Our boys love their wooden train set. We bought a train table and some trains from someone on Craigslist two years ago, and they’ve been a hit around here ever since. We’ve added various secondhand trains and track along the way, although we ended up giving the train table to a friend, since our son always wanted to make tracks on the floor. Our younger son is really starting to enjoy the trains as well, and even my husband and I like coming up with neat track configurations.
Last weekend, I added a pretty sweet lot of trains and track to our collection. I found them on Craigslist, and I think the only reason I got to it first was because the guy didn’t include a picture or a price. He listed a whole bunch of toys for sale, and the Thomas trains and track were just in there among everything else. When I talked to him an he told me what he had, I realized it was an amazing deal. I ended up paying $60 for a huge tub of stuff: over 100 pieces of track, lots of bridges (including a triple decker one that I saw on eBay for $50), 75 (!) train cars and engines, several pieces of specialty track with various attachments and doo-dads, a whole bunch of people, animals, trees, telephone poles, etc. and a “Sodor wood company” log loader. Our boys (including my husband) have spent hours and hours playing trains since I brought that stuff home. Given how much our older son has loved the trains – and still does – I think we have several years of fun in our train bin. And I love that it’s a toy that requires lots of imagination and hands-on play.
But back to that Sodor Wood Co building. We weren’t actually sure what it was when we got it. It looked pretty neat on the tracks, but there was obviously something broken inside it, as it rattled around when we shook it I googled it (and found it on Amazon for $85…) and discovered that it’s a log loader: You’re supposed to be able to drop a log (pieces of dowel, which came with our set) into the back of it, turn the handles on the side, and the log drops out the bottom, into a waiting train car. But ours was broken. We could see inside the structure enough to tell that one of the pieces that holds the log had cracked in half, and part of it was just floating around in the building, jamming up the mechanism.
So this afternoon, our son helped me fix it. Wooden toys are pretty awesome when it comes to being fixed. We needed a screwdriver and some glue.
We removed the screws holding on the top, and then gently pried the top off (it had been glued and then screwed into place). Then we fished out the broken piece and glued it back where it was supposed to be.
The piece on the right is the one we fixed. It had split in half, but it was easy to fit back together and glue (our son used his little fingers to stick the piece back in place – he was very proud of himself). Then I just had to reach in from the top and bottom for a few minutes to hold the two parts together for a while while the glue set. We put the roof back on and let it sit for several hours before we tested it out. It works perfectly now, and many logs will be loaded on our train tracks.
Even if we hadn’t been able to fix the log loader, it would have been a good addition to our train set: our son loves to use his imagination when he plays, and would have made this little building into all sorts of houses, stores, sheds, barns… and he probably still will. But it was pretty awesome that we were able to fix it with just a few minutes of work and some very basic supplies. I love teaching our son not only how to fix things, but the idea that we can fix things, especially if they’re well-made to begin with. I want him to always feel confident that problems can be tackled and solved, and to know that when something breaks, our first thought should be “how can I fix this?” as opposed to “where can I get a new one?” Of course, there are occasions when getting a replacement is the better option, but a desire to fix things and the confidence to try are valuable things. Not only do they stand us in good stead financially and are better for our little planet’s stretched resources, but fixing something gives a great sense of satisfaction.
We’re waiting for the glue to dry overnight before we put this little log loader into regular use. When we tested it out this evening with just a couple logs, our son was thrilled. I’m sure many logs will be loaded tomorrow!