Stratosphere Fairground Ride

During the past few years, I think it would be fair to say that I have built more than a few different Ferris Wheels culminating with The Revolution which I described as my final tribute model to the Ferris Wheel and though I went on to modify it further with the MK II version, I was certain that as Ferris Wheels went, that was to be my last effort. I exhibited that model at the Runnymede Meccano Club and was delighted to win the Bert Albert Memorial trophy which I thought was a nice complete ending to that long standing passion, and at the end of the exhibition I drove back home feeling more than satisfied.

Over the years I had explored just about every possible design twist on such models that I could do within the realms of realistic transportation from home to exhibit within the capacity of the family car, and as I thought about that, I wondered if perhaps that had restricted me from pushing the design as far as I might have and if perhaps my endeavours had been hindered from maximum possibilities. I wondered all of a sudden if it would be possible to design something double the size and still overcome the restricting limitations of how to transport it.

Well, like a bull to a red flag, I suddenly overturned my decision to retire my Ferris Wheel-making ambitions and set about on one more final challenge. The next day I set about implementing the necessary modifications.

I set on the idea of building the new super wheel in two half sections that would be able to fit in my car and that later at any Meccano meeting I would be able to connect the two separate halves together to complete the much larger diameter. With this notion in mind I started increasing the present size by adding 12½” angle girders to the already existing 32 arms of the Revolution.

A determined effort saw me take just four days to overhaul and break free from the wheel’s smaller structure and many extra supports and reinforcements were added until the new bigger wheel was finished.

At first the 32 angle girders overlapped the original ones but to reduce weight and remove unnecessary parts, I started dismantling them all one by one and replacing the arms with much longer girders. Although I was excited by the new dimensions that I was starting to achieve I can honestly say it was painful process having to do these new alterations so many times, but eventually the wheel became all that I had hoped it would be.

The next stage of the metamorphosis was to increase in height the structure of both of the supporting towers, repeatedly taking careful measurements along the way until the design complimented exactly the shape and size of the new wheel, and then all I had to do was to mount it.

After getting this far I set my mind back to the original idea of how was I now going to divide the wheel into the two separate semi-circle halves that I had planned for ease of transportation but after much studying of my new structure I came to the realisation that splitting the wheel was just going to be too complicated due to its many strips, axles and supporting pieces and in reality such an endeavour would prove a very tedious and time wasting experience when after transit I would be faced with having to join the two separate halves back. In short, I decided not to even attempt the division and instead I set about planning how I would overcome the issue of being able to transport such an oversized model.

While I pondered that in the back of my mind, I turned my attention to the modifying of all the passenger carriages and seats of the rotating wheel and reinforcing the supporting towers so it would not swing due to the forces exerted by the larger sizes.

Eventually I decided that I would have to leave things a little to fate and hope to avoid rain. The roof rack was going to be the only realistic option for transportation.

I finally believe that I have now definitely fulfilled all my previously unmet Ferris Wheel ambitions but having been in this position before and made similar declarations with my ‘Revolution’ tribute model, I think perhaps that I had better not say it for sure!

I hadn’t really planned a model in size that might eclipse my Titan model which had been my largest model to date, but perhaps inadvertently that is what I ended up with and having done so, a name fitting of its stature was similarly needed next.

This modern incarnation of the Ferris Wheel is an experience in extreme elevation, highs and lows, a machine capable of more thrilling speeds in comparison to familiar Ferris wheels, but more in keeping with today’s adrenalin-hungry and thrill-seeking punters, challenging the faint-hearted to get their feeble heads out of the clouds and into the ‘Stratosphere’!

‘Stratosphere’ — Fun at the Amusement Park just got serious!

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