Aluminum Tubing Inspection
For Telescoping Poles
All new tubing received should be given at least a minimal inspection before
attempting to telescope the tubes together, and remove any damage
found. Aluminum is a soft metal which can easily be damaged through
shipping or mishandling along the way. Minor damage is relatively easy to
Damage below the tubing surface is not a problem, but damage which
occurs above the suface can rub on the opposing surface as it passes. This
creates a furrow, much like a farm plow would create in a field. Like a plow,
the tip pushes down into the surface, but it also throws up material on
both sides of the contact point. This is a new defect which creates a new
contact point for the next time the tube is inserted. These defects can
accumulate; eventually, the tubes can lock together. For telescoping poles,
free movement is critical.
Look over all of the external surfaces, locating any dents, dings, scratches
or other defects which may cause problems. For minor damage, you may
be able to use a metal polish to remove it. For larger damage, use
scouring pads or light sandpaper, then use steel wool and, finally,
polish. Lubrication allows easier assembly, but be aware that it is a very
large attractor for dust, dirt, and other foreign objects.
Sometimes the sense of touch is more accurate than
sight in finding defects. If you hold the tube in your hand and slide it gently,
you can feel any bumps or scratches. These can usually be buffed out
with polish or a fine grade steel wool.
If the tubing has slots cut into it, or holes drilled, you should remove any
sharp edges from inside the tube to prevent new scratches. A screwdriver
can remove most of the larger defects, but a burnishing tool or a rounded
nutdriver edge can make a much smoother appearance. A screwdriver tends
to create new damage due to the sharp edges. Another location to
inspect for sharp edges is on the inside and outside rims of the tubing, on both
Rub the tubes with a clean cloth to remove any dust on the outer surface.
For the inside suface, there's not a lot that can be done, but look inside
with the far end lit up to see if there are any major defects. Take a
clean cloth and push it all the way through the tube and out the far end.
This should remove any loose dirt and metal particles.
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