A Tribute to a Great Designer

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Blog entry by stefang posted 10-27-2015 11:26 AM 1263 reads 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Even though this camel pull toy looks like it might have been made about the time as the French revolution took place, it is actually about 12 years old.

I made it for my 4 year old grandson from one of John Hutchison’s plans which was published quite a few years ago. John has told me since that the plan had some inherent weakness’s. The weak areas are the head and the tail where the grain is going in the wrong direction due to the nature of the moving parts. The humps, head and tail are driven by an internal cam that makes them go up and down as the camel is pulled along.

This is the third time I have had to repair it. My grandson who is now 16 insists on keeping it on a bookshelf in his room where it has been accidentally knocked off the shelf a few times. All of my projects have lifetime guarantees, but that is for my lifetime, not the recipient’s.

It does make me happy that my grandson still values his camel, now more of an object d’ art (or maybe just a fond childhood memory) than a toy. A great tribute to John Hutchinson’s designing capabilities. A wonderful item despite it’s very minor flaws. So many thanks John for helping me bond with my grandkids!

You can see a nicer photo of this project here

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

18 comments so far

View Redoak49's profile


4354 posts in 2595 days

#1 posted 10-27-2015 11:41 AM

Nice project but great story…you should feel proud

View Dutchy's profile


3508 posts in 2775 days

#2 posted 10-27-2015 11:58 AM

Very nice story Steve! That your grandson insist keeping it on the bookshelf must make you happy and proud. It reminds me on te day I and my brothers and sister had to clean the loft of my parents house after they died. We found maybe more than 20 years old craft pieces made by there grandchildren when they where about 4/5 years. I know this is the opposit way but with the same intentions.


View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 3940 days

#3 posted 10-27-2015 12:13 PM

Yes Jan, it is amazong how inaminate objects can contain fond memories.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3473 days

#4 posted 10-27-2015 12:36 PM

Mike, one of our greatest blessings is the memories we have of the wonderful moments that we have experienced with our loved ones and friends over the years. Sometimes they are suspended in the cells of our brains where they are caught and brought forward to our conscience for no apparent reason, and sometimes they are brought forward by an old prized photo, or the smile on a loved ones face, or sometimes by simply taking notice of the cute little camel with the broken neck that sits on your Grandson’s bookcase. Oh how we all cherish these sorts of things.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Dave's profile


11434 posts in 3446 days

#5 posted 10-27-2015 12:54 PM

What a wonderful story Mike. He will always love it because you made it for him.
Mike the wooden toys I make my grand kids are much more treasured by them than the stuff the purchased from the store.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View doubleDD's profile


8970 posts in 2649 days

#6 posted 10-27-2015 01:22 PM

Hmmmm, similar to the Broke the Camels Back story. LOL. Great story Mike. I am honored when someone comes to me to repair something I made for them. They treasure it so much, they can’t part with it. I like YOUR lifetime guarantee.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 3940 days

#7 posted 10-27-2015 02:48 PM

Thanks for the positive responses everyone. I give almost all my projects to family members and friends. Making a personal gift for someone close is far more rewarding for me than selling to strangers. I did sell some of my projects many years ago, I never really enjoyed that. Those of you who do sell their work usually make a profit (I hope), and that can make the whole experience a lot more fun. That could never happen to me as I am way too slow and inefficient.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23759 posts in 3712 days

#8 posted 10-27-2015 03:09 PM

That is really cool, Mike. I think it is time to put a steel dowel up the middle of that thin section along with some epoxy .


-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View hunter71's profile


3477 posts in 3793 days

#9 posted 10-27-2015 04:15 PM

Great build, better story Mike.

-- A childs smile is payment enough.

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 3940 days

#10 posted 10-27-2015 04:40 PM

Jim Excellent idea Jim. It’s a real pleasure to have regular contact here on LJ with folks who are willing to share their intelligence (did I spell that right?).

Hunter Thanks. My stories are always better quality than my projects (unfortunately).

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View kiefer's profile


5713 posts in 3273 days

#11 posted 10-27-2015 06:40 PM

It’s great to hear your grandson has that kind of love and respect for the toy you made for him years ago .
I wonder if a couple of accenting wood splines would be acceptable to reinforce the affected parts and may just add to the look .


-- Kiefer

View robscastle's profile


6675 posts in 2810 days

#12 posted 10-27-2015 07:33 PM

Hello there Mike,

Happy Camel day to you!

I touching Blog story, and I see others thought so too.

I see you have done a great job on your grandsons camel and it is now become a treasured belonging of a small boy an he turns into an adult.

I can understand why he wants to retain it.

So as an aditional tribute to a great designer you will have to consider doing this:
Extend your right arm (or left ) out parallel with the ground palm uppermost, fingers extended, then swing your arm from the elbow vigoursly to the rear a couple of times, but dont overdo it and hurt yourself!!

I am by no means a camel expert but it think there is a legend attached to camels regarding life time guarantees and it goes something along the lines of if the camel is repaired the warranty time clock restarts and the clock perodicity is multiplied by the number of pieces broken off, so do not be thinking of “skulking off” any time soon and avoiding your warranty obligations.

A similar story.
I have a god son who is now married and has a family so he is in his mid 30s, well while I was working in Sydney with my sons we had a job to install and airconditioning unit for his mother.
After the install he invited us back to his place for a short stay.
When I was in the lounge room I saw a wooden aircraft carrier that I made for him when he was possibly the same age as your grandson.
It was still in prisentine condition and I commented that he still had it, his reply was a “of couse why shouldnt I” I think I felt the same as you did at the time.

Anyway I am rambling…...I will be most interested in seeing the repair method you choose to use and the camel back intact and rolling along yet again.

-- Regards Rob

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 3940 days

#13 posted 10-27-2015 09:07 PM

Well Rob, both suggested methods are good structurally, but the invisible reinforcement appeals the most me because my grandson would want it to be as it was. I will probaby use some bamboo doweling instead of steel though.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Schwieb's profile


1897 posts in 4067 days

#14 posted 10-28-2015 12:03 AM

Hi Mike, Enjoyed your post. I’m afraid I missed the original post in 2009 but enjoyed seeing it now. I appreciate the lifetime warranty deal. LOL I’ve got one or two of those things myself. Elm may not have been the best choice for the material, but it would have taken something extremely dense and strong to not break at the points you mentioned. Still it’s pretty cool that your grandson still likes it and wants to keep it around.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18784 posts in 4282 days

#15 posted 10-28-2015 03:51 AM

Nice blog Mike. I know how he feels. I can’t bring myself to part with the key rack or the decorative cradle my grandpa made either. Not sure about my kids. They never really knew him, but my daughter has my great grandpa’s cane. You just never know. Maybe it will be in your great great grandkids treasures?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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