Zahnradlaby (Double Gear Maze)

Posted on by Gabriel | 4 comments
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(Click to Enlarge)
Zahnradlaby (a.k.a. Double Gear Maze) by Jean Claude Constantin is a superb puzzle that begs for your attention. Reminiscent of those contraptions from the Leonardo da Vinci era, this striking looking puzzle is just as hard as it looks, and some more.

The Double Gear Maze is a variation of another much simpler Constantin design, the Gear Maze. Besides the obvious differences with the two mazes, the Double Gear Maze actually features smaller labyrinths, with three pathways, whereas the Gear Maze features four pathways. Although I haven't tried the simpler design, I reckon it's safe to assume the Zahnradlaby is much harder to solve.

The puzzle is made from acrylic to cover the mazes and the rest from wood. The mechanism, as expected from a Constantin puzzle, works very well. Occasionally, the balls might get jammed under the top maze, but to avoid that just make sure you tilt the puzzle in the direction of the ball's movement. The size of the puzzle is also pretty good, measuring 20cm in diameter (7.9").

Both gears have two layers with different labyrinths: the bottom one, which is stationary, and the top one, a moving maze which you can rotate back and forth to create a unique path for your ball bearing. By constantly rotating both gears in sync, the goal is to free the two ball bearings at the same time. I see two circle marks in both gears that should be indicating the solved position, but with the gears' positions it's just impossible to get both holes above these marks at the same time... Unless the intention of the designer was to actually solve one at a time.

Since you're solving both mazes simultaneously, you have to take into account that every move you do on one maze has an effect on the other one, and vice-versa. As you'll be constantly hitting dead-ends, you have to figure out where you need to put the ball bearing on one maze so the other ball can proceed. This constant motion of back and forth is quite challenging, because at times you think you're getting closer to the goal with one ball, but the other one requires you to go back. It's a little frustrating, to say the least.

(Click to Enlarge)
Closing Comments:

I loved the look of the Double Gear Maze. The concept is fantastic and it has the right level of difficulty. I can see why Constantin made these mazes shorter than the Gear Maze, as it would've been a tad too difficult.

Availability: You can find the Double Gear Maze at PuzzleMaster for about $46.99 CAD.



Unknown said...

This is one of the few puzzles in my "collection" for the reasons:
- it's a maze puzzle
- it has great looks (gears!)

The only pity is, that I find the gear movement not very smooth. And also the balls quite easily get stuck. But I like it!

Gabriel said...

Yes, the balls can get jammed sometimes. I solved it once, but haven't attempted a second time. It does look great though. Constantin's puzzles are superb in appearance.

Arne said...

The two points are needed when re-inserting the balls. If they are not meeting in the middle when inserting the balls at the start position, you might end with an impossible configuration and need to open the puzzle.

For me this is a very nice mid-level puzzle.

Boom said...

It's a good looking puzzle and works well but as the article states it's impossible to line up both exit holes at the same time.( take the balls out of the maze and try to line them up, you can't)
It kind of ruins the whole puzzle as it is dead easy to do one ball at a time. Could have been a great puzzle with a bit more thought.

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