A few weeks ago I bought a basketball hoop for the kids. I didn’t want to get one of the inexpensive portable ones as they seem to get beat up pretty easily. At the same time even your entry-level in-ground model was several hundred dollars plus another few hundred to have installed. After a bit of research I finally found an inexpensive “universal” mounting kit that claimed to allow mounting a backboard to roofs, walls or poles. I thought that putting a backboard over the garage sounded like a good idea and shouldn’t be too hard to do ourselves, so ordered that. The roof over the garage was also almost exactly ten feet high so the hoop would be pretty much regulation height, (not that it mattered too much—the kids just wanted something to play around with and not a serious practice court).
My idea was to have the equipment arrive at the start of spring break as a surprise for the kids. We’d pick out a backboard, (I didn’t want to order one in case I had to return it if it didn’t fit the mounting kit), install it that afternoon then have several days to use it. I also thought that it would be a good learning and empowerment experience for the kids in that we would all work together to install the backboard then enjoy the fruits of our labor.
At least one part of this grand scheme worked at first: UPS dropped off the mounting kit on Tuesday of Spring Break and got the kids, (or at least Liam), excited. We then shopped around for a backboard, but that is where our difficulties started. Liam wanted a square, clear one and the local offerings that fit the bill were more than I was expecting to spend. That evening we researched online discounts with “local pick-up” options and finally found something in stock at a nearby Dick’s Sporting Goods store that fit my price range after discount and Liam’s aesthetic sense.
Thursday we picked up the backboard and brought it home to install. Unfortunately we quickly found out that 1) the “universal” mounting kit would not work over our garage as we only had about a foot of pitched roof before a wall, and 2) the “universal” mounting kit did not contain all the materials needed to attach and waterproof it to a roof or wall. So we went back to Dick’s and bought a different “universal” mounting kit then off to Home Depot to get some additional supplies.
By this point spring break was over, but I worked on some planning while the kids were gone. While the second “universal” mounting kit also did not work, I was able to use parts from both kits to design something that would. Basically the second kit would attach the bottom of the backboard mounting bracket to the short roof section and the first kit would attach the top of the backboard to the exterior wall.
Things sort of stalled at this point as the weather was not cooperative, but we finally got back on task. Ann was not too interested in being involved, but Liam drilled holes, filled them and other random things like our fingers with tar, (tip: wear gloves), and bolted things in place with enough force to bend the metal brackets. The second part of this grand scheme accomplished! We corrected the bending and general unevenness of the roof with various things we found in the basement and waterproofed to finally have a solid bottom mounting bracket for our backboard. I then attached the top wall mounts. That is when I realized that we had a small problem. Even though the mounting brackets were in place we still had to get the backboard and the hardware on it attached to these brackets.
Fast-forward a couple weeks to a nice evening with me having tried a few times to lift the backboard in place with no luck. I know that I want to get this project done and while thinking that the best option is to hire someone I am too stubborn to admit defeat. That is when I get the idea to approach the problem from the top down. Even though the roof area over the garage is only a foot long there is a much larger roof section accessible from second story windows right next to it. What if I pushed the backboard / hoop combination through one of those windows then balanced it on the gutter over the garage section and moved it over to the mounting brackets from the ground using a ladder?
Liam thinks that this is a great idea and follows me up. I take one look at the window and decide that it is too small to fit the backboard and rim through it, but Liam insists that we should measure before giving up. We do that and he is right to do so as while there is not a definite “this will fit” conclusion it is not indefinite enough to not try. We do try and after a little shaking the backboard is on the roof. I move it over to the garage area and balance it on the gutter. It seems stable, but all sorts of gotchas are filling my mind. Yes, the backboard is not THAT heavy, but how much weight are gutters able to handle? Plus what if there is a wind gust that blows the backboard off its precarious balancing act?
In short the gutter held the backboard and the wind was light. I moved to the ground and used the ladder to move the backboard over a few inches at a time. Each time as I descended the ladder to move it over a little I worried that it may be contributing to holding the backboard in place. There were some unsettling creaks and snaps along the way, but the gutter held.
Meanwhile both kids were now on the roof hanging out. I figured that they were waiting for one of those “America’s Funniest Home Videos” moments to capture where dad doing something stupid that sends a ladder, a gutter, a backboard and/or himself crashing to the ground, but when checking Ann seemed to be reading and Liam watching things on his iPod. No, this was just a “hey, we’re on the roof hanging out” moment. Liam made a “selfie stick” out of some cardboard and weighted by books so they could take a picture on the roof to share on Instagram. They must have more faith in my claim that “I will get this backboard installed tonight” than I did at this moment. No pressure…!
I finally get the backboard to the bottom mounting brackets. The problem is that I need to get a bolt through a hole in one bracket, a corresponding hole in the mounting hardware on the backboard, then a reverse of those, (mounting hardware hole then second bracket). The even bigger problem is that the size of the holes and the size of the bolt only seem to differ by a millimeter and that the backboard and its mounting hardware cannot be rested on something to make everything line up.
After a while I finally call on my neighbors, (something Liam has been championing for a bit), to see if they can offer some help in the way of a second ladder and some muscle to maneuver things so I can concentrate on bolting things down. The response was positive, but after a bit of jawing things over there was no solution for today although tomorrow or this weekend a second ladder for sure could be found. I definitely appreciate that, but when I ascended to the gutter to figure out how to pull the backboard down safely I couldn’t admit defeat. If you call that being stupid and stubborn then I would agree with you. Yes, finally, the bolt is through the first couple of holes and the release in tension allows better maneuvering through the second set of holes and attaching a nut. Releasing the backboard to pivot down into the gutter for support is scary, but ends up OK and allows adjusting the rear supports. Right now the backboard needs a little adjustment to get level in all directions, but it is secured and in the morning I bet that the kids will be giving it a workout.