Woodworking in the great white north.

Marble Tower – the marble dispenser

I have to admit that once I got this working, I spent a lot of time giggling like a mad scientist while it dropped marble after marble through the mechanism.

The mechanism is finicky at best, but when it works it works magnificently.  I have built the mechanism and attached it to the tower, but I believe it will come back off the tower at some point either for some further fine tuning or perhaps a more aesthetic way of being attached.

The mechanism consists of three main sections of rails attached to a plywood frame which is attached to the tower:
– The top section is fixed and holds the stash of marbles yet to be released.
– The second section in line consists of two components, the actual marble feeder (lifter) and an additional fixed section of rail.
– The final section is a pivoting rail that uses the weight of the marble to prime the feeder (lifter) with a new marble from the top section and upon rolling to the end of the rail and dropping through a hole, pivoting again to release the primed marble.

Here is a brief video of it in action.

I have some ‘adjustments’ to make to get things working smoothly, including some bumpers to keep the marbles on the rails properly, or shift things a touch to the right, we’ll see what has to be done.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m not really that impressed with the piece of plywood spanning the tower to support this, I think a more elegant solution could be made and once I’ve completed the rest of the tower I will come back to this and revisit it.

While revisiting the attachment mechanism, I’m also going to work on the fine tuning. This works fine under ideal conditions, but if you shift it out of level by even a couple of degrees, the mechanism either gets stuck and won’t release marbles, or is unable to hold the marbles back and the act of priming a marble causes the whole lot to go flying down the rails causing general mayhem.

One response

  1. Fred Jesty

    About 6 years ago I made one of these for now 11 year grandson. Along came another and in spite of him being 7 every time he visits his cousin and we are there, he takes me aside and asks that I make him one. It is happening and today was struggling with the marble dispenser.
    At some point you noted how bad the instructions are and agree fully. Today I smiled as instructions on how to make marble grove by using a router. If one needs instructions on how to use a router…give up now…there is no hope for the rest of the challange!!

    October 23, 2011 at 9:46 pm

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