The Big Wheel Lift automata series

Big Wheel Lift #1 seems to easily capture the attention of passers-by. One of the Jim’s Gym series of automata, a biped is exercising by pedaling and pulling levers.  This motion in turn causes a big wheel to lift marbles from the bottom to the top, where they drop onto a track and roll back to the bottom.  Lot’s of color and motion and interesting noises.  Magnetic shock absorbers.  This is a fun one.


Created primarily from wood (Baltic Birch plywood and Poplar).  The biped is created from Basswood.  This automata is powered by an electric motor and a hand crank.  Motion is transmitted through quiet poly belting.  There are many ball bearings operating on stainless steel shafting. A counter keeps track of the ‘marble drops’.  At this writing (6 October 2020) there have been more than 38,000 marble drops.  Finish is with spray enamels, acrylic paints, and copper leaf.


Jim’s Comments: I really like Big Wheel Lift #1.  I’ve been able to take this automata into public with me when I perform with my street organ…it captures attention.  People really enjoy watching it.  I also like its sounds.  It has a sort of hypnotic rhythm that is very pleasant to share a space with.

Big Wheel Lift #1


Dimensions (approx)

Height: 21″
Width: 25″
Depth: 9″
Weight: 8-1/2 lbs.


Allow me 3 months to create.

#2 is the next available in this series.


Commission Info


Other automata for sale.



Big Wheel Lift #1 Project Sheet

As I create automata I attempt to update the Project Sheet weekly with narrative and images.  These project sheets are available on my website.  The project sheets give viewers a sense of what I’m working on and how I work.


Big Wheel Lift #1
Construction Journal document

After an automata has been initially assembled and is functioning it is then disassembled and painted.  This Construction Journal is important to me.  It helps me to re-assemble, and it helps me remember ‘how I did it’ for future builds.  The Construction Journal documents with photographs a teardown and then the painted reassembly.  These documents are sometimes 50+ pages long.  The link above will take you to the Construction Journal .pdf, which you may download if you wish.


YouTube Video 

The biped on Big Wheel Lift #1 is copper leafed.