Skyfort Playset Installation – Day 4 (4/2)

Friday night it stormed pretty good, with some ice / hail thrown in for good measure. I worried as I lay in bed. I mean obviously the playset can’t be hidden from the elements forever, right? It is going to live outside after all! Still, we hadn’t sealed or stained it yet and I worried about it. Plus our carport is open on the side and I wondered how much rain would get in there on all the boards.

We had a pretty busy day lined up on Saturday (as usual) but I was able to go outside for a bit early in the morning to check things out. The assembled playset was a bit wet but not really worse for wear. Inside the carport though, quite a few of the boards were laying in puddles of water. I decided to move some of them around and prop up some of the wet ones so that at least they wouldn’t just sit in wet for awhile.

That picture is actually from the end of Saturday after we had used a fair number of pieces as well as cleaned out the garage and so I moved some of the pieces that were sitting in the “low-lying” parts into the garage. For much of the day, Carolyn was cleaning out the garage (with my occasional help) while I worked on the playset. We were joking about the Amazing Race, which is one of our favorite TV shows (okay well actually the only show we watch). We’ve already determined that to save the marriage that we must never go on TAR together, but all day Saturday we were making jokes like “In this roadblock, teams must choose between 2 Miller Saturday tasks – their choice: Clean the Garage… or Install the Playset”, etc. You know, because we’re “cool” like that!

So in my early inspection, as I looked at Step 7, I realized that I had made my first mistake.

You’ll probably have to click to enlarge the photo to see, but there’s a floor joist (H7!) that is supposed to go between the left and center posts. There are two holes drilled in the bottom board (H4) for screws to attach H7, but the holes are between the center and right – i.e. I have that H4 board flipped. Oddly enough, I managed to have BOTH boards flipped the wrong way. I didn’t have time to fix it in the morning, and while we were out, I tried to think of whether it would be possible to unbolt the boards and flip them or whether I’d need to just drill holes in the other side.

I didn’t want to have two extra holes in the board, so luckily I found that the board came unbolted pretty easily. I set my 9 year old assistant to the job!

The weather on the day would not seem to make up its mind. It would get cold, then warm, then rain, then stop, and at one point it rained while the sun was shining! Thankfully it never rained more than a drizzle, so I just kept on working – alternately putting my hood up, down, jacket off, on, etc.

The next few steps went well – after installing the floor joists (Step 7) and floor supports (Step 8), we moved on to the deck braces (Step 9). There are 8 deck braces (E11!), so I installed the first 4

Then I got cocky and started installing the next 4 on the other side. I pre-drilled my first hole and went to line it up, only to find that there was no corresponding holes on the other side to bolt in. Then I re-read the instructions and found that these deck braces were supposed to go on the other two sides for some reason. I’m sure it will be very clear why that is at some point in the process (around Step 57, perhaps?) . In any case, I have an extra hole now

Next it’s time to start putting the floor boards on the 2nd story. I specifically checked, and although it’s very early on that you start working on the upper floor, it is not until Step 74 (!) that you install the actual ladder to actually be able to REACH those floors … I don’t know if that’s a safety thing (they don’t want the ladder to go up before it’s all “safe” up there) or what, but it’s kind of annoying

Note the makeshift ladder I had to use to climb up there. My assistant was very helpful in putting all the screws in while I drilled them in – it was a definite time saver to not have to keep going back and forth to the screw bucket. We did notice that we had put a few of the boards in backwards, but luckily we noticed that before screwed them in. They didn’t line up with the rest of the boards over the floor joists – so we just turned them over and all was well.

One other annoying thing was that the corner posts for some reason (probably installer error) stick up a bit more than the side beams – so the floor boards on the edge stick up slightly higher than the rest of the floor. I’m not sure that there’s anything that can be done about that so hopefully it’s not a big deal.

After that, the final step of the day was installing the floor of what I believe is the picnic table area. Here are two of my assistants posing in front of the final product

Day 5 time: 5 hours
Total time: 10.5 hours
Mistakes made: 2
Steps completed: 7-12 (of 103)

Skyfort Playset Installation – Day 3 (4/1)

Day 3 was another cold day. When I got home, I immediately set out to continue progress!

I had stored the first part of the playset underneath the carport to protect it from the elements, but obviously that was not going to be possible very much longer.

You can see the first section in the background behind me as i worked on Step 2, which is building a similar section to the first one.

Carolyn actually had a party to go to, so I had all the kids with me. Luckily the youngest went to bed early, so I just had the rest of them out here with me. She took the camera though, which is why there aren’t any more pictures of the evening’s work.

Steps 3-6 involve putting the sections from the first two steps together into the base of the clubhouse. Work went pretty well and I was able to complete up through Step 6

Day 3 time: 2 hours
Total time: 5.5 hours
Mistakes made: 0
Steps completed: 2-6 (of 103)

Skyfort Playset Installation – Day 2 (3/31)

Thursday March 31st – also known as Day 2. Normally our Thursdays are pretty busy with piano lessons and Cub Scouts, but for various reasons, both of those were canceled, leaving me with a full evening to work on my Build and Grow!

First order of business was emptying out the other two boxes and organizing the rest of the parts.

Then, it was time to inventory

We had all our pieces. There were only two moments of confusion

  • We couldn’t find our “P23″ pieces.  But when we went through all the pieces, we found them mixed in with the P22 pieces.
  • There were two pieces that did not appear to be stamped with a letter/number combination.  Some of them were very faint and hard to see, but there were two that didn’t have any at all.  When we went through all the pieces, we found that we were missing our two P28 pieces, and thankfully the manual gave the dimensions for each piece – our missing pieces were in fact the P28s!

We were making sure to check EACH piece in a pile. So rather than say, just counting our pile of P16s and making sure that we needed 16 and there were 16 in the pile – we checked each piece in the pile to make sure it had the right stamp. Seems like a bit of overkill but that’s how we found our missing P23 pieces.

Then it was time to start! We read, and read, and triple-checked Step 1 – “Lay Tower Legs B1, B2 and B3 on ground, per diagram. Attach H11 Top Floor Rail….”

We actually only made it through Step 1 on Day 2 before dark.

Sorry for the dark picture but I wanted to take a picture of our Day 2 progress. I originally had agreed with a co-worker to come over on Saturday morning to help me with but, having seen where we were at, I decided to reschedule that. I wanted to make sure that I felt a bit more comfortable with how things were going before adding in another person.

Day 2 time: 2 hours
Total time: 3.5 hours
Mistakes made: 0
Steps completed: 1 (of 103)

Skyfort Playset Installation – Day 1 (3/30)

As we mentioned previously, Day 1 was Wednesday March 30th. The playset was delivered in the afternoon and my wife let me know while I was at work.

I know that the stereotype of these types of endeavors is that it’s a ton of work and not enjoyable at all. But at least at this point, I was really looking forward to it.

The kids and I often do these Build and Grow kids clinics at Lowe’s. They’re just free kits that let kids build various things out of wood. So we were just calling the playset “Dad’s Build and Grow” :-D

So I was pretty stoked to come home. Unfortunately, I was informed that there was a Toys R Us Birthday Gift “emergency”. So I had to take him down there which cut into my day time.

But when I got back, everyone was excited to start!

When I got home, I asked if there were “instructions” or anything and Carolyn said she didn’t know. An examination of the boxes indicated that the instructions were, oddly enough, in the box labeled “Instructions in this box”! The site said it came in 5 boxes, though it turned out that one of the “boxes” was just the slide. The other 4 boxes were chock full of wood (and fastening and other hardware)

The kids all know what the first step of any Build and Grow is – “make sure you have all the pieces!” So that’s what we started with. You can see us in the first picture all carrying piece “A1″.

We started out trying to find all the pieces in order (As, then B, etc.), but quickly found that to be difficult – each box had a packing list that did say which pieces were in which box, but within each box, they could be anywhere in the box, so it was hard to find where in the box a particular part would be.

So we decided to just take all the parts out of the boxes, organize them, and then inventory them after they were all organized and out of the boxes. When darkness fell, we had managed to empty out the first two boxes.

Day 1 time: 1.5 hours
Total time: 1.5 hours
Mistakes made: 0 (but can you feeel the foreshadowing?)

Skyfort Playset Installation – Choice and delivery

Our family of seven had had a playset on our “list” for several years before we actually purchased one. We wanted to buy one soon enough that our kids (at the time ranging in age from 10 to 2) were young enough to still enjoy it but old enough to be able to do stuff on it. But there always seemed to be a higher priority to spend our money on

Finally we had saved up enough money and bit the bullet.

We were very familiar with Rainbow playsets – there’s a distributor nearby that offers free play a few times a week, so we’ll occasionally go over there and play in their showroom.

We ended up deciding to buy this version from Sams Club, mostly because of the price. The Sams Club playset was (IMO) comparable to some of the $5000-6000 playsets from Rainbow, but instead only cost $1299.

I have no idea how long that link may work, as the playsets from Sams, Costco, etc. seem to “be upgraded” (i.e. cost more money) every year.

But basically it’s a standard playset

Here are the “specifications” from the link

  • Top level clubhouse with natural wood roof
  • Lower play deck with sandbox play area
  • Rock wall climbing feature
  • Crow’s nest lookout with play telescope
  • Lower level picnic/activity table
  • 2 heavy-duty belt swings with chain
  • 1 heavy-duty glider with chain
  • 10′ Fast-Trac deep slide
  • Monkey bars
  • Flat step entry ladder with handrails
  • Detailed assembly manual
  • Ships in 5 boxes
  • Recommended for children ages 3-10 years

I ordered it online on Thursday March 24th. It indicated 10-14 days for delivery. I originally had some problems with my Sams Club membership showing up on the website but eventually got it figured out. When I hadn’t heard anything for awhile, I was worried that somehow the ordering process had screwed up, but I got an email on Monday the 28th that the order had shipped. It had a tracking number (but no link to what site to use!). Eventually I “tracked” it down (pardon the pun), and it said it was on the truck with estimated deliver date of the 29th (the next day).

We weren’t sure when it would come, but it turned out that “delivery date” of the 29th was just when they call to schedule delivery. They called and set up delivery for the next day, Wednesday the 30th, between 1 and 5 pm.

And the journey begins!