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  • Swing Set Maintenance Tips

    Adding a swing set to your garden can provide your children with hours of fun and relaxation. Whether they want to gently rick back and forth watching the world go by, or energetically reach for the clouds, a swing is a great investment for outdoor fun.

    Keep your swing set safe, and help extend its useful life with these top tips for play equipment maintenance.


    1. Coping With Cold Snaps During a harsh cold snap, outside temperatures may drop below freezing. Check the temperature tolerance level in the manufacturing handbook. Although all the plastic component on our swing sets are suitable for use outdoors, their integrity may be compromised during extremely cold weather. If possible detach the plastic swing set and store indoors until the temperature improves. Also be aware that in cold temperatures the ground will be very hard. If you don't have safety matting underneath the swing set, a fall onto this harder ground can cause injury. 2. Metal Maintenance Whenever two metal components are in contact with each other, a small amount of oil will help keep them moving smoothly. Your manufacturer's information booklet should provide details of which parts require oiling, and when. Our metal swing sets constructed from galvanized steel or aluminium do not need any additional corrosion protection, and as a result and almost maintenance-free. 3. Wooden Components Our wooden swing sets are constructed from pre-treated timbers, which means they are ready to use immediately after assembly. Help keep the wood in good condition by ensuring it is not exposed to a continuous flow of water, for example from an overhead leaking gutter, and that any debris such as moss or soil is removed, as this could trap water against the wood, encouraging rot.

    4. Safety Area If you have used safety mats beneath the swing set, carry out a periodic inspection to ensure they haven't crept away from their intended location.

    5. Nuts and Bolts Over time, nuts and bolts may wiggle themselves use. This can damage the swing set as component parts are given the freedom to rub against each other. Check them over regularly, for example once a month, to check they are tight enough. Also look out for signs of rust. If a bolt rusts through it is no longer structurally secure, and can be very difficult to remove, so it's better to replace it at the first sign of trouble.

    6. Smooth And Safe Whether the swing set is made from wood or metal, all the surfaces should be smooth to the touch. Look out for any sharp edges that could snag clothes or scratch skin.

    7. Seat and Chain Inspection When inspecting the seat and chain, pay particular attention to the point at which the chain attaches to the frame, and where the chain links to the seat. Also look for any cracks in the plastic of the seat, as it will need to be replaced immediately. 8. Do It Yourself Our swing set frames are designed for use with the swing seats supplied, any any other manufacturer supplied attachment. Please do not modify the set with your own additions such as car tyres, or by looping chains over the cross-bar, as this will impact on the safety of the play equipment.

    All of our swing sets come with a manufacturer's guarantee and are designed to be as maintenance-free as possible. If you have any questions or would like further information about caring for play equipment from Wicken Toys, please contact us.

  • Winter Climbing Frame Inspection

    As the weather gets colder, you're climbing frame is going to be exposed to low temperatures, wet weather and high winds.

    If there are any maintenance issues with the frame, winter weather can magnify them, causing significant damage.

    Find the problems now, and fix them while they are small, and when the Spring arrives the climbing frame will be in top condition and ready to use.

    Here's how to carry out a thorough play equipment inspection. 1. Ensure you carry out the inspection in good weather and bright sunlight. If it's pouring with rain, or getting dark, poor visibility may cause you to overlook something. Similarly if you are rushing because you are uncomfortably cold or wet, you will not give the frame the level of attention it needs.

    2. Check every nut and bolt for looseness. Changes in the weather can cause the wood to expand and contract, loosening fixings. Your climbing frame might not get played with often over Christmas, but when it does, you want it to be safe.

    3. If you can, remove plastic swing seats and accessories. Only do this if the process of removing them, then reattaching at a later date will not damage the parts. Plastic can become brittle in very cold weather, so storing pieces indoors, or in a sheltered storage area can preserve their useful life.

    4. Inspect the wood for cracking or lifting. In dry weather, the wood may lift causing splinters. You can simply sand the surface down to make it safe again.

    5. Inspect the area surrounding the play frame. Over time rocks may work their way up through the ground, or sharp objects could be discarded. Check to make sure the area is safe to play in, and there's no risk of falling onto something dangerous.

    6. Check any safety mats are still fit for purpose. Have they perished in the poor weather? Do they need replacing? Also check that they haven't shifted from their original locations.

    7. Oil any metallic moving parts to keep them moving freely.

    8. Check the climbing frame's stability. It may have been a flat, level patch of ground when you first erected the climbing frame, but over time rain water, and wear and tear may have caused the ground to shift, creating an uneven surface, and potentially destabilizing the climbing frame.

    9. Check ground anchors haven't worked their way lose. A protruding ground anchor poses a trip and fall risk, and will not be adequately securing the climbing frame to the ground.

    10. Now is a good time to consider whether your climbing frame is fulfilling its potential. Does it offer your children enough of a challenge, and does it inspire their play ideas. Look at the options for the model frame you have. Could you swap a ladder for a climbing net, or change the swing arm for some monkey bars. If you aren't sure of the options available to you, please feel free to give us a call and discuss what accessories and attachments are available for the climbing frame you own.

    With careful maintenance, and the occasional update, you climbing frame can provide many hours of outdoor fun for your children.

  • Prepare Your Back Garden For Windy Weather

    Autumn's here and it's arrived with gusto.

    With high winds predicted this weekend and next, you need to start getting your back garden storm-ready.

    It may be a pain to keep storing toys, then getting them back out again a few days later, but a flying plastic slide, or airborne water play table is no joke. Your garden toys could cause damage to your property or even your neighbours.

    Here's some tips on how to get your garden ready for the wintery weather.

    Preparing Your Garden For High Winds

    Any smaller lightweight toys, like go-karts, and plastic playhouses, should be stored in a shed or garage.

    If you don't have access to one of those, you should bring them into the house, or even store them in the boot of your car.

    If you have a trampoline in the garden, the official advice from ROSPA is: * Turn smaller trampolines upside down so the wind can't get underneath the mat and lift it; * Tie down large trampolines with purpose built tethers or anchor kits; * Remove safety netting as it will act like a sail in the wind.

    Anchor Larger Play Equipment

    For larger play equipment that you cannot take apart and store, you will need to find a way of tethering it to the ground.

    Most climbing frames come with anchor posts. If you have not installed these yet, now is the time to do it. If you are purchasing anchor posts separately, look for thick stakes that are either jagged or corkscrew in shape as these will not lift out of the ground.

    Our heavy duty ground anchors are £85 for four stakes, and are worthwhile investment, since a toppled climbing frame can cause damage to the play equipment, and surrounding property. The corkscrew shape keeps the stakes firmly embedded in the ground, even when the climbing frame is buffeted by windy conditions. The ground anchors also help keep the frame more stable when children are playing on it.

    We also have specially designed trampoline anchor kits available for £19.99. The kits, made by TP Toys will fit any make of trampoline. The four substantial straps are wrapped the trampoline frame, and attached to the metal stakes which are then drive into the ground.

    Post-Storm Clean Up

    It's important to carry out regular inspections of your outdoor play equipment throughout the year, but this is especially true after you have experienced high-winds.

    On trampolines, pay particular attention to pads covering the springs as these are especially vulnerable.

    If you do find any damage, we can supply any replacement spare parts you need. If in doubt, feel free to call our customer service team to discuss your problem.

    If you have taken down the trampoline's safety net due to bad weather, it is important that children are not allowed to bounce on the trampoline until the net is reinstated.

    Also check that any anchor stakes are still firmly attached to the play equipment and embedded in the ground.

    The correct preparation for bad weather can save you a lot of trouble and cost in the long run.

  • Extend Trampoline Life With Regular Maintenance

    When you decide to buy a trampoline for yor garden, you are buying more than just a toy: you are investing in a piece of sports equipment you can reasonsably expect to last for a number of years.

    Your trampoline will provide hours of fun and exercise, but in order to get the most value for money from it, you need to make it last by providing adequate protection and maintenance.

    Trampoline Protection

    Firstly if your trampoline is not used all the year around, and you have somewhere suitable to store it, taking it down for the winter months will provide the best protection from frost, wind and other bad weather.

    You can also buy purpose-built all-weather covers to protect trampolines from the elements, and these provide a good alternative to packing the equipment away, or can be useful protecting the trampoline overnight.

    Trampoline Maintenance

    Secondly, you can prevent a small amount of wear and tear becoming a source of major damage, or worse even injury, by regularly inspecting it for damage.

    How often you conduct these inspections will depend on how frequently the trampoline is used. Choose either the same day each week, or a regular day each month so that you get into the routine of doing the checks, and write it on the calendar so you don't forget.

    A thorough inspection should include the safety net, protective pad, springs, legs and the actual bounce mat itself.

    Spring Inspection Make sure you check every individual spring in turn, don't rely on just a couple of spot checks.

    On each spring look for:

    • Are there any signs of rust?
    • Is the spring stretching or losing its shape?
    • Is the spring becoming detached at from either the frame at one end, or the mat at the other.
    • Are there any springs missing?

    Bounce Mat Inspection

    Perform an inspection both from the ground, and while seated on the bounce mat. Check for signs that the mat is fraying. Small, threadbare areas can quickly grow causing weak points on the mat. Pay special attention to the areas there the hooks are sewn in at the edges. As part of this inspection look for any rips and tears to the safety padding covering the springs. Little hands or feet may get caught in small holes in the apdding, casuing the rip to get bigger, and potentially causing an injury.

    Trampoline Enclosure Check

    This needs to be a very thorough inspection, as a faulty saftey net will give a false sense of security. Check all over for signs that the fabric is fraying. What looks like a small area of unsightly wear and tear can quickly turn into a hole is left unrepaired. Pay particular attention to all the points at which the enclosure fixes to the trampoline, ensuring there are no weak spots or gaps developing that someone might fall through.

    Do not use the trampoline if you have doubts over the function or integriuty of any of the springs. The btramlooline can be easily repaired by obtaining replacement parts, but if you conbtinue to use it before fixing it you run the risk of either further damaging the trampoline or the user being injured.

    If you are considering replacing a trampoline that is beyond repair, take a look at our new line of Springfree tampolines, the safest trampolines for a home environment.

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