Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Flower and the Allen Wrench

Showing my herculean capacity for procrastination, I finally got around to fixing my Sole treadmill. You may recall my saga with the first shipment being messed up, and the second shipment was of a (very lightly) used machine which hadn't been refurbished, and so had some odd screws and the like missing.

Sole has been great about it and sent me all the missing parts (except lube which they're supposed to have sent me last week) but the machine was good enough to use, especially with the mild use I put on it. (Yes, it's in use for long stretches, but at very low speeds. That might be harder on the motor, come to think of it, but it's doesn't stress the frame much.)

Anyway, the stars were right today for tightening all the parts up (and fixing the plastic arm pieces) and adding the missing screws and what-not, so once again The Flower helped me out.

At this age (seven), it's usually a wash when they help, if it's something they're good at. They can do a pretty good job, but it's a bit slow and you spend extra time checking out their work and fixing a few things.

There was a little bit of that, but for the most part, she was a huge help. What she lacks in strength, she also lacks in size, allowing her to get into the corners to put in screws and tighten them without having to roll the treadmill out of its usual resting place.

I explained to her that it was customary after the screws were in place to go and tighten them further. I figured there was no way she'd be able to get them very tight. But after the first one--once she knew I was going to go in and tighten further--she managed to get it so that I could barely get another quarter turn.

Her head is also at eye level with the screw holes in the arms, so she could see how the pieces lined up--or in the case of the right arm fittings, how they didn't line up. That was our only shortfall in our project. (The plastic coverings fit okay but once they go on the arm, the holes don't line up.)

She has such a facility for this sort of thing, I'd love to figure out some way to encourage it but can't figure out what. Any ideas?


  1. You might like this video. This guy runs Tinkering School.

    Our son is obviously too young to do anything like that, but we do have a huge bin where we save old or broken appliances, mechanical things, scrap hardware, etc. We call it the "Tinker Box." It's there for whenever one of our kids eventually takes an interest in taking things apart to see how they work and/or building things.

    Does she have an Erector set?

  2. If she's into electronics, she could work with Snap Circuits or something a little more complicated, like this.

  3. Dunno about the electronics. The tinkering thing looks promising, though.

  4. My dad used to keep some small pieces of scrap wood in the garage when I was about that age. He also kept out some tools he thought I could handle: a saw, a hammer, a miter box, and a screwdriver. While he did yard work or whatever, I would sit in there with the garage door open playing around with that stuff. That was pretty fun.

    Also, I think Home Depot does either a weekly or monthly kids' project where you bring your kid in and she gets to build something to take home. My half sister is about the Flower's age, and she loves that. The times and dates vary by store, so you'd have to call your local one.

  5. Oh, yeah, I've seen those Home Depot classes. Excellent suggestions, Freem.

    Can't really do that bit with the tools and scrap wood because I don't have any tools or scrap wood.

    Which causes some scoffing amongst the workmen who come by--until they realize I do stuff they're totally inept in....

  6. Can't really do that bit with the tools and scrap wood because I don't have any tools or scrap wood.

    Heh. :) In that case, you can pick up two or three cheap boards (cut into pieces for free), a miter box, a little wood saw, a hammer, a box of nails (thin ones), and a piece of sandpaper on the super cheap while you're in Home Depot for the class.

    Or maybe a cheap book like this to let her look at and see if there's anything she wants to try. If she does want to try something, you can always go get the stuff then.

  7. More great stuff! Wish I had these for The Boy. He didn't have The Flower's facility for it, but he always wanted to make his own toys.

  8. Okay, this is almost totally off the topic of mechanical activities for kids, but I was just looking at field guides, and they reminded me of this book.

    I remember finding that book (an old edition) in our house when I was a kid and absolutely devouring it. Fascinating. Great book to have around for kids to peruse even if they're not really into the great outdoors.

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  10. I remember my when my dad taught me to tighten screws. I think it was the same day I could legally buy a beer. lol

    This is a really cute story. Do you mind if I republish this story and your ordeal with Sole on my treadmill review blog?

  11. No, go ahead. Just a link back to the original, please?


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