This ball lifter/roller was inspired by an original idea for a spiral ball lifter designed by the late Les Pattison and also fellow Meccano Builders Graham Jost and Max Morris. I have built a few smaller ball rollers such as Percy the Ping Pong Porter and wanted to build something a bit more ambitious with longer ball runs. The design has also been published in CQ a Meccano enthusiasts magazine. Graham put me in touch with Max who was developing the spiral to use as the centre piece of a new ball lifter/roller. I used Max's original design as the basis for the model and have built my own modified version.
The central Archimedes screw carries two streams of table tennis balls to the top of the model where they are flicked off to descend down the ramps left and right to drop on to the curved rails then onto the base on the opposite side of the spiral and then carry through the same procedure.
After lots of tweaks and small changes to the ramps all the balls now stay on the machine. I have it running with twenty balls, this number ensures that there is always at least one ball at the bottom ready to be picked up and the spiral is full.
Nearly all the parts in the construction are standard Meccano parts, 1978 Binns Road and modern French, except the continuous narrow strip, this is over two metres in length. Short lengths of narrow strips bolted together could have been used but would not have given such a neat appearance. The vertical rods are 4mm steel rods from a DIY store. As they needed to be longer than a standard Meccano part and could not be joined without interfering in the smooth running of the balls up the shafts.
A hard working operative works at the top turning a crank driving the spiral through a series of pulleys and gears. Thoughtfully the builder has provided him a fan to keep him cool. The hard working guy has not been told of the Swiss Escap motor on the other side of the spiral taking the burden from his shoulders but he works for hours without complaint as long as he gets a drop of oil now and then.
It is a fascinating model to watch and quite hypnotic as the balls clink, clank down the ramps and thud onto the feed (shown above) at the bottom of the spiral and are silently pushed up to the top.
Please note there are no published plans for this model.
November 17 2009 revised June 04 2014