Friday, August 27, 2010

How to Make a Backyard Tetherball

These two monkeys live inside my house. I know, right!? All year long, even! I have to admit I spend a lot of time trying to get them out of the house.
The then seven year old wanted nothing for Christmas other than a tetherball. Can you imagine? A seven year old with one thing on his wish list, how could I deny him? I wasn’t going to let the fact that I’d never played tetherball a day in my life stop me from figuring out how to make that happen.
I first purchased an all-in-one kit from amazon (comes with: ball, tether, pump and adjustable pole in a carrying case.) Now, you see, right there – that carrying case is what started all of the confusion. I feebly believed that this was a sport you brought around with you, jamming the pole in the ground wherever you happen to end up for a game.
When I mentioned naively, my plan to spear the mid-winter Coloradan ground in my backyard with this flimsy, hollow, adjustable pole, several guys I mentioned this to laughed and pointed (with an air of having constructed hundreds of backyard tetherballs in their day). Of, course, when it came time to actually assemble it they were nowhere to be found. So, I figured it out myself. And you can too.

What you’ll need:
An old tire.
This, thankfully, will be free! It’s exciting to realize you can get something you need (that you imagine will set you back) for free! And with lots of nostalgic courtesy, because every tire shop owner you ask will know exactly what you’re doing with it. They get this far-away glint in their eye…remembering their lazy summers playing tetherball...or swinging on that old tire swing – or, apparently….lawn bowling? Don’t know what that is, but those are the things that they think you’re doing with it and they love it.
For legal reasons big chains like Walmart can’t give you old tires, but having never bought a tire, they did tell me where to go. So? I shop at Walmart. Shut up.
- Cement.
Extremely cheap (can be found at Home Depot, etc.) Get 2 bags. I purchased the cheapest grade they had – because I figured I was only using it for weight, but after many months of use the cement is a little crumbly, so I might suggest getting the second cheapest : $2 - $4 a bag.
- A Cement-Mixing Tub.
Maybe you have this, but if you don’t, it’s versatile enough to use for lots of projects. About $4.
- Heavy Duty Garbage Bags (2 – 3).
- Something to mix the cement with (it will wash off if you do it immediately).

Mix cement with water in tub. I spread out a garbage bag underneath to protect the walkway I was working on. I mixed the cement with trowels/ spades (and let the boys help too).
Lay another garbage bag down and place the tire over it. Lay one last bag inside the tire (to hold the cement).

Start filling the tire inside under the rims first. Fill entire tire to the top inside edge (almost up to it is fine). Let set up a minute or so (you’ll know if it’s too wet for the next step).
Carefully place the bottom section of the pole into the CENTER of the cement. Be sure it’s straight. Hold until it doesn’t tilt when you let go.
Let set up overnight.

Now, you can roll this set up anywhere in the yard. Attach the poles as per the instructions, pump up ball and tie it on and you’re all set.
The greatest feature is that you can hide this thing during parties. 

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