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Cheryl Hughes; Disassembly

I took apart the swing set in our back yard, and I look like I’ve been beat with a baseball bat, but I was tired of mowing around it.  In fairness to Garey, he would have done it had I asked, but he works a full-time job and keeps up with our farm, as well.  Besides, I’ve helped him take enough stuff apart that I figured I could make it happen.

The swing set has been in our back yard for nine years, so the first order of business was to spray all the rusted bolts with Liquid Wrench, the lubricant that promises to “soak into gaps” of rusty bolts, hence making them easier to loosen.  I have learned from working with Garey that “easier to loosen” doesn’t mean “guaranteed to loosen,” but I needed all the help I could get.

The second step was to gather all the tools I would possibly need and a few that I would definitely not use, because the first rule of the job is: If you don’t have it, you will need it.  I did not want to waste my time running back and forth to tool bin.  My tools included: several screwdrivers of various sizes, both flat and Phillips head; a hammer; large and small Robo Grip plyers; needle nose plyers; a ratchet wrench and socket set; a DeWalt power drill with screwdriver attachment; and last, but by far the most important tool, bolt cutters.

After I gathered the tools, I surveyed the swing set bolt by bolt to see what piece was connected to what other piece, so as not to waste time with pieces that were not main parts.  My goal was to get the swing set apart then disassemble the smaller pieces, dividing them into recyclable and non-recyclable parts.  I decided to start with the teeter-totter, because it was connected to the main frame by one bracket.  

“I cannot believe this teeter-totter is connected by just one little bracket!” I fussed out loud.  “Sabria and her friends could have been seriously hurt!”  After 45 minutes with no luck removing that stupid bracket, I changed my tune.  That teeter-totter could have held both Charles Barkly and Musashimaru Koyo (the Sumo wrestler).  The problem was the four rusted bolts holding the bracket to the frame.  I used the socket wrench and DeWalt screwdriver to get 3 of the bolts out, but there was one that wouldn’t budge.  This brings me to the second rule of any job:  There will always be one bolt, one screw, one rivet, one hook or one of any one of a hundred other pieces of hardware that will stand in the way of a job and its completion.  It was now time for that most important of all tools, the bolt cutters.

I wedged the bolt cutters between the bracket and the metal pole then clamped down on the bolt.  I didn’t have enough strength in my hands alone to cut the bolt, so I grabbed one handle with two hands and braced the other handle against my left side.   The bolt broke, the head hit the metal bar on the teeter totter then ricocheted off the metal pole of the main frame and flew off into parts unknown.  The bracket fell off and the teeter-totter was free, albeit I did have the perfect impression of a bolt cutter handle in my left side, just below my rib cage.

I used the same process with the sliding board, using my right side to brace the bolt cutter handle in order to have matching bruises, which I do.  The swings were the easiest, of course, just unhook them and take out the chains for use around the farm.

This left the main frame, which includes one bar at the top, connected to two poles on one side and two poles on the other.  I was able to get all the bolts out of each side, except one (refer to rule #2), and by that time, I was completely exhausted.  I sat down and disassembled the plastic from the metal on the teeter-totter and the sliding board, then I put the metal in the recycling pile of scrap metal down at Garey’s shop.  I couldn’t go one step further.  I had to stop and recover.

The frame still stands in my backyard.  I am literally going to have to wrestle it to the ground in order to get the one bolt out, because I don’t have enough strength to use bolt cutters raised over my head, and it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to use my head as a brace for one of the handles, anyway.  Also, I’ve got to find that magnet on a stick Garey keeps in his shop, because the surrounding area is littered with bolt heads and bodies, and I sure don’t want to mess up the lawn mower tires. 

I’m going to tackle the job again on Monday morning.  I do not like the idea of being defeated.  If you’re reading this, Garey Hughes, don’t you dare touch that swing set!  I started it and I will finish it!


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