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As careful as any 4-year-old boy can be, toys still break, and when they do at our house, they end up in “The Shop,” a countertop dedicated to repairing monster trucks, Lightning McQueens and an occasional choo-choo.

Or I should clarify that despite my most creative use of adhesives, some of these broken toys stubbornly remain broken.

The problem is glues just don’t seem to work. Don’t buy the label “glues most plastics.” This vague phrase excludes any material used to make toys.

Rinse, fail repeat — I search and search for a new process or glue that will work this time, then no sooner than we celebrate it being fixed, the part pops right back off.

Back to the store we go.

The two longest inhabitants of the counter are an Off-road Tow Mader (from “Cars”) that got run over by the lawnmower (my bad). In my attempt to make amends, I recovered and re-assembled much of the wreckage in a way that would make a FAA crash investigation team proud, but poor Mader is not ever going to be play-rated.

On the other hand, Grave Digger may soon be freed from the Counter of Misfit Toys. Grave Digger is a largish scale monster truck with a die cast body over a plastic frame. The large right front wheel broke right at the connection of the axle and hub.

I could see that there was no way that it would ever glue enough to hold up to repeated trips down the front steps, but I tried anyway, and tried and tried. I even attempted welding the joint with a hot piece of coat hanger. Even plumbing glue would not hold.

I know, the easier route would be just go get a new Grave Digger. But you clearly don’t have a 4-year-old. Kids smart and way more observant than you’d ever imagine. Grave Digger must be fixed.

Finally I got an idea to make a collet from a dowel rod to hold the wheel hub side and drill out the axle side with a smaller hole for the connection. Plastic epoxy might then hold the wooden patch in place.  

It’s a marvelous engineering plan, especially for an English major. Working at my flea market drill press I feel like a technician machining Formula 1 parts.      

Grave Digger gets the glue, and his tire tread is even going the right direction. It looks like it’s going to hold until the axle pops free. I patch that with a quick superglue mend, and we hope for the best.

Will it work; will Grave Digger escape the counter for good? Who knows, but the point is not a matter of restoring a broken toy.

The whole exercise is a way for us to connect — a break from all the distractions of both our lives. Someday, I hope, we will look back and remember working on Grave Digger. I don’t figure it’ll matter much if its wheels stayed on.     

 

 

      

John has been with the Manchester Times since May 2011. He covers Lifestyles in addition to handling education reporting and general news assignments.John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories. John is a 1994 graduate of Tullahoma High School, a graduate of Motlow State Community College and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Middle Tennessee State University. He lives in Tullahoma, and enjoys the outdoors with his wife, Mitsy, and his 17-month-old, Sean.

Staff Writer

John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories. He is a graduate of THS, Motlow and MTSU. He lives in Tullahoma, and enjoys the outdoors with his wife, Mitsy, and his 17-month-old, Sean.

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