Converting Weaves to 24 inch Spacing

16 Jun 2014Steve Schwarz

In the past couple years all the agility venues we compete in have converted to 24 inch weave spacing and I had two sets of weaves with narrower spacing that didn’t meet that spacing. My original set was made by Mark Ries in IA and is a Weave-A-Matic (WAM) style with 21” weave pole spacing:

Weave-A-Matic Weaves

Weave-A-Matic Weave Poles

These poles have a pivot at the bottom of each weave pole to allow their angle from vertical to be adjusted. They aren’t as popular now that many people use some variation of 2x2 weave pole training to teach dogs. This type of weaves can be used to help dogs who have a tendency to single-stride weaves continue to weave in that matter or to convert a dog to single striding. Be aware that teaching dogs to single stride the weaves is considered by many to be harder on dog’s bodies/back than “two footing” - keeping the two front feet together while weaving.

You can also see that the base of the weaves is shaped like an elongated “H” which can put the base in the way of the dogs as they enter the weaves and some dogs will step/slip on the base. Contrast that with the base on my other set of competition weaves (but at 22” spacing):

Alternating Foot Competition Weaves

Alternating Foot Weave Poles

The alternating foot weave pole bases always put the support “foot” opposite the side of the weaves entered by the dog. They make for stable weave bases and dogs don’t have the feet of the weaves in their way when weaving. My set uses a 22 inch “connector” flat bar between sets of six poles.

The third major category of weaves are called channel weaves. In those either the base is split lengthwise down the middle and the two halves can slide apart creating a channel for the dog to move through when learning or each pole slides out to the side from the base. Here is a set of wooden channel weaves I made 10 years ago so you get the general idea:

Homemade Channel Weaves

Channel Weave Poles

I mention the types of bases because they affect the ease with which you can change the spacing between the weave poles. With WAMS you can grind the welds off the pivot at the base of each pole and replace the long section of the base’s “H” and replace it with the appropriate length and then reweld the pivots to the new base section at the correct spacing.

Unfortunately with Alternating and Channel weaves I think the only solution is to grind off the pole supports, cut each section between the “feet” in half, add an appropriate spacer, and weld the pole support back. If removing the pole supports isn’t practical you are faced with cutting each section between the feet on each side of the pole support and welding in two spacers on each section.

If you have welding skills any of those approaches can be done; it really boils down to trading your time for money. At some point your are better off building or buying a new set of weave poles. A new set of 12 weaves from one of the big agility equipment suppliers runs around $350 - $400 plus shipping. Having a welding shop get the material, do all the cutting, welding and grinding to fix an old set of weaves adds up quickly.

Based on that analysis and the fact that I’m not a welder, I decided it would be easier to have my WAMS converted by a local welding shop and then I’d clean, prime, and paint them. For my dogs they don’t care about the feet not alternating because they will also see other weave pole sets every week when learning. The welders ground off the pole welds and chopped out the middle “H” up to the hinge, replaced the steel and rewelded the pole supports. The problem with a small job like mine and a busy local welder is my job got delayed 8 weeks (over the winter so I didn’t care that much). That and my not being pushy I think helped when it came to pricing. All the parts and labor came to $200 (which included replacing some stainless bolts that were damaged). Here’s what a base looked like after I brought home from the welder:

Weave Base With Replaced Center Sections

Channel Weave Base End Channel Weave Base Middle

I went by a couple body shops in the area and asked what they’d charge to clean/paint them and the cheapest I could find was $250. Of course they were going to do a much better job than any set of my weave poles would ever need! The red paint on my weaves was around 6 years old and my weaves sit outside all year round.

I took everything apart and used Mineral Spirits and rag (outside!) to carefully wipe down all the surfaces to remove grease and dirt. Then I used Rust-oleum rusty metal primer and followed up with two coats of gloss enamel according to the directions on the can. It took about 1 1/2 cans of each for the full set of weaves. In the photo below you can see I used the old “box trick” to hold the pole supports while I painted them on all sides.


Painting Weave Supports Painting Weave Bases

If you have a small dog you could try to be fast enough to drop some sand or grit on the primed surface while it is tacky to give them some traction (or use non-slip tape after it all dries). My big dogs never step on the base so I could be lazy.

So I think it was worthwhile modifying these weaves so I have one set of regulation spacing weaves at home. I hope this helps I you are considering modifying your existing weaves.

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