I wanted to make the marble tower good and solid, so I’m making it primarily out of ash. This was convenient because I had some on hand. :-)
Here’s where we stand today on the project:
The first step was to build the base and attach the side rails to it that go up to where the cross bracing and the handle reside. This wasn’t too bad to do…but it was the first time that I ran into the concept of cutting compound angles…which I learned requires patience rather than skill. I sometimes lack both…but I got through it.
Next was the starter mechanism. This is very cool…and equally frustrating. I haven’t got this working 100% yet and will likely wait until the very end to complete it. The marbles line up in the top and you prime the system with one marble after the mechanism. The lower bar tilts up and down allowing the next marble to pop through the mechanism and start down the rails….and so on until they’re all running. When it works reliably I’ll try and shoot a short video.
Next up was the circular run around the rails before dropping into the xylophone. This was a major pain the butt. Again, compound angles and short patience conspired against me. :-) You need to compensate for a 5 degree angle against the outside rail, plus the 60 degrees to join around the hexagon, plus a 5-10 degree drop in elevation to keep the marble moving. Let’s just say there are more than a couple of mis-cuts still taunting me on my bench.
Next up was the xylophone. Now we’re having fun. This was a fun little piece to build and it makes noise!!! The one gotcha I encountered was trying to paint the keys. I thought it would be nice to paint them bright colours. I tried priming them and using some enamel paints, but this was not giving me the look I was expecting. In the end, I removed the paint and buffed them up a bit to leave them as unadorned metal.
After the xylophone the marbles are supposed to shoot into a little cyclone type thing. The plans called for building a support bar (see the original post and you’ll see the picture) and using laminated strips of thin plywood cut in a spiral and glued/screwed down onto the support bar. I didn’t want to do it this way. So, to challenge myself, I decided to try laminating together a large segmented bowl that would act like a funnel that the marbles can spin around and drop out the bottom.
I have never tried segmented turning before, so this was much more challenging for me than I expected. I turned it this week and it works fairly well. I’ve got a few joints that aren’t as clean as I’d like and the center at the bottom has some small segments that blew out while I was turning it. I’ll keep working on cleaning it up until I’m happy with it and I’ll also be creating my own mounting mechanism.
The funnel bowl:
Here’s approximately where it’s going to sit….after I figure out how to mount it and put a transition rail from the xylophone on to the funnel.
-- Ian - Life's a game, if you don't play, you can't win.