No easy way?

We moved into this house in January 2005. That’s 18 years, so it is hardly surprising that some original equipment needs repair or replacement.

A couple of weeks ago Majella was using our Hills Extenda Clothesline when one of the four lines gave way at the end furthest from the main mechanism. She managed the laundry with the 3 remaining lines but it was going to need replacing.

Searching the Bunnings website confirmed that appropriate line was readily available but further searching for descriptions of how to do the replacement was less successful. My first look at the bar holding the lines extended from the main mechanism had me wondering how the lines could be fixed inside the hollow square bar. On a second look sometime later I spotted the holes on the bottom side of the bar through which the cords had been passed and knotted to hold them in place. That solved one problem.

The main mechanism looked more challenging but I spotted a single screw holding the cover at each end and assumed I could remove those to get inside. I still hoped I might find instructions somewhere to guide my efforts.

A couple of weeks passed quickly with Majella focused on cake and other preparations for Emily’s wedding last Saturday. I didn’t get to Bunnings to buy replacement line. Yesterday was laundry day and the fourth line was missed. Later in the day, on our way to shop for groceries, we got to Bunnings and bought a 30m pack of replacement line.

Back home I easily detached the bar from the post that held it. The end covers on the main mechanism were also easily removed. At that point I found the bolts holding the main unit to the post and noticed they would prevent taking out the end pieces that had been uncovered. That was necessary to access the coils inside so out came the bolts and the unit was lifted down.

That did not free either end or the top cover that would give access to the spools. The one set of instructions I had found online did not mention that part of the process but simply assumed that access to the spools was possible. Closer inspection revealed that the top cover was held in place by the ends which were, in turn, fixed by screws (circled) that were not accessible with a standard long screwdriver. Another Bunnings search revealed that I could obtain an offset screwdriver set that might work for less than $4.

By then it was late afternoon so it was this morning before I went to buy the offset screwdriver. The idea was right but the shaft above the driver head was too long to fit in the confined space. Plan B required drilling holes through the metal cover above the screw at each end to allow access using a regular Phillips head screwdriver.

With the screws removed I was able to tap with a hammer to ease the ends out far enough to free the cover. I lifted it and had little difficulty in removing the lengths of old line and replacing them with new line passed through a hole in the spool and tied off with a knot to hold it in place. The other ends were easily fixed to the bar by passing through a hole and tying off with a knot.

Once the lines were replaced it was easy enough to manoeuvre the cover and ends back into place. From there it was a matter of reversing the disassembly process to get things back and working as before.

What still puzzles me is how the unit was assembled in the factory. Once inside the unit I found screws at the rear of the cover that were out of sight and well out of reach of any tool I have. I have to assume the manufacturing process involves assembling the shaft, spools, and ends and then somehow wrapping the covers around it. Modern manufacturing is efficient for producing effective and polished products. However, even when the materials are durable it can be difficult or impossible to repair things. More consideration needs to be given to designing objects that can be easily repaired or recycled. No matter, my kludge got the job done.