boys and toys

The phrase “a boy never grows up, his toys just get bigger” isn't new. And up until recently – when I actually looked back on my photos – I would blow this turn of phrase off with slight disdain. I don't believe in gender specific roles. As a kid, I wouldn't have given a rat's donkey if I was a boy or a girl. I'd love cool stuff either way.

big wagon little wagon

With our recent posting of our adventures, and more specifically our Yellowstone trip, I realized that I still do in fact like my toys…and they in fact are bigger. Damn, I hate when my hoity-toityness bites me in the ass.

Ever since I was a little boy, I've loved wagons. It took the payload of my two little arms and allowed me to haul at least 5 to 6 times my normal toy haul. When a boy had to dig in the dirt, he was gonna have some dirt to move! And as much as I loved my little Tonka dump truck, my wagon was…well…a wagon.

trailer on truck

Recently, Opa has demonstrated his love of “toys” with the recent purchase of three surplus military trailers. To be honest, toys they may be but pragmatists we still are. We don't buy stuff we can't use, even if is really fun. Sorry Chelsea, no wave runners. So, we've put these trailers to work and we haul everything from goat pen fence panels to camping gear.

“But what about wagon?” I thought to myself. I mean, wagon has always been there for me. I want wagon to be there for Some Boy, Sidekick and baby-on-the-way. So, I took wagon out for a makeover. More like monsterover.

wagon on chassey

The wood was fading, bending and cracking. The problem needed to be immediately addressed. I drove to Home Depot and picked up a 10″ wide oak board, carriage bolts, some strong Elmer's wood glue, wood chisels and some sand paper.

radio-flyer wagon being taken apart

After breaking it down (not breaking it but taking it apart piece by piece in organized fashion), using the sand paper and chisels I prepped the wagon by removing the rotting surface and miscellaneous wood chips. I removed the small stables used in the standard manufacturing and refit the slide-in planks with glue.

reinforcing the radio-flyer wagon

Then, I marked out the holes of the wagon's wheel system through the old holes onto the new oak reinforcements. After letting the initial glue dry for at least 30 minutes, I glued and bolted in the new oak supports. It's important to use clamps to get the oak and old wagon floor to press up against each other flush.

reinforced radio-flyer wagon

I reattached the wheel assembly and rails and tested it out. Now, I could even stand in the middle of the wagon. No problem! What did remain to be an issue, I realized based on the cleanup work, was the possibility of water corrosion as well as wear from things like dirt and other childhood debris. And so, with the the confused permission of my boss lady (Chelsea), I took it to the one place I knew would solve that problem….no problem. Line-X.

I had just gotten my F-350 and had taken it in immediately to have done. The spray-on liner not only protects the bed and keeps the space as efficiently open as possible but has also given myself and the boys more traction when playing in the back of the truck. Unfortunately, I had to learn the traction part the hard way at the dealership when Some Boy ran from one side to the other and found that an attempted sudden stop would not only fail, but result in his feet continuing forward as his body inevitably flipped backwards and onto his head. Ouch!

Reinforcing a child's wagon to make it last forever (or at least through childhood)

So, the nice fellas at our local Line-X took on the wagon with a chuckle and said they would call us in a day or so. Two days later (they had a line of actual trucks to do) they gave me a call and i went in. WOW. Not only did it work, but the wagon got a bit – dare I say it? – more bad-ass looking.

Line-X on child's wagon

I have to say, I love going all out on a project. Especially when I know that it's worthwhile.

kids in wagon

When Some Boy asks me to play with the wagon, I'm nice and I share.