What is a retractable clothes washing line? Find out here.
Generally I have found retractable clothes washing lines very useful. They mainly keep the line clean so that it doesn’t dirty the washing pegged out on it.
My problem has been breakage. I have had them break because they are not capable of taking the weight of heavy washing and due to damage.
The line itself can usually take a lot of weight but the plastic boxes containing and mechanism have failed. In one case I had mounted the box too near to an outward opening door. Then the wind blew it on its pivot flat against the house wall. Later I opened the door which crunched into the box, in its new position, and cracked the plastic.
My Past Experience With A Retractable Clothes Washing Line
I’ve used a retractable clothes washing line for many years but my original one, from B&Q, came to the end of it’s life in 2015. The parts which tensioned the line had broken halfway through its life. I fixed it by tying a loop in the line so it could be hung over an adjacent hook. Surprisingly the bulk of the loop didn’t get in the way when it was allowed to coil up.
This original line could be removed from its support post in the winter by lifting it off its bracket. This was a good feature I required in any replacement. So when I couldn’t replace it with the exact same model I took a good look at what was available online before I settled on one. Here is Google’s selection.
My Current Experience With A Retractable Clothes Washing Line
In the summer of 2016 I installed a Minky Retractable Clothes Washing Line in the garden. It worked well until a couple of weeks ago when I heard a clattering noise outside and a cry of desperation from my wife. The new retractable clothes washing line had become detached from its wall bracket and a load of heavy wet washing was strewn along the garden path.
Fortunately it was during a dry period and most items were salvaged without re-washing. They went in the tumble drier to be dried and so did the following week’s washing due to my delay fixing it.
How The Minky Retractable Line Failed
The Minky Retractable Clothes Washing Line has two main parts. A steel wall bracket and the plastic line container. The two are held together by a pivot pin made like a nail but without a point. The weight of the washing had applied such force to the line as to break the plastic and rip it off the pin.
At first sight I thought the retractable clothes washing line wasn’t repairable. Such was the damage to the plastic. Then I thought how I could make a new pivoting part from angle aluminium and bolt it onto what remained of the plastic box holding the line.
By waiting and going back to it in my mind I eventually realised it might be possible to make a very good repair with little effort. And that is what I did.
Retractable Clothes Washing Line Repair Method
The picture below has a black line highlighting the seem in the box holding the retractable clothes washing line. The two halves of the box click together but I’m not sure if they are glued/welded. The exceptional force applied to the line split the box at the seem, just at the pivot pin end, letting the pin escape from the holes.
I’m sure the box suffered more damage when it fell to the ground. As a result a quadrant of the plastic box surrounding the bottom hole (top right in the picture) broke off.
I Used Superglue On The Plastic Box
I decided to glue the quadrant of plastic back in place, since it fitted well, and apply glue to the seem around the pin holes. For that I used superglue and clamped the pin end in a vice while it set.
24hrs later I could see it was a job well done. That’s the state of it in the previous picture entitled How The Box Splits In Two Halves.
It seemed plain to me that superglue alone would not keep it held together if a great force were applied, but it was a good initial approach.
Additionally I Used Aluminium Straps
I decided to reinforce the adhesive with an aluminium strap/clip wrapped around the ends by each pin hole. If these straps don’t come off the seem won’t be able to open up, even if the superglue gives way.
Here you can see the strap I made for the plastic around the top hole. The ends are angled to fit against the curve of the box. I stuck the straps to the plastic so the greater the surface area covered with adhesive the better. Below you can see the strap in situ, without adhesive, to check how it fits:
How The Straps Were Made
The straps are made of 8 gauge aluminium, i.e. sheet aluminium with a thickness of 3.26mm. No particular reason why I used that gauge other than I had a piece left over from another job and it looked substantial enough.
The sizes used for the straps are:
- Top Strap: width = 20mm, length used = 200mm,
- Bottom Strap : width = 13mm, length used = 150mm.
The lengths used were more than required. I had to have enough metal to hold while I bent them into shape. Once bent the excess was cut off.
The width of the plastic box projections at the pin holes is 35mm. So the straps had to wrap around in a semi-circle with a 35mm diameter. I searched my shed for a tube or broom handle with this diameter to use as a former for bending the straps around. I settled on a garden tool (a 3 tined fork with very long handle). Unusually the handle (stale) wasn’t the same diameter all along its length. But the last 150mm was thicker and was 35mm.
Bending The Aluminium Straps Into Shape
I was prepared to damage this tool’s handle to get the repair done. I clamped it in my bench vice trapped between two pieces of hardboard. The handle’s varnish got a few abrasions at this point. That was the only damage done to it.
I then clamped an aluminium strap at its centre point to the handle’s 35mm area to make a cross. See the picture below:
Then by holding the two ends of the aluminium strip I pushed it away from me and around the handle. The curve wasn’t perfect. It didn’t follow the handle curve perfectly. I was able to tap the metal against the handle with two opposing lump hammers.
In the end any gaps between metal and plastic was filled with adhesive to give a satisfactory finish.
I took approximate measurements to determine where to cut off the excess aluminium from each strap. The following pictures show the top strap being cut to length with a hacksaw:
Attaching The Straps With Polyester Resin
I roughened up the plastic and aluminium with fine abrasive paper to both clean it and to make electrons available for good covalent bonds with the adhesive. This is a necessity when using adhesives on plastics which aren’t solvents.
The adhesive I used was Isopon P38 polyester resin. See below:
NOTE: Other brands of polyester resin are available.
It consists of a grey resin and pink hardener which must be quickly mixed and applied. It hardens ready for sanding in 15mins. I applied it to the plastic and to the aluminium. Then when I put them together there was sufficient to squeeze out between the two materials leaving no air gaps.
Below you can see the result after adhering the top strap:
Below you can see the result after adhering the bottom strap:
After the adhesive had set I trimmed the excess with a penknife and fine abrasive paper. My wife wanted this repair to be done quickly so it is a practical repair but not an elegant one.
The end result of all this effort can be seen in the featured image reproduced below: