Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Batting Tee Repair

With my new to me batting cage construction complete, it became time to repair the broken batting tee.
If you have one, you know it can be prone to snapping where the tube meets the plate. The construction of this tee is a rubber home plate encasing a metal plate and nut that attaches to an open ended steel tube encased in rubber. The cheaper tees are plastic and just won't stand up to heavy abuse like a rubber tee.

With this one, the rubber had split around the metal plate. Rubber was the only thing holding the tee together by design, and over time it failed. Of course it would. Rubber tears. Steel doesn't, so I'm adding a steel plate for reinforcing.
The rubber failed over time. It no longer held the metal plate that anchors the tube in place.
Tools:
  • Adjustable wrench
  • WD-40
  • Vice 
  • 5/8" drill bit, dependent on size of nut in the tee
  • 3/8" drill bits, dependent on size of bolts/nuts bought

Supplies:
  • 16 gauge steel plate, between 8"x8" and 10"x10"
  • (4) 3/8" 1.5" long bolts and nuts
  • (8) 3/8" fender washers
  • (1) 5/8" fender washers
Process
Most likely your tube has separated from the plate. Spray the nut with WD-40. Also spray it inside the tube. My tube had a couple inches of gunk inside the steel tube. Spray it and try to get it out.
Apply WD-40 to the bolt, outside and inside the tube.
The tee is a steel tube encased in rubber. I clamped it into a vice, and kept tightening the vice until the adjustable wrench was able to turn the nut instead of the tee spinning in the vice.

Clean up the nut and confirm the size is 5/8". I tossed the small round disc. It was rusty and warped.
Tighten the vice until you can loose the bolt with a wrench.
Take the piece of 16 gauge steel and mark the center. You want the piece of steel to be smaller than home plate, but any size is fine as long as it doesn't protrude from the edges of the plate. We will bolt the steel to the bottom of the plate. I put each corner of the steel into the vice and bent it slightly. I don't want the corners snagging anything, so it will be mounted so that each corner digs into the rubber plate slightly.
16 gauge steel will reinforce the tee, with 3/8" bolts and fender washers attaching
the steel to the rubber plate.

Drill a 3/8" hole in each corner of the steel. You could use smaller bolts, but I had these on hand. Put the steel on the rubber plate, and then drill through the rubber using the steel as a template.
The fender washers will be placed on the top and bottom side to protect against the bolts pulling through the steel and rubber. The washer widens the contact area.
Bolt the tee to the steel using a fender washer.
The steel is placed diagonally because the force on the tee is front to back. This configuration, puts the force in line with bolted connections. Maybe I'm overthinking this, but it sounds good. I had the nuts on the top of the plate, just to avoid getting crud in the threads and to keep the plate closer to the ground.
All fixed.
The tee will last longer if you keep it indoors when not in use. The sun breaks down rubber. I tested this, and the tee remained intact. The metal didn't seem to have bent, flexed, or distorted.
It looks like this repair is successful. PLAY BALL!
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