Introduction: Fixing a Bent First UP Frame Piece
This is my first instructable, so please bear with me. Comments or questions are welcome and appreciated.
Several years ago I bought this pop up gazebo from Walmart. A couple years back, I was using it in the back yard as a shelter for cookouts, etc. and it stayed up most of the summer. Unfortunately, it gets pretty windy in my back yard, and during a particularly strong windstorm, the shelter blew completely over, the top got a tear in it, and one of the accordion frame pieces was bent (all in all, not too bad damage considering...) So after having the thing sit in my shed unused for a while I decided to take a look at fixing it. I don't use it much anymore because of the bend, and I'm afraid that if I do use it, it will bend more, maybe break completely, or possibly other pieces could get bent, and the whole thing will have to be replaced.
After looking for just the frame piece online, I found the whole accordion side (at about half the cost of replacing the whole thing) but couldn't find just the one piece I was looking for. So I decided to see if I could fix this up myself, and basically I decided to reinforce the pole with a spare shank of metal. Here's what I did:
Step 1: Get a Suitable Piece to Reinforce With
First I removed the plastic end cap from the frame. This was a simple matter of pulling it straight off. If you can't pull it off very easily, you can use a screwdriver, or do what I did and use a garden stake to carefully push the end cap off the pole.
I had some garden stakes lying around from some border that I'm not using anymore, and a quick measurement indicated that it would be just about perfect size for reinforcing this bend.
I hammered out the crook of the stake to make it (relatively) straight so I can insert it into the pole. I left the lengthwise bend in the stake to help give the reinforced pole some added strength.
Step 2: Measure, Drill, and Insert
In order to get the stake to stay in the post where i want it to stay, I had to put the adjoining bolt through the stake. To do this, I simply did an eyeball measurement for where to drill the hole (this worked for me, but you may want to actually measure). I decided to drill through the flat part of the stake, but either would be okay.
Then I clamped the stake down on my workbench with a scrap piece of lumber beneath it. I made a 'best guess' at the size of the bolt, selected a bit, and drilled my hole through the stake. Again, this worked for me, but you may want to size out your bolt before drilling. If you don't, I would recommend starting small, since you can always drill a slightly bigger hole, but going back and drilling a smaller hole in the same spot is damn near impossible.
After the hole was drilled I removed the bolt from the pole (be sure not to drop or lose any pieces) and carefully used the stake to straighten the pole from the inside, and slid the stake into place. As you can see in the pictures, I used a bit of thread through the hole in the stake to prevent the stake from sliding down the length of the pole (it would be a pain to have to tip the whole thing over to get it back out).
Step 3: Bolt It, Cap It, Done!
Using the bit of thread it was very easy to line up the hole in the stake with the pole to put the bolt through. Make sure you've put all the pieces back in the right places, and bolt it back together. I did notice that I didn't have to crank this down as tight as I could possibly make it (that would flatten out the hollow pole, after all) and used the other joints as a guide to how far to screw the bolt through the nut.
I left the string on the stake (because I may revise this a bit) and I pushed the end cap back onto the end of the pole, and violia!
I'm confident that the bend is reinforced, and putting a fair bit of strain or pressure on the piece won't cause it to fail. I'm happy with the result, and I put the whole thing up to test it out.
As you can see from the last picture here, there is a bit of rust and the metal has separated a little. I plan to (and will update this later when I do) sand off around the crack, spray some primer on it to prevent more rust, and I think because I have some metal separation, I'm going to drill a small hole through the pole and stake below the bend, and put another small bolt through. Doing this will ensure that there won't be a catastrophic failure at the weak point, and even if there is (e.g. complete separation) the bolts through the stake will hold.