How to Use Z-Ends With Zap-A-Gap


If you've ever purchased one of my College of Model Shipbuilding courses, you know that I'm a big fan of super glue, specifically Zap-A-Gap. You should also know that I always recommend attaching the Z-End accessory to the bottle for complete control of the usage of Zap.

However, it seems that a lot of my customers don't understand that the Z-End doesn't become as useful if you don't attach the small silicone tubing to it that comes in the Z-End package. I often receive emails and forum questions on how to attach and use the Z-End with the tubing. So I thought perhaps a blog posting on the subject will help clear the air on this subject.

I've been building model ships for over 30 years now, and used to work at a bank in downtown Winchester, VA that was right next door to a hobby shop. I visited the hobby shop daily and became good friends with the owner, Dave.

Dave was an extremely skilled and talented modeler. His primary love for modeling was building WWII plastic model kits, but he had also built model ships at one time. So I often sought out his knowledge and experience when I first began building them myself.

Having woodworking experience from high school, I assumed that a good wood glue was all you needed to build a wooden model ship, but when I began building my first kit, the Mantua HMS Victory, I quickly learned that wood glue wasn't always the best choice for gluing certain parts together.

It became very tiresome holding a plank in place with my hands until the wood glue set up not to mention that it made the task of planking the hull take forever. I knew there had to be a better way. So I talked to Dave and he recommended a super glue for planking and other areas of construction - specifically Zap-A-Gap in the green bottle because it was thicker than traditional super glue. He also recommended the optional accessory Z-Ends. So I bought both of these items from him.

Dave was nice enough to open the Z-Ends package and show me how to add the silicone tubing to the tip of one Z-End for maximum control of the usage of this fantastic glue. Surprisingly, there's a trick to it all, which I want to share with my customers and readers of the blog.

First let's look at a bottle of Zap-A-Gap with the Z-End tip attached and the silicone tubing inside the Z-End.

As you can see, this bottle gets regular usage. This is the 2 oz. bottle, but the Z-End will fit any size bottle of Zap-A-Gap.

At the top of the Z-End, which is the plastic tip attached to the bottle opening, is the silicone tube piece. When you purchase a package of Z-Ends, there's a piece of silicone tubing in the package that is about 8" to 10" long. It is generally more than enough and will outlast the tips themselves.

The trick in using the silicone tubing is knowing how to attach it. Of course, looking at this photo, you can see that it fits into the hole in the tip of the Z-End itself, but it's not quite that easy to install it into the tip.

What you will find in your first attempt at installing the silicone tubing is that it doesn't simply fit through the hole in the Z-End tip. So the first thing you need to do is enlarge the hole in the tip just slightly using a round toothpick.

It might take a few tries at first because if you press the pointed tip of the toothpick into the hole from the outside of the Z-End tip, the tubing will fit too loosely and super glue will ooze out at the Z-End tip causing one big mess. If you don't press the toothpick into the tip enough, the tubing still wont' slide into the tip.

Now before you grab your Zap-A-Gap bottle and start poking the Z-End tip with a toothpick, you should keep reading, because there's more to this trick than meets the eye. Ok, so you've enlarged the hole in the tip of the Z-End, but don't try to insert the tubing into the tip just yet.

The second trick to this procedure is that you want to insert the tubing from inside the tip and you want to start with the full length of tubing that comes with the package of Z-Ends. If the tubing won't slide through the enlarged tip hole easily, then you didn't enlarge it enough when you used the toothpick on it, so try again.

Once you're able to slide the tubing through the hole in the Z-End, you want to have about 1/8" to 1/4" of tubing sticking out the tip of the Z-End. Now cut the tubing off at the bottom of the Z-End leaving about 1/2" sticking out the bottom of the Z-End using a #11 Xacto knife. Then pull the tubing that sticks out the top of the tip upwards and draw about 3/4" to 1" out leaving some tubing still inside the tip.

Put the Z-End back on the bottle of Zap-A-Gap and you're ready to go. As you start using the glue, you'll find that you can dispense very tiny amounts of glue at a time depending on how hard you squeeze the bottle. Upend the bottle so that the glue flows out the silicone tip with just a little bit of pressure when you want a small amount to come out such as applying the glue to a photoetched part. Squeeze harder when you want a larger amount to come out such as applying glue to the underside of a plank.

After a while, some glue will dry and build up at the tip of the tubing. When this happens, I grab the tip below the dried glue with one hand and pinch and pull the dried glue off of the tubing tip. Because it's made of silicone, the glue usually comes right off. However, the consequences of this pulling results in the tip getting crushed after awhile, and the glue doesn't come out so easily. This is why you left extra tubing inside the Z-End.

When the tip of the silicone tubing begins to show wear from repeated squeezing and pulling on dried glue, it's time to cut off the crushed portion of the tubing, and then pulling the tubing out of the Z-End tip some more. You can do this several times. One piece of tubing will generally outlast the 2 oz. bottle so I like to replace the Z-End tip and tubing with each new bottle of Zap-A-Gap I purchase.

And that's the secret to using the Z-End tip with the silicone tubing on a bottle of Zap-A-Gap. I hope you find this article useful and start using this fantastic glue on your model ships. It's saved the day for me many times over.

I also want to quell the myth that super glue doesn't hold well over time. I built my HMY Fubbs model over 20 years ago and used Zap-A-Gap on all of the planking, which is a single layer planked hull over boxwood frames. Boxwood is a very hard wood which is not porous like softer woods, so the glue can't seep into the pores giving the joint stronger adhesion. My model sits on a table in the foyer of my house. Not one single part or planking on that model has sprung loose or fallen off in the 20 years that have passed since I built the model. I did manage to break a few parts from moving the model from one house to another over the years but the glue joints held, the wood didn't. Zap-A-Gap is a very strong glue, believe me when I say that.

Have a great day and happy modeling!

Bob Hunt


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