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Assembling your PVC Obstacle

Plan 1st

You have a few assembly options, but plan first. Planning avoids assembling your obstacle / equipment with a fitting secured to the incorrect piece of PVC pipe, fittings that face the wrong direction, and generally having to scrape your work.

·         Layout all your PVC pipe and fittings on the floor in the pattern of the finished obstacle. Make sure you know how all the pieces fit together. Don’t attempt to dry fit the PVC into the fittings. Once you seat PVC pipe into a fitting, it’s extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, to remove the pipe from the fitting.

·         Consider if you want the obstacle / equipment to break down into sections for storage, transport, etc. For example if you are building a table, you know you want to be able to change leg heights. Once you identify the points you want to be able to disassemble your obstacle / equipment, coat the inside of that fitting with a Vaseline type product. It will allow you to slide the PVC pipe ( legs in our example ) in and out of the fitting.

·         Determine the order you are going to join the PVC pipe into its respective fitting. This is particular important if your obstacle includes a rectangle ( our table example ). If you assembly the rectangle ( table base ) by starting at one side and then continue assembly by slipping adjacent sides into the fittings, you won’t be able to get the 4th side into base. Think about it!

·         Have a level or carpenter’s square handy if your obstacle needs to be squared-off. An example of this type of obstacle is straight up weave poles where the feet and the actual poles need to be set at a 90 degree angle.



The final step is actually assembling your obstacle. You basically have three choices for joining your PVC pipe into its respective fitting ( those joints that you didn’t coat with Vaseline as described above ). They are:

·         Dry Fitting: Properly align your PVC pipe with its respective fitting ( use a level or carpenter’s square if appropriate ) and draw an alignment line over the fitting and PVC pipe. Then simply slip and firmly press your PVC pipe into the fitting. Normally once PVC is dry fitted it’s difficult to disassemble. However over time, you may find that a joint will become loose from wear and tear and you may opt to screw or glue them later.

·         Screws: Follow the steps described above in Dry Fitting. After your obstacle is fully assembled, drill pilot holes through each fitting ( and PVC pipe behind it ) for screws. One screw is all that is necessary to secure a joint. Insert and drive ( use a screwdriver ) your screw into the pilot hole; your obstacles joints should be securely joined. A few safety tips here:

o   Use round head screws. They are less likely to catch on your dog.

o   Make sure the screws fit tightly in the holes ( i.e. won’t fall out of the obstacle ) and don’t become a foreign object in the dog’s mouth.

·         Gluing / Cementing: You will need to purchase PVC cement which is readily available at your local building supply or hardware store. A little PVC cement goes a long way, so purchase the smallest size available. To glue your obstacle / equipment:

o   Align your PVC fitting and pipe as described in the Dry Fitting section above. Make sure you mark your alignment with a line.

o   Glue one fitting / PVC pipe length at a time. PVC cement dries rapidly.

o   Spread a light coat of PVC cement inside one fitting and then slip and firmly press the appropriate section of PVC pipe into the fitting. You have basically one shot at getting your alignment correct as PVC cement dries in seconds. Hence the importance of planning, aligning and marking your alignment with lines.
Have fun!
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