Sunday 26 May 2019

Brass Monkey Number Three Is Great as Well as Painful!

From the Left - Brass Monkey One, Two and errrm Three!
It's easy to tell them apart from the etched marks on the ends
When Big Steve and his partner in puzzling crime, Ali (he of the stern finger warning!) offer me one of their namesake puzzles, the answer is "yes" and which account shall I PayPal to? A bunch of us got early access to them because we had bought the previous versions and anyone who has experienced the amazing quality of their work will jump at the chance of more. If you want to buy beautiful brass puzzles then go to their Etsy store (all 3 are now available) or you could buy from PuzzleMaster who have the first 2 so far (I am sure they will get the new one soon) and their amazing Hokey Cokey lock too. Go to the store right away and, as Allard said, "Get one - you will like it".

My usual adage of "wood is good" extends to brass and aluminium and steel and wire and string and plastic... Whack! Ouch! Sorry dear! There have actually been several Whack! Ouch!s yesterday when she caught sight of our credit card bill showing purchases from Eric, BrianShiro san and Calvin - I hate to admit it but this time I think I deserve it! I am out of control...yet again.

I left my lovely readers last time showing off the newly acquired Brass Monkey Three complete with an essential tongue depressor for which Mrs S gave me yet another dark broodingly violent look which told me that, if tongue depressors begin to multiply in the house, then I will find myself separated from various essential parts of my body. I think she plans to stuff those body parts, after chopping them into small pieces, into various cavities and openings in Big Steve! Remember, Steve, that she is Scottish, violent and has some serious training in the dark arts of hurting people. If you all think I married a professional dominatrix then think again, she has had nurse training in Scotland! Hmmm! Now, where would I find a dominatrix? Whack! Ouch! Heeheehee! Oops! 

After the puzzle had been unwrapped and the warning about tongue depressors issued, she caught sight of the large, heavy chunk of brass and realised that this was a risk to her (our... Whack! Ouch!... her) kitchen tiles and work surface. I was thrown out of the kitchen and started to play in the living room. I tried the trick that had worked for BM one and, of course, that failed. They would never repeat a trick, would they?

Now, there really isn't an awful lot you can do with these things but I thought I tried everything and got nowhere. It was time to cook and I left it being warmed by a sleeping cat and went back to it later. The second attempt at solving it, later that night, left me with a very sore finger! I did find something interesting and did it repeatedly until nothing happened. Lots and lots of fiddling with a large chunk of metal tends to leave your fingers in some pain and I broke a nail! The rest of the evening went without any progress and I returned the following day for more suffering. Mrs S again told me in no uncertain terms (Whack! Ouch!) not to bring it into the kitchen and I skulked away. Again, on my chair in the living room, I tortured my fingers and something new happened - I actually made it happen on purpose... I had actually had a thought© which is most unusual for a "bear of very little brain" like me.

Having made the new thing happen, I got stuck! Nothing else would happen and, to my horror, I couldn't unmake the new thing either! In a panic, I hurt my finger again trying to undo it. Damn! I am really not terribly bright! The rest of that evening was spent looking for something else and finally admitting that my first idea must have been worthwhile. Nursing my sore finger, I tried again a few more times and AHA! I had a pile of brass logs and a very upset cat who did not enjoy the sudden weight on his feet and back.

Of course, I will not be showing you the mechanism - go buy your own to find out.
Now that was very clever. In fact, there is even a further disassembly step possible which I did just to see how the puzzle had been constructed. The tolerances on these are amazing - just as good as Brass Monkey Two. The puzzle is a 6 piece cylindrical burr as well as a secret opening puzzle and, of course, I had dropped all the pieces without paying any attention to how they had been assembled. This meant that for little old me, who is rubbish at assembly, I had a rather prolonged (but fun) time trying to put the damn thing back together! It is not helped by the fact that the cylindrical nature of the pieces makes them rather slippery as they rotate on each other whilst you try to slide the pieces together. Poor Zachary had several thumps as it collapsed in a heap a few times. After another 20 minutes of swearing under my breath at Big Steve, I finally got it back together.

This is a wonderful challenge - just the right difficulty level. Even doing it a second and third time is not easy - the dexterity and arrangement is one that I struggle with every time.

Allard was right! Damn, I hate saying that! Go get one!


  1. Great review. Just got this one, and I'm pretty early on in the solving process. I'm just trying desperately not to hurt myself. This is one I'd keep away from the kids!

    1. Yes. Only let the kids play in a soft padded area where they could not damage anything. I suspect they won't hurt themselves unless they drop it on their feet!

  2. Definitely an aching finger before you're done. Even after seeing it open the first time, it was hard for me to see why it was tough to re-lock, and later to unlock. Tight tolerances! Great trick, very different from Two.

    1. I'm glad that you agree - it has been beautifully made and is a challenge every time to get it just right. I still struggle with the reassembly!

  3. I like the list of materials: Brass, Love, Stainless Steel, Metal. That stainless steel sounds like a hint. It contains a pin or ball bearing? Also, from the sounds of it, lots of "tough love" was added.

    1. The stainless steel could be a spring....

      It is a fabulous puzzle - I am sure that you will be able to play with a copy in Japan at the next IPP.