Modular Marble Machine

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Blog series by William updated 04-28-2013 04:05 AM 12 parts 36374 reads 169 comments total

Part 1: The Pump

04-09-2013 12:51 AM by William | 19 comments »

Today I started on a new marble machine. While doing the first three machines, I have gotten multiple questions through my email about what goes into these type machines. Well, so far, all of them I’ve done have been other’s designs, the one I’m starting as well. However, I do tweak some things and do design changes as I see fit. That is all part of the fun. Since I start getting questions after posting any of the machines though, I decided I wanted to do a daily blog on the...

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Part 2: The Elevator Column

04-10-2013 12:26 AM by William | 21 comments »

Yesterday we built the pump to handle pushing the marbles, but now we need to get them on some kind of upward mobility. Marble machines work from gravity and momentum keeping the marbles moving through it’s course. So they have to start high. So today I built the elevator column. In this first photo, you see the elevator column sitting beside the pump.I took a closer shot so you can see that we added pins to the top of the pump that line up with holes on the bottom of the elevator colum...

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Part 3: The Base

04-11-2013 01:16 AM by William | 9 comments »

If you seen the pump and elevator column I’ve spent the last couple of days making, then I’m sure you already know that we now need a base to start building this thing upon. So that’s what I decided to start on today.I spent quite a bit of time debating this morning on what wood to use. I definitely did not want to use plywood for the sides. I took into consideration weight and strength. Whatever I chose though also had to be something I had in sizes that were wide and long ...

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Part 4: Base Plates

04-12-2013 01:46 AM by William | 8 comments »

Yesterday I built the base. Inside the base there will be plates with holes in a grid patterns. With this grid of holes on these plates, it will be possible to place marbles in the holes, place pieces with holes in the bottom of them on top of the marbles, locking things together so nothing moves. It is with this type of system upon which everything else will be possible to build.First thing today I had to place corner pieces and a tab on the inside of the front for the plates to sit on.Next ...

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Part 5: The Crank

04-12-2013 11:25 PM by William | 18 comments »

If you’ve been keeping up, we are just about ready to start building the actual pieces to make a marble run. The only thing we have left is a crank handle to operate the pump assembly.To attach a shaft to the pump, running to the outside of the base box, we are using a half inch dowel. That dowel has a hole drilled the same size as the metal shaft. Then the dowel is split with a band saw down the middle of that hole. This slips over the shaft.Next we have to pinch the dowel down onto th...

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Part 6: Riser Blocks

04-19-2013 12:17 AM by William | 10 comments »

In my previous post, I admitted to being sidetracked most of the week. I have gotten some work done on the marble machine, but it is a spot in the project where it is kind of pointless to post much because the work is kind of boring and mundane. The parts I am working on are called riser blocks. These are simply block, like children’s building blocks, that stack on top of one another and interlock using marbles. It is upon this system of stacked blocks that track sections will later be ...

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Part 7: Track Blocks - Part 1

04-22-2013 01:31 AM by William | 11 comments »

I’ve decided to break the track blocks into parts in addition to the separate parts of the project as a whole because the track blocks will cover multiple days of work. Before I start with that though, I also need to show the rest of the riser blocks. I did not see a need to make another post about them because it was only more of the basic same process as making the first part of them.On the right side in this photo is the rest of the riser blocks. I finished these yesterday but wasn&#...

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Part 8: Track Blocks - Part 2

04-22-2013 11:47 PM by William | 12 comments »

Next up on the track block list is the zig-zag tracks.As you can see, these track pieces are double wide, but get the same grid measured hole pattern as everything else so it can be locked in place using marbles. I debated on what wood to use for these zig-zag pieces. I have so far made all the riser blocks and track blocks out of sycamore. Then I realized today that these pieces, and a few others are larger than any sycamore I have on hand. I thought about gluing up material to make stock bi...

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Part 9: Track Blocks - Part 3

04-24-2013 02:12 AM by William | 12 comments »

I had a good day today. Actually, it wasn’t a good day at all, but I did get a lot done. To tell the truth, I was angry today. It’s a long story, but I was just mad. When I get that way, I have a tendency to push back any pain I may be having and just go. I usually pay for it later, but I get a lot done. That being said, this is what I got done today.Three funnels.Two circulating bowls.One ski jump.One rocker ramp.Two flip flops.And of course they all have the same grid measured h...

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Part 10: Testing..............Ooooops!

04-24-2013 11:49 PM by William | 16 comments »

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 ...

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Part 11: Preview

04-25-2013 11:26 PM by William | 20 comments »

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 t...

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Part 12: Then Finish, The Catch, and Some Instructions

04-28-2013 04:05 AM by William | 13 comments »

If you haven’t already seen it, you can see the finished project here. Now the catch is, this project is not staying in my shop like the other marble machines I’ve built. This one is supposed to be shipped to Canada. My problem is, I now have to figure out the best way to ship this. It is 48×52cm, 17cm high, and weighs about 37 pounds. That wieght is not exact. I got the weight by standing on bathroom scales with the project, then without, and subtracting for the differenc...

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