Modular Marble Machine #10: Testing..............Ooooops!

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Blog entry by William posted 04-24-2013 11:49 PM 3336 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 9: Track Blocks - Part 3 Part 10 of Modular Marble Machine series Part 11: Preview »

Today started the testing process. I didn’t feel well at all, but figured that I could handle just testing, as I didn’t foresee any problems, so off to the shop I went. I was wrong. Oh boy was I wrong. There was a problem, a huge one. While building up tracks, nothing lined up as it should.
After doing some measuring and double, and triple checking, I found the problem. I had made a gigantic mistake. I’m not talking about a little boo-boo. I’m talking a mistake of epic proportions. This is my worst fear when building something like this. Some problems don’t present themselves until everything else is done and you are down to final testing.

The problem was the feed trough. You may recall how much I keep harping on keeping that same 3.2cm spacing grid pattern through out the machine? In order to do so, the feed trough that runs through the middle of the two base plates was supposed to be 3.2cm wide, with the middle section being 1.8cm and the two sides being 0.7cm. Well apparently I had one of those brain farts I am so famous for. I somehow, in my head, added those two side measurements together and came up with two 1.4cm sides. That made the trough 4.6cm wide and threw everything off the grid by 1.4cm. That just wasn’t going to do.
So I done some head scratching trying to figure out a way to correct this situation without rebuilding the whole base unit.
I tried offsetting holes in the block that is up high on the elevator column. That worked, unless you tried running track across the feed trough and back. So that still wouldn’t work. There was just no way around it. At the very least I was going to have to rebuild the feed trough.

After rebuilding the feed trough I had to enlarge the notches on the base plates to bring them over to the new, narrower trough. This left a 0.7cm gap on the sides. I was out of suitable plywood to redo the base plates, and that material isn’t exactly cheap, so I made and glued in filler strips on each side of the base.

Then it was back to testing. After making the modifications to the trough and plates, all was lining up ok now. However, I am not happy with the building of the tracks at all. You see, there are plenty of track elements to build any kind of configuration you can think of. The problem is that it is a puzzle to get it all supported high enough without running out of riser blocks. There are plenty of blocks to tie things together, but not enough of the taller blocks to build upwards. In fact, it is too much of a puzzle in my opinion. The idea is supposed to be to be able to build whatever you like, not to have to solve puzzles to do so. So I am going to make more of the tall square blocks.
Another thing I noticed was that, while building all of this, and tying it all together using marbles, the marbles I have are running out quickly. I need to go buy some more marbles. You see, the marbles come fifty to a bag. However, of the bags I’ve bought so far, less than half of them are five eighths inch or smaller so they’ll work with this grid design. It’s alright though. At a dollar a bag, I figure I’ll buy five or six more bags, weed out the oversized ones, and have enough to get the task done without further issues.
So, I only thought I was done except for the testing. I need more blocks and marbles. That is next on the agenda.


16 comments so far

View JL7's profile


8667 posts in 2994 days

#1 posted 04-25-2013 12:40 AM

So… really have lost all your marbles then…....

Sorry to here about the boo boo…....this I can relate to… your blocks, find your marbles and carry on…..Cool stuff William..

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View sras's profile


4812 posts in 3158 days

#2 posted 04-25-2013 01:01 AM

It’s one thing to make a mistake. The fun part is when you fix it! Nice save!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2719 days

#3 posted 04-25-2013 01:15 AM

You are a patient man. That screw up would have taken the heart out of me. But you just “cowboyed up” and fixed it. Carry on!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Kreegan's profile


1452 posts in 2176 days

#4 posted 04-25-2013 01:26 AM

That sucks about the mistake, William, but mistakes are a part of the process I guess. I’m sure you’ll fix it and wow us all with this one when it’s done. :-)

View boxcarmarty's profile


16311 posts in 2389 days

#5 posted 04-25-2013 01:28 AM

Dang good thing you went to school yesterday. Did you meet the math teacher???

Have we figured out what it is yet???

-- My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

View DIYaholic's profile


19623 posts in 2704 days

#6 posted 04-25-2013 01:36 AM

Glad you were able to conjure up a fix….

It wasn’t a mistake, but rather a….
Design change!!!

Please continue to plug away at this, as I wantz ta seez some marbles a rollin’ & fallin’ and what not!!!


-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2871 days

#7 posted 04-25-2013 01:43 AM

Thank you all.
If all goes well, I will go to town first thing in the morning for more marbles, make more blocks, and be back on track to having the marbles rolling down the track.
Randy has it right. He actually remembered something I usually say. It’s not a mistake, but a design change.


View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 2643 days

#8 posted 04-25-2013 02:08 AM

William have been there and its just like the old saying quieter never win and winner never quit ,way to go looking forward to the rest of this build

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2885 days

#9 posted 04-25-2013 04:12 AM

Bummer William, but you got it sorted
It will help Gordon though as we have not reached that stage.

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3332 days

#10 posted 04-25-2013 05:29 AM

well its a good thing the door on your wood stove wont let this fit in there…lol…naw,,,your a cool cucumber, you found the problem, worked it out, and in the morning you will be rolling again…get it…marbles…rolling…....har har har…im the jokester of the hour here…really sorry for your boo boo….you need to check your blood pressure on deals like this…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3363 days

#11 posted 04-25-2013 07:29 AM

Some days are like that. Don’t give up on it too soon William. Now when you are upset with it, it probably seems worse than it is.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2871 days

#12 posted 04-25-2013 11:37 AM

Thanks all.
Grizz, I would never burn anything I have this much work in by placing it in the wood heater.
That’s what bon-fires are for.

Seriously though.
I always try to fix what I can, if it’s possible.
If something is messed up so that it is not repairable in a way that wouldn’t make it look butchered together, then it’s fancy firewood. I don’t think my fix for this project harmed it in any way though. All is good.

Now I have to tell a secret. I was not surprised by the boo-boo with the trough. I didn’t know where it was going to be, but I have the notion that the 3.2cm grid pattern was going to be messed up somewhere along the way and have to be reconed with. It’s just the nature of this type of system. It all depends on keeping that exact pattern throughout the machine. It’s also real easy to mess it up.
So, that’s a lesson for anyone wishing to build this project. Please don’t fret if you find a problem with alignment due to the grid pattern. It’s all good. Stop and see what you have to do to fix it. It’s wood. The worst case scenerio is that you have to rebuild something.


View Doe's profile


1404 posts in 2859 days

#13 posted 04-25-2013 09:27 PM

That’s some impressive save. As is your philosophy. Not many people would be as calm as you are.

-- Mother Nature talks, I try to listen

View DS's profile


2926 posts in 2449 days

#14 posted 04-25-2013 09:44 PM

The way I read it, he hasn’t lost his marbles, just they are all irregular.
Welcome to the “Irregular Marbles Club” William!

BTW, genius build and genius solution. I LIKE IT!

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View oldnovice's profile


6904 posts in 3397 days

#15 posted 04-25-2013 10:38 PM

William did you use the plans available or is this your own design?

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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