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How to fix/replace a bent tubing handle on a snow scoop

 
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I was able to borrow a neighbor's snow scoop and clear many tons of snow from my roof yesterday.  But in using it I noticed the handle starting to get a bit bendy.  I'm sure I damaged it so now I get to fix or replace it.  I'm happy to replace it but if I could do a repair that's as good or better than new, I'll go that way.  

It's basically galvanized tubing that is flattened for the mounting bolts to go through.  It bent on both sides and there are cracks developing on one side.  I have a stick welder but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't help the cracks.

My current thought is to try to find more galvanized tubing that is the same size, or in a perfect world, just larger so that it will slip over the current handle tubing.  Remove the bendy handle.  Take two chunks of that magical material that are a foot long, flatten them and attach to the scoop using the normal bolt holes.  Cut the damaged ends of the handle off and slide the handle into the new flattened part (or splice together with a rod inside both of them).  Bolt them together.

Any other ideas of ways to right my wrong?
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These are wonderful tools to get snow off your roof
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Bent and stress crack
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Not a small amount of snow removed :)
 
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Hi Mike,   Your pictures remind me of the good ole (younger) days when I use to clear peoples roofs at our cottage. Your idea of a splice is certainly an option but not sure why you have a hesitancy to just weld it? Other than being mindful of the toxic gases that will be produced by the galvanization (which good ventilation outdoors will take care of), you should be back in business within a half hour.
 
Mike Haasl
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I guess I'm thinking that once the metal is kinked it's fairly damaged.  If I try to weld up the kinks and the cracks it may stiffen them but could weaken the metal on either side of the weld.  I guess it surely can't hurt to try a weld first.  That's the part I'd be cutting off and discarding anyway if I replace the ends of the handle.  Thanks Gerry!
 
Gerry Parent
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To address your concern of it being weak on either side of the weld, how about making use of those 2 extra holes (on either side of the bolt that holds the handle to the scoop) by cutting a rectangular piece of metal with 3 holes (asterisks) in it (horizontal part in drawing) that align up with the holes in the scoop. The center hole would accept the bolt already there and the other 2 could be added for extra strength. This metal splint could also be welded to the handle (vertical lines).  Excuse the grade 2 drawing...

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It looks like a piece of Electro Metallic Tubing (EMT) thin wall conduit that can be found at the usual big box hardware stores and electrical supply houses. It should only cost a few bucks to by a whole new piece, and if you don't have a bender you could fill it with sand or, given the environment, fill with water and let it freeze before bending to keep it from kinking.

It looks like the way they flattened it that it was bound to happen. If you only partially flatten it, then stuffed something inside (wood, metal, perhaps urethane or tough glue like liquid nails or amazing goop) it could add strength to the area and keep the metal from kinking which would reduce the chance of it reoccurring. If shortening it a little bit is acceptable, you could probably remove an inch or two, open it up a bit, stuff something inside, and reattach. By flattening it, any side load on the handle is going to cause the top bolt to dent the metal, and it will be like a soda can - surprisingly strong when perfect and amazingly weak once dented.

Another option for the more adventurous would be to open it up or replace the pipe and then fill the ends with an aluminum or zinc alloy such as Zamak 27 using pennies. I always keep a couple pounds of pennies saved in case I ever need to pull out that tidbit of info for a crazy emergency repair.
 
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If i am seeing correctly, while you are standing in position to use it, the whole handle is bending left and right. Thats causing the cracking. The force of using it is causing the bending.

I would get about 6" lengths (or longer) of rod and weld them in an up and down position on the tubing. One on each side of the nut. Small enough to not interfere with the nut. 2 on each side, 4 total.

The rod is sold in most hardware stores. Its with the all-thread but is not threaded. It can be hacked on or done in a way that looks like it came with it. Lol. A quick tack weld on the cracks while you are doing it.
 
Mike Haasl
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Most of the bending comes from stabbing the scoop into a wad of snow and then having to lift or drop the handles to break of the chunk of snow.  That prying up or down is what started the kinks.  After I noticed that, I started breaking them off by pivoting the whole unit side to side.  That seemed to put less stress on the bends.

That's another good idea Gerry!  I didn't realize until I was looking at the damage that the other holes were even there.  If it was my scoop, I'd've moved it to the lower set of holes so the snow would leave the scoop easier when up on the roof.  So I should leave the adjustability there but that doesn't mean a splice plate with more holes wouldn't still work.

Good point Daniel, I could just fill it with sand.  Hadn't thought of filling it with ice...  I could flatten the ends, fill it with water, let it freeze and then bend it.  Then bring it inside to melt out the ice.  Interesting.....

I agree, flattening it that much made this issue almost bound to happen.  I was thinking I could put something inside before I flatten the next piece.  Maybe I have a chunk of aluminum flat bar laying around.  I'd rather not have it rust all over or use wood that will eventually rot.

I'll go to the store today and pick up some EMT or other thin wall steel tubing and see if the diameters match.  I guess if I'm making a whole new handle, I could up size it a bit as well.  Thanks team!
 
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Mike, first off, The obvious option is to make a 1:1 replacement and return the scoop "the way you got it" and call it good.

I think Wayne is right about the failure mode. And if you want to improve the handle while you replace it, you need to stiffen it so it bends less, or brace it so the handle doesn't wiggle side to side.

If you found a decent fit with a larger and heavier tube, you could slip the handle tube inside and drill both to bolt to the scoop, and skip the flattening.
(like maybe some schedule 40 galvanized, or IMC or rigid conduit if they carry that... lots of these have same OD but different wall thickness, and sometimes you get lucky mixing "electrical" and "plumbing" stock... and there's also the inch-size "bar stock" tubing, like the square perforated stuff that might work.)

Or you could make an X brace out of pipe hanger tape (use the top scoop holes, and tek screw the other end to the handle farther up, and a small bolt at the crossing) or use two short lengths of smaller EMT to make the X (flattened and offset bends at the ends and flattened in the other plane for where they cross in the middle.)



 
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Yah, I see your problem there.
It wants to bend in both directions,...
when you push down on it or push it sideways.

Soo I would use a piece of bed frame (angle iron) to cradle the tubing.

Bolt one flat side to der scoop.
Run it up the tubing and tack it.
Should strengthen the tube in both directions.

Better than new and ready for you to use again next time.

Carefull welding zinc. Don't breath it.
Then hit it with some paint.
 
Mike Haasl
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I happened across some guys clearing snow off the flat roof of our grocery store.  Either I'm not that bright or they like getting a good workout.  They were using big aluminum shovels (grain shovel style), scooping up snow, walking 30' to the edge of the roof and dumping it down on the parking lot.  In their truck were three of these snow scoops.  I have no idea why they weren't using them.

The three scoops were all built differently.  One was nearly identical to my neighbors but the tubing looked to be about 1/4" larger in diameter.  No kinks were apparent.  A second one had the same tubing but it wasn't flattened.  I didn't want to dig around in their truck so I couldn't tell if the holes in the scoop were wallowed out.  I suspect that if the tubing isn't flattened, the bolt hole in the sheet metal will bear the brunt of the leverage.

The third one was plastic and put together differently.

I suspect that having the tubing flattened allows it to go deeper into the snow pile without the resistance of round tubing (or angle iron).  

I think I'll still pursue a new piece of tubing (ideally a bit larger diameter) and putting an aluminum spacer inside the squished ends to give them much more side to side bending resistance.  They will be much harder to kink if there's 1/8" of aluminum inside the flattened part.  Plus then there won't be anything to rust.

Hopefully I can report back in a day or two.  Tomorrow is another snowstorm...
 
Mike Haasl
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Ok, I got it fixed.  I couldn't find another type of tubing that was a snug fit for the existing tubing (3/4" EMT).  So I went with 1" EMT.  I cut two 17" chunks and flattened the ends on my anvil.  I used a 2 lb hammer to do most of the mashing and fine tuned it (especially where it transitions to round) with a leather mallet.  I flipped it as I mashed it so that the pounding was evenly divided between the sides.

After doing that, I discovered that there is a nearly invisible weld down the length of EMT tubing.  In both cases I happened to have that weld right where the bend was tightest so they split.  So I cut two more and still managed to mess up one.  Cut one more and then I was all set.  Before fully mashing them shut I slid in a piece of 1/8" by 1" steel flat bar.  That way the flattened part wasn't fully flat and would resist bending much better than the fully flattened original design.

Drilled holes to match, cut off the bad part of the original handle, drilled bolt holes to connect the old handle to the new bits and wrapped the old handle with a couple layers of high quality duct tape to eliminate the slop.  

Took about two hours primarily due to making 5 pieces and having harder flat steel than I thought which was a real bitch to drill through.
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Gerry Parent
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Hooray! for MIke.........Nice Job!
 
Kenneth Elwell
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Nice job Mike!

I found a video of how/what they deal with clearing snow from rooves in Japan.

They have a nice scoop for the job, braces between the handle and the scoop blade, and a brace between both sides of the handle which also acts as a step for driving it in.
 
Mike Haasl
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Thanks guys!  I saw that video as well Kenneth.  I like how that first guy dumped a huge pile of snow on the second guy while he was coming up the ladder.  I would have been much more nervous getting off that ladder onto that snow than he appeared to be  

 
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