Friday, June 21, 2013

Fixing a Climbing Monkey Toy

It looks a bit like The Island of Misfit Toys around here at times. Toy and parts of toys that just aren't quite right but I don't have the heart to dispose of are in boxes or on shelves all over the place.  A couple of years ago I wrote about a climbing monkey toy that I had made that was perfect except for two thing:

1) It was creepy.
2) It didn't work.

Other than that... PERFECTION!
I had fun making him and always though he should have worked so I didn't throw him away. I had gotten the plans for him from a book at the library I used to work at. I switched jobs and returned that and the other 6,743 library books I had checked out and moved on about 6 years ago.

About three months ago I found myself returning to the local library for of all things... books! (I know, who'da thunk it?) So on the shelf I see "Making Moving Toys: 30 Quick and Easy Projects to Make" by Pipa and Ian Howes.  I had forgotten the book's title but immediately recognized the cover. It was the book with the climbing monkey plans. (And a bunch of really fun toy ideas not all of which are made of wood. I highly recommend the book.)
So I revisited the monkey plans and was gobsmacked to see right there on page 55, that I had, dare I say it, strung my monkey up wrong. GASP. I didn't follow directions and that is why my monkey didn't work. I checked out the book and then spent the next few months in a fruitless search through the Tetris like collection of boxes in our computer room looking for the creepy monkey toy that didn't work. Such is the lot in life of a Toy Making Dad.
I eventually returned the book but copied page 55 just in case. Two nights ago, the just in case happened. I found my monkey. There was much rejoicing.
So I strung him up the way the book said and I could immediately tell the difference. The black elastic needs to be very tight around the nylon rope on the bar between his hands. It also needs to be strung tightly through the eyelet on the bar between his knees. This pulls his knees up to hands after the downward pull of the rope is released setting up the ratcheting action that allows him to climb the rope.
I noticed that the monkey's legs were sort of stiff and didn't pivot as smoothly as they should. There is an 1/8" dowel that works as an axle and my guess is that the original hole through the monkey's body wasn't wide enough to allow free motion. The dowel may also have expanded over the years. Time for the patient to go under the knife... or rather, drill press.
I used a 1/8" bit to drill out the dowel from either end. I took my time and once it was most of the way done, I used a little pick to scrape the rest out and free the legs. I then took a 5/32" bit and enlarged his hip socket so his legs would swing freely once I put a new piece of 1/8" dowel in there. Piece of cake. The operation was a success.
So now he works. He doesn't go flying up the rope like the other climbing toys, but it is pretty cool how it works. I think that adjustments to the tension of the elastic and the type of rope may improve his performance but for now, I can just settle back in the knowledge that Fritz the Creepy Monkey Who Couldn't Climb has moved off the island of misfit toys and can now "hang" with his friends in plain view.


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Just Saying...

While we don’t necessarily need more objects, we just might benefit from more making.
- John Dunnigan


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Regular guy who likes to make stuff who lives with a very patient wife, three daughters and three cats.