Modular Marble Machine #11: Preview

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Blog entry by William posted 04-25-2013 11:26 PM 3612 reads 1 time favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 10: Testing..............Ooooops! Part 11 of Modular Marble Machine series Part 12: Then Finish, The Catch, and Some Instructions »

I was ready and anxious to get back to testing this morning. You may remember from last time though that I had a few things to do first. So off to town I went for more marbles to start with. I bought six bags of marbles to be safe, but there is more to that in a bit.

Also I felt a need to make more of the tallest solid riser blocks. These are simple and didn’t take long at all to whip up. Actually, I probably could have gotten by with less than the twelve I wound up making, in addition to the ones I already had. I always say though, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.

Then it was back to building up some track to test everything. With what I bought this morning, I had enough marbles to test everything, but I still don’t have enough. I need five eighths marbles for this design. The problem is, out of each bag of fifty marbles I bought this morning that are supposed to be five eighths, only about five to seven marbles in each bag were acceptable. Most are oversized and won’t fit the holes. Some have flat spots and don’t roll well. I don’t know if it’s just a bad batch or what, but I have got to find a solution. I can’t keep just buying more and more marbles. The coffee can with the rejected marbles is getting almost full, while the usable can still runs dry when I’m testing.
Anyway, I’ve gotten a few messages with questions that mostly deal with confusion as to how all this actually goes together. So, in addition to the photo above, here is a video.

Next thing I wanted to test was that all the pieces are supposed to fit into the base if one was to decide to store the whole mess, in a closet, for example.

Remember I made some extra pieces. It all fit.

It was like working a three dimensional puzzle to get it all in there though. I just wanted to see if it fit. I believe if I actually wanted to put it away in use, I would elect to place certain pieces, like maybe the square riser blocks, on top of the base plates to make it easier to fit everything else inside. This would free up space and make things easier, while still keeping everything neatly together to pull out and play with at a later date.


That is going to be the last post for at least a few days. All that is left is a finish. I still have yet to figure out what finish I want to use though. A couple of my other marble machines have no finish at all. I do want to put something on this one though. I know I’ll finish the base if I don’t do anything else. The blocks I am considering leaving unfinished. I am already having issues with some marbles being mighty tight because they are on the verge of being too large. I am afraid that putting finish on them will compound this issue.
I will give this some though and decide. Then I will post a video of the completely finished project when I am done. I hope you have enjoyed seeing what goes into a project like this. They are a lot of fun in my opinion. They are time consuming though and not for the impatient or easily frustrated.


20 comments so far

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 2731 days

#1 posted 04-25-2013 11:42 PM

now i see ,it dose come together now,you have a great deal of patients William ,is this set to where you can rearrange it into different configurations , never mind i see now .

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3421 days

#2 posted 04-26-2013 12:56 AM

fantastic william, me and the wife just watched your video, its a cool machine, you probably need to order your marbles on line from a reliable source, one that gives you exactly what you order…great job here…

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

View William's profile


9950 posts in 2960 days

#3 posted 04-26-2013 01:12 AM

Thanks you both.

Eddie, yes, you can rearrange it any way you want. You’re only limited by the bounds of your imagination.

Grizz, I’ve tried that route with another marble machine. I over paid for marbles that were supposed to be exactly the right size, and still only sixty percent were not oversized. I’ve come to the conclusion that, with marbles being just basically cast or blown glass, there is no guarantee on size. For most of my machines, a tad bit of difference isn’t that big a deal. Accuaracy came into play on this one to give it the ability to repeat results with the stacking blocks. It’ll be alright. I’ll make sure to build my next marble machine with looser tolerances to use up all the rejected ones from this one.

Did I say next one? Oh yes, there will be a next one.


View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2808 days

#4 posted 04-26-2013 01:13 AM

William, You are a genious! That is so cool I’d never get anything done from playing with it. That is just so outside my skill set. Keep posting your amazing stuff. The video made it all the more fun. Great job!

I still think you sound exactly like HWJ on the vids!

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

View sras's profile


4872 posts in 3247 days

#5 posted 04-26-2013 01:45 AM

Great video William! That looks like a ton of fun!

I showed it to my wife. I think I’m going to end up buying a set of plans…

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View William's profile


9950 posts in 2960 days

#6 posted 04-26-2013 01:54 AM

Thank you Andy. I do love building things that move and have action. I was looking tonight at an idea for a future project that is right up my alley. Wait till you see it. It has some action for sure.

Steve, thanks. Go ahead and buy the plans. They are cheap for the detail Mattius puts into his plans. This is the fifth project I have built of his and am always pleased with his plans. In addition to the plans themselves, you get instructions written in easy to read format, plenty of photos of every step, detailed measurements plus full size templates for any parts that aren’t easily laid out with typical measuring tools, and even a sketchup file that employs the free version of sketchup from Google if you like using that route.


View JL7's profile


8681 posts in 3083 days

#7 posted 04-26-2013 01:55 AM

Very nice William….love it…...flat spots or not….looks like a winner…. I’ll ask again…..what’s next??

Cool build man…..

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View William's profile


9950 posts in 2960 days

#8 posted 04-26-2013 01:58 AM

That’s what I’m debating on Jeff, and have several cool ideas and plans for the future.
I can’t decide right now between the wooden gear clock, the new idea for my rubber band gatling gun, or the air powered engine.

And thank you for the compliments. I forgot though, first I have to finish this. It isn’t complete just yet.


View DIYaholic's profile


19647 posts in 2792 days

#9 posted 04-26-2013 02:37 AM

Great build there, William.
Nice job on the video!

Probably more expensive than marbles, but would individual ball bearings be “machined” to a higher tolerance??? They would also add another “mechanical” aspect to the “marble machine”....

Looking forward to the finale, err “finish”!!!

-- 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 Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2957 days

#10 posted 04-26-2013 02:43 AM

Now I get what you are doing. William my wife says you should have been an engineer.
The thought of you in a lab coat came to my mind.
Then it swiftly left.
All kidding aside.
This is something a child or adult could spend hours playing with.
I will be over in a few.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View boxcarmarty's profile


16533 posts in 2477 days

#11 posted 04-26-2013 02:48 AM

It’s Alive…..

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

View William's profile


9950 posts in 2960 days

#12 posted 04-26-2013 02:50 AM

Randy, ball bearings are ideal for something like this.
For the price though, I can just buy more bags of marbles and test them through a 5/8” hole like I’ve been doing, and I prefer the real marble look to the metallic ball bearings.
Then there is the drawback to ball bearings. They are also heavier. This means redesigning everything with higher sides so the momentum doesn’t cause them to constantly overshoot around corners.
They are ideal though if you want to do something with exact tolerances. This is supposed to be more fun though than exact tolerances.

Dave, I’m glad you think so, because that is what it is meant for, something that will appeal to kids, and the kid in us all. Thanks.


View William's profile


9950 posts in 2960 days

#13 posted 04-26-2013 02:51 AM

Yes Marty.
Well, not yet.
It is coming to life though.


View boxcarmarty's profile


16533 posts in 2477 days

#14 posted 04-26-2013 02:51 AM

Lab coat?? As in Dr. Jekyll??

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

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3452 days

#15 posted 04-26-2013 08:21 AM

It seems to work great William. Good video. It’s too bad there isn’t some way to polish the marbles that are too large down to the right size.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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