A friend of mine at work recently gave me a flying fox (known as zip lines in other countries!) that his kids had grown out of. It had actually been passed down to him by another workmate of ours several years earlier, when his children had grown out of it!
A mate came over and helped me set it up. It’s definitely a two-person job!
The first thing we had to do was find a pair of trees to string it between. We have lots of trees on the property, but it still wasn’t an easy task. We needed sturdy trees that were far enough apart to get a good ride, but we had to stay within the length of the cable I had. The trees also had to provide a decent downhill slope – not too steep or the zip line would go too fast, and not too flat or it wouldn’t go at all.
To minimise damage to the trees, we passed the cable through a piece of rubber hose which we slipped around the tree. We then used clamps to secure the flying fox cable.
The other end of the cable had a large turnbuckle attached to it. We loosened it right off, secured both ends of the cable as tight as we could pull them by hand, and then wound up the turnbuckle to get as much tension in the cable as we could.
The turnbuckle also serves as an end-stop for the cable car (an old pulley), so the kids don’t slam into the bottom tree :-).
The cable car was built long ago in a workshop at the BHP steelworks. It’s made out of a set of bicycle handlebars, bolted to the pulley bracket. It’s pretty cheap and simple, but very strong and works great.
Because we have small kids (and sometimes even smaller visitors!), we strung a plastic swing seat underneath the cable car. Kids can hold onto the handlebars if they like, or if they’re a bit small or unsure they can sit on the seat.
The kids love their new flying fox. It’s a simple piece of play equipment that provides hours of fun, and cost us nothing. Perfect!