The Rock ‘n’ Rolla Fairground Ride

In reflecting on my commitments in 2013 I realise that in Meccano, it was one of my busiest years ever. I had constructed quite a few new models, attended all the usual meetings and exhibitions and finally ended the year with having my latest completed model ‘Megatron’ displayed as the main attraction in the shop window of The Corner Gallery in Carshalton during December and the Christmas period.

If this wasn’t enough, at the end of November I had also started building a new model that I was eager to give more attention too than I was really able to find time for in my already over stretched daily schedule. But shoving all those other things to one side as much as I could, I was determined to develop this new idea I had for a model.

I wanted a fairground ride that had two separate motions happening at the same time and it was playing in my mind the ways that I might achieve this and once I get these ideas in my head, the best way forward for me is to just get on with it and try it.

At first I built a circular tower mainly in red and yellow parts. Like most of my other models this was to be another new idea for a fairground ride. This one would sport a rotating structure on top of it from which passenger carriages would be suspended but the plan was to have a secondary motion that would rock the ride forwards and back while simultaneously in rotation.

Needless to say that many ideas were trialled and errored before the satisfactory design came to end in its completed incarnation. One of these days I am going to count how many nuts and bolts I end up undoing before I am happy with the ones that end up holding a new model together!

At first I started building a Ferris Wheel for one side of the model and a swinging vessel for the other side but soon I became disenchanted with the idea as I had already explored a dual function attraction in my previous model ‘Megatron’. Before very long however I came up with this new theme and design. I constructed the supporting legs for it then started the painful task of undoing all my needless work on the already constructed wheel to pursue this new direction. The tower was also modified, reduced in size and eventually positioned on top of the two supporting legs which I had to strongly fit and secure to its square base using lots of red braced girders giving it an aesthetic quality I was particularly proud of.

Lots more changes and refinements then followed including new fittings and additions to complete the base and its towers.

A motor and gearing system was built to power the model and fitted to the moving tilting structure with a sprocket chain at the very top connecting to a Ball Thrust Bearing. Then the large rotating canopy supporting eight passenger cars was built and freely positioned on top of the rotating unit, engaging four pins fitted to the thrust ball bearing which ensure it was easy to disengage or engage it in place, mainly for transportation.

In testing the model worked very well, however after I had reinforced the supporting arms and passenger carriages for extra rigidity this had a negative impact on the operation of the ride. In particular, as the model rotated, once the secondary rocking movement was introduced the angle of the tilting position of the hub as it lent to its most forward position meant that it lost traction as the weight took it off its bearing, a result I was obviously not happy with. I was forced to either undo the reinforcements to the passenger cars or to modify the canopy on the top of the tilting tower. I used a power unit and sprocket system, and a chain was placed inside the tilting tower. This was really a much more complicated system than I would have liked to employ but I was resigned to having to do it this way as I had very little time left to get the model show worthy for the first meeting in January 2014. I reluctantly decided to leave the new redesigned system as it was for the time being since it works well enough — but in truth I am not sure for how long!

The thrill of this ride is in the position of the carriages. As they speedily rotate the riders round and round they will experience almost falling out of their seats as the whole ride lurches forward and back again almost unhinged.

To tilt the tower and rotating canopy to the horizontal position a second motor and gearing system was fitted at the back. I planned this to have a mechanical device as previously employed in my other models, but again due to finding myself short of time, I was not able to design it in time. So until I am able to address this I have opted to use a very basic and simple method of just using string instead.

2014 was not supposed to start with such a rush. But now I am excited by the ‘rush’ to the thrill seekers my new model might offer.

At last a fun fair ride with all the new moves. Care to take a spin?

The Rock ‘n’ Rolla — it’s the new ride in town!

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