Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Playground Kits

After substantial pressure from various matronly family members - all of them, Mom, wife, Mom-in-law, my kids are the proud new owners of a pile of parts. It's supposed to be a Play fort / swing set but putting it together is going on the second week.

We bought the Cambridge play set available at Sam's club. It is not cheap, but it is designed well. Engineering is another matter. I don't have a great deal of confidence that some of the materials would support an adult (especially not the adult assembling it) but it is supposed to accommodate 9 children at once - presumably evenly distributed over the structure, not piled up in one spot.

It's put out by an American company so the assembly process and instructions are easy to understand and logical. It's manufactured in China, so the quality of the cedar components is fair as opposed to good or excellent. I can't say I'd recommend it just based on some of the things they include - like the scrap wood used to create the composite beams which are then sleeved with several millimeters of heavy plastic. The scrap wood is one of the questionable engineering choices. We'll see how it holds up I guess.

Assembling this monster is something like 700 parts (not including about 2000 pieces of hardware) and 100 to 102 steps. The instructions are 100 steps long but with the wind in our area I opted to: 101) dig holes for the screw in ground anchors and 102) pour concrete around them once fastened to the base of the fort. This thing will suffer structural damage before it tips over in the wind... again. Happened twice during assembly already.

My kids, though, are the final arbiters of what is good and not good in the back yard and so far the wavy slide (still on the ground awaiting it's turn to be installed) and the step ladder (now assembled and attached) are enough to make them giddy and constantly ask if it's done yet. I just point to the pile of parts and repeat that it will be done when there are no more parts left. And that may be a couple of weeks yet.

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