While most people prefer to park their car on the street in favor of using their garage as a workshop or walk-in utility closet, stuntman and woodworker Ben Tardif had other plans: he converted his entire garage into a giant marble rollercoaster.
Called Marble Mountain, the ‘still under construction’ marble machine consists of 25 sections that mesh together to form one large kinetic sculpture that requires a minimum of 250 marbles at a time just to run properly. Similar to quirky hole designs on a mini-golf course, each of the 25 sections has a theme that plays into how the marble interacts with that particular section; it jumps at the ski jump and rides the skateboarding halfpipe, for example.
“Every element is themed (or will be upon completion) to an aspect of my life or to something that I find interesting. Some of the elements include a roller coaster, ski jump, Times Square, Lombard Street, and a skatepark. It took 3 years to get to this point of being able to turn it on and watch it go, and I will continue to work on it and get it fully completed.”
Tardif’s Marble Mountain Facts:
- It has a footprint of 12′ x 8′ and stands 8′ tall
- The material of the tracks and supports consist almost entirely of wood
- Everything is custom-made from materials bought mostly from craft and hardware stores (mainly Michaels and Home Depot)
- The lift is 11 feet long, holds 90 marbles at once, and rotates at 1 revolution per second (60 RPM)
- It takes at least 250 marbles to keep it running without delay, but looks better with 300
- There are 32 possible paths for the marbles
- There are 14 rockers that distribute the marbles onto the different paths
- The first year and a half of construction happened in my apartment before moving to a small warehouse
- The original design was smaller and not as cool, so a redesign took place making it much bigger and morphed into a half-conical shape with the lift right down the middle
- I do know how much it cost to make thus far but even my finaceé doesn’t know that number
- It takes just under an hour to set up or tear down Marble Mountain
- Since it is modular, I could remove a section and rebuild it as something else as long as the tracks matched up with the other pieces
Frankly, I don’t know if I can come up with any reasons why not to build a Marble Mountain in one’s garage. For those who want to learn more about the build process, Tardif has documented the build on Instagram under the #marblemountainproject hashtag.