Friday, March 4, 2016

Bugaboo Bee repair (plastic welding!)

We ended up buying a broken Bugaboo Bee from a dishonest seller. The seat was completely broken off together with one of the hood clamps and the fabric and plastic was very worn down. So the question was, do we toss it or fix it? Easy answer :)
Here are some photos of the damages;

Broken hood clamp and whats left of the seat when that broke off.
The broken off seat.
Detail of broken seat, the plastic is charred from the burn test (se below).

The first step in fixing this was to determine the type of plastic used. I tried contacting Bugaboo but didn't get an answer so I did a burn test. You simply try and set the plastic on fire and look at the flame, smoke and smell to determine the type of plastic using this table: http://www.boedeker.com/burntest.htm. I got nasty smelling black smoke and heavy sooting from the seat so I guessed it was most likely ABS (or maybe Polystyrene). I found a source of plastic that behaved the same (T-joints from a drip irrigation kit) and did a test weld that stuck. Welding thermoplastics is done by simply heating two pieces of plastic to their melting point with a heat gun and then pressing them together. It can be quite tricky to get right though so a little poking with a soldering iron is helpful to get a good solid weld. The results aren't very pretty but very sturdy. I could have made the welds look much nicer by going over them with a dremel and sand paper but the welds will be covered by the seat and hood anyways so I decided it wasn't worth the effort.

Seat welded back on.
Hood clamp reconstructed complete with strap holder :)

It was my first time welding plastics and if I'm doing it again I would like to have a smaller nozzle for my heat gun to spare surrounding plastics from melting.

The fabric was as good as new after washing (at higher temperature than recommended ofc) and the plastic regained its luster after cleaning with alcohol and rubbing with vasseline. In the end the stroller looks very nice and works like a charm :)


8 comments:

Vanessa said...

i have the exact same stroller and exact same issue...i tried : gluing it: "bonding" it with that plastic/bonding gun thing with uv curing light, wiring it together, etc. Nothing works. i dont want to toss this . I LOVE this stroller. rolls like a dream. and i actually prefer the older model of bee..like the canopy and frame better...and wheels. and i just like the look of it better than the new model. I am not sure how in the world i am going to weld plastic..but i'll try.

Lars Englund said...

The welds end up being covered by the fabric so just use plenty of plastic and build up a thicker joint than the original seat joint. Also be careful not to melt the rotating joint. A cheap heatgun and soldering iron is essential!

Lars Englund said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lovee Au said...

This is very nice information. because our child safty is very important to us hence you may like baby care Strollers canopy/hood from http://www.lovee.com
They have many varieties like babyzen yoyo

Bobot said...

Heat gun? How were you able to focus the heat so it didn't melt a huge chunk off the seat?

My 2008 Bee also broke in the same spot. Grrr!

Lars Englund said...

Heat it slowly and don't touch the softened surrounding areas and go to town with the soldering iron :)
In retrospect I could have created a small nozzle for the heatgun using some aluminium foil..

Bobot said...

How did you use that piece you got from the hardware store to add plastic to the broken part? Usually those tubings are PVC.... have you tried gluing them at all? PVC glue, superglue, epoxy?

Lars Englund said...

I did like I wrote in the post: "Welding thermoplastics is done by simply heating two pieces of plastic to their melting point with a heat gun and then pressing them together. It can be quite tricky to get right though so a little poking with a soldering iron is helpful to get a good solid weld."
I held the irrigation T-joint with a pair of pliers, holding it close to where I wanted to add plastic and then heated both the T-joint and the area where I was going to add it with the heatgun.