Clothesline Tech

A clothesline is a handy, and almost deceptively simple technology. On a warm and sunny summer day, particularly out here in the wind farm, clothes hung on the line will often dry more quickly than they do in the electric dryer.

Our clothesline is something special, as clotheslines go. Often when one sees a clothesline it's 10 or 15 feet of cotton line stretched from the side of the house to a mounting point. A trip to Amazon will find you a rotary clothesline perfect for a small backyard area. But our ancestors, given ample yard space and an apparent sense of industry, left this for us:

Big-ass clothesline

The posts are solid steel, a good three inches in diameter and about six foot tall. The cross-bars are also steel and, given how well they hold and how long they've been there (I remember them from my childhood, and I'm sure they are older still than that), the posts are almost certainly set in concrete. If the distance between them seems vast, thats only because it is - they are set a good 70 feet apart. No cotton clothesline here - plastic-wrapped wire line is the rule of the day.

Given the length of the span, the line will tend to sag as clothing is added to it. I've followed family tradition on this front, and built a very fancy support pole to be placed somewhere in the middle of the line (it's a hunk of old door frame with a couple of notches cut into it. But it works). LB recently made a second pole for the second line, using the trunk of a weed-tree they recently cut down, continuing the long family tradition of, shall we say, repurposing existing material...

Probably the most challenging part is getting and maintaining a taught line across the space. It's difficult to pull the line tightly enough when putting it up, even with a significant amount of elbow grease. Even if one does get it pulled to a state tightly enough that one is content, the line stretches over time. However, MLW discovered these nifty clothesline tighteners and ordered them from Amazon.


I'm sure these aren't a new idea. The mounting points on the clothesline poles themselves have eye bolts on them, undoubtedly installed with the idea of doing much the same thing. However, due to age and rust and paint these are well past the point of being useful. But I put the line tighteners into place, and was able to pull both lines taught enough that Nik Wallenda might find them attractive were he to wander through our back yard.

What I especially like about them is that they promise the possibility of addressing future sag with just a turn of the handle rather than needing to pull the line off and try again.

Having the clothesline in place and available was especially a boon over the last few months, when our dryer started to signal it's intent to retire by requiring three or more cycles through before getting things completely dry. It was a greater benefit still when, a week or two ago, that self-same dryer decided to call it quits entirely (here I had been hoping it was just feeling a little tired, and would recover after a bit of rest. Sadly for the bank account this turned out not to be the case).