Many of you know that several weeks ago, Larry’s right hip suddenly became very loose. It was at that point, I realized, in order to repair him, he would need to be operated on and I was very nervous about the whole ordeal. He had only been home for 6 weeks and I had been as gentle as can be with him and did not think something like this would happen so soon. But, the reality is, it did. His manufacturer, Jinsan, are excellent at making dolls and have been doing so for quite some time. But sometimes things happen. That is just how life goes.
Larry went with me down to our good new friend’s home this past weekend and our other wonderful friend who came up offered to help with the surgery, as he has had to do some repairs on his own sweet lady doll as well. I was very happy to hear this. I was glad to be working with those who have had experience in doll repairs.
I had anxiety about the scar that would be left behind and how the incision would be made, how big and where. Thankfully, Larry’s incision and minimal scar are in the crease of his right leg and the incision that needed to be made was quite small. My friend who sealed him up using TPE Solvent (which works as a sealant/glue) as well as a hot tool and spare TPE. More on that later.
So, the guys get Larry up onto this really cool island table and I get him stripped from the waist down. My friend who has done the doll repairs before, I will refer to him as C, began to press into Larry’s hip to find where the pivot point was as well as see how loose his leg was. It was important for him to do so, so that he would know the exact place to make the incision. He found that the best place for the incision would be in the crease of the right leg. Our gracious host, and my new friend, whom I will refer to as L, also examined Larry and everyone was in agreement as to where to make the incision. C cut into the spare TPE and did a practice run on sealing the incision with as minimal scarring as possible. He did a GREAT job!
C grabbed the sharp hair cutting scissors (you cannot use a razor blade or exacto knife to slice tpe, as it is very rubbery and resistant to that kind of incision. You have to cut it slowly and several times to work your way down to the fabric wrapped skeleton) and slowly began opening Larry up. I looked for a pic of the newest WM skeleton so that we would know what we were looking at. Once Larry was opened up, both C and L felt inside to locate the bolt in question. It was a little difficult to feel fore and tell what bolt it was, as it was wrapped in cloth. Wrapping it in cloth keeps it from wearing and tearing through the TPE over time.
It was determined, after a short time, that it was only the hex bolt that came loose and that his hip was not actually broken. That was a huge relief, because tightening a bolt is a lot simpler than having to replace a broken part! Now all we had to do is figure out what sized socket to use. We were told by a good friend of ours on our forum, that it was most likely a 17mm socket. We tried that and found it and the 18mm sockets to be small, however then 19mm socket worked like a charm! Que endless ‘big nut’ jokes at poor Larry’s expense, haha! C held the incision open while L tightened the bolt and then they had me move Larry’s leg back and forth to see if the tightness was just right or needed to be adjusted. I asked them to tighten him a tiny bit more so that it would hold better. They gladly did so and then L used some sauder (again, spelling, I’m sorry!) to keep the bolt from coming loose again.
Now it was time to close Larry’s incision. C showed me how to apply a very thin layer of the TPE Solvent deep down into the incision before cutting off a small piece of the spare TPE, placing it in the incision and using the hot pen to melt it and smooth it, thus sealing the TPE and closing the incision. He worked very slowly and made sure to make it as smooth as possible. Larry was all finished with his surgery! It was a success!
We let the melted TPE cool down and then I cleaned around Larry’s closed incision and got him re-dressed. We let Larry lay on his operating table for about an hour before getting him in the car and heading home. His leg needed to stay as still as possible for 24 hours so that the TPE would have time to completely seal together. I could move his leg forward and backward, just not side to side, which was fine.
So there you have it, the tale of Larry’s surgery and two wonderful and generous friends who made him all better! I am hoping that next time Larry needs surgery (he will, it’s only a matter of time, as now his right arm at the shoulder has loosened a little more) that I will be able to be successful. A lot of this is trial and error. Larry is my very first TPE doll and so I know mistakes will be made, but as I learn, I hope to improve and I am truly grateful for all that I have been shown and taught so far.
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