Rabbit's Amazing Steampunk Marble Strike--A Video!

Rabbit's Steampunk Marble Strike

Clayton emails a request to Rabbit:  "Since your Marble Strike was featured on my blog on Halloween there has been a flurry of (well deserved) excitement over your beautiful machine. A couple of guys have asked if a video would soon be following.

Just thought I'd throw that out to you - personally, I'd love to see it in action, but no pressure either way.

Anyway, your Marble Strike is a totally striking machine (pun intended). Your work is always well beyond the capabilities of mere humans.

Congratulations on a magnificent creation."

 Rabbit kindly responds:  "thanks again for the undeserved praise. i feel famous, having made your blog!

unfortunately, my video skills are even worse than my photography... i should stick to woodwork. but, against my better judgement, i uploaded a pitiful movie, anyway: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlJdfKYg6As&feature=youtu.be   (Note from Lisa:  this link takes you to the video shown above in the video player window)  it shows one cycle of the remontoire, and an hour strike (preceded by the 'fourth quarter' bell). the sound, the lighting, the focus - all poor!

i'll try again at some point.

best regards,

In addition, Rabbit explains how his extraordinary version of the Marble Strike works. He first asks the rhetorical question...


Well... it's rather complicated, but buy the same token, it is very simple...

Everything (the time train and two strike mechanisms) is powered by the 1" steel balls in the drive wheel. the weight of the balls in one side of the wheel provides all of the drive torque. It "rewinds" itself automatically.

The balls are pushed out at the bottom of their path. The mass of the ball on the off-ramp actuates a switch which starts the remontoire motor - a synchronous electric motor, mounted inside the base. The lower remontoire wheel picks the ball up, hands it off to the upper wheel, which deposits it in the on-ramp, to continue/repeat its journey. A cam on the remontoire drive wheel turns the motor off. (...two switches in series; one starts it, the other stops it.)
I must thank Steve Kretschmer for this inspiration.

The main drive wheel actually drives four separate gear trains - hours, minutes/hour strike, seconds, and escape. [this is a horribly inefficient way to drive a clock, but one of the design themes was, "make it as complicated as possible", and with the 'falling ball' remontoire, I could provide all the power it needs.] the drive wheel itself turns once every 15 minutes, so it actuates the quarter strike mechanism.

The minute train has its gear integral with the marble lift wheel, and is otherwise my own interpretation of Clayton Boyer's wonderful Marble Strike mechanism. The hour strike is Clayton's brilliance. His descriptions, and many other people's videos, have explained it better than I can.
The hour train is a "pointless" geartrain, consisting of several gears merely to translate the correct rotation to the place where I wanted the hour dial. The "hour hand" sits still, and the dial moves [the dial arrangement, and in fact a lot of the visual aspects, were inspired by Alain Saintangne's beautiful rendition of the Marble Strike.].

The escape train utilizes an appropriate ratio for the 1/2-seconds "shorty" pendulum - dictated by the "table clock" format.

It had to have a seconds hand, so a separate drive - a take-off from the escape train - does the trick.

The quarter strike is my own creation. It is a "passing strike" mechanism with two whistles and a bell - the proverbial "bells and whistles". A 4-tooth Geneva Wheel attached to the main drive wheel switches a 3-segment (6-lobe) cam every 15 minutes. the cam assembly either "makes" or "breaks" the fulcrum(s) to pivot arms which lift the (2) whistle bellows and/or the bell hammer. It toots the higher pitch whistle at the quarter hour, rings the bell at the half hour, toots the low whistle at :45, and does all three on the hour (followed by the Marble Strike hour count on the 'finely-tuned' wine glass gong).

'Simple as a mud fence, complicated as a watch'. I just love it."

Thank you Rabbit, for the video, the explanation, and for sharing your beautiful creation with all of us.

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I love comments, but in order for me to have more time playing in my sawdust, I cannot respond to them here. If you have a technical question, please do not post it here, or I will have my wife answer it for me and her technical knowledge is highly suspect. For technical questions, check out the FAQ section of my website, or find my email link there. Mahalo and Aloha, Clayton