Wednesday, August 15

Lift and tilt

So there's this new chair, well, bits of what could be a new chair, spread out on the floor. It's my birthday present to my backside after 15 years on a black leather one from the Victory Office Furniture catalogue. That still looks good but the cushions went flat several years ago, the gas leaks (resulting in a disconcerting slow shuddering drop accompanied by noises that you need to apologise for) and the tilt refused to tilt. The new one's better padded, has wood where there was plastic and is cream but otherwise pretty similar.

I carefully removed the plastic and smart silvery protecting foam and grabbed a screwdriver. It didn't look terribly difficult to assemble so I got stuck in and in no time had the back attached to the base and the mounting for the lift and tilt mechanism attached to the base and the wheels attached to that. So far, so good. There had been a choice as to whether the lift and tilt bit should go under or over the seat bracket but the way the metal bits were shaped seemed to match the order I'd done.

Last were the arms. I could understand why there weren't any instructions to hand as it all seemed pretty simple. All I had to do now was place the arms on the sides and screw in four bolts. One side needed a bit of an effort to match up the holes. The other side would have needed a large vice or several neighbours to sit on one section of the curved wood frame to bend it sufficiently to enable the holes to align closer than my strength could get them. Hmmm. I realised that the angle of the seat back and base may be crucial here so loosened the seat base screws and had another go at the arms. This time I did get closer, close enough to get the fourth bolt in but turning it more than a couple of turns was beyond the little Alan key provided. Time for a break.

I found a decent socket set and a hexagonal bit and attacked the last bolt again. This time I got a lot closer and it was almost complete. Then my friend Richard came round with some photos to put on-line. He liked the chair but I could see he wasn't impressed with the arm that wasn't as solid as it should be. Richard knows about these things and when he doesn't look as impressed as you'd like him to then you know something has to be done about it. He left with a cheery wave and I looked at the chair again.

I had now spent a good couple of hours on it - those arms taking up most of the time. I decided that it was OK for now and started tidying the packaging away. That was when I noticed the instructions. A single sheet tucked up inside the massive box with illustrations and several large black crosses. It appeared that the order of construction I had followed was almost completely the opposite, possibly actually completely the opposite, of what the illustrations showed. They had a strange folding and unfolding affair going on with the arms loosely attached to the back and base at the start. That made sense, I mumbled to myself, but was reluctant to undo what I had just spent ages doing.

What was wrong, though, was my choice of which first to attach to the seat base. I reckoned that might be important so, armed with another set of sockets, I removed the wheels, the lift and tilt mechanism and then the seat base bracket. That gave me a chance to sort the arms out too although I didn't go for the method suggested. I had a feeling that that last bolt had suffered enough and might well never go in any thread again other the one that it felt as if it had been cutting for itself before. I did manage, at least, though, to have it heading in direction rather more in line with its hole which should have been a good thing.

I had tightened all the base and other screws pretty well so removing them had taken some time but with the new sockets life was less heavy going and soon the base was on, the lift and tilt re-attached and all tightened and lovely. Finally I attacked the fourth bolt and was delighted that, once it had passed the half-way mark, it turned much more easily and was soon fully engaged with no arm wobble and the little cap thing fitted in the hole nicely after all.

Hooray! I thought, and plonked myself down it in. Nice and springy. Comfy but wait... it won't tilt. Oh no! What have I done? Thoughts of how on earth you can return a ruddy chair you've bought on-line swept through my mind and I uttered some pretty blue swear words too. It was exactly the same as the old black chair. It didn't rock, just rolled. Oh dear.

I had now been at this task for well over four hours. It was hot. I was hot. It would have been two and a half hours but I increasingly had been going outside to cool off, change tools and must have got through half a pack of cigarettes with frustration increasing my need for nicotine. Ten minutes a piece would have taken it to four hours.

Coming in after the last fag I decided to take a look at the underside and see if there was anything I had fixed that was blocking its operation. I also remembered reading in the advert that it had a 'lock' feature but I'd no idea what it was or how it worked. I fiddled with the lever. Put the chair upright again and, yes, it tilted! I was so delighted I decided I had to write about it. The new chair worked! I hadn't wasted my money and didn't have to start all over again or contemplate arguing with some distant customer services on an expensive 0845 number or worse. No land line means those calls cost a fortune on a mobile - but that's another story.

I did then wonder something. If I had accidentally locked the new chair, could I have accidentally, several years ago now, locked the old one? I smiled at my dumbness and sat on the old chair, pushed the lever in or out a bit. Yes, it tilted too. Unbelievable. It was still far too low and flat-bottomed but at least it could be useful as a spare rather than thrown away now. That tilt makes all the difference.

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