Another weird and wonderful curiosity brought to you strangely enough by those Lesney boys in Rochford, Essex. Yes it's Cascade by Matchbox! The exciting "Thump-a-drum" game for the whole family. What the hell was this all about? By the time you had it up and running you no longer cared. you simply stood there mesmerised by the hypnotic movement of 10 ball bearings as they wove their way up an Archimedes corkscrew out onto the chute and then, at the push of a lever, off they tumbled onto three consecutive drums and into a receptacle where they were either collected or dispatched down a track to return to the corkscrew to begin their journey all over again. Marvellous!
Once again this was a toy I never had but always wanted. Martin Brown had one. I only saw it running once but thought it was cool. Anyway one day I get a call in work and its Steve B. He says he has acquired one at a boot sale. I never have the stamina to get up early on Saturdays and Sundays. Anyway he gets it up and running but the "bounce" in the drums is significantly less than it was when the toy was released in the early 70's. We decide that the drums need re-skinning but what can we use? Steve B was confident he could manufacture a new set of skins providing we can find a suitable material. Party balloons would be too thin, Marigold gloves would be to bobbly and Clingfilm would be just plain CRAP!
The final solution was to use the rubber from a Whoopee Cushion. Brilliant! Steve spent a whole lunchtime scouring likely shops in Southend High St to no avail. How can there NOT be any Whoopee Cushions to be had? My friend Lana Hodges reckoned Birthdays greeting card shop might have some as they did children's party favours in their lower floor. True enough a couple of these were purchased (Nice one Lana!), handed over to Steve and he set to work that evening. The results were excellent. All the balls travelled exactly as they had done when the product was new. Steve has even made a template which is downloadable from this site for any of you wishing to return a defunct Cascade back to its original state.
I have to say that the instructions are erroneous in the fact that they say removing the scoring plate will allow the balls to return to the corkscrew and continue to run in a "Perpetual Motion" fashion. Rubbish! Perpetual motion in its truest sense would require the corkscrew to be unpowered, the lug at the top of the slipway would have to be popped out and removing the scoring plate would just allow the balls to collect on the lip that holds she scoring plate in place. Still if you want to have an original looking centrepiece on your dining table, then remove the slipway lug by gently flexing it out through the hole it is located in and replace the scoring plate with a piece of card cut to size.
Hey Presto! your dinner guests will be astounded and amazed by your intriguing display that just keeps on going. Purchasing more bearings is a good idea too. The required size is 11mm. Any bigger and they wont go up the corkscrew. I purchased an extra set of 10 which works quite well. The only problem is that I think the newer set have a slightly different mass which means that when they get mixed up with the 70's originals they tend to collide in mid bounce with other ball bearings, knocking them sideways and off the table. Not good if one happens to land in the Mother in law's soup! But then again... !
Download the original instructions for Cascade here. Note: These are the ENGLISH instructions only
Download Steve B's drum skin template here to replace your knackered old Cascade!