread in the size and color I needed. The order was on its way and by the next afternoon I was winding bobbins and switching over. It was a nightmare, bad enough that I called the company who sold me the sewing machine a few years ago.
The fix was simple, well it should have been simple. The new thread suppliers product was small in diameter than what I had been using which required a different size needle. Good luck finding industrial sewing machine needles in Tacoma but finally I located one and was back in production. I also learned that a lot of the thread now comes from overseas and is very inconsistent. Upon asking what brand of thread the sewing machine company recommended I found that it was the brand my thread supplier had switched to, A&E which is still made in the US. It always feels good to support businesses based in the US.
So the answer to the question is yes, there is such a thing as bad thread. Quality control at the time of manufacture, age (that box grandma had might not work that well) along with storage conditions can all turn a good day into a nightmare.