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This thing was a little tough to build, but not impossible.
It just took time.
As the crank is turned the moving stairs move the roller to the top of the track, from where it rolls down and around back to the base of the stairs.
The one I've built here has been around for a while, and the hole the main shaft rides in by the crank is getting worn, so it doesn't run as smoothly as it did when it was first made.
If you want to make it yourself go to: http://www.paperpino.net/the-rolling-reels-circus-il-circo-dei-rocchetti-rotolanti/
He has some pretty amazing stuff.