The Circumnavigator Fairground Ride

For my third new model of 2018 I found myself once again on familiar ground, recycling designs to come up with another rotating fairground model in the relentless drive to be able to exhibit something new on the Meccano circuit.

It’s a never ending merry-go-round constructing and deconstructing, mounting and dismantling, and always hoping to come up with something new, but it’s a cycle I don’t seem to get fed up with. There is always a sense of having created something new and the view from most fairground rides are all the same, yet we never get tired of trying each one of them.

As usual I always hope each one of my models takes on its own unique identity and so giving it a theme is almost as important as each nut and bolt that it takes to finally put it together. But having already started the year with two very distinct models differing from my many others, I allowed myself to dwell once again in slightly more familiar territory, though I still wanted the new model to not feel inferior to either of my previous two designs. Those included my 'Ferocity' model which aesthetically I really feel is one of my best designs ever and which I displayed at the South East London Meccano Club and Runnymede Meccano Guild meetings, and the Sea Tractor model I made for the Midhurst Modellers’ Exhibition based on reproducing an incredible vehicle I saw in Devon while on holiday to take passengers to Burgh Island at high tide in Bigbury on Sea.

The circuit next saw us at the West London Meccano Society meeting in Greenford on the 10th of March where I could have displayed my ‘Ferocity’ model, but knowing that some members had seen it at previous meetings I decided on something new and that is where ‘The Circumnavigator’ come from.

I built eight long arms and attached them to a flanged ring, then I built another similar one for another ring and joined them together to form a 16-arm rotating structure. Once I had sufficiently reinforced the arms according to their desired size, I started with the base and tower which needed to be very strongly secured to be able to cope with what ended up as a very heavy new unit.

I fixed a heavy-duty axle at the right height but in a slightly tilted position to compensate for the weight of the rotating structure, and when I fixed it to the axle and tested it worked great. The next immediate task was the building of the eight cars, eight hub discs and eight circular girders with seats and safety harnesses.

Restricted by limited parts, I could only manage enough resources to complete only eight, so the other remaining eight arms do not sport any passenger cars. I did consider the idea of building a secondary set of eight other cars of different design, but decided instead to stick with uniformity.

To drive the unit I used a long cord in one continuous piece without knots to engage a motor with a number of gears going round a circular plate with double brackets. However, due to the designed tilt the cord kept popping out. I tried again using a bigger bracket but with the same unsuccessful result until I finally came with the idea of fixing two very large circular toothed plates with a separation of about half inch in between them, connected with long bolts and brassy short coupling, so the cord will stay in position without disengaging. This worked perfectly once I fixed the motor and a spring with a pulley to maintain the cord taught enough for a smooth operation.

Finally I got to the stage of adding the many usual embellishments that make each model feel like they are based on something real, with the ticket kiosk and barriers being such examples.

I also needed to build a bridge or arch to the front of the ride, but it was going to create the problem of removing the wheel out for transportation, so I came up with the idea of building a bridge and combined arch that was totally detachable to facilitate this operation.

The end result is a very well balanced and interesting looking model that works superbly as a alternative to the classic Ferris Wheel. Here however, the speed is incredibly fast resulting in the rotating swinging cars producing a thrilling sensation for its a riders, and as the cars are so lightly balanced they can possibly rotate to a full 360 degree spin making the ride a very exciting and sensational experience for the thrill-seeking riders.

The Circumnavigator — Terror comes once again to the fairground, but you’ve never seen it this way round!

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