John Howell Sr. editorial 6/14/2014

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 17, 2014

John Howell Sr.

Swing project proves Dunces alive, well in Uptown NOLA

After the porch swing at Laurel Street in New Orleans broke with Eli and me during his winter visit, I finally undertook to make one myself, copied from the porch swing at Annie-Glenn’s Bed and Breakfast on Eureka Street.

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Except that I decided to make it not from wood, like the swing it would replace and the swing I was copying. Instead, I reasoned — and the project went downhill from this point forward — that I could make it from the polyvinyl composite sold in home improvement stores for outside trim and such.

And I did. The pretty little white swing now hangs on the front porch in the old swing’s place. But that’s all it does. The polyvinyl stuff isn’t up to bearing the weight that the wood bore, so the only seatings in the swing to date have been very carefully by one person at a time, that person being lighter than me. 

I had strongly suspected my miscalculation from about mid-point during the project, but by then I had invested such time and materials that I could only push forward to finish. With finish came the inevitable confirmation of the blunder. My wife said that it has become a pattern of my behavior that she is able to anticipate.

So there it hangs while I consider my options: Can I modify the swing so that it bear the weight? Should I quit, scrap my homemade contraption and buy a real swing and avoid throwing good money after bad?

The only pieces of the swing that I did not fashion from the polyvinyl came from Grant Machine Shop. Not coincidentally, those are the only pieces capable of bearing the weight a porch swing should bear. I have an idea that I could return to the machine shop and have them fashion angle iron supports that would reinforce the bottom of the swing.

So far, even the Laurel Street damncats, not easily fooled by appearances, have not ventured to sit in the contraption. Damncats sitting there or not doesn’t worry me. Some unsuspecting person walking onto the porch.