Marble Lifting Machine #2- 3 Cylinders & 16 Pistons

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Project by Jim Jakosh posted 10-03-2020 07:05 PM 2685 views 1 time favorited 52 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This my next version of a marble lifting machine. I was playing around cutting wooden gears and I made a set that would work 3 cranks on the machine. They are my first cut, kinda sloppy, but they work for this purpose.
The machine has 3 “cylinders” or sleeves for 16 pistons. ..8 in the center and 4 on each side. I did not use 8 on all three rows for two reasons. 1) the cranks are all going the same speed and with 4 on each side both feeding into 8 it was a balanced. 8 on each side would be too many for the center one. and 2) the cranks would not have enough clearance…they would hit each other. There is only 1/16” clearance between the cam and the shaft in the other row now.

This is all made from scraps laying around…mostly maple plywood and solid walnut and maple for the pistons…compliments of LJ Doug Scott ( thanks ,Doug) Everything is screwed together so it can be taken apart except the cams are glued to the shafts and the flipper is 4 pieces glued together. The cam shaft is poplar and the cams are 3/8” solid maple. All the working parts are waxed and all the pistons have a piece of white Delrin screwed to the bottom to reduce friction.

This was a “design as you go” project and I made the cams and pistons pretty easily but then had to design the marble transfer chutes. The front 2 are internal and the back one is external ..fed from the flipper.

All the parts are coated with clear Shellac. The last photo is of the parts for the Lexan guard to keep little fingers ( or big ones) from getting pinched in the gears.

I made a video of it working. It would work better with truly 5/8” diameter marbles because these smaller ones sometimes jam in the chute or ride 2 at a time up the 1” pistons. Here it is:

I also added shots of the build process below…Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

52 comments so far

View Woodmaster1's profile


1860 posts in 3877 days

#1 posted 10-03-2020 07:13 PM

Awesome looking machine! I bet it was as much fun to build as it is to use.

View Ivan's profile


17064 posts in 4158 days

#2 posted 10-03-2020 07:15 PM

Lot of fun and good engineering

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View tyvekboy's profile


2138 posts in 4304 days

#3 posted 10-03-2020 08:06 PM

Very cool. I can see Covid-19 is really getting to you.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View sras's profile


6433 posts in 4420 days

#4 posted 10-03-2020 09:27 PM

Nice work Jim! When I click the video link all I get is a still shot…

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Rosepedal27's profile


52 posts in 2400 days

#5 posted 10-03-2020 09:44 PM

Again, you are amazing! My brain hurts just looking at it.

View abie's profile


927 posts in 5061 days

#6 posted 10-03-2020 10:44 PM

Now at 79 I know what I am going to do for the balance of my life. make one of these…
Very Nice.

-- Bruce. a mind is like a book it is only useful when open.

View LittleBlackDuck's profile


8264 posts in 2111 days

#7 posted 10-03-2020 11:23 PM

Love it JJ... These marble machines have always fascinated me and while I’ve been keen to try making one, the missus says I can’t as I lost my marbles years ago.

I have been accused of buying a lot of diversified tools, however,

where’d you buy your oval drill bit from?

I made a video of it working…. Here it is:!
- Jim Jakosh

I clicked on the link, but the only way I could get movement was to toss my screen around the office.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View splintergroup's profile


6057 posts in 2513 days

#8 posted 10-03-2020 11:29 PM

Monkey motion in action, you’ve outdone yourself again Jim!

View swirt's profile


6831 posts in 4262 days

#9 posted 10-04-2020 01:04 AM

Mind bogglingly cool.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4549 posts in 3852 days

#10 posted 10-04-2020 01:07 AM

Like I said on your first one, My grand kids would love playing with something like that. :)

Well done Jim

-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View Eric's profile


2315 posts in 1164 days

#11 posted 10-04-2020 01:48 AM

Very neat, you must have been and engineer. Great job

-- Eric, building the dream

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

27012 posts in 4396 days

#12 posted 10-04-2020 02:26 AM

Thank you all for the nice comments. Sorry for the link to the still shot. I have the You Tube video in there now.
I finished the guard today and I may have to auger out the chutes so the marbles can’t jam in there. It works pretty good except for that. This one cranks a little harder than the first one because the gears are so sloppy and it is driving 3 crankshafts.

Hi Alex, I was running out of projects and got interested in making gears. I found this gear generating program ( but my printer would not print dark enough to get a good pattern and then I fount this way to make round top gears and they were super easy. For the spacing I printed a divided circle from the Bricklayer site and then drew in my diameters and drilled and cut them out.

Hi Alex from Down Under…When you find you marbles, you can make one! I have a special oval drill bit for those chute holes…straight from Harbor Freight on the discount table!! I made cardboard templates twice before I got those chutes lined up right!!

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View mel52's profile


2277 posts in 1555 days

#13 posted 10-04-2020 02:28 AM

Looks like a small part and angle nightmare. Great job. Mel

-- MEL, Kansas

View LittleBlackDuck's profile


8264 posts in 2111 days

#14 posted 10-04-2020 02:58 AM

Thank JJ... my computer screen thanks you… If I find my marbles I can loose them again, like you…

Still a great job… I’m gonna keep that video so if I drop something off my bench I’ll watch the video and know where to look.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View pottz's profile (online now)


21405 posts in 2275 days

#15 posted 10-04-2020 03:15 AM

wow,you have too much time on your hands jim.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

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