Friday, August 24, 2012

My New A-Frame

My new light-weight A-frame, on wheels,
matches my 9' yellow tunnel.
Last week one of our club's newer competitors posted notice she was selling all of her agility equipment.  Her border collie had been diagnosed with epilepsy and displasia, preventing her from pursuing the sport further.  It was very sad.

At the same time, it was a boon for several of her clubmates who bought the equipment at half-price or less -- jumps, tunnels, table, weaves, baby dog walk, sand bags.  Our club scored a steerable A-frame mover, very well built, heavy gauge steel, and brand new, which we have sorely needed but could not afford at full price.

I drove over immediately to look at the equipment and possibly make purchases for myself and others.  I presumed it would all sell fast, and most of it got snapped up quickly. Clubmate Ken and I returned with his big van a few days later to pick up his tunnel, tire jump, table, the club's A-frame mover, and my stuff.

I bought 6 small tunnel sandbags for $10, and a home made light-weight A-Frame in LSU colors for $200 -- what I offered when nobody else wanted it because the metal frame is sway-back, the rubberized coating is coming loose, and the bare wood will eventually rot.  It isn't competition grade.  Nevertheless, I got to thinking that the frame, being made of channel steel, could be reinforced, straightened and re-used when the current top is replaced, and the unit, as is, is adequate for training my wee little dogs at home.  The tipping point for me to purchase was when I realized the way it was constructed, the wheels and axles I had on my old wooden A-Frame would slip right through the tubes at the bottom.  Also, she agreed to reduce the price down from $550.

Underside construction,
wheels hold it 1" above the ground,
1" square tube top and bottom
allows my axles to go through
the bottom ones.
It took John an hour or so to finagle the A-frame into the back yard (no easy task as fencing had to be removed).  It took him an hour or so to swap out the wheels (wing nuts were rusted on, of course), but now I have a light A-frame which I can wheel back and forth across the yard to mow underneath.  I don't have to wait for John to get home or someone to come over to help me move it.  The wheels also keep the A-frame itself from direct contact with the ground.  In the lawn where it had been sitting, one end had sunk about 3" under the ground and grass had rooted in the rubberized surface.  It took me about half an hour to tear out the grass. 

I still need to repair and re-glue the rubberized surface and paint the wood.  I'll probably use epoxy on the glue project, and spar urethene exterior varnish on the wood.  I may wait until it's cooler.

I tested it out this morning, and even though it's much lighter than my old solid wood A-frame and has a good bit of flex, the weight of the dogs hitting the upside or pushing off the downside, even Lucky's 50 lbs, doesn't roll it, so I don't need to chock the wheels.  But I could if I needed to for a larger dog. 

Dogs L to R:  Lucky, Pepper, Maxie
Maxie & Lucky seemed thrilled to have an A-frame again, and Pepper zipped right over it too, at full height, without the slightest need of encouragement.  Getting Maxie and Lucky to stay on top for a photo was difficult, with many a STAY, HALT, STOP, KISS ME, PLEASE STAY WHILE DADDY TAKES OUR PICTURE. I didn't realize how well they have internalized our NEVER PAUSE AT THE TOP rule!  They clearly didn't feel right about it.  Good!

Maxie (top), Pepper (bottom)
I even managed to crop a really cute photo of Pepper and Maxie posing together at the top. Too bad it's not sharp.

We are all feeling lucky today.  Now when will Lady Luck send me a dog walk I can afford?  The wooden one I built has rotted out in only 3 years. I don't want another wood one, but it puts a real crimp in an agility dog's lifestyle not to have all 3 pieces of the contact equipment handy.  For my dogs, at least, they are the most fun.

Upwards and onward!

No comments: