Zero to Fixed

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A couple of weeks back, I arrived at Walmart with the kids in the bike trailer to find that one of the snaps holding closed the cargo compartment had broken. Fortunately, I was still able to complete my mission because the cover provided enough support that the bags didn’t fall out, but it was not a long-term solution.

I wanted to fix it, but I had no idea where to start. What were the snaps called? Did they come in different sizes or kinds? Did I need a special tool? When I’m totally at sea like that, I usually start, if possible, by posing some questions in an online forum. I am regular over at the Mr. Money Mustache forums (having worked my way up from “stubble” through “bristles,” “handlebar,” and now “magnum,” whatever that is), so I took my problem to the “Do It Yourself Discussion” section. You can read my original thread here if you’re curious.

Evidently, I wanted 5/8” heavy duty snaps, also known as canvas fasteners and readily available for boat repair. And the broken part was a “female” side. Male sides come in two sorts, a press-in type (for putting in fabric) and a screw-in type (for joining fabric to a solid surface, like the metal trailer frame).

My repair kit. The bottom middle contains the press tool and anvil.

There are two different kinds of inexpensive tools for this purpose: snap pliers and snap presses. The former work alone, while the latter require the use of a hammer. I considered these Dritz snap pliers, but they only came with press-in screws. I wasn’t sure if the new screw would be compatible with my screw-in male end, so I wanted to make sure that I had the screw-in kind as well. So I decided to get this little Seasense kit, which comes with several females, both types of males, and a press tool.

A minor setback was that it did not come with directions, but this helpful website made it quite clear. I let the kids out to play, assembled my tools, and was done about thirty seconds and three swings of the hammer later. The job was easier because the broken female end was broken in such a way that it popped out easily; otherwise, apparently I would have had to drill it (?!).


The freshly repaired snap. The new female end is on the left; the right side is the original screw-in male end.

Since the trailer appears to date to the late 90s (Burley couldn’t give me an answer—they did not recognize the model name!), I suspect I’ll need this skill again. The total cost to me was about $12, plus perhaps an hour of research time.

What have you taught yourself to fix lately?


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About frugalparagon

I'm a part-time librarian and mom to two small boys. I blog about striving for the long-term goal of financial independence while running a tight ship at home.

3 responses to “Zero to Fixed”

  1. mrs TIP says :

    gotta love the MMM forums. well done!

  2. Autumn @ The Barefoot Budgeter says :

    We just got done fixing the toilet! We could have called the landlord, since that’s the main benefit to renting, but it was a really cheap and easy fix and way less hassle then trying to coordinate a time for him to drop by. And we feel much more accomplished this way.

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