How to install Z-Track
Published: 5 years ago | Last Updated: 8 months ago
What is Z-Track?
The Z-Track closure is a medium size Arrowhead & Channel interlock design approximately .150” wide and is the most versatile closure offered for zip-on jacket applications. It should always be considered as the first closure choice when designing a wrap-a-round jacket system.
Z-Track is extruded in three different flame retardant polymer compounds. When combined with our PVC compound jacketing materials, Z-Track can accommodate Round, Flat and Rectangular Cable jacket configurations.
In short, Z-Track is an extremely versatile, medium duty cable jacket that uses an extruded interlock to wrap around your wires or cables.
Track Closure vs. Bend Location
ZTZ-SP Plier Tool
The ZTZ-SP tool is a Stainless Steel plier tool designed for closing Zippertubing Z-Track products. The small hand-held plier tool utilizes small finger lips to spread the channel cavity of the Z-Track extrusion. At the same time the arrowhead side of the extrusion is forced into the open channel cavity. As the tool slides along the cable run the channel cavity closes behind the tool which traps the arrowhead barbs within. The tool makes closing Z-Track fast and easy while minimizing operator fatigue. As the tool slides along the cable run, it will form the jacket material into a continuous tube. Use the ZTZ-SP tool for all production line and field installations.
“ZTZ-SP” Plier Tool Instructions
The following procedure describes the installation of a Zippertubing jacket, which has the Z-Track extruded inter-lock closure using the Zippertubing “ZTZ-SP” plier tool. The procedure defines the basic closing procedure and provides several hints and tricks that will make installation easier. Keep in mind that a written procedure alone will not make you an expert. Only repeated experience with varying installation situations will tell you the best way to handle the unexpected. Learning to close Zippertubing’s Z-Track is much like learning to ride a bicycle. Initially, you will be wobbly and will probably have the tool fall off the tubing repeatedly. There is a “feel” to using the plier tool, just like there is a balance point that must be learned before riding a bicycle becomes second nature. The keys to success are practice, practice and more practice.
To correctly learn the “feel” of a properly closed Zippertubing Z-Track jacket, it is suggested that you begin on a practice piece of Zippertubing material. Ideally, this learning piece would be a non-shielded, vinyl material (Type 63 or PVL) approximately two feet in length. Feel free to test Steps 1-5 on your piece until you are completely comfortable with the process. Select a work area that has plenty of light and where you can sit down. Proceed to the installation sequence steps listed below.
Step 1: Material & Tooling
Examine the piece of Zippertubing jacket material and the plier tool.
The image below illustrates the closure mechanism along each edge of the jacket in both the open (as delivered) and closed (installed) conditions.
The image below illustrates the plier tool construction and the end view of the tool
Step 2: Installing the Tool (right handed installer)
Hold the end of the jacket in your left hand with the channel extrusion facing up. Hold the tool in your right hand and spread the handles so the jaws open. Insert the top knife-edge (Figure A) tang of the tool tip into the slit of the channel approximately 1/2 to 1 inches back from the end of the material. With the fingernail of your left thumb spread (Figure B) the channel just ahead of the tool tip and twist the channel open so that the lower knife-edge (Figure C) tang of the tool enters the channel extrusion.
Step 3: Inserting the Arrow
While continuing to hold the tool in your right hand (jaws are not spread), grasp the end of the arrowhead side of the jacket with your left hand and bring the two jacket edges close together. This will create a tubular shaped jacket near the tool end. The tool should be set back from the jacket end approximately 1/2 to 1 inch. Pull the arrowhead end back so that it can be inserted into the tool window opening. The tool will have spread the two halves of the channel extrusion open enough in this area to allow the end of the arrow to enter the channel cavity. Pull the arrow end into the channel and continue until both halves of the Z-Track extrusion are even at the tube end.
Note: You may find that with some types of shielded Zippertubing the jacket stiffness or just the snug fit of a non-shielded jacket around the cable will not allow the arrow end of the jacket to be pulled back far enough to be easily inserted into the channel. To ease this problem, use a pair of scissors and make a 45-degree cut, approximately 1/2-inch back from the end of the jacket on the arrowhead side. This will allow the end of the arrow to be closer to the tool window while not distorting the jacket material very much. You will discover that this will make inserting the arrow easier.
Step 4: Track Closure
Using the thumb and index finger of your left hand, grasp and pinch the arrow and channel together at the end of the tubing. Twist the tool counterclockwise slightly (about 10 degrees) and begin pulling the tool away from your left hand. As the tool slides along it will pull the arrow into the channel cavity and trap it.