Flat-pack trampoline DIY assembly ordeal a common Christmas calamity
Molly, 9, and Nellie, 11, were promised a trampoline by their mum and dad.
But instead of an afternoon of fun, the girls were left staring into the front yard of their Hobart home, where pieces of a trampoline, along with cardboard boxes and packing materials, lay strewn across the grass — with any prospects of jumping out of the question.
Who invented the Allen key?
- The L-shaped tool, often used to assemble flatpack items, is commonly known as the Allen key or wrench, or sometimes the hex key due to its hexagonal shape
- Credit for its invention is disputed, with two US companies claiming to have originated the idea for a set of hexagonal socket tools around 1910
- It would be Allen, after William G Allen of the Allen Manufacturing Company, whose name became most associated with the key, ahead of Unbrako, who to this day still claim they were first
Source: Wikipedia, VisionLaunch
Last Sunday afternoon, after two days of trying to put the trampoline together, their parents surrendered and walked off the lawn.
Leah Horman and her husband, an ABC employee, had tried and failed.
“It got a bit emotional. That’s why we had to abort it,” Ms Horman said.
“I was a bit worried about the neighbours hearing our conversation.”
The delicate combination of following instructions and working as a coordinated team, combined with expectant children looking on.
“My husband was on the outside of the trampoline, like the instructions said, and I was on the inside. And you have to communicate,” Ms Horman said, adding the teamwork suffered a “breakdown every now and then”.
“We both got a bit hurt,” she said.
While the physical injuries both parents sustained were relatively minor, Ms Horman’s story isn’t unusual.
‘Three very sad kids on Christmas morning’
On the ABC Hobart Facebook page, audience members shared their stories.
“We bought the kids a table tennis table one year, and after they went to bed on Christmas Eve, [my] husband started to assemble it on the back lawn,” Flossie Jay wrote.
“First thing in the box is the instruction leaflet, which he stared at for three seconds and threw it over his shoulder.
“At least two hours later, [the table was] still not put together and he finally asks for the instructions but it had blown away in the breeze — I laughed.”
While Flossie’s tennis table was eventually assembled, Donna Luck wasn’t so lucky.
“Santa got my kids a pool once which was one of the old type that had steel poles and legs, but unfortunately the elves forgot to include the nuts and bolts — three very sad kids on Christmas morning,” she wrote.
Hexagonal socket tools, commonly known as Allen keys, named after William G Allen, an American engineer. (Pixabay)
As the ordeal entered day two, Ms Horman suggested her husband call a friend over to help, eventually calling in professional flat-pack assemblers she had heard could be tasked with the job, at a price.
“I did have to say, ‘look, can we just bring these people in?'” she said.
“I had to let him go away for a few hours and come back and come up with the idea on his own.”
Ms Horman said she was more than happy to pay the money to have the trampoline assembled properly.
‘I’ve got to the point where I’ve hurt myself’
James Headlam runs a business assembling flat-pack items and play equipment in Hobart. (ABC News)
James Headlam started an assembly business in Hobart seven years ago and now employs eight people.
Mr Headlam said being called in to finish an assembly job was not uncommon.
“It does occur. Quite often in that initial phone call people will say: ‘I’ve got to the point where I’ve hurt myself’,” he said.
The company offers their assembly and installation services to people and businesses with equipment and appliances they want up and running.
A clinical psychologist said people often thought they should be able to assemble flat packs without help. (Pixabay)
Clinical psychologist Cassie LeFevre said that when it came to at-home assembly, men and women may approach the task in different ways.
Ms LeFevre said men often felt they should be able to put something together themselves because of perceived societal pressure and their own expectations.
“[There is] also a pressure that an individual male would put upon himself,” she said.
Ms LeFevre said women generally took a different view.
“I think they just want the job done. They just want it done in a timely way,” she said.
She said when couples tried to put a flat-pack together, one usually ended up being the “driver” and the other the “navigator”.
“Your roles aren’t really clearly defined as a couple,” she said.
“We have natural leaders in activities we do every day, but putting together this sort of equipment is unknown territory.”
Her advice to couples was to decide who is leading the operation, and acknowledge that it could get challenging.
The instruction booklet is not your enemy
Samm Harrington surveys the piles of flat-pack items in his toy shop storeroom. (ABC News: Leon Compton)
Hobart toy shop owner Samm Harrington has a simple piece of advice: don’t discard the instruction booklet.
“Years ago, my wife loved to bring home the flatpacks,” he said.
“I had a tendency of throwing the instructions away, then working out where to put everything.
“Over the years, I’ve learned not to throw the instructions away and to follow them properly. Definitely.”
The storeroom under Mr Harrington’s shop is packed with pre-Christmas stock, almost all of it requiring assembly.
With Christmas less than two weeks away, Mr Harrington’s advice is to allow extra time beyond that recommended, check the internet for videos and no matter what — read the instructions.