Wednesday 28 September 2011

Oh woe is me or... I think I broke my Vinco!

Whilst on my recent mini-break, I was cheeky and brought along a few puzzles to do whilst "relaxing" - this also slightly pissed off the wife. One of the puzzles I brought was the Ballerina by Vinco.

This was one of my recent batch from Vacláv Obsivac, one of the best artisan puzzle makers around. It is a 6 piece coordinate motion puzzle made from Walnut and Maple. I know I wasn't planning on buying any more coordinate motion puzzles but I couldn't resist it - after all, it is made of wood and you know how addicted I am to wooden puzzles (and metal ones... and plastic ones)!!!

It is not immediately clear what to pull on and in which direction to pull to disassemble it so I took my usual approach of tugging on everything I could and shaking it about! It all fell apart nicely and all the pieces looked identical. I admired the workmanship and immediately tried to put it together again. It was quite tricky and I really feel that another hand or two would have been useful to hold things in place whilst successive pieces are aligned. Needless to say I didn't request help from Mrs S - I didn't dare brave the laser stare (the smell of burning is quite off-putting when it comes from your own forehead, you know)!!!

After about 30 minutes of swearing under my breath it all slid together and looked lovely again. Being somewhat stupid (and slightly masochistic), I later tried it again and it is clear that practice makes perfect because I got it all aligned within 10 minutes! It started to slide together and to my horror, halted with a few millimetres to spare - it wouldn't budge at all! I rattled, pulled and pushed and finally it closed up and looked perfect again. Unfortunately it is now completely stuck in the closed position - nothing I have tried will open it - there are very small movements but it stops after a milimeter or so. Pulling, rattling and even (as a desperate last resort) a squirt of WD40 have not worked! This is quite amazing to me because all men know that WD40 is the cure for everything except cancer! (Yes I know I am a doctor - forgive the horrible humour but my puzzle is sick!) I seem to be left with a rather nice wooden ornament, no longer a puzzle!

I didn't even get a chance to take a photo of the pieces. If anyone has any useful suggestions, I would be eternally grateful! Just contact me with any ideas!!


  1. That's the problem with puzzles with identical pieces; the pieces usually aren't 100% identical. Which is why with the same pieces you can get either a perfect fit, loose fit or your 'impossible to disassemble' fit. Stick it in the fridge and hope it shrinks and loosens up in the cold a bit.

  2. Does it open by spinning it? This is a dangerous technique to try, it probably will result in broken pieces. The good news is if it is still stuck together it is unlikely that a piece is broken. I would ask Vinco, he can probably get it apart without breaking anything. I agree with Oli that it it likely the result of the pieces not being completely interchangeable.

  3. Think of the name! It must open by spinning! Nonetheless I would only try it in a well padded room.

  4. Thanks George and Oli. I tried both approaches and neither worked. It is stuck hard.

    Probably not worth sending back - the cost of postage there and back is more than the puzzle is worth. I will keep it as an ornament and a testament to my "folly"!!


  5. Stick a drill into it and get it up to about 3000 rpm. Then I guarantee you, *something* will happen!

    I had some recalcitrant co-mo puzzles where I ended up tying a string to each piece so I could pull outward on all of them at once. This worked great, but unfortunately it is usually only possible to do this when the pieces are apart.

  6. I think I'll pass on the drill idea! ;-)

    Why didn't you tell me I had to tie string around all the pieces before I put it back together?

  7. So here's the thing Kevin, if you know the direction that things are supposed to come apart in ... then pull in that direction till it comes apart.

    One of two things will happen...
    1. The puzzle will open, and you can then see what was sticking it, and sand slightly, then re-assemble.
    2. The puzzle will snap at one of the glue joints. You know know exactly where it was sticking. Scrape the old glue off with a sharp blade, being careful not to change the shape of the piece or unduly change its size. Re-glue using the other pieces as a jig. Re-assemble when the glue is dry.

    As you mention the Vinco puzzles aren't that expensive, so at worst, you create a puzzle with more pieces.