Sunday, August 30, 2015

Streeeetch that Swingset

Last I mentioned our swingset, was right after we moved in.  We did an inexpensive upgrade to make the unit safe, keeping a lot of the old equipment.

Just after move in

After our move-in repairs
Since then, our playset has gotten a lot of use.  It's used pretty much all year round.

No swings in winter, but the first one to knock off all the snow  off the slide gets a fun treat.

When the swings aren't up yet after the first melt in spring, our kids will still find a way to get playing.  Here they've set up a pinata.

And of course, when all it's all set up in spring, summer and fall, we often have a kid out there swinging.   Isaac... er... Link even learned to pump out there this spring!

Trouble is, we only have that one swing, and three kids.  It's sometimes fought over, but in general, shared okay.  Still, it's not that fun to be the one waiting around... and we do have a 4th kid coming soon.
Eli waiting patiently.

In the last few years, we've made few small tweaks, primarily upgrading a few rotting floorboards and replacing the broken 'helm' with a new one we found on clearance.  We'd been putting off the 'phase 1' upgrade until we had a little bit of money to invest into new equipment.

So, with our big inside projects wrapping up, we started our upgrade.  First item on the list was two new swings.  Nothing easier than just plopping down money.

The second part of our expansion took a little more work.  We wanted to be able to have three spots between the supports; two swings, and one trapeze type bar/baby seat in the center.  Plus, I was able to score a swinging seat from Lowes for cheap when they clearanced out their hardware, so I wanted enough room for at it at the end.  We were hoping to hang a knotted rope (or something like a seat) last time, but the overhand didn't seem quite long enough once it was out there. 

Anyway, we bought a new 4" x 6" to accommodate the extra swings.  It was 4' longer than our last one, making it 12' long.  Here's the layout of the spacing of the swings.  The spacing was based on our old swingset, which I had made up after doing a little research of what I liked looking at swingset kits (and then reading instructions).  My spacing lands in the middle of the options I saw.

I don't have many pictures of us drilling the holes . Who wants to waddle back in the house for a camera when you're this pregnant? Jon and I worked together, and thanks to three different types of hardware, we had 3 different hole sizes and countersinking requirements.  It was a little ridiculous keeping track of all of it, but we did it perfectly.  All the correct size the first time.

Unlike last time, we not only drilled the holes in the beam before raising it, but installed the hardware on the ground too.  Soooo much easier.  Do this.  You'll be happier.

We decided to go with different hardware for the swings this time.  Home Depot carries a generic brand that is cheaper and stronger (150lbs, instead of 115lbs), so we decided to buy two of those, even though we technically only needed one.   But, because we were only upgrading the swing hangers (not the trapeze bar's hanger), we had to wait until the old beam was down to remove and reinstall the old swing hanger on the new beam.

Plus, we had to wait until our old legs were down, so we could align them with the beam, and drill holes for them using the plates our our guide.  Those too were a different hole size and countersinking.

Lost yet?  Doesn't matter, we'll press on.

I really do like the new swing holders more then the Swing and Slide ones.  They have a bigger bushing and a larger diameter.  Size isn't everything (that's what he said ;) ),  but the fact that it's rated for a higher weight does imply that it is the better choice.

Again, no pictures, as raising the swingset was all-hands-on-deck, but we lifted it up, and got-er-done. Once our beam was up, the kids gave it a test run.  Success!

Our old beam has currently been re-purposed as a balance beam near the slide.  A bit of overkill for a balance beam, but it's nice to reuse it right away.

So with that, we have an expanded swingset.  It's certainly drawn our kids to it 3x times more... and they were already playing with it a lot!

And it didn't cost that much money for the amount of play it gets.  It totaled about $98, when all was added up.
   (1) 4" x 6" x 12' Beam from Lowe's - $24.97
   (2) Lehigh 6" swing hangers, from Home Depot - $4.48 x 2 = $9.97
   (2) Gorilla Swings shipped from Walmart - $27.99 x 2 =  $55.98
   (1) Star Disc Swing Seat, clearance at Lowe's - $7.50

After seeing the cost of our upgrade, I kind of wish we had done it last year.  It only took about 4-5 hours total (slower, of course because I was pregnant), so the time wasn't a big deal.  Well, I suppose I did had a lot of projects in the meantime :)

So where to go from here?  I have found with two swingers we're getting a lot of sway in the house side of the set. So, I still might need to brace a bit. Otherwise, we're set for this year.

Pressing on, our phase 2 plan would address the rotting "prayer house".  Rebuilding for strength and mildly renovating it for function would be our goals. (Don't ask me why the kids call the house, the "prayer house", I have no idea.... but I can tell you I have gotten a whole lot of weird looks from our kids telling strangers about it.)  At that point, almost everything but the slide would be new.

Secondly, we'd look at relocating it on our lawn, and putting down some ground cover that's a little more play safe (softer).  Hard clay packed dirt is not ideal.  Isaac fell off the top of the slide a few days ago.  Some cuts and scratches to his face and tongue, but thankfully broken bones or teeth :(


kelly said...

Do you need a baby swingset swing?

Cassie said...

Nope, the house came with one. We've got it in the shed waiting for a baby. Thanks though!