Want to know more about rolling ball sculptures? When I made Marble Coaster, I had only seen some gumball machines
and one other RBS, and had no idea how big this is. I hear that some of the more complex gumball machines can make
over $1,000 a month in a busy location, 25 cents at a time. RBS's are fun to watch, and they are even more fun to make.
Check out Eddie's Mind for some imaginative work by Eddie Boes. He includes some very interesting elements in his work,
and seems to be a master of keeping the balls on just two track wires by banking his tracks so well. Eddie Boes is one of
the masters of this art.
There is a Forum just for the discussion of these machines. If you start at the beginning, and read all of the posts, you can
learn just about anything you want about these machines.
The Rolling Ball Web has lots of information and links about RBS's.
George Rhoads is an accomplished professional at this. He has made many giant RBS's, often using pool balls. I have seen
his big one at the San Jose Tech Museum (CA). It is two stories tall and it is awesome.
See even more on my page about The Flying Marbellos.
The tracks are made of 1/8" steel welding rod. For the most part, I bent it all free hand and by eyeball, but a tool that I
found very useful was the wire bending jig available from Micro-Mark. After the whole thing was made, I spray painted it all
the background color, and then hand-painted the tracks in a brighter color. The oil-based enamel seems to hold up very well
to the test of time and rolling marbles. Others have found 1/8" stainless steel rod is a good material to use with a MIG
welder, but between needing the welder and the difficulty in getting an easy source of stainless rod, I think the brazed steel
welding rod is a great way to go, and the painted tracks look very nice.
The pieces of track are held in place temporarily by jigs that hold the track spacing and also hold curved cross-pieces. The
connections are made with brazing using an oxy-acetylene torch. When I run out of a piece of rod, I braze on a new piece
of rod end-to-end. An extremely useful tool for this brazing is the "gas-saver". I got mine at McMaster-Carr Supply. It
consists of a hook that you hang the torch from, and the weight of the torch shuts off some valves to the gases. There is a
tiny pilot light to light the flame. This way, the settings for the gas levels on the torch are untouched. All you do is pick up
the torch, pass it over the pilot flame, and the torch is ready to go with the flame perfectly adjusted. When you are done,
hang it on the hook and the gas goes off. It is often necessary to braze only one or two places, and then re-position clamps
before more connections can be brazed. The gas-saver saves so much time in setting the torch, and for RBS construction I
think it is essential.
Marbles can be found in many different colors at Little Works of Art Marbles. I used one inch marbles. Marbles with
patterns of colors look great as they roll on the tracks, as you can see the colors flashing faster as the marbles roll faster.