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Old 09-15-2012, 10:30 PM   #1
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Rebuilding the Day/Night shades with Wire

Shortly after buying the van used, the cord on my forward side door broke in the day night shade. I sent it back to the manufacturer, where, for shipping, they rebuilt it. By rebuilt I mean restrung, and by restrung I mean they ignored the sharp bit inside I pointed out when returning it.

So, some time ago it shredded the cord again- despite not having trouble with any other windows. I meant to just buy a new one and pitch it in the bin, however I figured I'd try some wire first.

I bought several kinds of wire and small cable, but the end choice was bead wire from Michaels, used to make bracelets and necklaces. It seemed to be sturdy and smooth, without kinking or being too thick.

The only surprising bit was the spring in the top of the shade, which I'd never exposed before, having not taken the top part completely off.

The process is simple, pop the ends off, slide the long bits off and attach your cord to the spring with loops at the top, thread- crossing in the middle piece to give the middle piece tension, and out the ends at the bottom (which endcaps are slightly thinner).

I added some crimps to help the wire stay in the bobbin anchors on the door, which I can twist slightly to increase the tension if need be.

The wire works better than expected, they are smoother than the cord version and do not fall when driving. It also seems the cord may have been gradually sawing a groove in the end pieces of the bottom, something I don't expect from the wire.















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Old 09-16-2012, 12:20 AM   #2
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Re: Rebuilding the Day/Night shades with Wire

Great idea...mine are becoming frayed as well.
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Old 09-16-2012, 08:16 AM   #3
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Re: Rebuilding the Day/Night shades with Wire

Excellent, I have had to rebuild mine twice. Never thought of replacing the cord with wire, thx.
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Old 09-16-2012, 08:30 AM   #4
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Re: Rebuilding the Day/Night shades with Wire

I just received the last of my supplies to replace our day/night shade strings and cord locks but I'm following Charlie56's approach and using stainless steel wire from McMaster-Carr. It is item 3458T221 which is 19 Strand, 3/64" diameter stainless steel wire rope.

We have the "old" bobbin-style plastic string tie-offs and the only problem we have had with the shades is that either the bobbin holes break out or the entire tie-offs break. We have broken nearly a dozen of them over the years.

In asking Charlie about his retrofit, I discovered that SMB now uses the cord locks shown in Jage's photos. SMB gets these from Specialty Window Coverings in Indiana. They don't have a website and can't take credit cards over the phone but their phone number is 574-262-5190. They call them "cord tensioners" but I got the impression that there are a lot of different types. They cost $1 each which includes shipping. My invoice doesn't include a part number to list here. Since I didn't have a part number when I ordered them, I described them to the person on the phone and included this photo of what I wanted with my check...Charlie found it on the website of another window covering outlet before I e-mailed SMB West for the name of their supplier:

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Old 09-16-2012, 09:57 AM   #5
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Re: Rebuilding the Day/Night shades with Wire

When I rebuilt one of my windows with wire, I installed metal grommets at the ends of the plastic sections. I thought the wire would eventually wear out the plastic.

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Old 09-16-2012, 12:54 PM   #6
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Re: Rebuilding the Day/Night shades with Wire

Another tip with the stranded wire is to use a little bit of heat shrink wrap on the ends. Keeps it neat and prevents unraveling.
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Old 09-16-2012, 01:19 PM   #7
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Re: Rebuilding the Day/Night shades with Wire

jage,

See how we wait until you finish a project to tell you how you should have done it!

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Old 02-08-2013, 11:55 PM   #8
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Re: Rebuilding the Day/Night shades with Wire

This thread came in real handy when I had to restring a couple of day-night shades. Thanks.

I couldn't find bead wire on the Michael's website, so I decided to go with the McMaster-Carr wire based on yvrr's and charlie56's experience. Their various wires have a range of flexibility, so I got some of the 3458T221 and also some of the more flexible 3458T74 to try. The -T74 turned out to be a lot more flexible, more like the cord that the shades came with. (It's also a lot more expensive: $1.20/ft vs. $0.15/ft.)

I did both shades with the flexible -T74 ... the other just seemed too stiff. The restring went fine. Thanks to jage for the tip about wire crimps, which I used to clamp the loops on the spring eyes in the top rail. And I went with charlie56's suggestion to bind the loose end of wire at the bobbin clamp at the bottom with heat-shrink wrap.

Some post-project observations:
  • [-] I share the concern about the wire cutting into the plastic end caps. I better watch it closely and be ready to do like Mike with the grommets.
    [-] With the more flexible wire, it might be possible to go with a bigger diameter. I wonder if the thinner, more flexible wire might actually saw the plastic more than thicker or less flexible wire?
    [-] I worry about the long-term ability of the plastic window trim material to retain the sheet-metal screws that hold the bottom cord clamps. I've already had to up-size a couple of the size 8s that SMB used to 10s, and one to a 12, which is probably one step too far. I though I'd seen a post about this, but now I can't find it. Anybody have thoughts?
    [-] The little grommets that the cord passes through as it zig-zags through the rails are not as smooth as they ought to be. There was a little bur on one that clearly was the cause of one of the frayed cords. Might need to upgrade here and there as needed.

During my research for this, I ran across this post about restringing on non-SMBs. One interesting idea is the use of 50# test fishing line: cheap, quiet, nearly invisible; but maybe easily abraded, and non-anglers might have trouble figuring out the best knots ...
http://www.discoveryowners.com/DayNightCompile.pdf

Has anybody who has done the wire restring had enough experience to comment on long-term pros and cons?
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Old 10-14-2013, 09:57 AM   #9
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Re: Rebuilding the Day/Night shades with Wire

Jage provided a good overview of how to replace the cords on SMB day/night shades and I used his information to FINALLY replace mine yesterday. As mentioned in an earlier post, I planned to use some stainless steel wire I already purchased from McMaster-Carr. However, reading the other posts regarding this project, I decided to first try some bead wire from at Michaels but couldn’t find any that seemed to be what Jage used. I subsequently found what appears to be OEM cord at Fix My Blinds:

http://www.fixmyblinds.com/

I purchased 300 feet (the next shorter option was just too close to what I figured I needed) of 1.4mm Gray RV Day/Night Shade string. It appears identical to the cord used by the manufacturer of our blinds. Since I needed to actually just replace the old-style cord retainers and have not had any problem with cord breakage over the past 12 years, this seemed a satisfactory solution for me.

After replacing the cord in the first couple of blinds, I developed a procedure which let me replace the cord in a blind in about 10 minutes or less. Except for attaching the cord to the spring, this should work for wire or string.

Here is how I did mine:
1. Remove the blinds from the van windows by lifting up the blind and popping it off of the retainer clips.
2. Unscrew and remove the rubber pulls.
3. Remove the end caps.
4. Slide off the bottom rail.
5. Slide the bottom daytime section from middle rail.
6. Slide the cap off of the top rail.
7. Remove the left cord (it obviously doesn’t make any difference which one you do first but picking the left one makes it easier to write better directions from here on) from the spring and measure it. Add 6-8” and cut two cords the same length and melt both ends (obviously not needed if you are using wire).
8. Tie or connect one cord to the spring. I initially used two half hitches with my cord but it tended to loosen up. So I used a cow hitch…make a loop, put the loop through the hole in the spring and put the working end and tag end through the loop and pull tight. (This is much like attaching a luggage tag to a piece of luggage.) Cut any excess on the tag end but not too short. Melt the new tag end.
9. Hold the left side of the nighttime section tightly together and poke something through the holes in the left side to line them up. I used a piece of 1/8” brass rod…anything which will go through the holes will work. Thread the working end of the cord down from top through nighttime section.
10. Do the same thing for the right side, connecting the cord to spring and thread the working end through the holes on the right side of the nighttime section.
11. Lay the shade vertically on its top (upside down) and cross each cord over to the other side. Leave the working ends hanging out of the middle rail. Make sure that they stay in the center section of the rail and don’t end up in the groves along the sides.
12. On the first couple of blinds that I rethreaded, I then put the cord through the daytime section before sliding the daytime section onto the nighttime section. However, I found that it is much easier to first slide the daytime section back onto the bottom of the nighttime section. You need to thread the rail between the pleats attached directly to the top of the day section; hold the daytime section (upside down) and it will be obvious where you need to insert the daytime section.
13. With the nighttime and daytime blinds back together, put the blinds on the table vertically with the top at the top. Move one end of the blinds over the end of the table. Then slide the daytime section to the right (like you are going to take it back off) until the hole through this section is exposed. Thread the right working end of the cord through the hole. Then slide the daytime section to the left until that hole is exposed. Thread the right working end of the cord through the hole in the daytime section.
14. Side the daytime section back to the center position.
15. Place the blinds upside down vertically again and cross the tags in the bottom rail.
16. Slide the bottom rail back on with threaded holes on the same side as those in the center rail.
17. Replace the rubber pulls in the middle and bottom sections.
18. Thread the working ends of the cord through the small end caps and reinstall the caps (the holes on all of the end caps should be on the bottom); tie a loose knot (like a bow) to keep cords to keep them from being accidentally pulled back into the blinds.
19. Replace top rail and reinstall the remaining caps.
20. Take one of the old cords and use it to tie around entire blind while closed. Don’t have the blind too tightly closed since you will need to be able to turn it enough while reinstalling it to clip it in place.
21. Reinstalling the blinds in the van windows was the most frustrating part of the whole project. My way sounds strange but trying to use a screw driver to force the retainer in place didn’t work for me since the plastic window frame tended to just bend. So, instead, I first hooked the “inside” edge of the blind over the obvious hooks and held it in place with my left hand. I then put the back of my head up against the window so I could look up and see the retainer clips close to the window. I then used a pair of 4” channel lock pliers to “pull” the outside spring clip over the edge of the blind. (Regular pliers might work but the glass was in the way of where I needed the pliers. The “bent” head of the channel locks worked perfectly. Of course, the fact that I had a 4” set might have been part of the solution.)
22. Put the cord locks on each cord and screw them in place but not too tight yet. Then remove the cord holding the blind together. Make the necessary adjustments and cut off the excess cord. Melt the tag ends.

As mentioned, my problem has been the sun crystallizing the old-style cord locks over the years, resulting in broken cord locks. Since I’ve replaced all of those on the side and end doors several times each, the holes for the screws ended up getting larger and I had to resort to larger screws.

But there is a limit to how much oversize I could drill the holes in the new cord locks so when one of the holes for the new cord locks was already enlarged to the point it wouldn’t hold the screw, I had to come up with a new solution. I tried a short Molly Jack Nut but it didn’t work. There is sheet metal close by the hole and a plastic toggle anchor I tried didn’t have enough room to expand. I finally came up with this solution:



I used a 1” metal angle bracket which I pop-riveted to the window frame. Since I needed to pop rivet the bracket in place and then screw the cord retainer in place, I first installed a Molly Jack Nut to the bracket to screw the cord retainer to and then installed the bracket.
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Old 01-02-2014, 10:32 AM   #10
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Re: Rebuilding the Day/Night shades with Wire

Restrung one of my shades yesterday with this wire. linky. Don't wait until the cord breaks, it's much easier to do beforehand, using the existing cord to pull the new wire through.
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