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.
Type V Side Release Buckle
Designed 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
American Cord and Webbing is the manufacturer for the popular GM series of center release buckles. Originally designed for the military these buckles have found their way in to numerous uses both on land and at sea. We stock these in both 1″ and 2″ versions.
As its name suggests, the GM-1 is designed for 1″ webbing. We stock it in black.
The GM-2 which fits 2″ wide webbing is available in white. We have good inventory levels on both the 1″ and 2″ versions.
A while back I wrote about how the GM-1 buckle is used to restrain stern ladders on some Boston Whaler boats. The buckle is coupled with a short length of polyester webbing and if you need one of these, just give us a call at (253) 883-5800.
Straps to Go stocks side release buckles for 1″ webbing in many different configurations. All are manufactured by American Cord and Webbing (ACW).
The BSR version is the most common found in the field. It is also the one buckle where there is a good possibility that different manufacturers components will work (how well is a different story) together.
The CSR version is what we sell the most of today. It is a bit nicer looking than the BSR and the edges are rounded so stuff just might not catch on.
The CSR buckle also comes in a double adjust version. With this buckle you don’t need to sew the webbing to the female half, you can just thread it through.
The Type V version of the BSR is primarily used on life jackets. It is larger than the standard BSR and a bit stronger too.
Want to make a pet collar? Then the curved version of the BSR is just the ticket.
Finally we stock the BSR model in a number of colors other than black. On the bottom is the popular coyote tan color, and we also have nylon webbing to match. Above that we have hot pink and bright orange both of which we have a limited supply at fantastic prices. One word of warning, the pink and orange colors will fade if left exposed to ultra-violet light.
If you need help making up your mind, give us a call at (253) 883-5800 or check out our full range of hardware at https://strapstogo.com