Hand-made wood rollercoaster for marbles that you stick on the fridge - arrange it anyway you want to roll, drop, jump, and swoosh!
Well, who wouldn’t want a roller coaster in their kitchen?
My children have had various car and track toys over the years, but they were always something fixed and planned. After putting the sets together they would get played with for a few weeks (or days!) and then get banished to the closet, forgotten. Longing for the Hot Wheels(TM) tracks of my youth, we would put together tracks and runs from bits and pieces we could find around the house – cardboard tubes, vertical blinds, vacuum hoses – you name it. As cool as anything we put together it wouldn’t last. Either the materials would get worn out, or it was just time to clean up.
A few weeks ago I got the crazy idea to build a marble roller coaster that would stick to the front of the refrigerator. I grabbed some bass wood, glue, a roll of rubber magnet sheeting, a knife and started in. I made straights, double hills, drops, and box to catch them at the end.
Right away – failure. The marbles would fly off the track. I tried cutting up an old plastic bin and making side fences – brilliant! That is, until my youngest ripped them all off. Then I tried some copper wire. There was oodles of it laying around, and it worked pretty good. Of course, since bass wood is light and easy to work with, it is also fragile in the hands of eager children.
Again with hand tools, I sawed, sanded, and hacked out some more track pieces from a pine board, using the rubber magnet sheeting to get them to stick to the refrigerator. My children tested, suggested, and tested again. More failures – the rubber magnets liked to slide when the marbles jumped from track to track, but the fences and the tracks held up.
More new tracks cut by hand but now each track was held in place by little rare earth magnets – SUCCESS!
My eldest son said we should call it Fridge Tracks. My aunt, the scientist/teacher said it was cool, if we could figure how to do a loop-the-loop. I said we should go on Kickstarter and share this with everybody.
Here we are. And yes, we can do a loop-the-loop.
I have a video posted of the loop in action on the project page of my studio site. We found about a dozen ways to get this to work, this is just one solution.
We want to build 100 roller coaster sets for our backers. We need the equipment and materials to do it. That's our project in a nutshell.
Each track will be cut and routed out of 3/4" Ash using a custom router bit for the groove that the marbles travel in.
Each railing will be made from nickel plated steel wire. The track are held in place by licensed rare earth magnets. Who knew you needed a license for making magnets?
Magnets are not to be put in your mouth, swallowed, put in your scrambled eggs, placed on the television, stacked on your smartphone, or used for mayhem.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Everything made so far has been created with hand tools. We are going to take this to a machine shop level of production using a router table, table saws, routing jigs, wire jigs, and a drill press to make sure we make quality pieces in a repeatable, rapid process.
I have made fixtures for wire forms before in my workshop, and I have run production wood and plastic hand routers in a high volume production facility. I am familiar with the equipment operation and the processes required.
Professionally, I have helped launch dozens of products in a manufacturing environment; in my experience there are going to be bumps along the way and they just need to be met head on.
My biggest risk is that it may take too long to eliminate any process problems, which would affect delivery of the coasters.
Yes, I was aware of existing plastic coaster products before deciding to make my own version of this toy for my children.
The goal of the project is to procure the equipment and materials to make a consistent, quality product and deliver 100 sets (or more). If the project is not funded, I will return to creating hand made prototypes and adding new pieces and features to Fridge Tracks.