The Dale C. Maley Family Web Site

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Dale's Mechanical Wood Models

Back in 1991, I bought the book Making Mechanical Marvels in Wood by Raymond Levy. It sat on my book shelf from 1991 until Christmas 2007. I decided to try making one of the 15 models in the book.  I selected the U-joint model.

I took this model to work, and everybody who stopped by my desk...mostly engineers..had to crank it and play with it.

Here is a short video showing my Son Jacob operating this wood model.


I am going to make a more colorful u-joint model, see this link for more details.


Cam and Follower

I forgot to take a picture of my model..but here is a similar one except that mine is centered on the back plate per the pattern in the book.

The Eccentric Cam


Below is a video showing this wood model in action.


Scotch Yoke



Fast Return Actuator



 Below is a video showing this wood model in action.


Self Conjugate Cam



 Below is a video showing this wood model in action.


Watt's Steam Engine

This was the hardest model to build, due to the many small pieces required.

 Below is a video showing this wood model in action.


Here is a link to a review I did on Rockler that won project review of the week.

Single Part-Feed Mechanism

This was a challenging model to build.  There are many small pieces in the marble holding tower that you can't see. It is one of the most popular models for people to play is fascinating to watch the marbles come out as you crank it.


 Here is a picture showing the marbles in the tower:


 Here is a video showing the dispenser in action:


Double Slider Coupling

Loose Link Coupling


Sun and Planet Motion

I was amazed that drilling out the gear roots and bandsawing the gear teeth was acceptable for this model. I assumed much hand filing would be required. I did experiment and get the optimum gear centerline spacing so they would run freely.

Below is a video showing this wood model in action.


Geneva Mechanism

During Christmas time 2008, I decided to make some more of the models using the patterns in Levy's book.  I got a little carried away and completed all 15 models in his book.  Here is the Geneva wheel mechanism just about completed (I don't have a picture of the finished model):


Intermittent Drive


Below is a video showing this wood model in action.


Positive Action Cam


Below is a video showing this wood model in action.



Roller Gearing Mechanism

It is totally amazing how frictionless this 2:1 speed reducer mechanism is. It is also fascinating to watch the 3 small wheels engage and disengage the big slotted wheel.

Below is a video showing this wood model in action.


Building a Fancier U-Joint Mechanical Model

The very first wood mechanical model I built was back in 2006.  As in all Serial #1 units, it was not as cool looking as when I got up to 20+ wood models.  It is pretty bland looking....

I decided to enter the design into Google Sketchup, then liven it up with some red and purple wood colors.

I then made an animated gif file of the u-joint model in operation.  This was tough because of having to align the u-joints at each 45 degrees of rotation:


As soon as I get the more colorful model built, I will post photos here.

Here are the u-joint pieces finished:


I decided to reduce the friction between the hand crank and the bearing block by turning a raised round surface on the crank:

Here is the model entering the glue stage. The first step is too assemble everything, then glue and clamp the 2 bearing holders to the base plate:

The purple heartwood and red padauk sure liven up the colors of this model so far...........

 Here is a photo of the finished and more colorful u-joint model:

Here is a comparison of the first wood model I ever made back in Dec 2006 and the more colorful 2010 version:

Here is a YouTube video showing the more colorful model in action:


Closing thoughts on this project:

I have had wood axles for attaching wood wheels to projects in storage since the 1980s, when I last made some wood toys with wheels. I was able to incorporate them into this project as u-joint pins...and they add a nice touch compared to straight dowels.

Johnson's Wax makes this model run very smoothly.

The u-joints themselves are very fragile, because there is almost no cross-section left in them. Do not force the dowel pins into the u-joints, or the shaft dowels...because you will split the u-joint and have to glue it back together!


Donation of U-Joint Model to Brian Munz Safety Complex Auction

My nephew, Brian Munz, was killed in the line-of-duty as a volunteer fireman. An auction is going to be held to raise money for a new firehouse.  I decided to make another colorful u-joint model and donate it to the auction. Below are photos of the finished model.




#2 Roller Gearing Mechanism

I decided to make a 2nd copy of this model, and give it away as a Christmas present.  I used oak again for the slotted wheel, but decided to not stain it like the 1st copy.  I thought the oak was too dark on the 1st copy. I also changed the wood type on the crank link from oak to paudauk to give it more color.  As I was making the slotted wheel, I forgot to make the slots slightly wider than the plan, which I did on the 1st copy. The wider slots give plenty of clearance for the 3 small wheels to ride in.  I had to use the Dremel with 1/2" drum sander to widen the slots.  I added a 3/8" diameter insert of maple on the slotted wheel so you can easily count the revolutions on the slotted wheel while it turns.  Choosing padauk or purple heartwood for the insert would have given more of a color contrast than the white maple (the white maple gave a good contrast on the 1st model with its dark stained oak, I forgot I was making 2nd model slotted wheel without stain and it would be much lighter.

Here is the finished #2 model:




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