Took a picture of Henry & Arthur when they were playing pirates. They pushed the beds together in the guest bedroom to make a pirate ship and sailed off across the high seas. Arthur was the Captain, and Henry was the First Mate. Arthur was in charge of the maps and navigating the boat. Henry was in charge of loading and unloading cargo. My job was to come up with new names for islands to visit.
Henry decided that he too was ready for a new bike. He pulled out the 16" bike I had in the garage for him and said he was ready to ride it. Henry took off on the 16", and we had a nice 2-mile ride to Selby Park this morning.
When we got back, Henry thought it was time for Arthur to learn to pedal. We put the training wheels back on the 12" bike and set up Arthur to spin a bit.
What are the odds that our first ride with the boys' new helmets would result in the demise of the Skuut? This time it wasn't the Skuut's fault.
At the bottom of the fork blades are bolts that keep the plywood compressed against the force of the wheel axel. These bolts fell out a long time ago. For a time, I kept track of them and tightened them up, but then they were lost for good. With these bolts missing, it was only a matter of time before the punishment Arthur dishes out when hitting curbs and walls would result in total failure of the plywood fork.
If these bolts are loose or missing on your wooden balance bike (they all seem to have plywood forks), I recommend replacing them and applying some Loctite Threadlocker (maybe the red).
The Skuut is one of the less expensive wooden balance bikes on the market. I'm not sure how the "original" wooden balance bikes were/are built (not interested in that conversation), but the Skuut has two major design flaws. Below is a slideshow, if you click on the photos and open them in a new window, you can see annotations I've added to the four photos.
The first is that the handlebar is attached to the front fork using wood screws. This means that the wood screws screw down between the layers of plywood. Any impact or torque on the handlebar results in the separation of these layers. In the case of my boys, these impacts are often at high speeds resulting in complete separation of the handlebar from the fork. I've attempted to draw the plywood back together by drilling two holes and using long chainring bolts and washers. I've also been reattaching the handlebar with the wood screws by shoving matchsticks down the screw holes to give the screws more wood to bite into. This evening I drilled an additional set of holes so that now four screws hold the handlebar to the fork.
The second design flaw is that the wheel is held in the center of the axel assembly by the combination of compression rings and wooden hub pieces. The wooden hub pieces work themselves loose allowing the compression rings to pop out of their groove. The result is a wobbly wheel. The wooden hub pieces eventually split from being forced back on to the hub, so I've replaced them with hose clamps. The wheel still wobbles, but at least it stays in the center.
The boys love their Skuut. Like any loved toy it is starting to break down. The boys are hard on the Skuut, e.g., deliberately crashing it into walls, riding off of steps and high curbs, dismounting at high speeds and dumping it to the ground. They have occasionally have left it out all night allowing moisture to weaken the plywood and rust the wheels.
If you're in the market for a wooden balance bike, look carefully at how the handlebar and wheels are attached. We're going to keep ours patched up and rolling, but I don't think we'll be handing it down to any friends.
Any repair advice from family carpenters and engineers is appreciated.
We have 4 parks that are within walking/biking distance. We try to hit 1-2 of them each day with the goal of exhausting the boys. Below is a video of our ride to "bumpy slide park". It's just shy of a mile away. The video is kinda long (and Blair-Witchy when Henry has the camera).
Summer is in full swing, and the boys and I are still sorting out how to spend the day together (with a lot of playing for them and a little writing for me). I'm getting a little better at coming up with things to do rather than continuously reminding them what not to do, e.g., peel paint off the garage and eat it, spit on each other, throw toys in the neighbors' yard.
Here's a game we came up with today. We don't have a name for it yet.
We recently moved to Georgia where we are living, learning, and playing. We [used to] blog primarily for family and the few, special friends who enjoy our brand of crazy. [Now, it's all about Facebook. *sigh*]