Appendix V - Club repair and maintenance

All clubs will break eventually, but careful use can do a great deal to extend their life span. Having said that though, few jugglers that I know make much effort in this direction, and there is definitely something to be said for knowing what a club will do if you kick it across the room, or try bouncing it off the floor. Many new tricks have been spawned by violent abuse of equipment!

One-piece clubs

One of the disadvantages of any one-piece club is that once it breaks it is very difficult to repair effectively, and usually the whole thing has to be replaced rather than just a certain part, as is often the case with multi-piece clubs. Some people wrap tape round bare plastic handles to provide more grip, and to soften impacts on catching. On the lighter clubs I have found electrical insulation tape to be quite effective. For heavier one-piece clubs, which are more likely to hurt your hands, try tennis racquet grip - a spongy adhesive tape which can be found in sports shops, it provides excellent padding to protect your hands and it is also very grippy. Some people find however, that thick tape makes the handles too soft and interferes with the accuracy of the throws. Heavy tape is not recommended for the lightest clubs, because the extra weight alters the spin.

Multi-piece clubs

The first part of a multi-piece club to break is usually the central wooden dowel. This problem is very easy to diagnose - the club will rattle, and flex in the centre where the handle joins the body. You can replace the dowel yourself with a little bit of handiwork, start by removing the screws which hold the rubber protectors in place, at the top and bottom of the club. Then, if necessary, detach the plastic sheet which is wrapped round the dowel to form the handle, this will often be stapled to the dowel at either end. Take care not to pull the sheet out of shape or tear it while you are detaching it. It should now be possible to remove the broken dowel. Replacement dowels are available very cheaply from wood suppliers, and sometimes even from the club manufacturers themselves.

Multi-piece clubs can also develop cracks in the plastic body. Glue or tape can provide a temporary solution, but it is only a matter of time before you will need to get either a new club, or a replacement body. New bodies can often be obtained from the manufacturers, and you may or may not be charged for it, depending on the age of your clubs, how the breakage occurred and what kind of day the person you are dealing with is having. It is also worth keeping an eye out for cheap second hand or broken clubs to be cannibalised for spare parts. If you need a replacement club body, then bear in mind that different models of club made by the same company sometimes use identical bodies. Juggling shops usually have a collection of old bits and pieces lying around, it's always worth asking them to have a hunt around for the part that you require.

Some of the plastics used to make club bodies are very sensitive to temperature, they can be squashy and flexible when warm, but become much more brittle when used outdoors or in a cold gym. Drops from normal juggling height shouldn't present any problems no matter what the conditions are, however high throws and 'impact tricks' are best avoided.

Occasionally the rubber knobs covering the club's top and bottom can split or fall off, most specialist shops stock replacements and will probably even fit them for you if you ask nicely.

If there's nothing wrong with your clubs except that they are sad, old and dirty, then a thorough polish with some propan-2-ol or a mildly abrasive plastics cleaner can work miracles.

One final circus DIY tip which doesn't really apply to clubs but may come in useful with some of your other equipment: plastic objects which have been squashed out of shape can sometimes be miraculously restored by placing them in hot water. The heat softens the plastic, allowing it to spring back into its original shape. If you've dropped your diabolo on the concrete once too often and it looks a bit lumpy then give it a go.