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My broken down Gazelle

From Tony Little's Gazelle Freestyle Elite User's Log

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This page last updated on or about 5-25-07
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5-25-07: My broken down Gazelle

In past weeks the "power pistons" on my Gazelle have given increasing trouble, but up to now, not anything I couldn't live with.

Yesterday though, my left piston completely blew out, so that now it's like there's no piston there at all. Which basically makes the entire machine useless. And the right one has gotten progressively weaker too (and leaked hydraulic fluid some months back). But I could still get a decent workout so long as the left still functioned.

The blow out was pretty notable dynamics-wise. Enough to possibly hurt someone.

My exercise sessions typically last around 40 minutes a day, and can be fairly vigorous. A few days ago, I noticed the left piston's resistance was fluctuating some. Then in the last couple sessions, that fluctuation became extreme. Where occasionally there was no resistance at all, and other times the resistance would briefly become very great.

When this happened during a session, sometimes it'd be like the foot pedal would go wild, trying to fling me off. I'd have to consciously fight to control the excessive movement of the platform. It was very annoying. Anything that draws your attention to the fact you're using an exercise machine is bad: it's easier to get through the chore if you can carelessly daydream or brainstorm during the workout instead.

Now I'm suddenly without an exercise machine. With no quick fix in sight.

This has happened to me before. Not long after the initial purchase one piston had to be replaced. I lucked out though, and they sent me a free one due to the machine still being under warranty(?)

Naturally, this time I Googled for replacement parts, using various alternative search terms for the parts and machine model name.

I was amazed to find no options whatsoever for this.

Even what web sites offered some newer models of the machine for sale, did not display anything about selling replacement parts.


So I removed the now dead pistons from the machine entirely, and jury-rigged up some bungee cords between the front bar of the frame resting on the floor, and the individual leg platforms. Figuring to give it a full test the next day-- as I did manage to get maybe 90% of a day's session out of the machine before the piston blew.

In theory the bungee cords would work. A brief test sampling showed they wouldn't be nearly as convenient as real pistons movement-wise, but they'd give me maybe enough resistance to be worthwhile.

I mainly worried about catastrophic failure of the cords, where bits of the metal end hooks broke off and were flung at my face or towards others who might happen to be in the vicinity at the time. But there were some extra measures I could take for that-- if the cords proved capable of performing at all.

This morning I climbed aboard the Gazelle and tried the cords.

I very quickly realized using the cords was going to limit my freedom of movement/stride on the machine, plus drastically speed up the pace. As my leg pumping motion would needs be abbreviated, and higher in frequency.

Oh well. I figured I might could get used to it. Plus might actually get a tougher workout at the higher speed. And I'd been considering setting the pistons at maximum resistance anyway before they quit. For most of my time with the Gazelle, I'd maintained mid-range resistance.

But not even two minutes into the session, the cords began to shred. Or at least their outer covering did. And I figured I'd better not push them any further.

So I re-Googled the problem, dug up a phone number, and called it.

I got a robot, saying I'd called outside of business hours (apparently I was talking to California, where people were only now waking up).

I waited a while and called again.

Turned out that number was for someone who didn't exactly deal with Gazelle equipment, but could give me the number of someone who did.

I always repeat such numbers for verification, and write everything down, as I so hate delays.

I next called the new number. Got an answering service that didn't sound right-- like a drink or jelly company. But the folks who sell Gazelles also do health foods and supplements, so I thought maybe I was still on the right track.

But I wasn't. Somehow I'd called the wrong number.

So I returned to the internet. The guy who possibly gave me the wrong number had also told me "Fitness Quest" was the mothership of Gazelle. And I was familiar with that name from long ago being related to the machine.

So I found them on the web. Scoured their site looking for replacement parts info, to find exactly none.

Found their customer service number. It was only off by one digit from the number the other fellow had given me. So close to the same I almost didn't catch the difference.

So I called the corrected number. And for the third time today slapped my credit card down on the table, in case I could afford to place an order.

Note I'm spending lots of time listening to Muzak here, waiting, waiting, waiting to talk to someone...

I finally got through to a live person, and explained what I was after. I had to go find a serial number off the bottom of a Gazelle foot pedal to place an order.

Both pistons together would cost $52.61 including tax and shipping, and maybe take as long as two weeks in business days to arrive (or three weeks in realtime). YIKES!

Yes, I consider that pretty expensive. But also expected. Grrr.

And it's going to take so long, I might find an alternative fix before they ever arrive.

I sure would like to rig up some solution which made me independent of FitnessQuest forever, and kept the machine functional and convenient indefinitely, without periodic massive outages lasting weeks....

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