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Monday, June 16, 2008

DNR orders on the treadmill

My treadmill never did fill out any DNR paperwork, so until today I have continued to attempt to resuscitate the poor darn thing, futile though it may be.

As I was running on Friday night I heard a weird sound. Not the weird sound that I had fixed by reapplying silicone goo to the roller-thingy every 3 hours or so, but a weird ripping sound. I heard it once, but then noticed that every 4-20 footfalls or so I could feel that the bed felt "funny". I recognized right away that my treadmill bed must have cracked where it was uneven (from the windows) and that occasionally my footfall must hit the belt in just the right spot and for just the right amount of time that the belt was scraping over the crack and that the belt was starting to fray. So I ignored it.

On Saturday morning I took a look at the belt and realized that there WAS a tear in it--about 2" long. But it wasn't causing much problem, so on I ran.

About 10 mile into Saturday's run I heard yet ANOTHER new noise. This one was also directly related to the speed of the treadmill, but it was fairly quiet so I ignored it.

It got louder. I turned up the t.v. volume.

Finally it was too loud to ignore. I stopped the treadmill and manually turned the belt to look at the rip. It was now 8" long, which was long enough that there was a gaping wound and the belt was wrinkling up and not riding completely flat to the bed around the cut. What was happening was this: on each pass around the bed, the ripped area was scraping against the plastic piece that covers the electronics of the treadmill. As the rip grew larger and bulged up, a larger amount of belt was scraping past (hence the increase in volume). I thought immediately of Kel's suggestion to pull out the duct tape, so that I did. Alas, the duct tape caught on something while passing through the belt's rotation, and didn't last.

The way to fix it? Well, remove the plastic cover from the front of the treadmill, of course!

This is the point on Saturday morning that I realized that my treadmill was living on borrowed time. Sure, it wasn't dead yet, but every additional measure seemed to be just buying a little more time without taking into consideration the QUALITY of the life I was giving my treadmill. How long could I run on a treadmill with exposed mechanical and electrical pieces?

I unscrewed the plastic piece and used a couple of screwdrivers to raise it about 4" which should be plenty of room to allow the bulging wound to pass. Unfortunately the belt was catching on the frame, so this didn't help. My run was over at 11.5 miles.

I faced the truth today while talking with a co-worker who is also a runner (who can't believe that I run almost exclusively on a treadmill or that I have done "long" trail runs--a euphemism for the ultras. Good luck Tonya at Grandma's, where she will come close to breaking 3 hours). She told me I should replace the belt. Once I started describing the treadmill as it stands now, I think we both were able to see the truth: the treadmill is dead; repair is not the answer.

Now I plan to attempt to throw it away in my local garbage can over the next few weeks.

The electronics are still good... in fact they were replaced under warranty at the beginning of April. Any suggestions for what to do with the working parts?

Here's a picture of the treadmill post-silicone-solution. Notice footrail and endcap missing from right side as well as the black-icky silicone spray backsplash on the garage floor back from the roller junction. This is what happens when silicone is applied as the treadmill is moving. Also notice the 8" rip.

Here is where I started the autopsy. Notice the Y-incision.

With the belt removed the bed can be examined. Notice the area that is completely worn away. My footfalls must have been traditionally off-center to the left for it to be worn like that. Notice the area in the center of the worn spot that is indented (it's the more yellow central area). There is a slightly rough edge to it which must have been what originally started the tear.

Cause of death: Over-use, plain and simple. While the treadmill-as-window-storage was not a good idea to the overall health of the treadmill bed, I think the signs point that repetitive pounding ultimately finished it off.


Kel said...


Time to go shopping I guess. In the mean time, you may have to actually run on trails ;)

Diane said...

I think I will start to hit the trails more often. Don't tell anyone yet, but for my 30th b-day present to myself I'm getting a puppy!

I'll still need a new treadmill either way, but it may need to wait until after my vacation.

jock said...

i'm impressed at that wear, you pushed it to it's limits. thought my treadmill was bad, having to spray it every few hours to stop ticking and squeaking noises. just re-did the motor bearings as well, and after a week they squeal again.

I'd have taken your old one as I could probably have repaired it or used the parts, mind you I live 000's of miles away and read this 5 years too late!

how's your new one holding up ?