A toy made in Iowa from 1920 until 1940

 

When I was very young, perhaps four or five, my grandfather gave me a toy called a o.  I loved it.  I had few toys and this was my all time favorite.  I didn't have it for long as I played with it constantly.  I didn't break it, it simply made a lot of noise which wasn't appreciated.  One day, it simply was gone.

It was made of metal. Marbles in a track at the base were lifted by a wire vertical conveyor by turning a little hand crank. At the top, they were fed into a track and they would roll down the track, in and out of the building (a grain elevator), sometimes dropping from one track to another.  Glass marbles rolling on metal tracks ~ you can imagine the sound.

A good part of my later adult life, I have looked for one.  Sort of a second childhood and trying to recapture some of the "good days" of my memory.  I have never located one.

Recently, I became aware of a similar "toy" which is basically a modern version made of plastic and motor driven.  Not as pretty, but far more complex and easily changed and expandable.  I added it to my "what I would like for Christmas ~ 2010 list" and my wonderful sweet and loving, thoughtful, and understanding wife Tina gave me one.  As I write this,  I am still changing and adding.  A dream come true.  And I don't have to worry that one morning, it will be gone. (At least, I don't think so)

Temporarily being confined to the indoors, keeping "happily" active has been somewhat of a problem.  This has helped to solved the problem.

 

Photo ~ the completed machine/toy and me ~ December 27, 2010

A side note here.  Having spent many years designing and building automated manufacturing systems, life can become pretty boring.  Nothing in retired life comes close to the challenges and  the rewards of accomplishment.  This machine helps, in a small way, to fill that vacuum. Nothing is made or assembled, just a series of lifts and tracks upon which marbles roll from one location to another in a never ending cycle of twisting and turning, dropping and being raised to repeat its travel in an alternating random path.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Original plan ~ Phase 1

Lift 1 feeds marbles alternately to Lift 1 and Lift 2 (archimedian vertical conveyors).  Lift 2 feeds marbles alternately to Lift 1 and Lift 2.

The marbles travel down straight sections, zigzag sections, spirals, and loops, funnels, pivoting "spoons", drops, and U turn sections.  The marbles are lifted up via a motorized vertical conveyor(s).  The motor(s) are battery operated but I have wired them to AC to DC adapters so batteries are no longer required.

 

 

Phase 2

Additions and modifications.  Also added to the structure for better stability.

Getting crowded and difficult to follow the various tracks ~ two new tracks.

Lift 1 feeds marbles alternately to Lift 2 and Lift 3.  Lift 2 feeds marbles alternately to Lift 1 and Lift 3. Lift 3 feeds marbles alternately to Lift 1 and Lift 2.

Completed January 21st

 

 

Phase 3

 

Lift 1 feeds marbles alternately to Lift 2 and Lift 3.  Lift 2 feeds marbles alternately to Lift 1 and Lift 4.  Lift 3 feeds marbles alternately to Lift 1 and Lift 2.  Lift 4 feeds marbles to Lift 5.  Lift 5 feeds marbles to Lift 1 and Lift 3. .   Completed Jan 30th, less rewiring the motors. Completed Feb 7th.

(click here for a larger view ~ phase 5)

Phase 4

Lift 1 feeds marbles alternately to Lift 2 and Lift 4.  Lift 2 feeds marbles alternately to Lift 1 and Lift 4.  Lift 3 feeds marbles alternately to Lift 1 and Lift 2.  Lift 4 feeds marbles to Lift 5.  Lift 5 feeds marbles to Lift 1 and Lift 3.  All motors have been wired to a DC 1.5 volt source.  Completed February 10th.

 

Phase 5

Lift 1 feeds marbles alternately to Lift 2 and Lift 4.  Lift 2 feeds marbles alternately to Lift 3 and Lift 4.  Lift 3 feeds marbles alternately to Lift 1 and Lift 2.  Lift 4 feeds marbles to Lift 5.  Lift 5 feeds marbles to Lift 1 and Lift 3.  Completed February 11th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       Lift #1   2 sections,       Lift #2     2 sections,      Lift #3     3 sections,       Lift #4     2 sections,     Lift $5    1 section

More to come.

I plan to disassemble the machine in the fall of 2011 and build a much larger and more complex system over the winter of 2011 and 2012.  Progress will be documented (photos).  The original (phase 1) machine measured approximately 10" x 20" x 24" high.  Phase 5 measures  26" x 42" x 34" high.  The 2011-2012 machine is expected to be perhaps 28" x 48" x 44" high.  (28" width will allow passage through most doorways)

 

In the plans: a video.  And close up photos.  Also plan to obtain the cycle time of a marble traversing all the tracks.

 

Return to "The Early Years"