What do I need to know to swing?
November 7, 2018 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Someone has offered us their (amazing looking) swing set. We need to dissemble said swing set, load it into a truck, get it home, and reassemble it. How?

For those of you who have done this before, or just are generally handy at things like this, what do we need to know? Assume little to no tool/hardware/handy experience. Will a small/medium moving truck be adequate to load into? Will our minimal tool kit be enough to get the job done? We have a cordless drill, a basic screwdriver set, and a ratchet kit. Our little ones thank you in advance.
posted by jaksemas to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total)
Your tools are fine, if there are bolts with nuts make sure you have a wrench to pair with your ratchet set to anchor things for unscrewing. A short ladder can also be very helpful.

Get a measure of the longest piece(s) and make sure that you rent a vehicle that can fit it.
posted by French Fry at 9:25 AM on November 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh and if you're not handy, prone to forget things, take close-up pictures of the joints and fixtures before you take everything apart so you can make sure it all goes back together.
posted by French Fry at 9:27 AM on November 7, 2018 [11 favorites]

Take pictures while you disassemble, so you have a reference. If there are lots of bolts of various sizes, tape the bolts to the place where they are used so that you know what goes where.

A basic tool set will be enough. Nothing complex should be required.

WD-40 may be necessary to disassemble things.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:27 AM on November 7, 2018 [3 favorites]

Bring duct tape and a Sharpie so that you can label both sides of each joint before you disassemble them (e.g. with numbers, letters, whatever).

Ziploc bags for the hardware you remove from each joint (and write the joint number/letter on the outside of each bag)
posted by misterbrandt at 9:30 AM on November 7, 2018 [4 favorites]

Is it a metal set or a wooden set?

We had a wooden set in our yard that we gave away on Craigslist. The set was not really designed to come apart and be re-assembled. The guy who came to get it had to cut some bolts and (I assume) replace them. So take a good look at the bolts first and see if this is the case.

If it's a metal swing set, in addition to the usual wrenches and sockets, you should bring along some penetrating oil to loosen any rusty or stuck screws.

Bring something in which to organize the screws that you remove. Take pictures of any connections that may not be obvious.
posted by bondcliff at 9:34 AM on November 7, 2018

From experience, I have a few suggestions:

Lay out the site ahead of time so you are 100% certain where you're going to put it. Like allow extra room, figure out whether there's enough space to jump from a swing, is there a clear path from where the truck will park, etc.

Rent a big enough truck (e.g., a U-Haul 15' or 17'): after a few years outside, some of that hardware will simply refuse to come apart, and you will be stuck with fairly large assemblies. The silver lining is that it makes re-assembly faster!

See if you can find the assembly instructions online, or from the seller, or from the manufacturer. Some of the joints are non-obvious.

When you separate big pieces, try to put the hardware (e.g., bolt+ nut) back where it came from. If not, bag it carefully. An alternative is wrapping related items in masking tape, and labelling with a permanent marker.

If you have time, consider staining/sealing the wood while it's disassembled.

If all else fails, pay the company who makes it to send out their installers for a couple hours: they will know what they're doing!

You can definitely do it, but the damn thing is heavy. Buy your helpers beer & pizza, and hand out ibuprofen before anyone climbs into their car to drive home (during which time their muscles will begin to stiffen up).
My old neighbor did this once. He and his buddies went to someone's house with a big moving truck, but they could only break the swingset down into a few big sections, plus a pile of individual boards & parts that the buddies removed. All the hardware was kind of jumbled together. The buddies skedaddled, and poor Steve spent hours trying to put it back together. (I laid low, having assembled and move and re-assembled my own giant swingset in the past.) Eventually, he called the manufacturer, who was about an hour away, and they sent two dudes with power tools and a truck full of spares & replacement hardware. I think he paid close to $200, but since the thing sold for about $1000 and he paid a fraction of that, it was money well spent.

Hey, it looks like this is actually a service that they offer now!!!
posted by wenestvedt at 9:49 AM on November 7, 2018

echoing French Fry's comment - wrenches - Combination wrenches in common sizes - 3/8, 1/2, 9/16

I suppose you might run into Torx, security Torx, or other anti-vandal fasteners if this were an institutional playset designed for schools or playgrounds. Can the person giving you this set send you a picture or two?
posted by Glomar response at 9:50 AM on November 7, 2018

I suggest numbering each of the parts somehow, maybe with a grease pencil, before disassembling. If the set has wear you might have an easier time reassembling if every original part is in the same relative place as its initial installation.
posted by cross_impact at 10:19 AM on November 7, 2018

When I did this, I replaced all the screws that I removed(hundreds!), and also replaced all the lag bolts with rugged structural screws, which are much easier to drive with an impact driver.

Getting an impact driver will make your life much easier and your wrists much happier.
posted by rockindata at 11:18 AM on November 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Take photos/videos as you take it apart. Use masking tape and marker because sharpie won’t write on glossy duct tape. Tape baggies of screws and parts to the section they came from so they don’t all get mixed up. Make sure you know how it needs to be secured to the ground (I think at one point mine had concrete footings.)
posted by Crystalinne at 2:39 PM on November 7, 2018

I recently demolished a rotting wooden play structure with swings, slide, etc. I started out by trying to disassemble it, but the rusted bolts gave me enough trouble that I switched to a chainsaw*. Be prepared for impossibly stuck bolts and bolts whose heads break right off. You may also need to get some concrete blocks as footings, depending on where you're putting it.

*not recommended if you want to put it back together
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 3:02 PM on November 7, 2018

« Older the secret to closing this vintage laundry bag?   |   I'm sorry for your loss. Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments