***Special thanks to Yellow_Dolphin who removed and sent me a zipper from his spare parts window. It’s people like you that make the Jeep community so amazing! ***
So my TJ’s PO broke the zipper stop thingy that holds the two ends of the zippers together on my rear window. I tried to get prices in the area to replace the entire zipper and all the local shops wanted outrageous amounts. They were all also eager to tell me that this part was not repairable. With nothing to lose I decided to try the repair it myself with a donor zipper.
I found out this part is called the Zipper Box and it is not sold anywhere by itself. I did find a complete zipper but who knows if the box is the same. (Link below) So instead I would suggest grabbing one at a junk yard. With the lack of junk yards in Boston I resorted to finding someone on the forum with a broken top I could scavenge off of. Thanks again Yellow_Dolpin!!!
LINK TO: Rear Window Zipper 1997-2006
**Before even starting this project I suggest putting the zipper pull on the soft-top, or wherever you will be attaching the box, checking orientation and moving it out of the way. This will prevent any issues of getting it on after you’ve attached the box. This is also a good time to crimp the back of the zipper pull a bit if it has been widened by miss use or replacing with a new one**
OK, starting with the donor zipper….
Being as I didn’t yet know how I was going to re-attach the box I decided to be as surgical as I could with my disassembly.
I first drilled out the fabric from inside the pin that is attached to the box.
This now would allow me to crimp and flex the pin’s metal away from the pressed feature of the box. You’ll noticed the box is indented on one side where it has been pressed onto the pin. I did end up having to drill out some bits of the pin below the crimp in the box.
Also worth noting that I eventually decide to drill a hole in the side of the box through the crimp. Doing this first would probably be more affective. Just be patient and gentle.
Once the pin is mostly free I used Pliers on the top of the pin to pull it out of the box. Try not to break off the top of the pin sticking out of the box! Breaking it will make your life much more difficult.
Now you have a clean new transplant zipper box Yay!
I test fit the box to make sure both pins on the top and window reached the bottom of the box…They did, so I didn’t have to modify the box at all which was nice.
Originally I was going to just epoxy the new box on and call it a day, but I instead decided it would be better to add a mechanical fastener of some type. Just epoxy might be enough and my extra steps might not be needed but I like to over engineer everything.
Since I could no longer crimp the pin I decided I would use a stainless steel finishing nail placed through both the box and pin.
I picked an appropriately sized bit and drilled a hole through the side of the box where the pin crimp was. I placed the box on the soft-top, which is where it was originally attached on my jeep, and then drilled through the pin as well.
I cut down two finishing nails so I could stick them though either side of the box. It took a couple tries to get them long enough but not so long that they were touching
Put the box on the soft-top pin and test that each trimmed nail grabs the pin securely on either side.
***IF YOU HAVEN’T DONE SO ALREADY SLIDE THE ZIPPER PULL ONTO THE TOP AND MOVE OUT OF THE WAY, ALSO CHECK ORIENTATION****
Now time for the epoxy. I looked for a two part epoxy that had the highest tensile strength available, dried clear, had a 5 minute work time, and was suitable for metal. In my local store it turned out to be Gorilla Glue Epoxy but feel free to use whatever metal epoxy is handy/available. I suggest a 5 minute work time though. Too long and you can’t monitor that the pins don’t fall out and too short and you’ll have your hands stuck to the zipper.
After I mixed my epoxy I used clean uncut finishing nails to apply. I first filled the pin on the soft-top (which now has holes drilled in it) with epoxy using a nail and spread a very thin layer on the outside.
I took the box and using the nail again placed epoxy on the inside, being careful only to apply to the one side of the box with the drilled holes.
I placed the zipper box on the soft-top and applied a light coating of epoxy around the drilled holes. I now pressed the snipped finishing nails through the holes. After waiting a few minutes for the glue to be tacky enough to hold the nails in place, I used a clean nail to clean out any excess epoxy that had made its way into the open side of the zipper box. This is much easier now rather than later when it hardens.
I let this set for 10 min or so until the leftover mixture in my mixing tray was semi-firm. I now mixed a second batch of epoxy and covered the nail heads and as well as the entire zipper box on one side for good measure. My feelings being that this would prevent the cheap finishing nails from oxidizing and, well, more epoxy couldn’t hurt :P
Try not to get too much epoxy on the pin of the soft top above the zipper box. This will have to be trimmed later so the pull can move all the way down to the box.
Let the epoxy dry for 30+ minutes. Now trim away excess epoxy that might be blocking the zipper pull from going all the way down.
I would suggest letting the epoxy dry overnight before using.
If I did it again. I might make the holes on either side of the zipper box NOT line up. This would mean I could use longer nail cut offs. Also as I mentioned when disassembling the original box I would probably start by drilling though the crimped part.