SKEE BALL

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Introduction: SKEE BALL

Skee-Ball is an arcade game and one of the first “redemption” games that is played all over the world.

It is played by rolling a ball up an inclined lane and over a "ball-hop" hump that jumps the ball into pipes or rings. The object of the game is to collect as many points as possible by having the ball fall into holes in the pipes or rings which have progressively increasing point values.

What is the traditional meaning of a “redemption” game : Redemption games are typically arcade games of skill that reward the player proportionally to their score in the game. The reward most often comes in the form of tickets, with more tickets being awarded for higher scores. These tickets can then be redeemed (hence the name) at a central location for prizes.

This is a manual count SkeeBall design (uses no electronics) which uses ball channels to keep track of point values. A ball is 3” hard plastic and weighs 7.4 oz., and 9-game-balls are used for a game.

When balls fall into 7 possible pipes labeled for the points : 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and 100, they are routed into 6 assigned ball channels (Ball Alleys). (top 2 corner ball holes are the most difficult, and are connected to the same ball alley). They continue to roll down similar channels under the Alley and appear in a Ball Viewer panel at the bottom, where their related pipe point values can be counted. A manual ball release drops the balls into an accessible ball box, ready for the gamester to play another game.

Note : This is a relatively difficult and time consuming project, mainly because there are a lot of parts to it, but construction is made much easier with the highly informative instructions contained herein.

There are 6 integral sections to this SkeeBall game :

1. Ball Box … contains the pipes which catch the balls and channels them into their respective alleys

2. Alley …….. the platform on which the balls are bowled and also returned in their respective alleys

3. Join ……… how to connect the Ball Box to the Alley

4. Cage …….. the Ball Box net that hopefully confines the balls to the Alley

5. Ball Hop … the ramp (hump, jump, catapult) that jumps the balls in the air and into the Ball Box

6. Finish ……. last minute touches

The following is a step-by-step pictorial presentation on how this SkeeBall game was built.

Supplies:

THE MATERIALS :

(9) 3” Ice Balls

(2) 1 lb. box 3” Wood Screws ... (1) 1 lb. box 1+ ⅝” Wood Screws

(1) Tube Wood Glue

(24) 2x4x8’ boards

(2) ¾” x 4 x 8 hardwood plywood … (Birch, Maple) … ( for Alley top & bottom Panels)

(4) ½” x 4 x 8 sanded plywood … (for Ball Box Sides & Panels, Alley Sides & Panels, Ball Channels)

(1) ½” x 4’ x 8’ PVC sheet (for interior Alley & Ball Box sides)

(1) ⅛” x 24” x 8’ thin exterior type slippery carpet

(3) 3” Hinges (ball drop)

(1) ⅜” x 3” Bolt with 2 washers and 1 locknut

(12) Washers (small & medium size)

(2) 9” Springs

(7) Pints of different color paints (semi-gloss)

(1) Paint Pole (for Ball Box Release Lever)

(1) 4” Paint Roller ... (3) 4” Paint Rollers (⅜” knap)

(1) ½” Paint Brush ... (2) 1” Paint Brush ... (2) 2” Paint Brush

(6) 5” Casters (fixed) ... (6) 5” Casters (rotating and lockable)

2” nails for nail gun (for channel spacers)

1+¼” staples (for Cage wire)

(30 1” “L” Brackets (to anchor pipes)

(120) ¾” screws (to anchor pipes)

(20 1” “L” Brackets (to anchor #10 and #20 rings)

(40) ¾” screws (to anchor #10 and #20 rings)

(1) Package of kid’s Foam Pads

(1) ¼” x 18” x 24” clear plastic panel

½” wire fencing … 5’ x 24” roll

PCV Pipe :

(2) 4” O.D. - 3½” I.D. ... (2) 5” O.D. - 4½” I.D.

(2) 6½” O.D. (6” reducer) 4½” I.D. ... (1) 7” O.D. - 6 ½” I.D.

# Labels : for 2 sets of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 100, 100

(18) 0’s ... (6) 1’s ... (2) 2 ... (2) 3 ... (2) 4 ... (2) 5

TOOLS NEEDED :

Drill ... Drill Bits : miscellaneous sizes ... Pipe Clamps

Ruler : tape measure ... Ruler : Straight Edge ... Ruler : Square

Paint Brush : 2” ... Paint Brush : small ... Paint Brush : very small

Hammer ... Jig Saw ... Router

Sander --- (with 80, then 120 grit sandpaper)

Table Saw ... Circular Saw ... Miter Saw

Compressor (for nail gun) ... Nail Gun for 2” nails ... Level

Step 1: S E C T I O N # 1 - THE BALL BOX

The Ball Box is the brains of the game … it routes balls into channels related to pipes into which the balls fall.

HOW IT WORKS :

Balls are bowled up the Alley, which is slightly inclined, they hit a ramp (‘ball hop’), and fly in the air and land into one of the pipe holes in the Ball Box at the end of the Alley, which sits at a much steeper incline. The balls fall down the pipes and into a Ball Router which assigns the balls to specific ball channels related to the pipes into which they fell. The balls continue rolling down extended channels under the Alley, and appear in a viewable channel section at the bottom where their related pipe hole point values can be manually counted.

There are 4 parts or levels to the Ball Box that make this SkeeBall game unique are as follows :

1) Top Panel : balls are aimed at and fall into PVC pipes with assigned point values on this panel. The assigned point values vary depending on the difficulty for the player to get the balls into the pipes.

2) Sub Panel : Pipes slide thru holes in the Top Panel and down 2-to-4” to sit on top of the Sub Panel. It has smaller holes preventing the pipes from going further but still allows the balls to pass through.

3) Ball Router : a 4” high box with angled spacers beneath the Sub-Panel which routs/directs the balls into pre-determined ball channels in the Ball Channel box below that are associated with specific pipe holes.

4) Ball Channels : the ball channels into which the ball is routed/directed to by the Ball Router box. The balls roll down these channels and connect to extended channels under the Alley.

THE FOLLOWING IS A PICTORIAL PRESENTATION OF HOW THE BALL BOX WAS MADE … let’s go step-by-step :

Step 2:

Part-1 TOP PANEL

Picture # 1

24” W x 36” L x ½” Thick

Size of entire SkeeBall was initially determined to be 24” Wide (Length to be determined later). Reasonable Length of Ball Receiver (Ball Box) section was determined to be 36” Long .

Connecting the Ball Box to the Alley is not a cause for concern now or later, since needed adjustments, and there will be some, can very easily be made. For now, the focus is on building the Ball Box.

This is a traditional 7 pipe layout, where the PVC pipes selected (you can determine your own desired sizes) have been placed on the Top Panel of the Ball Box and their outside diameters traced and the holes cut.

PCV outside diameters were 5” on both top outer holes (4½” inside), 6½” holes on top 2 middle holes (used 6” reducers for a little visual design … inside diameter is 4½”), a large 7” main hole (6 ½” inside) , and two 4” bottom holes (3½” inside).


Part-2 SUB-PANEL

Picture # 2

24” W x 36” L x ½” Thick

The Sub-Panel is a near replica of the Top Panel. The Top Panel is placed on top of a blank Sub-Panel, the pipes are inserted into the Top Panel holes, then only the inside diameters of the pipes are outlined. These holes are then cut on the Sub-Panel.

The Sub-Panel is used as a base to stop and support the PVC pipes when placed through the Top Panel … the holes are too small for the pipes to fall through, but large enough for balls to fall through.

Connecting the 2 top corner pipes :

Balls drop into the Ball Router box immediately below the Sub-Panel, and are routed to the Ball Channel box channels related to specific pipes. Problem : 2 top corner pipes use same ball channel.

HOW THE 2 CORNER PIPES ARE CONNECTED :

The Ball Router box’s internal channels for the top left corner pipe crosses over the top of the large 7” pipe and connects to the top right corner pipe’s channel … the 7” pipe hole is cut in approx. ½ to enable the crossover, but its still large enough to allow balls for the 7” pipe to fall into their assigned ball channel.

Step 3:

Parts 1 & 2 TOP + SUB PANELS

Picture # 1

Here is a picture of the Top Panel on top of the Sub-Panel --- note the size differences in the holes … (this will comfortably allow both the PVC pipes to sit on top of the Sub-Panel without falling through and the balls to easily drop into the next section – Part 3 the Ball Router).

Note :

Note the hole configuration of the large 7” hole … the hole in the Sub-Panel is almost ½ its size.

Note the wide gap in the Sub-Panel between the large 7” hole and the hole above it … there is enough room to accommodate the ball from the top Left hole to roll over to the channel used by the top Right hole … since they are both worth 100 points, and want to come out in the same Ball Channel in the Alley.

Part-2 SUB-PANEL

Picture # 2

A little space is needed between the Top and Sub Panels :

2x4 or other suitable size spacer boards are placed between the Top Panel and the Sub-Panel when being assembled, to provide some degree of depth (1½” here) between these two panels, thus providing some stability and gripping power for the PVC pipes that will be placed into the Top Panel and resting on top of the Sub-Panel.

Gluing or nailing at this time is not recommended … leave them loose at this time.

Depending on the depth of the spacing between the 2 panels, be sure to leave enough PVC pipe rising above the Top Panel (at least 1”), plus an extra ½” if kids foam pads are to be used (recommended).

Step 4:

Parts 1 & 2 TOP + SUB PANELS

Picture # 1

This tentatively shows the spacing between the 2 panels when they will be connected. Any preferred gap size can be adjusted as needed.

Part 2 SUB-PANEL

Picture # 2

During construction, it was discovered that it would be best to use ‘L’ brackets to secure the pipes directly to the Sub-Panel for greater stability.

Parts 1 & 2 TOP + SUB PANELS

Picture # 3

Both Panels shown with PVC pipes inserted.

Note that the Sub-Panel is supporting the pipes.

Part 1 TOP PANEL

Picture # 4

You can already see the height difference between the bottom 2 holes from the rest … foam padding has been factored in for installation later where the bottom 2 holes will be flush with the foam padding, and the others will ride above the padding a couple inches so the balls do not easily roll into them.

Similarly, the top 2 holes rise a little higher than the rest … (no reason). Heights can vary as desired.

Step 5:

Part 3 BALL ROUTER

24” W x 36” L x ½” Thick

This is the key inspirational design for the Skee Ball game.

The Ball Router is the brains of the game … it routes balls to dedicated channels in the Ball Channel box below it, that are assigned to specific pipes. Thus, point values for a specific pipe will be the same for its dedicated ball channel.

No need for snaking a lot of routing pipes.

HOW TO BUILD IT :

Outline 6 ball channel dimensions on a blank panel. (all channels are 3½” Wide, separated by ½” spacer boards). (These will be the same in both the Part 4 Ball Channel section as well as channels in the Alley).

Then place the Sub-Panel over it and outline the pipe holes (these should be the PVC pipe inside diameters). They are outlined here for reference purposes only.

Using both the ball channels AND the pipe holes just outlined as guides to where the balls will fall into this Ball Router panel, determine where the ball holes are needed to allow the balls to fall out of the Ball Router box and drop into their assigned ball channels in the Part 4 Ball Channel box below it.

Then outline :

1) where the new ball holes are needed,

2) where angled ball channels are needed to route balls, (angle the ball channels downwards to accommodate ball roll in order to drop the balls into their channels in the Part 4 Ball Channel section below).

3) where spacer guides can be placed.

4) Match the holes to Ball Channel box below it.

5) Cut the holes only over their intended channels for the balls to fall into … expand hole sizes as needed.

6) Install the angled ball channels.

7) Install spacers for reinforcement and ball isolation (be sure to put a spacer at end of each ball hole to stop ball from rolling further, and to force ball to drop into its hole).

Connecting the 2 top corner pipes :

Note the channel configuration for the top 2 holes … Top Left ball rolls straight down, crosses over the top of the large 7” PVC pipe hole, then connects to the Top Right ball channel. The ball will drop through the same hole into the Ball Channel box below. Verify ball clearance for both the 7” hole and the one above it.


Part 3 BALL ROUTER - Bottom Panel :

Picture # 2

View of back of Ball Router Section (above picture flipped around 180 degrees). These holes are where the balls fall into the ball channels in the Part 4 Ball Channel box below.

Note :

Before installing the angled ball channels and spacers on this panel, place the panel over the Part 4 Ball Channel box below and adjust the holes where necessary. Verify the balls will run through smoothely.

Step 6:

Part-4 BALL CHANNELS

Picture # 1

24” W x 40” L x ¾” Thick

This is a dummy box … the Ball Router already did all the work by routing the balls into their designated channels in this Ball Channel box, which are related to the pipe holes into which the balls fell … these Ball Channel box channels only guide the balls to related extended ball channels under the Alley.

HOW TO MAKE THE BALL CHANNEL BOX :

Ball channels are outlined on a 40” blank panel … the Part-3 Ball Router panel is laid on top and its finished ball drop holes are outlined …

Using these outlines only as guides to indicate points where a ball will be dropping into these ball channels from the Ball Router box (no holes are cut in this panel), the 4” Channel Guides are inserted (glued & nailed) the entire 40” board length.

These channel guides are then reinforced with Spacers ABOVE where balls fall into these channels (since a clear run for the balls to the Alley channels is needed).

These channels should line up with those of the Alley. There should not be a problem since all channels should have the same dimensions of 3+ ½” wide, separated by 4” plywood standing on its ½” end.

The Ball Channel box has an extra length of 4” … this is done to accommodate the beveled connection that will be needed to connect to the ball channels of the Alley.

Part-4 BALL CHANNELS

Picture # 2

View of the ball channels … Balls fall below the Spacers, and continue their journey

Channel spacers are 4” H and spaced 3 ½” wide.

ROUTING A ¼” RECESS FOR SPACERS IS NOT NECESSARY :

Originally the channel spacers were recessed ¼” deep to stabilize the 40” spacers, but with gluing and all the rigid bracing as shown above, with finishing nails nailed from the back of the board into the spacers, and with the Part 3 Ball Router assembly eventually laying on top of it … it was deemed that routing a recess of ¼” was not necessary after all.

Step 7: The Ball Box Assembly :

We are now ready to assemble all 4 parts of the Ball Box … this is done in reverse order :

Note : it might be a good idea to first match the Part 4 Ball Channels to that of the Alley (if you have set this up already) to align the ball channels (this should really not be a problem), then perform the following assembly, making any adjustments where necessary (this will be discussed and shown later, when everything is aligned and put together).

Part 4 BALL CHANNELS :

Picture # 1

Check that all channel guides and spacers have been adequately glued and nailed onto the panel.

Part 3 BALL ROUTER :

Picture # 2

Check that all channel guides and spacers have been adequately glued and nailed onto the panel.

JOINING Part 4 BALL CHANNELS AND Part 3 BALL ROUTER :

Picture # 3

Place Part 3 Ball Router on top of Part 4 Ball Channels. Note the bottom of the 40”L Ball Channel protrudes 4” from the 36”L Ball Router (needed to align with the Alley).

Make sure ball holes line up with ball channels and that balls can easily pass through the holes. Secure panels.

Step 8:

Part-2 SUB-PANEL

Picture # 1

Place Sub-Panel on top of Ball Router Box. Make sure ball holes line up with ball channels. Secure. Test balls can easily flow thru all panels.

Picture # 2

Insert spacer boards for Top Panel to rest on, providing 1 ½” gap (if needed) between Sub-Panel and Top Panel. Glue, but do not nail, as nails could interfere with ball roll below.

Part-1 TOP PANEL

Picture # 3

Place Top Panel on top of Sub-Panel … no need to secure … the Frame & pipes will take care of this.

Make sure the spacer boards do not overlap holes.

By not securing the Top Panel, this allows ready access to the Sub-Panel where the pipes may be anchored with small “L” brackets and replaced as needed.

If the pipes are anchored with “L” brackets, make sure the screws clear the channels of the Ball Router box, as they may otherwise interfere with or scratch the balls.

Step 9:

Part 1 TOP PANEL :

Picture # 1

Insert PVC Pipes into Top Panel, making certain they clear the 2x4 spacers, and the pipes rest on the Sub-Panel. Test balls roll correctly thru all ball channels.

OPTIONAL : Pipes can either stand free, or “L” brackets can be used to secure pipes to part-2 Sub-Panel.

Part 2 SUB-PANEL :

ANCHORING THE PVC PIPES :

Picture # 2

It was more effective to use small “L” brackets to anchor the PVC pipes to the part-2 Sub-Panel.

Then substituted ¾” plywood spacers for the 2x4’s, and nailed them only with 1+¼” nails so as not to penetrate beyond panel and possibly come in contact with balls. PVC was cut to length accordingly.

Step 10: The Assembled Ball Box :

The entire Ball Box assembly looks like this.

Height is 11½” to level of Top Panel.

½” children’s play mat Foam (blue foam sample) will eventually be placed over entire Top Panel once this completed Ball Box section is connected and fitted to the main Alley section.

The Alley itself is 5+ ½” high … this leaves 6” to be addressed by the Ball-Hop and the slanted angle of the Ball Box connection to the Alley, which should not pose a problem.

If a greater height of the ball channel spacers is needed, they can be enlarged to 5”-thru-8”.

No matter what is done, a ‘Channel connector’ will mesh all the channels of the Ball Box and Alley together (explained later).

Step 11: Ball Box : the 10 & 20 Value Rings :

The lower 2 ball holes are reserved for the values of 10 (bottom hole) and 20 (the hole above it).

For lack of anything better I could find, several layers of ¾” plywood was used, cut to the shapes you see here, to channel the majority of balls (as all SkeeBall games do) not landing in the other more difficult holes, into the 10 or 20 point value holes.

Virtually anything can be used to achieve the same effects.

This can be done anytime during the construction process, and was actually done in the final stages of construction after joining the Ball Box to the Alley.

Step 12: S E C T I O N # 2 - THE ALLEY

Now let’s jump to the bowling Alley assembly … this is the easiest part.

Here is the Alley with its framing almost finished.

It matters not which you construct first … Ball Box or Alley … as long as you know the dimensions of each beforehand, for the Ball Box can easily be connected to the Alley at any time. (see ‘Section 3 The Join’ below).

DIMENSIONS :

THE ALLEY RISE :

The bowling Alley (the surface the ball actually rolls on) is 8’ long, starting at 18” above ground level (13” frame + 5” casters) at the alley start (a nice height), and is beveled up toward the front rising to 27” above ground level (22” frame + 5” casters) at alley end at the assembled Ball Box.

This provides a 9” rise over 8’ … or a rise of 1+ ⅛” for every 1’ in length.

(This rise is acceptable for SkeeBall from what was researched )

THE ALLEY SIDES :

The Alley sides increasingly rises in height more than its bowling surface as it approaches the Ball Box.

These sides raise the overall height of the alley by 6” above its bowling surface in the beginning, to a height of 24” above ground level (19” frame + 5” casters) … and rising 13” above the height of the alley bowling surface to 40” above ground level (35” frame + 5” casters) at the Ball Box.

When considering the size of the entire Alley structure, it rises from 24” to 40” (with 5” casters on).

This provides a rise of 16” over 8’ … or a rise of 2” for every 1’ in length.

The Alley is already mostly framed in this picture with the rise measurements indicated above. Ball channels are 4” high with ½” spacers every 3+ ½”, and match those of the Part 4 Ball Channels section. ¾” plywood (Birch) is used for both top and bottom panels … routing grooves in the panels to seat the spacers is unnecessary as nailing them from bottom panel is sufficient … the top panel is laid on top and NOT nailed.

Step 13:

8’ long, the Alley is a very simple construction :

¾” plywood (Birch) base 24” x 8’, upon which ½” x 4” x 8’ plywood spacers are placed every 3+ ½”, with ¾” plywood (Birch) top 24” x 8’ placed on top.

The Frame construction is the key … it helped enormously in :

1st … establishing and securing the “rise”,

2nd …securing the base panel at the ‘rise’ pitch,

3rd … allowing the ball channel Spacers to be secured

4th … then simply laying (not securing) the top panel on top of the Spacers

The spacers are easily glued onto the base (temporary mini spacers kept the channel spacers upright until glue dried), then the unit was flipped over and finishing nails (nail gun) were used to secure the spacers.

Finally, the top panel was placed on top of the spacers. It was not even nailed, for the pressure of the top panel in a very secure frame laying on top of the already secured spacers was sufficient, allowing for easy replacement of the top panel (the bowling alley) or access to the ball channels if needed in the future. Cosmetic siding will later secure it in place.

Step 14:

Here channel sides were installed on the Alley ball channel box since there were no channel spacers on the outer ends of the ball channels.

Now the main alley is pretty much finished, except for topping off the frame and installing cosmetic sides … and the most important functional part of the alley … the Ball Release ...

Step 15:

Picture # 1 :

I forgot to take full pictures of just the Alley Ball Channels. They look identical to the picture of the Ball Box Ball Channel shown above, and are free of any obstructions … they have a clear run all the way through to the end of the Alley.

Picture # 2 :

Here is a view at the front of the alley.

You can see the Spacers which will allow the balls channeled by the Ball Box to roll down underneath the Alley’s top bowling panel.

¼” routed groves were made to initially secure the spacers in both the top and bottom panels, but this proved to be an alignment pain and were totally unnecessary after all … but too late, they stayed.

The top panel is free floating (not secured) can be adjusted for any purpose (fitting to Ball Box, Ball Viewer, etc).

Note the hinges on the bottom of the picture … a 4” section of the ball channel base panel, along with its spacers, was cut and hinged.

Springs, attached to the sides, keep this 4” hinged channel section closed and level with the rest of the ball channels. The balls hit a stopper in front of this hinged channel section and wait to be manually released. A ball release lever is depressed, the hinged section drops down, the balls fall into an accessible ball box below, then the springs return the hinged channel section back to a level position, ready for the next game.

Step 16: The Ball Viewer :

After the Ball Router routes balls to dedicated channels in the Ball Channel box below it, the Ball Channel box channels then connect directly to extended channels which flow under the Alley.

The balls roll down the channels to the end.

As a manual game, some way of viewing and counting the point values of the balls falling into pipes and ending up in their dedicated ball channels was needed.

Therefore, a Stopper was inserted at the bottom of the channels preventing the balls from rolling out. Then an 18” viewing section was cut at the bottom of the top panel, and covered with a plastic panel.

The balls and their related pipe points can now be viewed and counted.

The ¼” thick plastic panel is strong enough to be smashed with balls when bowling, and still survive !

To start a new game, a Ball Release Lever is depressed which tilts the hinged channel section (just discussed), and the balls are released from their channels and roll down into an accessible ball box. When the Lever itself is released, the hinged channel section pops back up and closes the channel exits, ready to start a new game.

Note : a 2x4 was placed in front of the plastic panel … flush with it and the alley, to both protect it and to prevent the occasional ball from smashing into the very beginning of the alley (by people who do not know how to bowl).

HOW IT WAS MADE :

Top Panel cut out a section 24” wide x 18” long.

½” wood strips were glued on top of exposed spacers, including the hinged section.

¼” x 24”W x 18”L plastic panel was laid on top.

The wood strips bring the plastic panel exactly level with the ¾” top panel, thus allowing the balls to roll over the plastic panel as part of the bowling alley.

Step 17: The Ball Release :

Picture # 1 :

The balls are returned and stopped by a board at the end of the ball channels. They can be viewed through the plastic panel and their assigned values counted.

The balls now have to be released from the ball channels for the next game :

Solution :

A Lever controls the 4” hinged channel section, aided by 2 springs, one on each side of the Alley.

When the lever is pushed down, it pushes down the hinged channel section, and the balls fall down into an open boxed section below it for retrieval.

A paint pole was used, with a wide enough hole drilled thru the frame to allow pole maneuverability.

Also, when cosmetic finishing is done later, removable side panels will be installed to access both sides of the Alley to service the pole and springs.

Picture # 2 :

A single spring (with no lever) is added on the other side to help the lever easily control the ball dumping process.

Note : the stopper board seen just below the spring … this stops the balls from rolling out on the ball channels straight into the ball box.

Note : the 45° bevel of the ball channels in the hinged section … this is needed in order for the balls to clear the ball stopper board when the lever is pushed down to release the balls … yet the beveled ball channels are high enough to still keep the balls in their respective channels until released.

This section you see was extended from the Alley to accommodate this catch-n-release lever mechanism and the ball box below it.

The bottom panel of the ball box is angled to assure the balls roll to the front.

Step 18:

We now flip to the other side of the Alley to view the operation of the Lever pole :

Picture # 1 :

Lever in closed position.

Note the spring tension … It is somewhat relaxed, and gives longer life to the spring.

Picture # 2 :

Lever pushed down half way.

Picture # 3 :

Lever pushed down all the way. The balls roll out of the channels at this point.

Note the spring tension … Open but not aggressively … yet strong enough to easily return the Ball Release back to the closed position. When pressure on the lever is released, the springs gently close the hinged Ball Release channels. This is set by trial and error.

Step 19: S E C T I O N # 3 - THE JOIN

The Ball Box and the Alley are now connected to each other.

The P i t c h : DECIDING THE CORRECT PITCH OF THE BALL BOX :

Tentatively kiss the Ball Box ball channels and spacers to those of the Alley and decide on a desired Pitch. (this Ball Box is pitched at an approx. 50° angle up).

The Ball Box Frame : once a reasonable Pitch is determined, a Frame can be constructed to hold and support the heavy Ball Box, and aid in the Join.

The Join is made easy since the channels of the Ball Box extends 4” more than its other sections, and with its more aggressive rise/tilt, enables its channels to get closer to and more easily connect to those of the Alley.

Alignment of the ball channels of the Ball Box to those of the Alley is not a problem since they have both identical measurements of 3+1/2 for the ball channels and ½” x 4” for the Spacers.

4 easy Adjustments are needed :

1) Bevel … cut the Ball Box channels on an angle to connect flush with those of the Alley

2) Base Connector … cut a panel extension to join the bottom panels of the Ball Box and the Alley together

3) Ball Hop Connector … make a panel to fill the gap that arises between the Ball Box and the Alley Ball Hop

4) Ball Box Frame … the Ball Box and Alley Frames are connected and secured, and the Join is then complete.

These adjustments are explained in the following pages :

Step 20: Adjustment # 1 : the Bevel

Beveling : measure the correct bevel/angle where the ball channels of both the Ball Box and the Alley meet.

The Channel Spacers of the Ball Box are cut to the correct bevel/angle to effect a rough flush beveled/angled join, with hardly any gaps between them, allowing free flow of the balls through all ball channels.

Bevel here was approx. 55° (approx.. 50° rise of Ball Box + approx. 5° rise of Alley).

If needed, a channel extender can be made. Anything can be done to effect a flush join (does not have to be perfect).

Step 21: Adjustment # 2 : the Base Connector

The Alley ball channels were also extended 5” beyond its base panel in the knowledge that its ball channels needed to get a little closer to those of the Ball Box. This helps tremendously in joining the ball channels. If you forget to consider this when initially building the Alley, don't be concerned ... it can always be added onto the Base Connector itself !

This Alley channel extension causes a natural gap between the bottom panels of both the Ball Box and Alley. This was planned for, and the gap must now be filled.

SOLUTION :

BASE CONNECTOR : A simple connector will extend the Alley base panel to meet and rest on the bottom of the Ball Box base panel. This is cut to specification during the Joining process.

It is beveled to provide an easier join, and avoid a sharp jolt for the ball in transitioning from the Ball Box channels to that of the Alley channels. Its size is based on the size gap to be filled.

Partial grooves are cut on the Connector to allow the Ball Box channels to slide into it.

When the Join is later completed, this connector will not be seen, but will be a key operator in the ball flow.

Key :

A 2x4 is fitted to the front of the Alley to aid in aligning the Ball Box, and allows the angled bottom panel of the Ball Box to rest on it for support. This helps tremendously with the alignment and Join process also.

Step 22:

Picture # 1 :

The connector was already planned for in the early stages of the Alley and its Frame construction, but cut to specification during the Joining process.

Picture # 2 :

Now accurately measured, the ‘connector’ and the interior side panels are attached.

Step 23:

Picture # 1 :

This picture is reversed …

Now you can see the Ball Box channels and spacers (right) connecting to the Alley (left) with the ‘Connector’ receiving the Ball Box spacers as they slide between the Connector’s ½” grooves … when fully pushed together, the Ball Box angled Spacers will be flush with those of the Alley … and the beveled portion of the Connector will gently touch the channels of the Ball Box, thus allowing free and easy rolling of the balls.

Picture # 2 :

The Ball Box now Joined to the Alley. The height disparity is offset by the Ball Hop height and adjusted by the Ball Hop Connector.

Picture # 3 :

The Ball Box and Alley with its skeletal frame : The Ball Box is pitched at an approx. 50° angle up.

The Alley top framing rail is secured to the Ball Box section with only 1 screw, and the top framing rail of the Ball Box is likewise secured to the Alley framing rail with only 1 screw ... this will allow for a quick disconnect in case any access or unforeseen repairs are needed. When cosmetic siding is later added, this too is secured by screws which can be removed if necessary.

Step 24: Adjustment # 3 : the Ball Hop Connector

Picture # 1 :

After the Ball Box and the Alley are joined together, there is a large height and gap difference between the two … A height difference from the top of the Alley panel to the top of the Ball Box top panel.

The height difference is rectified when the Ball Hopper is set in place.

But there is a gap between the Ball Hop and the # 10 Ring … if this gap is not filled in, balls will fall into the gap and get stuck.


Picture # 2 :

SOLUTION :

A panel is made --- the Ball Hop Connector … to connect the top of the Ball Hop to anywhere under the # 10 Ring, as long as it is sufficiently beveled to allow any balls missing the pipes and landing on top of the Connector to roll back over the top of the Ball Hop and back down the Alley.


Picture # 3 :

Connector is placed (not secured) on top of a support board on the back of the Ball Hop and flush with it … as well as into notches on the 2 end Ball Hop panels …

The Connector is fitted to the arc of the # 10 ring.

Elevated support material, like Styrofoam boards, are inserted in the gap area to elevate the back of the connector panel.

Step 25: Adjustment # 4 : the Ball Box Frame

Once the Ball Box and Alley are Joined (connected) to each other, the Alley side framing is extended to and secured about 1/3 the way up the Ball Box.

Then the Ball Box side framing is installed from the end of the Alley to the top of the Ball Box, rising from 10” at the front to 14” at the top.

A back wall is installed at the top of the game, and is angled 90°.

The logic of the rise and the back wall is that they not only enclose the Ball Box around the pipes to keep the balls from flying out of the game, but also serve to facilitate trick shots when balls ricochet off of them into the pipes. Besides, the rise of the framing gives it a ‘flair’ which is aesthetically appealing !

These Frame connections secure and finish the Join. The cosmetic siding to be installed later will add to the securing process.

Step 26: S E C T I O N # 4 : THE CAGE

A ball is 3” hard plastic and weighs 7.4 oz. … Both Skee Balls and Ice Balls are basically the same (Ice Balls are white plastic and SkeeBalls are usually wood) and can be used interchangeably for this type game.

There are 9 balls used in 1 game session, and all for just 1 player for 1 complete turn … and they are rolled quite vigorously down the Alley, hit the Ball Hop, and go flying ‘hopefully’ into one of the pipes in the Ball Box … naaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh …

Oftentimes they fly out of the Ball Box and away from the game to who knows where, sometimes doing some damage … and just hope no one gets hit by one … it will make a good dent ! … like getting hit with a rock !

Therefore, some type of net or cage is needed to enclose a good part of the Ball Box to hopefully contain most, if not all, of the ricocheting or wild balls. Such a Cage was designed for this Skee-Ball.

Measurements :

A Cage frame made with 1+ ½” wood cut from 2x4’s and enclosed with wire with ½” squares was deemed the best. The wire withstands the impact of a wild or flying ball, and generally keeps the ball in the Ball Box area.

Sides: the frame slopes 19” on the bottom, rises 40” for the length of the Ball Box, rises 12” high, with the return frame on top returning 59” (approx. 19” onto the Alley blue framing).

Center: top is 27” wide, and drops 17” down the front, and 12” down the back (frame actually goes 36” down the back to support and reinforce the entire cage framing).

Step 27: S E C T I O N # 5 : THE BALL HOP

Skee-Ball is played by rolling a ball up an inclined lane (a/k/a the ‘Alley’), and over a hump (called a “Ball Hop”) that jumps (hops) the ball into the air and hopefully into pipes or rings in the Ball Box.

Without a Ball-Hop, the game is totally useless.

Without a correctly designed Ball-Hop, the game is totally useless.

Patience is needed in making one … and it may require several attempts, but it will surely work out in the end.

Presented below is a 1st attempt on designing a Ball-Hop which works quite well, and will help immeasurably is crafting your own Ball-Hop out of anything that works. Specifications are presented on the next page.

Picture # 1 :

This is the Ball Hop, Front view. It consists of approx.. 30 individual pieces of ¾“ plywood cut, sanded and glued together in the hopes that it would work … and it did … the 1st time ! (Aspirin helped)

Picture # 2 :

This is the Ball Hop, Side view.

The benefit of this design is that : the Ball Hop is NOT permanently attached to the Alley. It is easily removable and replaceable with others. Its weight alone keeps it in place when gaming.

Picture # 3 :

Ball Hop in the Alley, ready to be connected to the Ball Box … note the gap and height to fill and reach.

Picture # 4 :

The Ball Hop connected to the Ball Box.

It was designed to mesh with the flexible red # 10 panel, which is made flush with the top of the Ball Hop via a strip of ½ “ plywood near the back top of the Ball Hop.

Step 28:

Here is a side-view of the Ball Hop made for this Skee-Ball game.

30 pieces of these 3/4” thick are joined together to make the Ball-Hop (this is just one way of making one).

Searched all over for Ball Hop specifications and was not able to find any … found only various curved pictures. So an attempt was made … it is not perfect, but it is effective.

The ball seems to ‘crash’ into this design, but it still jumps into the Ball Box pipes effectively.

You can try, as I will, to make one with a slope more gently rising … you can have more than one !

My Ball-Hop is 11” long and 7+ ⅜” high … and the ½ “ thick red # 10 panel in the picture above raises and lowers to rest flush with the top of the Ball Hop by resting on a strip of plywood along the back of the entire Ball Hop, ½” from the Ball Hop top. The picture below is representative of all the 30 pieces used to make the Ball Hop, but only the right and left ends (like this one) are loose and not attached to the rest of the Ball Hop. These 2 end panels are extended another ½” (both have the upper right notch in it) to tentatively allow the red # 10 panel to rest ½” on the notches so the main Ball-Hop can easily slide into and under the red panel.

The red panel also acts as the join ‘connector’ between the Alley-BallHop-BallBox, as well as also serving to allow any balls hoping out of the Ball Box to run back down the Alley and not get stuck in the Ball Box.

Horizontal measurements along the bottom of the board indicate length in inches, while the vertical statistics show the board rise in inches for every inch in board length, from the lowest starting point to the top.

They are : from 0” rising to ¾” by the 1st inch in length; rising to 1+ ½” by the 2nd inch; rising to 2+ ⅛” by the 3rd; rising to 3” by the 4th; rising to 4” by the 5th; rising to 4+ ¾” by the 6th; rising to 5+ ⅝” by the 7th; rising to 6+ ¼” by the 8th; rising to 6+ ⅞” by the 9th, rising to 7+ ¼” by the 10th; and finally rising to 7+ ⅜” by the 11th inch in board length. If you were to make a more gentle slope, lower the curve by ¾” between start to 7”.

Step 29: S E C T I O N # 6 : THE FINISH

This is the finished Skee Ball game.

Step 30:

BEFORE & AFTER :

After the Join, as explained above, the finishing touches were put on the Ball Box and Alley assembly with siding, painting, and other finishing touches … this is really all it is. This process will dramatically transform the game :

Picture # 1 :

From this …

Note : this view does NOT have the Cage extension on it. This is all covered with the red painted panel seen in the next picture.

Picture # 2 :

To this …

Note : If it had to be done, with a little effort this entire game can be dismantled, repaired, and put back together since all the siding is lightly screwed together … and it was done 3 times.

Step 31:

What was done :

EXTERIOR :

5” Casters were installed on the Frame … the height of the Frame from ground level was originally determined including the use of the casters. With casters, this heavy unit can now be easily moved anywhere, and the casters lock up for stationary game playing.

½” plywood panels were installed on the outside of the Frame as shown above, and painted.

Note the siding did not go to ground level, but only to the level of the Ball Box and the Alley.

The Alley side framing is extended to and secured about 1/3 the way up the Ball Box.

Then the Ball Box side framing is installed from the end of the Alley to the top of the Ball Box, rising from 10” at the bottom to 14” at the top.

A back wall is installed at the top of the game, and is angled 90°.

Cosmetic panels were put on the Frame supports down to the casters for design purposes only.

The Cage was installed.

Step 32:

INTERIOR :

½” PVC board (cut from a 4x8 sheet, available in most stores selling lumber) was installed on the inside of the Frame throughout the entire Alley and Ball Box. These panels are screwed in, and can be easily removed to service the Plastic Viewing Panel, Carpet, or Alley Top Panel.

⅛” thin exterior type slippery carpet was laid on the alley in lieu of painting or lacquering. It also protects the Top Panel and reduces the noise level.

½” Kids foam mats were cut to size and installed in the Ball Box … this was initially determined to be used, and pipe height was cut accordingly. This is a great noise reduced, ball protector, and reduced bounce only just a little.

¾” x 2+½” Pine Board (a 1x4 cut to size and painted blue) was used for the top edging and covers the 1+ ½” Frame, exterior Frame ½” plywood siding, and ½” PVC Alley siding … and has a dramatic finishing effect.

The Ball Hop is laid on the alley and is slide-able to fine tune the ball hopping, and the red connector panel above it allows balls missing the pipes to return back down the alley without being stuck between the Ball Hop and the Ball Box (a very simple solution to a perplexing connection problem).

Picture # 1 :

Here is the finished Skee-Ball before installing

1) the Ball Box framing for the 10 and 20 values,

2) the Ball Hop and its flexible red connector panel, and

3) the Cage.

Picture # 2 :

Here is the finished Skee-Ball after the 10 and 20 values framing was installed (painted yellow in the Ball Box), but before installing

2) the Ball Hop, and

3) the Cage

Picture # 3 :

Here is the finished Skee-Ball in its entirety.

The Ball Hop and its flexible red panel connector (labeled the 10 value) and the Cage are now installed.

Let’s take a closer look at 3 significant elements of the Skee-Ball construction on the following pages :

Step 33: The 10 & 20 Value Rings :

For lack of anything better at the moment, several layers of ¾” plywood was used in this unusual and unique configuration to construct the traditional rings for the 10 and 20 values. The only way to secure them from being pounded by the balls was with “L” brackets, which really cannot be seen when playing the game.

Additionally, note that the 50 value has a red wood assembly just below it … due to the pipe structure, the balls were always hoping out … this helps to put them in.

Step 34: The Ball Release Box :

The Ball Release Box is the section where the balls fall out of the Alley into a receiving box when the Ball Release Lever is depressed.

This is done after a player throws all of their 9 balls, counts up their score in the Alley viewing window above, and wants to start a new game.

In the construction stage, this was not planned for, but it was discovered that it was needed, so therefore it was an extension made to the Alley that worked out great.

Note the purple board hiding part of the Value numbers … this was added at the last minute to stop the missed balls from rolling back down the Alley and onto the floor.

The yellow panel which the balls are laying on is partly under the Plastic Viewer.

The panel is slightly beveled, and forces the balls to roll forward into full view to be easily retrieved by the player.

Step 35: The Ball Release Box Access Panel :

Note the extended front section …

This is not only a nice design effect, but it serves a very functional purpose …

It is the Ball Release Lever cap which is easily removable (on both sides) to service the lever and spring assemblies used by the Ball Release system.

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