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'MacGyvering' the Millennium Falcon of Fitness Equipment

Back when my Orbital Walker was
shiney and new.
Back in February of 2014 I bought myself an Orbital walker to supplement my exercise, or lack of exercise, I was getting from 'walking' my dogs for an hour each day.

I say lack of because at the time both our dogs didn't really walk fast enough for me to break any kind of sweat, they kind of 'meandered', whilst window shopping smells and places to pee.

Fast forward to now and I've pretty much exercised on my walker five days a week, every week. My sessions started out at ten minutes and increased to forty minutes for the last three years.

Consequently this machine is starting to become the Millennium Falcon of exercise machines. As Han Solo said;

She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid. I've made a lot of special modifications myself.

Those 'special modifications' are ones I've made to hold this thing together rather than buy a replacement.

It's an AU$200.00 piece of equipment and, it's still good, except for the broken bits. The problem is the broken bits are kind of essential to it working.

Upright column fix on both sides.
The bottom weld on the main upright column broke on one side some time last year. The weld was still good on the other side so I  bolted a metal plate onto the broken side to stop it breaking altogether (I can't weld so this was the next option). The plate was just a piece of bracket I had lying around the house that I flattened out. A 'MacGyver' fix, if you will.

So earlier this year the rest of the same weld finally broke. I MacGyvered another 'found' metal plate on that side. It seems to hold  well but if I undid both metal plates the main column would probably lift right out, or just fall over.

The latest fix is for a problem that's been grinding away for a while, literally.

At some point last year the right pedal axle came loose enough for it to spin in the hole where it's held onto the pedal arm by a lock nut. I tried to tighten it back up but the head of the axle is held with a puny little allen key (I can't tell you how much I hate allen keys). I could never get any leverage because the lock nut at the other end was proper locked, and no amount of WD40 was shifting it.

See the thread sticking out of the nut on the left?
That's how thick the pedal axle used to be.
I've been meaning to do 'something' to fix it for months but the machine was still useable so... I kept using it. Just last week I decided I better do that 'something' to fix it. I had a closer look and couldn't believe how much of the axle had grinded away.

I was amazed it hadn't snapped the day before, during my 40 minute routine.

It looked like this was the end of the road but I thought, I'll see if I can fix it. Not by buying a new part or anything, that would be weird. I'll MacGyver something.

These cheap skate bearings fit perfectly inside the pedal housing.
My solution turned out to be filling the inside of the pedal casing with old skateboard bearings, which to my sensibilities, is an upgrade. There were no bearings in the original design, just two plastic collars around the axle.

It seems to be working well, though for how long, only time will tell. Since the hole in the pedal arm was partially ground away as well. I'm betting that'll break before my new axle and bearings system do. In the short term I'm pretty sure it'll hold together for a little while yet...


[Footnote: It turns out the pedal arm hole (where the axle is attached) was ground away too much as well, and partially broke the next day. However I have an idea...

You may think, just throw it out already and get a new one but, if it's being replaced anyway, why not have a go at fixing it? It might just work... and, you know, the rest of it IS still good.]

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