September 7, 2010

Gold Coast Parking Meter

Another puzzle that I borrowed from Jeff of MagicPuzzle.org was the Gold Coast Parking Meter by Brian Young. I was pretty close to buying this one at IPP, but managed to restrain myself and didn't end up purchasing it. I was quite happy that I was able to get the chance to give it a try!

Here's Jeff's photo of it, and you can read his blog entry here. It is still for sale on Brian Young's website Mr. Puzzle, where you can read quite a bit about it. The goal is to get the coin to drop into the meter and reassemble the puzzle with the coin inside.

It was Brian Young's exchange puzzle for the 2007 International Puzzle Party in Gold Coast, Australia. As such, this was quite an appropriate exchange present. Here's an amusing excerpt from his site:
Meter Maids were first seen in Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast in 1965 to try to help beat the bad image created by the installation of parking meters. Gorgeous girls in gold bikinis fed coins into expired parking meters to prevent tourists from being fined, causing quite a controversy at the time.
The puzzle is constructed out of Yellow Leichhardt for the meter, whose yellow wood was chosen to match the color of parking meters in the Gold Coast. The stand is made out of Mackay Cedar. Overall, it has a nice appearance and it stands about 6 inches tall.

Jeff warned me that the stand wasn't part of the puzzle,  since it had accidently come off while he was trying to solve it. When I first examined it, there were some features that looked like part of the mechanism, so I focused on those. After a minute or two, I figured out the first step, but I got stuck there for a while and took a break.

When I returned to it, I tried a few different things, none of which ended up working. Finally, I came up with an idea that ended up being correct. It is pretty clever! After finishing this step, the coin dropped inside, but I needed to figure out how to put it back together.

In Brian's description of the puzzle, he mentions that reassembling it is a different puzzle than taking it apart. I didn't really find this to be the case, since there isn't anything new that you discover along the way. Strictly speaking, the steps are a bit different, but I thought it was pretty obvious once you saw the mechanism.

Still, I don't think this detracts from a great puzzle. It is very simple mechanically, but it is quite difficult to solve. Overall, I really liked it! Thanks again to Jeff for loaning it to me.

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