Marble toy blocks part 2: Marble lifter

I wanted a mechanical marble elevating device to go with the marble toy ramps. So I came up with another sort of marble pump.

At the left of the photo is the marble pump from my modular marble machine. This one works with a piston on a crankshaft (see here and here), but the cranking necessitates that pump to be screwed down.

My proof of concept lever based pump is in the middle, and the next prototype is to the right.


The lever based pump pushes the marbles up with a lever. A ratchet, on the right, prevents the marbles from falling back down, and a slanted hole in the side lets the next marble roll onto the lever.

I thought my second version of the lever pump was about right, but it doesn't work out nicely with the 32 mm and 10.6 mm horizontal and vertical increments, so I built a third version.


A marble pump like this is a finicky thing, and being off by 1 mm can render the pump inoperable. Here I'm using my calipers to score where I need to drill the entry hole.


The entry hole is drilled at an angle. I used a wedge shaped piece of wood on my drill press table to get the angle.

After that, I drilled the main hole all the way through vertically.


I needed to cut a deep slot for the "ratchet" that keeps the column of marbles from falling back down after being pushed up. I'm cutting it with the table saw. I had to cut a bit deeper than in my drawing because the blade's edge makes a curved cut. I made several cuts side-by-side to make the slot wide enough.


Next I need to make a slot for the lever that pushes the marbles up.

You can also see the ratchet lever left of the marble.


I used a 5/16" router bit on my slot mortiser to cut this slot. I cut it in about 10 passes. Fortunately, making extra passes takes very little time with the slot mortiser.


Drilling a hole for the pivot of the lifting lever.


I also cut a notch out on the side with the ratcheting lever. That way, I can keep the size of the top at 32 mm increments (for the blocks that stack on the pump), but still have room to hook a rubber band to the end of the ratcheting lever.


I put a peg in the other end of the pump body to hook a rubber band onto. The rubber band pulls the lever back up after it's pushed down.


I glued in a piece of wood to fill part of the slot for the ratcheting lever. This is needed because I need to install some small buttons on the top of the marble pump (see picture at right)

I also later also cut a notch in that piece I'm gluing in here to make a hook for the rubber band that pulls the ratcheting lever back.


I also glued a piece of wood with a button on it to the side of the pump. This allows me to hook a ramp block onto the input, keeping it aligned.


Now drilling the holes for the buttons on the top.


Buttons installed, and testing it with some marbles.


Testing it with some riser column blocks. The riser column consists of blocks with a 11/16" hole through the middle.


I used my horizontal boring machine to drill all these holes. I hadn't really used that machine in two years, but when a lot of holes need to be drilled precisely, this machine comes in quite handy, especially because it's more rigid than a drill press.


Lots of riser blocks made, plus some special riser blocks to eject the marbles to the side onto a ramp block.

The horizontal boring machine also came in handy for drilling the 45-degree holes. It's rigid enough that I can just drill into an angled surface without worry.


I later cut a slot into the taller riser blocks to show the marbles going up the stack.

And lots and lots of testing, naturally!


Next: More marble track elements



Next: More marble track elements


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