Archive for the ‘Amusement Park Rides’ 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
April 13, 2014 · by David Gilbert · Amusement Park Rides, Erector Sets, Models, Willard, Craig

Craig Willard writes: “This model was adapted from an original design of Bill Bean and Larry Worley. As we are all from the ACGHS I feel I had to try to copy and modify slightly what these gentlemen had done. The spectacular dimensions are listed at over 3 feet in diameter and 10 inches wide.  It took me just about 3 years to acquire, strip prime and paint (3 to 5 coats) all the parts for this piece. It is quite large and it runs very smoothly thanks to two A-49 Erector motors linked to each side of the Ferris Wheel and driven directly. The joy was building it but watching it is just as satisfying. I’ve installed 8 gondolas and additional EX and EY girders as well as a digitized sound unit of the amusement park sounds which really complete the effect.”

Craig Willard's Ferris Wheel
March 18, 2014 · by David Gilbert · Amusement Park Rides

Dave Frieder, a professional photographer, was kind enough to send us pictures of the real parachute jump. Dave specializes in photographing New York City bridges. For more of his pictures go to Dave Frieder’s Web site.

Dave writes: Did you know when the Jump was FIRST installed at the World’s Fair it had only 4 guy wires for each Parachute? The Arms of the Jump at the end came to a triangle. Then when it was moved to a different area of the fairgrounds in 1940, additional steelwork was added to the Arms and the ends were given a “Round” configuration. Eight guy wires were then used per parachute to prevent them from swaying into each other on windy days. That configuration was kept when it was moved to Coney Island.

March 14, 2014 · by David Gilbert · Amusement Park Rides, Erector Sets, Worley, Larry

Larry writes: Over the Christmas holidays we had some house guests who wanted to see the Ferris wheel work. It was broken at the time and that was a little embarrassing. Well, I set out to fix it. While I was at that, I decided to keep the two motors, but add another drive axle. That makes the whole thing turn better now.

Then I decided to add some lights. After a little experimentation, I figured out a way to do it. I used a plastic blank from inside my blank CDs and attached a metal ring. It installed easily and wasn’t hard to adjust. I made the contact arm from Fiber Strips attached to a piece of spring steel.

It burns all the bulbs via a 6 volt battery hidden under the control house. I simply move the contact arm off the metal wheel and it can sit until the next time I want to run the lights.

This isn’t much, I know, but I am proud of it. Mostly proud that it is finally fixed.

  • Video of the Ferris wheel lights in action

Larry writes: I finally finished my B Model Ferris Wheel. It ran a bit jerky at first, but after a few adjustments and a good oiling it now runs smooth. I designed my version after the beautiful example that Bill Bean had created. I saw it when we visited his collection during the Dayton convention last year. I just couldn’t get that thing out of my head, so I built mine along the design of his. I had the usual problem getting the outer EZ’s to form a true circle at first. Then I remembered Doc’s tip on this problem and that really helped. The wheel with the eight gondolas is massive and a little heavy. I had to use two A49s to drive it. Of course, no model is really complete until the MX House is added.

Just to make it interesting to the viewer I experimented with various gearing and transmissions until I settled on these.

  • Video of Larry Worley's Ferris wheel in action
· by David Gilbert · Amusement Park Rides, Erector Sets, Ware, Dave

Dave Ware’s Carousel

Dave Ware writes: The horses for the carousel were made from a photograph of a real carousel horse. My wife traced them and colored them for me. Flashing lights were added to the base.

  • Watch a video of Dave Ware’s Carousel

Dave Ware’s Hand Operated Airplane Ride

Turn the crank and duck!

  • Watch a video of the Hand Operated Airplane Ride

Dave Ware’s Parachute Jump

Dave Ware writes: This is the model as revised by Gilbert in 1949. Use of the OI segment of 72 tooth gear allowed for a simpler mechanism. This innovation and the increase of the height to almost 6 feet made for a much improved model. The action was now completely automatic. Parachutes were homemade using silk cloth and swizzle sticks.

· by David Gilbert · Amusement Park Rides, Ware, Dave

Dave Ware writes: This model was copied from a popular amusement park ride called The Scrambler.

The motor is mounted sideways under the base and is direct drive. Each arm is rubber band driven from a fixed pulley. Its rotation is the result of the rotation of the whole assembly. The assembly rides on top of the fixed pulleys on a TB/TC ball bearing system.

  • Watch a video of Dave Ware’s Scrambler Ride
· by David Gilbert · Amusement Park Rides, Erector Sets, Ware, Dave

There is an inner track on this Ferris wheel which has a small car on it. As the wheel turns the car rolls backward because gravity keeps it on the bottom of the track.

The baskets are mounted on the outside of the wheel to clear the inner track. The wheel is raised to allow for this.

The car has a gear on the axle which spins 2 weights on the end of short strings. They strike wheels mounted on the wheels to make the musical sounds. Prewar wheels make the best sound.

  • Watch a video of Dave Ware’s Musical Ferris Wheel
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