Small and Large Marble Machines

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Project by DaleMaley posted 01-30-2021 12:26 PM 817 views 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I bought the 33 page instruction manual on how to build the large marble machine a couple years ago, but with its over 400 pieces and that many pages of instructions, it scared me off from building it.

Recently, my grandson and son asked me to build the build the big model… I tackled it.

As other people who have tried to follow the plans found out, the instructions are full of errors and about as helpful as mud! I went ahead and put the design into Sketchup, so I could easily fix the plan errors and improve the design.

There are 5 neat mechanisms that run the big model, but they are hidden from sight after you finish the large marble machine. These are the upper storage chamber, the release mechanism, the divider, the push button linkage, and the bottom bucket. I though about putting plexiglass windows in the big model, but almost all the 4 sides are covered by track linkage.

I decided to design and build a small illustrator model which had an open design where you could see how all 5 key mechanisms work. I have over 50 wooden hand-cranked toys and marble games which I usually show at public displays each year. I plan to show my illustrator next to the large marble machine so kids/adults can see how the whole thing works.

The plans call for many different sizes of plywood. I only keep 3/16” Luan plywood in stock, so both machines are built from pine and Luan.

There are 2 different paths for the marbles to follow down on the large machine. I painted 1 track yellow and 1 track green so kids can easily use the colors to follow each marble down the machine. My grandkids love the color scheme and they refer to either the yellow or green track. They are pale colors so they contrast well with the large 1” diameter red marbles.

I made a Youtube video showing both the small and large machines. You can see the video using this link.

I put my improved design of the larger game and the smaller machine in the Sketchup Warehouse.

You can see all the details about building both models at my woodworking web site.


-- Dale, Illinois,

4 comments so far

View mikeacg's profile


2037 posts in 2299 days

#1 posted 01-30-2021 01:48 PM

Great video Dale! Thank you for sharing!!!

-- Mike, A Yooper with a drawl,

View swirt's profile


6627 posts in 4214 days

#2 posted 01-30-2021 10:56 PM

Such cool stuff. Nice work.

-- Galootish log blog,

View GerryFrederick's profile


42 posts in 323 days

#3 posted 01-31-2021 01:17 AM

Very cool. I can see my grand kids loving this. On my list now. Thank you for the inspiration.

-- GerryFrederick

View Eric's profile


1921 posts in 1115 days

#4 posted 01-31-2021 12:21 PM

Cool project, great video. One of this are on my build list some day.

-- Eric, building the dream

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