This is what the handle is supposed to look like. This one has been previously redone; notice the rope is not the stock rope, but it was completed nicely.
I'm repairing this handle rope because I cut it by accident - gross stupidity. I'd cut the "broomstick" wicker out to replace it with Delron (a type of nylon) rod, as the old broomsticks had worn to the point where the handle ropes simply pulled thru. Went at the broomstick from the wrong side, and cut the rope off - you can see the cut about six or seven rows of wicker above the bottom.
First, you have to get the old rope out. I use a pair of Vise Grips, racheted down pretty tight, and grasp the knot on the underside of the basket, next to the skid. if it's the orginal rope, it's going to be tight; replacement ropes are usually undersized, and pretty easy to get out.
If the rope is difficult to get out, you can help it along with a few well placed taps with a rubber hammer on the vise grips. Watch your fingers!
Old rope removed from basket.
If you're going to fix the rope, it's imperative that you have the CORRECT rope. Most repair jobs use the wrong size, which makes it more difficult. We have that rope available - usually takes a section of rope about four feet long for each handle.
In addition to the rope, you'll also need a cable puller. These are available at "big box" home improvment stores, in the electrical section, as well as Ace and True Value Hardware stores. Kind of hard to find in the right size. The one shown is a 1/2 inch puller, a little big for my tastes, as the rope may slip out. I prefer the 3/8 inch ones, when I can find them. I always try to keep one around the shop for jobs like this, but my last one gave up the ghost, so I had to go buy a new one. You'll also need a length of steel cable, 3/32 inch, about six or seven feet long.
By the way, make sure you have the old handle. if not, call us - we have lots. I mean LOTS of handles.....not sure why Aerostar had so many to sell. Thought about making Christmas Tree ornaments out of them.....
First, insert one end of the rope into the cable puller. It works like a Chinese finger trap, from when we were kids. Probably not a politically correct thing to say nowadays, but that's what it reminds me of. Work it in about two or three inches - remember, you're going to have to get the rope out of it at the end.
Tie a knot in the other end of the rope. When you start pulling the rope thru, you don't want to pull it completely thru after you've gone to all of the trouble of running it. Been there, done that...... kinda looks like we're getting ready to do a magic trick. Nope.
Then, thread the cable thru the eye in the cable puller. There's usually a hook on the end that would normally attach to a fish tape. Remove that and throw it away. Run the cable thru the eye on the puller - you should have three or four feet of cable free when you double it up.
Before you start to thread the cable thru the wicker (because that's what you're going to do), it's helpful to tape the ends of the cable, so they don't fray. Painters or marking tape works great - I don't recommend using duct or Gorilla tape - if the area the cable is going thru is too small, the heavier tape will start to roll off, and will jam up the process.
This is where you start earning your money. Thread the cables from the inside of the skid, up thru the wicker, following the same path as the old rope. I usually do it one cable side at a time, as it's easier that way. The second cable will generally follow along the first cable threaded, so it makes it easier. Most of the time.
You can see here where the end of the cable is coming out of the skid, and starting into the wicker. Make sure the cable is passing thru the wicker, and not over or under it. Otherwise, you run the risk of breaking wicker later on, when you start to pull the cable thru.
First cable end being threaded up thru the wicker past the curve in the bottom of the basket. Sometimes, I have to use a gunmaker's pick or hook to help the cable along, as it will tend to hang up a little in the curve. This picture was taken from inside the basket.
After you've pulled both cables thru, the bottom of the basket should look like this. The end of the cable puller should be next to the hole. It's worth checking the size of the ferrule on the cable puller, to make sure it WILL go thru the hold, before getting to this point, probably before you put the cable into the end of the puller. If not, you'll get to this point, and not be able to go any farther, because the puller ferrule will not go thru the hole.
And, please don't send me snarky comments about the cracked skid. I know it's cracked - this basket is being reworked for use as a marching band show prop for my yourgest daughter's high school marching band show this year. Something about "Around the World in 80 Days".....as long as they don't play "Up, Up and Away". If that's part of the show, I'll hurl....
One side of the cable threaded thru.
And, both sides of the cable threaded thru. We're almost done.
Attach the vise grips TIGHTLY to the two ends of the cable, and I mean TIGHTLY. To the point where it's difficult to get off. Set yourself up so that you can tap on the vise grips, without getting into a sharp angle - you'll break wicker, and we're really trying to avoid that. "Assist" the vise grips with the rubber mallet - don't recommend using a regular hammer. It really hurts when you miss the vise grips and catch a finger.
Couple of things here - if you're not seeing the rope move, have a trusted assistant inside the basket check and see if the ferrule on the cable puller is hung on a piece of wicker. They can use a screwdriver or other blunt instrument to push it back away from the wicker, and you can try again. There are times, too, where I've used a liberal application of teflon lubricant (NOT WD40 - stains hell out of the wicker) to make it easier - the jury is still out on whether or not that works.
After a few well-placed taps, and sometimes a lot of colorful language, this is what the bottom of the basket/skid should look like. You're making progress.
When you get to this point - congratulations! All over but the clean up; well, almost. Continue to pull the rope thru until you get the knot up against the skid on the bottom, provided you put the knot there in the first place. Then, remove the cable puller from the free end of the rope.
After you get the cable puller off the end of the rope, pass the free end of the rope around the front/outside of the broomstick wicker, and then back out again, passing UNDER the rope where it comes out of the hoe you just pulled it thru. Look at one of the other ones, provides you have one good one left. Pull it snug.
It should look like this when the above step is complete.
Thread the handle on, set the knot at the desired height, and you're done. If you want to cut off the excess rope, I'd suggest sealing the ends of the rope, unless you know how to do that Boy Scout end finishing thing. Never learned that, and wish I had. Really nice, clean way to do it. I usually cut mine off with a heat knife, but I have one, and most people don't, so....
And, we're done. At least with handles. I still have to relace the leather around the step holes, and the bolster leather. I'd taken it all off to redye it black (was brown), and have been slowly getting it all put back together. This basket started out as a basket case that had been sitting int he back of my storage area for a few years - all told, I don't think I've spent two days' time getting it spruced back up. Not bad for an old guy.....