Thursday, November 19, 2009

How To Assemble a Treadmill in 75 easy steps

Somehow I've gotten behind in the blog posting again. Still, I like the excuse of not having enough time better than not having anything to say. There's a few blogs I want to write, the problem is finding time to do them.

If you read my last post, I left off with the treadmill and assorted parts downstairs but nothing yet assembled. It wasn't going to be of much use to anyone until I got the thing put together. I picked up the user's manual.

My first indication of trouble was when I saw it was 35 pages divided into chapters, complete with a table of contents. But instructions are what I live for, which you would know if you've ever read my "Show Your Colors" entry.

I must admit I did have a little trepidation when I started to read. I am a firm believer in at least skimming over the whole manual (as directed) before attempting to complete any of the steps. Too many times I've gotten to a critical juncture in a process with nasty consequences because I failed to read all the instructions first.

My first sign of trouble was when I read step 21 on page 4 in the "Important Precautions" section. This step reads as follows;
"Do not attempt to raise, lower, or move the treadmill until it is properly assembled.”

Oops. If you have been reading my last few posts, you will know this treadmill has most definitely been raised, lowered, and moved extensively getting it downstairs and it most definitely HAS NOT yet been assembled properly or otherwise.

Excuse me, but what a dumb thing to put in step 21 on page 4! I do try to read manuals before assembly, but I don't always read manuals before transporting the goods to their destination. If they were really serious about people following this instruction they should have posted it in big bold letters on some fluorescent colored paper so you'd notice it right away when opening the box. You don’t put things like that on page 4, step 21.

I consoled myself with the fact that there didn't appear to be any damage to the treadmill and even if there had been it was way too late to do anything about it. Besides, the thing would have been that much heavier with all the attachments and would have been an extremely tight squeeze getting down our narrow stairway and even narrower hallway.

Before getting to step 21, I had already read step 12 which said, "Use only a single-outlet surge suppressor that meets all of the specifications described on page 12". I realized no one would be using the treadmill until I could get to Lowe's. We were fresh out of single-outlet surge suppressors meeting the specifications on page 12, and I wasn't going to power the thing up without proper surge suppression.

On to Page 5 - Before You Begin, "For your benefit, read this manual carefully before using the treadmill." Yeah, yeah, blah blah blah, next page.

"Assembly requires two persons."

"Brian, get down here!" I yelled. My son loves putting things together more than I do. If you know me at all that is really saying something.

"Assembly requires the included hex key and your own Phillips screwdriver, adjustable wrench, rubber mallet (yeah! this was gonna be fun), and scissors."

The Meissner men ventured into the garage to pick-up the required tools. Thus supplied, we moved back downstairs. I turned to Page 7.

Step 1. "Make sure that the power cord is unplugged." DUH! I couldn't plug it in (or wouldn't) until I had the single-outlet surge suppressor meeting the specifications on page 12. I read on, "With the help of a 2nd person, carefully tip the treadmill onto its left side. Partially fold the Frame (56) so that the treadmill is more stable;"

"Ok, Brian, lift." We got it on its side and I folded the aforementioned frame.

I'm still on step 1 by the way. "Remove and discard the two indicated bolts (A) and the shipping bracket (B)." The user's manual included pictures with all the parts they were referring to labeled with letters or numbers. I set Brian to work removing bolts. He immediately started to tighten the bolts rather than remove them.

So we had a quick class in the "righty-tighty, lefty-loosey" method. Meaning to tighten things you turn "Right" or clockwise, and to loosen you turn "Left," or counter-clockwise. My son is sharp, he picked up on this right away and started attacking those bolts with reckless abandon.

He sounded so cute when he shouted, "lefty-loosey!" The bolts were pretty secure, especially after he tightened them to begin with, so he also managed some pretty impressive grunts and tongue-biting while he struggled.

While Brian was working on the bolts, I read ahead, still on step 1, “Cut the shipping tie securing the Upright Wire (38) to the Base (83). Locate a tie in the indicated hole in the Base, and use the tie to pull the Upright Wire out of the hole.”

There was an electrical wire hidden inside a metal rail, supposedly to protect it during shipping, which now had to come out so you could use it. There was plastic tie that allowed you to pull the wire out of a very small hole.

Brian got the shipping bracket removed so I was able to pull out the wire. I’m still on step 1 if you’ve forgotten.

“Attach a Base Pad (81) to the Base (83) in the location shown with a #8 X 1” Tek Screw (2) and a Base Pad Spacer (13). Then attach another Base Pad (81) with only a #8 x 1” Tek Screw (2).” So evidently only one side got the Base Pad Spacer. I love instructions but this was getting a little carried away. Nevertheless, I attached the indicated base pads.

Step 2, Yeah! only 70-odd steps more to go. “Remove the 3/8” Nut (8), the 3/8” X 2” Bolt (4), and the shipping bracket (C) from the Base (83). Attach a Wheel (84) with the Bolt and the Nut that you just removed. Do not overtighten the Nut; the Wheel must turn freely. Discard the shipping bracket.”

Brian had more experience removing shipping brackets so I put him on the job. “LEFTY-LOOSEY!” he yelled. That’s my boy! I had to wipe away a brief tear I was that proud of him.

His experience showed, he got the bracket off in no time. I attached the wheel and we had great fun making sure it was in fact spinning freely. It’s the little things in life that make it worth living.

Step 3, (I bet you’re wondering if this will ever get put together) “Identify the Right Upright (78) and the Right Upright Spacer (79), which are marked with stickers. Insert the Upright Wire (38) through the Right Upright Spacer as shown. Set the Right Upright Spacer on the Base (83). Be careful not to pinch the Upright Wire.”

So I located said spacer and fed this wire through another tiny hole, of course being careful not to pinch the wire.

“Have a second person hold the Right Upright (78) near the Base (83). See the inset drawing. Tie the wire tie in the Right Upright securely around the end of the Upright Wire (38). Then, pull the other end of the wire tie until the Upright Wire is routed completely through the Right Upright.”

It was a good thing Brian was helping me. It would have taken a lot longer and I would have gotten a lot madder if I would have done this myself. As much as Brian cannot sit still, ironically, he can be a statue when he needs to hold something. He held the upright rock steady while I fished the wire through another tiny hole, attached this fishing line to it and pulled it up through the upright so I assumed it could then be attached to the control panel at the top of the machine.

All right, I’ll spare you just a few of the grisly details. Steps 4 and 6 were more of the same. We got the electrical wire fished up through the right upright, attached both uprights, and got the treadmill starting to look like it was supposed to.

We finally got to use the rubber mallet. We were both excited about that. There were these plastic caps that fit over the sharp heavy metal ends of the base. Evidently to protect your feet and any other body parts that may come into unfortunate contact with them. We each took turns whacking the plastic caps into place.

Now we had to attach the wire to the handrail assembly. Brian again proved his usefulness. I was amazed again at how I can’t get this kid to sit still in church for 5 seconds but he can stand holding these handrails without moving a muscle.

Step 7. “See the inset drawing. The connectors should slide together easily and snap into place. If they do not, turn one connector and try again. IF THE CONNECTORS ARE NOT CONNECTED PROPERLY, THE CONSOLE MAY BE DAMAGED WHEN THE POWER IS TURNED ON.

That kind of freaked me out. The last thing I wanted was for the thing to be fried as soon as I plugged it in. So I gingerly tried sliding the connectors together. I was dismayed to find out neither way resulted in them sliding together easily. The lighting isn’t very good down in the basement so I was squinting trying to see which way the ends went together.

Finally I decided one way met with less resistance than the other and slid them more forcefully together. There was no reassuring snap into place. I really had to pinch the ends together until I finally heard the satisfying “snap”.

The wire, now connected, could then be placed back into the upright so the handrail assembly could be attached. Brian, the little trooper, hadn’t moved an inch so he was very happy to be able to put the handrails on to the uprights so he could finally relax.

After attaching the handrails, we then had to hook up the console assembly that is attached to the top of the handrail assembly. Step 9 was basically a repeat of step 7 with the baloney about the connectors sliding together easily and clicking into place.

This time there were two connectors, but I was able to see a bit better in this area so I could tell how they went together. I didn’t get the satisfying click from either of these wires, but I gently pushed and pulled on them and they did seem to be locked together, so I called it good.

Step 10 turned out to be the shortest instruction, but the biggest source of grief. “Insert the wires from the console assembly into the handrail assembly. Attach the console assembly to the handrail assembly with four 1/4” X 3/4” Bolts (5). Be careful not to pinch the wires.”

Sounded simple enough, especially after what we had now gone through. I could see where the console was supposed to go and how it fit onto the handrails. The problem was where to stick the two wires. There was all this excess wire and no cavity or holes to stick them into. I couldn’t help but pinch the wires if I couldn’t find out where to put them.

The next several minutes were nothing short of torture. I messed with those wires and repeatedly tried to place the console in such a way as nothing was pinched. I could get one wire squeezed into place and then the other wire would pop out. We almost needed three people to take care of this problem. One to hold the console, and one person on each of the wires.

Finally, with luck more than anything else, I got both sets of wires squeezed into the handrails and the console dropped easily into place. I briefly thought about lifting the console just to make sure no wires were being pinched, but I knew if I did that, those wires would pop out and I’d have to go through the whole process again.

“Get the screwdriver, Brian.” Pinched wires or not, that console was getting secured.

Well, I’d had enough by that time and it was past Brian’s bedtime. Should I stop here and do a part 2 later?

All right, I’ll keep going.

In spite of there being 75 steps, we are almost done with the assembly. The next morning, Brian was in the shower so I enlisted the help of the gorgeous woman I married. Would you believe we are now on step 12? “Raise the Frame (56) to the position shown. Have a second person hold the Frame until the step is completed.”

“Ok honey, I need you to hold this.” Dee complies, and the frame is now upright in the storage/transport position.

“Orient the Storage Latch (53) so that the large barrel and the Latch Knob (54) are in the positions shown. Attach the Latch Bracket (14) and the Storage Latch (53) to the Base (83) with two 3/8” X 2” Bolts (4) and two 3/8” Nuts (8).

Attach the upper end of the Storage Latch (53) to the bracket on the Frame (56) with a 3/8” X 2” Bolt (4) and 3/8” Nut (8). Note: It may be necessary to move the Frame back and forth to align the Storage Latch with the bracket.”

So I located said Storage Latch (53) and began to fiddle with it making sure the right end was up and the holes properly aligned. Dee gave a humongous sigh. She was obviously getting tired of standing there and my facial expressions and obscure mutterings were doing nothing to instill her confidence in my abilities.

Our mornings are chaotic at best making sure all four of us are showered, dressed and made to look presentable to the world at large. Dee really needed to get back to making our middle-school daughter look beautiful and her patience was wearing thin.

After convincing myself I knew what I was doing, I attacked the storage latch with the hex key and bolts. There were three bolts, one at the top and two on the bottom. There was also a 4th bolt on the bottom which did not get tightened as that was for holding the latch in place as you raised and lowered the frame.

There was of course, no way for Dee to know this, so she immediately assumes I haven’t got a clue and exclaims, “You forgot one of the bolts!”

“Which bolt would that be exactly?” I asked. She points with her toe since her hands were busy holding up the frame.

I shouldn’t, but I immediately get defensive at any indication I don’t know exactly what I’m doing. So I was a little miffed as I tried to point out in the instructions that particular bolt was not to be tightened. She looked at me dubiously as if she didn’t believe me which turned up my thermostat a little bit more. She wisely offered no more comment.

“That’s all I needed, thank you very much honey!” Dee looked like she was afraid to let go so I took the frame and demonstrated how to raise and lower it and how the latch locked into place. She experimented with the latch herself and seemed satisfied, whew!

Would you believe we are done? There were an awful lot more instructions, but they were mostly how to operate the treadmill and control panel, various exercise programs and so on.

I made sure the whole family knew it was done but not to plug it in or turn it on until I was able to get the single-outlet surge suppressor meeting all the specifications on page 12.

I got the surge suppressor and we finally were able to power the system up. This was a big deal, we actually had a little father-son ceremony celebrating our achievement. The family agreed that Brian would be the first person to use it as he was such valuable help.

I’m pleased to say everything worked great and we are now on fitness programs. I’m sorry to say that the kids are the only ones who have used it thus far. But we’ve got really good intentions.


Steve at Random said...

After reading this blog, I actually felt like I put it together. Of course, I don't read the instructions...never have. Generally, when I finish assembling something, there are many left over pieces. That's what made putting the volleyball net together up at the cabins such a hoot. But I wonder, did you have any left over pieces?

randymeiss said...

I'm pleased to say the only left over pieces were the ones that were supposed to be left over. (i.e. the shipping brackets and bolts that THE INSTRUCTIONS clearly stated could be discarded.)

Yes, I take reading instructions to the extreme, whether it's putting something together or learning how to play a new board game. And woe betide you if you ever break a rule.

AZJim said...

I am afraid I too am in Steve's class. The only time I read directions is when it doesn't work or I actually can't figure something out. (Of Course that never happens)The main problem I have with direcftions is that most of them don't make any sense. Being an X engineer, I am used to taking things as written and literally. Haven't seen any directions yet that were completely right.

I did get some good laughs. I can just see Brian's expression as he is helping his dad.