Thursday, July 09, 2009

Just zip it

Crap, the zipper is not closing properly

My camera bag has been in a state of decay since the forth day after I had bought it. On that forth day the plastic zipper tabs broke off. At the time, I was trying to make the zipper work in -40 degree (Celsius) weather (with wind chill). They just snapped off due to the cold. Lowepro has a lifetime guarantee on the bag but for something so small I just replaced them with key rings. I was too lazy to take all my camera crap out of the bag, drive out to the Lowepro headquarters and wait while they put the bag through processing to get a replacement bag (one of the same model or equivalent).

close up of the zipper teeth not closing

If I received an equivalent bag who knows what the pocket configuration would be. Would it be the same? Probably not. That would suck. I stuck it out with the original and patted myself on the back for being green minded (instead of throwing the bag away and getting a new one, I found a way to keep it). We have so much crap going into landfills as it is.

Over time the hooks on the camera strap broke. The first hook (the one in front) broke while walking through a parking lot. No big deal. The second one broke just seconds after I climbed up a two story cliff with a cave with water down below. The second I stepped onto the ground, the bag fell and landed right on the edge of the drop. My heart jumped as I looked down at the non-insured bag of gear.

I've owned the bag for at least the last four years and over that time the zipper on the back (rubbing against my hip) came off, the webbing on the top of the bag wore out, the camera strap replaced and just recently the zipper on the main pouch refuses to close properly (allowing my wallet, cell phone, TTC tokens and money to fall out). Not good.

While I could really use a new bag, for this one at least, the main compartment still works. The newer models made by Lowepro look even simpler (fewer compartments) and more cheaply constructed. Other camera bags look like they could have possibilities but money is a bit scarce these days and to be honest I'd rather spend money on getting all my camera gear tuned up (replace rubber grips that have fallen off, clean out lenses - specifically my 70-200mm, clean the sensors, the eye pieces and what have you).

I decided to fix the bag myself. After all it's just a zipper. How hard could it be to replace it. Famous last words. Actually it didn't have to look great it just had to be functional and not fall apart. I could do that.

A loose stitch keeps the zipper aligned

Employing skills that I picked up in grade 7 or 8 while making a pillow that resembled an elephant or maybe the sewing skill was from cub scouts... which ever the case may be I first applied a loose stitch to position the new zipper so it would be aligned and not move much while I sewed up the bag on the second pass using stitches that were closer together.

It took about 6 hours in total of just stitching. At one point I ran out of thread and had to get some more. Not knowing anything about thread strengths at the time I consulted friends on facebook using the status line as a general call for help.

According to a few people, thread actually has a weight assigned to it. Much like string. Who knew? (well I guess they did). When buying the thread not every spool has a weight assigned printed on the label. Some just said "Strong". Others were labelled for upholstery. I picked up a spool of that as it seemed thicker to the touch.

super fine stitching keeps the new zipper in place

That would be the blue thread just over the zipper in the photo. The bag is fixed and another impulse purchase put off for hopefully another few years.

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