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jolyonjenkins
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I’m trying to make some Chinese sticks and have trouble with the mechanism. I started with white plastic tubing (the sort used for waste water), with a 22mm internal diameter. I made some lead weights about 20mm in diameter. Unfortunately there is too much friction, particularly initial friction, and the sticks need to be held at too great an angle to get movement. I have tried lubricating the inside of the tubes with silicon spray but it doesn’t help much. I’ve also tried one tube inside another but again not much luck.

A ball bearing inside the tube rolls up and down very happily with minimal tilt but of course you can’t attach a thread to a ball. One of my son’s toy cars rolls up and down quite well too inside a larger tube but not well enough. I thought about curtain track.

I feel sure there must be an obvious answer to this – a ball in a cage or something – but I don’t know enough about engineering to know what to look for.
Jolyon Jenkins
ClintonMagus
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Pete Biro, I believe, uses a thin Teflon sheet ihside his sticks to make the sliding easier. He will probably read this and post his source for the material, or you could PM him directly.

Amos McCormick
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jolyonjenkins
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Thanks. I can't help feeling that rolling rather than sliding is the solution. There are such things as "ball transfers" but the ones I've found so far are hugely over-engineered (and expensive) for my purposes.
Jolyon Jenkins
Scruffy the Clown
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Make your weight smaller in diameter so that there is less friction. Or, try a couple of lead fishing sinkers. It doesn't take much weight to pull a cord taught.
just a thought
ClintonMagus
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I don't necessarily agree with you on this, because I think the ball would rub the cord against the sides of the tube. If you are dead set on the rolling action, find a ball bearing of the proper size (probably at a machine shop or heavy equipment repair center) and have a machine shop drill a smooth hole through the center.

One advantage a ball-shaped weight would have, however, is less surface to contact the sides of the tube, whether it rolls or not. Once the hole is drilled, run a fairly heavy wire through it, form a loop, and run the cord through it.

Amos McCormick
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Spellbinder
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It's the shape of your weight. As you described it, your weights are cylindrical, which means one whole side slides against the inside of the tube. As you discovered, a ball shape is better, because only a tiny portion of the ball is touching the sides of the tube. Fish weights also have a better shape than a cylinder for this, but if you can cast your own, try casting one in a ball shape with a swivel eye for the string screwed into one side. The ball will slide, rather than roll, but without all that friction holding it back.
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vmendoza
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You're over thinking this... Try felt around the weight.

If you're making your own weights then instead of making them two centimetres in diamater, make them 1 or 1.5cm in diameter and extend the length to keep the heaviness and make the wieght more cyclindrical.
jolyonjenkins
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Thanks for the suggestions.

I'm thinking of a casting a cylinder again but have it roll rather than slide. If I drill a hole through the centre it can have an axle. Then I can have a little ring that goes loosely round the axle, and the string can be attached to the ring.
Jolyon Jenkins
Lee Darrow
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Teflon coat your weights AND the inside of the tube.

Also, if you use a ball, and use the wrong diameter, you will run the high risk of an entanglement, if you catch my drift. Cylindrical weights are fine IF you coat them as described as well as the inner side of the tube as well.

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The Drake
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My best advice regards making your own Chinese Sticks.

K.I.S.S.

Best,

Tim
jolyonjenkins
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How do you coat with Teflon?

I agree a sliding ball does risk tangling. A rolling ball (in a housing of some kind) wouldn't; nor would a rolling cylinder

I think rolling may be noisier than sliding.
Jolyon Jenkins
rtgreen
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I made a set from Mahogany a few months back. I Can't remember off the top of my head what sized weights I used, but I had a real problem getting the tassels light enough to work smoothly. I lined the inside chamber with teflon tape (you can get in the plumbing supply section of Home Depot), which helped a bit, but found the most improvement came from making a very light tassel from the embroidery thread I was using for the actual strings. They work fine now and I perform with them at least four times a week. At first, they seemed a little noisy to me, but in performance, the noise doesn't cause any problems.

Thanks,
Richard
George Ledo
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Tim, I couldn't agree with you more!

I played around with this a bunch of years ago, using different types of tubes and weights, but always found the friction to be the main problem: if the weight was heavy enough, there was too much friction.

If I wanted to do this again, and could cast my own, I'd make a barbell-shaped weight: two spheres connected by a short bar. This is basically just a long weight with only two bearing points. That way, I get twice the weight, but only minimal additional friction. That, and a swivel hook, would take care of it.

Another option would be to make two small washers out of sheet Teflon and use those as the bearing points for a cylinder that's a little smaller in diameter. Again, this is just a long weight with only two contact points.
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jolyonjenkins
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So if Teflon disks are not easily available, how about using two steel washers, glued to a lead cylinder of slightly smaller diameter? (This was my next plan)
Jolyon Jenkins
ssucahyo
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Hi, I think you have make the inside smooth by using sandpaper, glued the sandpaper around the dowel that fit inside the tube.
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Bill Hegbli
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The inside of the tube must be very smooth, I cleaned mine with the cleaner that is made for this pipe. Then polish it with a good polish.

The weights should be covered in felt or some material of this type, then a good plastic surface like scotch tape the clear shinny type (not the invisible kind) or as suggested above a teflon type of material.

See it is not as easy as most people think! Smile
Bill Palmer
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I've owned several different sets of these things. One set had an acetate tube for a liner. The weights were also covered in plastic. Instead of using an eye screwed into the end of the weights, there have been some that used the ballbearing pullies that are used on saltwater fishing rods.

The eyes are really the best.

Now here is a simple fact. If you eliminate almost all friction, the sticks become uncontrollable. You have to have a moderate amount of friction so they will be workable.
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adzimme
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Teflon disk source - Find a Hobie Cat dealer. They are used as mast bearings on the HobieCat 16' sailboat. Also while there (or at a west marine) pick up some teflon spray lube. It is used on sail tracks to make sails go up / come down smooth. It's dry and works great. It used to be called Holley Sail Slide (but that product is gone). I've got some new stuff that works almost as well but its on the boat Smile.

Marine supply stores can be almost as much fun as hardware stores - all that nice stainless.

Take care
tropicalpenguin
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Martin Lewis has some good ideas in his Making Magic videos

His are made from paper and at the end, he tears it up and throws the pieces into the crowd to show that there is nothing inside.
-The penguin has spoken Smile

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marty.sasaki
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When I was a teenager I made a set of sticks with what I had around. I used lengths of bamboo for the sticks and old AA batteries for the weights. They worked great, although I wouldn't recommend using batteries because they can leak. I don't think you need the teflon, just a really smooth surface and weight should be smaller than the diameter.
Marty Sasaki
Arlington, Massachusetts, USA

Standard disclaimer: I'm just a hobbyist who enjoys occasionally mystifying friends and family, so my opinions should be viewed with this in mind.
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