Archive for the ‘Banks, Jim’ Category

August 7, 2017 · by David Gilbert · Amusement Park Rides, Banks, Jim, Erector Sets, Models

Jim Banks' Skydiver

Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s I rode on tons of amusement park rides, and one that I always remembered fondly was the infamous “Skydiver”. Resembling a large Ferris wheel with rotating cars, the Skydiver was a rough and intimidating ride. Ride on this thing once and you’ll probably remember the experience for the rest of your life. I’ve never seen an Erector re-creation of the Skydiver so I got the idea to try and make one, thinking it would be a good challenge. I looked at real-life pictures of the Skydiver on the Internet to refresh my memory and provide a guide for how the eventual model should look.

First I prototyped the cars, trying to make them resemble the real thing, along with a small steering wheel on the center axis that the occupants tried vainly to control the out-of-control car. I was able to get the car to rotate on a 7” axle properly. Then I prototyped the large Ferris-type wheel, laying out all the pieces on the floor until I had a good idea of how things would lay out while fitting the 4 cars.

After figuring out the cars and Ferris-type wheel, I had to construct the towers. Since the wheel is larger than the traditional 8 1/2 set wheel, I had to make it taller by connecting two 12” MN base plates. This required extra supports using more 12” DP angle girders for structural strength and rigidity. I also beefed up the tops of each tower where a single “N” long double angle supports the full weight of the Ferris wheel and cars. If that N-part comes loose, it will rotate co-axially and everything will possibly come crashing down, so I added support with 3” MO angle girders and a few other parts and lots of screws. Possibly over-engineered but definitely strong enough to support the weight!

I had a bunch of extra 12” MN base plates so I used them to create the platform. After it was all together and the Skydiver wheel worked as planned, the last thing I did was add the loading and unloading platforms for all the brave souls that wanted to give this ride a try. I felt it adds to the overall effect.

The Skydiver was a colorful, visually pleasing ride, so I painted the MF base plates on the sides of each car blue to give it some color. I also used the red car trucks on the loading ramps, plus the red flat car trucks on the points of the Ferris wheel to add color.

I have to say I’m happy with how the project turned out. The action of the cars — rotating on axis as they moved in a Ferris wheel-type circular movement — mimics exactly how the cars of the Skydiver moved in real life.

View a video of Jim Banks' Skydiver Ferris Wheel