Wednesday 10 August 2011

Internal Combustion

Internal Combustion
The Internal Combustion puzzle was sent to me by Puzzle Master. It is an aluminium boxed burr puzzle made for Puzzle Master themselves. There is a wooden version made by Mr Puzzle in Australia called Pandora's Box is available in either standard or craftsman finishes.

It is rated as a level 8 out of 10 (demanding) by Puzzle Master which I think may be a little high. It comes nicely packaged in a large blue box with the puzzle attached to a card by plastic ties - mine was jammed on quite tight and took a bit of doing to remove. Luckily, being made of solid aluminium it is very tough! The size is a pretty decent 6cm square and 3.4cm high and is quite a considerable weight (don't drop this on your toes!) The finish is pretty good - nice and smooth with the edges nicely rounded. The cut-outs for the burr pieces are a little sharp but overall this is a very nice looking puzzle.

The box is a simple box with space for the burr pieces and no internal obstructions like some of the other boxes burrs I have seen. The aim obviously is to disassemble and then reassemble it - previous reviews of this by Neil and by Oli have both stated that reassembly is quite a lot tougher than the initial take-apart. The solution is apparently in included in the box but I think I threw it out without looking for it! If you did the same then you can download one from here.

I have been playing with various boxed burrs for a while since I received a few made by Eric Fuller and I have to say that, due to the lack of internal pegs on the box interior, I found this one really easy to take apart. I think it took me about 3 minutes and I had all 4 burrs on the table!

Internal Combustion Pieces
I deliberately jumbled them up immediately and left it for 10 minutes before trying to put it back together and this was a lot tougher! It took about 20 minutes to do and ended up requiring a rather unusual approach. I actually ended up arranging the burrs by themselves without the box to work out the orientation and then inserted them in the correct order into the box afterwards.

I have given this to a few friends and expected them all to take it apart in just a few minutes like I did. I was pleasantly surprised when they all managed to get it apart but only after a good 10 to 30 minutes each. When it came to reassembly they all gave up and asked me to show them (not a single person could reassemble it despite me leaving it with them as long as they wished!) So, maybe if you are not a regular puzzler then this is worth the 8 out of 10 rating (for experienced puzzlers I would say 6 or 7).

Whilst I didn't think anyone would really need it, I couldn't resist making a Burrtools file for it (I just lurve Burrtools!!) and to my astonishment there are 6 different solutions. The one that is the starting solution for the Puzzle Master version is number 5 and is a level 6.1.2 solution. The tolerances in the construction (at least my version) are not good enough for all the stated solutions to actually be manageable with the puzzle I have. Solution 6 is very interesting as it is a single level 15 solution and is constructible with my puzzle. It is a nice set of moves but less puzzling because there are fewer blind endings and choices to be made in the process - however, it is still quite fun to undo!!! If you would like a copy of the file then just drop me a line.

Overall, I am very pleased with this one. It feels very satisfying in the hands, looks terrific with a nice polished aluminium finish and is a nice puzzle to solve (relatively easy for the experienced and a good brain-teaser for the novice). It is especially fun to find the alternative solutions! You do get quite a lot for your money.


  1. My wooden internal combustion puzzle (2nd hand, arrived in a printer box;-) was initially assembled in a level 2 configuration. This made me think it was a different puzzle, but a bit of online researched reveiled that the burr pieces were correct and several assemblies are possible. The level 15 solution may not be the toughest one, but it is the one that gave the puzzle it's name. Once you solve it you should know why.

  2. Thanks for that Louis. I do wonder why they distribute the puzzle with a different configuration. The puzzle I got was quite nice to solve but didn't really live up to the name "internal combustion". Maybe they should send it out in level 15 mode with a note to try and find the other solitions!