Preventative Maintenance: The How-To & Why

 

Given the right care, your telescopic bleachers will last generations, but it takes effort, care and knowledge on your part. Just like your car needs an oil change, your telescopic bleacher needs preventative maintenance to ensure proper operation.

We mentioned previously that our number one care tip is cleaning under the bleachers. Here are a few others to add to your list:

Hardware: Loose and missing hardware. This one is pretty basic, you want to make sure the hardware throughout your unit isn’t damaged, rusted, missing, or loose. This goes for the understructure, aisle rails, guardrails, seat components and so on. Your hardware should be looked at on a regular basis during normal operating procedures. If you see something wrong you should fix it or have it fixed to prevent additional damage to the components that it is holding together.

Missing or Damaged Row Locks: Row locks are an important component of all telescopic bleachers. They are needed to prevent one row from closing before it is intended to be closed to stay in the proper sequence. There are many people out there that work on bleachers that say it is ok to just take the row locks off if they get damaged if the bleacher is powered. This is not the case. The typical damage is from unauthorized people going under the bleachers, tripping on the row locks and bending them, causing additional problems. This also happens to some manufacturers’ interlocking guide rods. When you catch them with your foot and they pull out, the structural frames are no longer interlocked together and it creates a problem with guidance and structural support.

Damaged Seats: Cracked, damaged, and loose seating can cause an unstable seating surface for your patrons and can cause a cut hazard with sharp edges and splinters. Baseballs can break the faces of Wood Planks/Riser Boards and the faces of Plastic Seat Modules. People stomping on the tops of seats can break holes in them also. When either one is broken, there are sharp edges that can injure your spectators. These items should be repaired. Loose hardware on seats can also cause someone to fall resulting in personal injury and liability.

It’s also worth mentioning:

Bent Cantilever Frame Arms: Are your bleachers sagging? Are you having trouble opening and closing your system? Your cantilever frame arms being bent or damaged is one of the most likely causes. Your bleachers are installed to last the lifetime of your facility with proper maintenance and care. Part of that maintenance and care is making sure that your bleachers are used properly. We’re not saying that everyone has to sit quietly in the stands and limit the shifting of their weight though. Our bleachers are installed for the most fanatic fan – in the open position. In every O&M manual, you’ll see a statement similar to this one:

“Do not allow people to climb, sit, or stand on tiers other than the Flex-Row modules of the MAXAM system while closed.”  And, “Do not leave any section or bank open without the Flex-Row modules being open at the aisle locations.”

– Hussey MAXAM Owners & Maintenance Manual.

 

Students and patrons climbing and/or sitting on the top tier of the bleachers while they are in the closed position is one of the main ways cantilever frame arms get damaged.  Another common problem we have seen is when people are sitting on the upper tiers in the closed position, they tend to want to jump down to the lower levels. This not only can be very dangerous for the person doing the jumping, but very bad for your cantilever arms and your bleacher decks. It will also be costly to repair since misuse of the system is not covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.

What does it impact? Cantilever frame arms are vital to the life of your bleachers. They attach to the main frame essentially holding up each bleacher deck which makes it easier to open and close your system. If they start to bend or drag, the bleacher decks will start to rest on top of one another causing unnecessary friction during operation and sometime stopping operation all together and causing a continuous flow of premature wear to spread through your seating system.

What to do? If you don’t already have warning labels or signs in place stating the bleachers should not be occupied in the fully or partially closed position, you should add them. If you are in need of these warning labels, you can contact us and we would be happy to get you what you need!

It’s best to be sure anyone using your system: Athletic Directors, Coaches, Maintenance, etc., is aware of these rules and guidelines because what may look like a cool place for students to sit could end up costing much more.

If you need only a small section of seating, you can use your Flex-Rows if you have them, otherwise you should open the entire bank. You also have the option for a secondary locking system for partial seating.

For example, with a 15-row bleacher, you can set a secondary locking system on the bleachers to open only 8 rows of seating and still be locked safely in the open position. When in this position, you can incorporate a top closure to cover the seating rows that are still in the closed position to prevent people from climbing, sitting, standing and storing things on telescopic bleachers while in the closed position. See how Botkins Local School District does this with their telescopic bleachers.

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Telescopic Bleachers: Our Number One Tip for Care

 

There is a reason we gave away popcorn samples at all of our trade shows this year – each one had a reminder inside to clean under the bleachers, the number one preventative maintenance tip we share. Whether its food, soda, or dust and debris, all have an impact on the operation of your telescopic bleachers.

Known as the bearing surface, the space underneath your telescopic bleachers in both the open and closed position. Often, cleaning up the mess after a big game means to close the bleachers and clean the floor where debris fell through. This is a good start, but you have to also beware of what lingers on the bearing surface where the bleachers sit in a closed position. This is where dust and debris tend to collect.

What Does it Impact?
The most obvious reason to clean under the bleacher is for sanitary reasons, from food, soda, wrappers, and dust this is a breeding ground for bacteria. The sometimes not so obvious reason: It can do some major damage to your understructure. The dust and debris can cause a domino effect with damage to the drive wheels that will impair tracking and alignment and this type of damage isn’t covered under your warranty because it is 100% preventable.

When you are closing power bleachers, row one goes under row two and pushes both under row three and then pushes all three under row four and so on getting heavier as they go. Once you have all of the rows closed under the others, except the last row or two, is when the bleachers begin losing their traction and need your assistance to close all the way. This is where the dust is causing the drive wheels to lose that traction. Now if it happens much before that, your wheels have picked up too much dust and are spinning in it creating a glazed smooth drive wheel instead of a gripping tire.

Your bleachers automatically realign themselves by closing completely and opening completely. When the bleachers loose traction and do not close completely and they are then opened, they do not come out straight. Coming back out, the portion that did not close all of the way has a head start and is ahead of the other sections that did close. This can, and does, bend the structural components and can even break them to the point that they need to be replaced. Note: A bleacher inspection that does not include the inspecting person opening and closing your bleachers is not a complete inspection.

But our bleachers are wall-to-wall, no gaps more than 4-inches, and we can only access this area through our access hatch…
You would be amazed at what can fall through tiny openings. Even though unauthorized access to the understructure is prevented with wall-to-wall bleachers, dust still gathers and will build up on your drive wheels.

What to do:
Make cleaning the bearing surface part of your routine schedule and clean under the bleachers in the open position, clean where the bleachers sit in the closed position, then close the bleachers. Don’t cheat and close the bleachers then flip up the skirtboard and sweep between everything, this will leave more dust and debris where you do not want it the most.

Have Reverse Fold Bleachers?
David DeCan, Lead Service Technician shares best practices when it comes to cleaning the drive system and under the bleachers on a reverse fold telescopic bleacher.

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Where There is a Will, There is a Way: Telescopic Bleacher Buying Options

I’m sure if we were to sit down with you and discuss your current telescopic bleacher situation, the first thing you would say is, “Well, that sounds nice, but we don’t have the funds for that.” Capital improvement projects are an investment, and investments take time so if you don’t already have funds set aside, have a donor prospect or dedicated fundraising team with time to prepare, your options may seem limited.

Seem is the key word.

You do have options.

You can streamline the process so it’s more efficient. Rather than soliciting with your own Request for Proposals (RFP), Sourcewell, previously NJPA, is a national cooperative purchasing agent that has already done the work for you. Going with a purchasing agent like Sourcewell means they’ve already vetted out the bidding process to bring you the best value to fit your needs.

“Cooperative purchasing is “Procurement conducted by, or on behalf of, one or more Public Procurement Units” as defined by the American Bar Association Model Procurement Code for State and Local Governments.
Sourcewell's analysts streamline the procurement process by developing RFPs and IFBs for national, competitive solicitations that meet or exceed local requirements. Our rigorous process is continually refined to best meet member needs and allows us to offer exceptional products from nationally acclaimed vendors.” - www.sourcewell-mn.gov

Hussey Seating Company, our featured Telescopic Bleacher provider, is an approved vendor for Sourcewell providing you access to the best value pricing for more than just you bleachers, including:

  • Seating Solution Design Services
  • Telescopic Bleacher Seating
  • Telescopic Platform Seating
  • Stadium Seating
  • Arena Seating
  • Fixed Auditorium Seating
  • Clarin by husseyseating Portable Chairs
  • Grandstand Seating Planks & Covers
  • Safety Inspections, Parts & Services

Did you see that? Even Safety Inspections, Parts & Services is on this list – giving you the advantage of combined buying power and the ability to cost effectively do your due diligence we mentioned in our previous post.

Another option: Grants

The grants we hear about most often stem from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Safety Grants. If your bleachers are unsafe, for either you (staff and set up team) or your patrons, you’ll want to look here and see what is possible. The application process can rigorous, but it can be helpful when it comes to replacement, upgrades, and repair.

“Wait, what does a device to move bleachers have to do with safety and security?
Turns out the rules for the grant program were written to include a broad definition of “safety” for students and employees.
So not only are metal detectors and trauma kits covered, but also floor-cleaning machines, cutting/slicing equipment and “safe” food fryers.” - What is ‘safety’?, The Columbus Dispatch

So what does a device to move bleachers have to do with safety?

Bleachers with an Integral Power System have the advantage over manually operated bleachers by not only reducing damages to your equipment but they provide a more safe way for your staff to open and close the bleachers. There are no ergonomically correct bleacher operating moves for manual bleachers. You’re usually walking backwards pulling when opening and pushing all bent over with your head down when closing with no way to keep your back straight during either. Regardless of the type of bleachers, you have to bend and pull and bend and push.  When you are pulling the bleachers open or pushing them closed, you end up reaching the open or closed position by getting a big slam to a halt, causing impact to your back, legs, arms, shoulders and neck as well as the possibility of crushed fingers or smashing your face into them from slipping and falling just to name a few.

There have been some unique devices that have been fabricated and provided here and there but nothing reduces injury hazards like adding integral power to your bleachers. Just a reminder, only properly trained personnel should operate the bleachers to further keep safety at the forefront.

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Do Your Homework: Our Heart is Out There

Submitted by Kami Wernimont, Marketing Manager

Watching my son climb up the bleacher steps remind me that at a young age we’re all a bit fearless. At his age, I would race to the top and see how high I could go. Now, knowing what I know, I do a quick scope out the whole bleacher unit, making sure its safe. After all, my heart is walking around up there.

Prior to my start at FEC in 2011, I looked at bleachers much differently. Now, I can drive by on the interstate and at a quick glance know if they meet some of the code requirements. Did you know the reason we pass out the 4-inch basketballs at every trade show? It’s because the gaps in the bleachers must prevent the passing of a 4-inch sphere, roughly the size of an infant’s head. Let that sink in. Our hearts, walking around up there, if the gap is just slightly bigger, they could fall through – and children have. This is one of the many reasons our team is so thorough when it comes to inspections. Our children are up there, playing, naive, and carefree – just as they should be.

Not long ago, someone did a comparison of our report versus another vendor for price and quality comparison. I was shocked to find out that the other vendor stated to them, “oh it’s okay, we can pass your bleachers” without so much as climbing to the top of them. The district already knew repairs were needed, they just needed a full evaluation of what was to be done.

Bleacher safety and code compliance can be a little overwhelming as you pull out the book of codes and references but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes, it’s just knowing where to look. We’ve made it a bit easier for you – below is an access link to our PDF Bleacher Safety: What’s Your Risk? It takes a village to raise our children, let’s work together to do our homework and keep them safe in all the ways we can.

Digital Download

Bleacher Safety: What's Your Risk
A Crash Course in Code Compliance

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Safety: A Guide to Resources

  When it comes to our Maintenance Solutions Team, Safety is Priority Number One for our school districts and facility owners and their patrons. We’ve developed our blog series, Bleacher Safety – What’s Your Risk along with numerous safety and code compliance blog posts, presentations, and white papers. Recently, we launched our Gym Safety Sessions where our Service Manager, Rocky…

Introducing: Gym Safety Sessions

  Have you ever felt like you need a refresher course on the proper operation of your equipment? Or maybe you have new personnel that need to be trained on safety and operation. Whatever the reason, we want to help. What We’re Offering: To come to your facility for a 2-hour gym safety training (timing may vary based on attendees and…

Egress & What it has to do with Telescopic Bleachers, Team Seating, and Scorers Tables

Telescopic Bleachers with Team Seating

  What do Telescopic Bleachers, Team Seating, and Scorers’ Tables in your High School gymnasium have in common? They all have to take egress into consideration. Recently, we had someone contact us about their Telescopic Bleacher, Team Seating, and Scorers Table set up in their high school gymnasium. Here is what you should consider when purchasing one, two, or…