Saturday, 3 September 2011

Cast Nut Case

I acquired the Nutcase and two other puzzles, Cast News and Cast Duet from my local gift shop Bloomington in Singapore. These three puzzles (without the usual shipping costs I normally would have to pay to overseas sellers) were really very reasonable priced and I couldn't resist buying all three at one go.

The Nutcase is designed by Oskar Van Deventer and made by Hanayama. As I found to my surprise it was actually very much larger than your regular household nut and bolt. It measures 2 inches tall and about 1 1/4 inch across at its widest. The puzzle looks like a "fat" screw bolt with two heads, one at each end and in the middle you have the two nuts. The puzzle is made of aluminium and while quality is not first rate, it is reasonably good. The screw bolt is actually hollow inside. Both ends of the puzzle each have a hole into which you can see a real small nut rolling about inside the hollow section.
Can you see the lines which separates the two parts of the screw bolt?
The object of the puzzle is to take apart the screw bolt and remove the small nut inside. Tolerances between the two parts of the screw bolt and the two nuts are not tight, hence you can actually feel some free play as the parts move and rub against each other. I am not sure if this was intended or is it a construction quality issue. Looking at the puzzle, one could possibly hasten a guess at how the puzzle is solved. For confirmation, one only needs to look at the back of the box packaging which actually has a photo of the puzzle in the solved state (ie what the puzzle looks like with the parts separate) so this gave me a good idea how to go about taking the Nutcase apart.

I fiddled with the puzzle for a while, rotating the two nuts back and forth along the axis of the screw bolt and managed to solve the puzzle after about 45 minutes. The free play of the two nuts and the screw bolt helped a lot as it allowed me to pull, push and twist the screw bolt while fingering the two nuts so I could feel for the separation of the screw bolt. The "looseness" of the nuts (and with the help of a torch light) also enabled me to peep a bit "inside" the nuts and their position relative to the threads of the screw bolt (I don't think Oskar intended this) and this got me to solving the puzzle very quickly :-). However, this looseness resulted in jamming of the nuts against the screw threads more than several times which was a bit of an annoyance.

Overall the Nutcase is a challenging puzzle and rated level 6 by Hanayama which is very difficult. I guess the rating is probably about right. Difficult to solve at first but not too difficult to repeat.

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