Archive for January 2012

Fixing a Bar

January 9, 2012

Some open gym kids were playing around and took a floor bar and grinded (ground?) it along one of our single rails. The metal base of the floor bar caught the laminate and took out this chunk:

Needless to say, I was angry. But, that’s the situation I was in. Economics being what they are, we couldn’t just buy a new rail.¬†That meant this situation presented a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t scenario: If we leave the chip alone, it presents an insurance/liability problem; but if I try to fix it, it may also present an insurance/liability problem by voiding the manufacturer’s liability. ¬†However, I decided that trying to do something was better than doing nothing, and I was concerned the chip might continue to grow if left exposed (thereby turning an already unsightly chunk into a much bigger and even more dangerous problem). So, I thought about ways to fix it.

After considering about a dozen different options, I decided to try a mixture of super glue/sealant and wood. I found some super glue that advertised itself as water resistant and “safe for repeated use and use with children,” since, after all, this would be touched by sweaty kids every day. I also made sure it was recommended for wood and hard plastics (or fiberglass). The back of the box also claimed it dried “solid but flexible” which sounded perfect, given that the rail will bend and I don’t want it cracking more.

Next, I took some old 2x4s and drilled some holes in them to generate some sawdust. I also used a power sander to get some extra fine sawdust. In hindsight, the drilled sawdust was too chunky, and accounts for the patchiness you’ll see below. In the future, I’ll stick with just the extra fine sawdust, but at the time I thought having mixed sizes would either create a grainy appearance similar to the bar, or help the adhesive adhere to the dust. After I felt I had enough, I combined the sealant and the sawdust. I don’t have a measurement for you, but basically it was “all the sawdust the adhesive could handle.”

I cleaned out the notch, dried it off, and then added a layer of the pure adhesive first. Then I took a small piece of wood (basically a popsicle stick) and used it as a trowel to apply the mixed sawdust/sealant. I pressed it in pretty firmly with a rag, trying to get it into every crevice, and let it dry. A couple hours later I came back and sanded it smooth with an extra-fine 200 grit sandpaper:

It might not be pretty, but it’s as smooth as the rest of the bar and it appears to be hardened. And at the very least, I think it looks better than a gaping hole where you can see the fiberglass under the laminate. Once it gets covered with chalk it’ll probably be less noticeable. If it holds up for a month, I’ll consider it a successful repair.