The Plate Spinner Fairground Ride

Ever get the feeling that you are always rushing around trying to keep too many things going and you have to juggle your time between all the things you just have to do and all the things that are not so pressing, but are the things that make you happy?

Spinning plates is something we all have to do, and somehow we have to find the right balance in trying to keep all of our plates spinning, or to eventually give up on one or two.

My Meccano hobby is something like that, and being one of the things that gives me so much endless pleasure, I am driven to afford it as much time as I can while simultaneously keeping every other plate spinning.

Sometimes, to add to the load, my attention is split between more than two or three models, or even between conflicting and competing ideas that all rush to want me to introduce them into each model, and I find myself battling different ideas and choosing which ones to incorporate now and which ones to save for the next model. Somewhere in all of that I am still caught up in the continued evolution of each of my existing models.

My day-to-day life commitments can all be things fighting to get my attention, while I am running furiously from one to the other, keeping each plate spinning long enough for me to get back to what I love doing!

Luckily, I guess, the lockdown status that many of us have had to enjoy in 2020 has meant that perhaps it has been easier of late to keep each individual plate spinning, each new demand a feeling that’s winning, each new idea something I have time to consider the merits of or if it’s something that just needs binning!

Meccano modelling and fairground rides have always set my mind and my heart spinning, and after years of constantly creating endless new fairground models you might think I would have tired of keeping those types of plates spinning, but they still give me the same pleasure I’ve always felt in creating another new incarnation, and so I still make as much time for indulging that passion no matter how many other things are calling or pressing.

Of course, after so many previous such models it’s no longer as easy to come up with something that is really completely new; after all there are only so many motions to base a model on. So while the original mechanics of my models stay largely similar, I have found additional pleasure in giving each model a theme, and the naming of each new model is almost as challenging as its making. How many times can we do the same things and find ways to still enjoy the same buzz as we did at the beginning? How many things do we really keep up among all the plates we continually keep spinning?

Among the endless quest of keeping every one of life’s daily routines and their endless demanding plates continuously spinning, instead of fighting a losing battle, Meccano gives me that feeling of winning!

This model may look like another eight-armed ride with another eight rotating carriages but that’s not all here that I’m spinning.

I knew that to build that I needed to build two sets of four arms each accommodating a contrate gear with four pinions and axles, one of top of the other. I started with the base; a long one with space for the large rotating unit leaving space for the entrance, arch and canopy. The moving hub followed, with the first four arms, supports, fittings and the contrate gear and pinions with long axles to the end of each arm. Then the next four, fixing it right on top, joining together to the large flanged ring which was attached to a heavy-duty long axle which in turn was connected to a large ball thrust bearing. Once in position I test rotated and found it worked well.

I then added four axles, pinions and a small contrate to the four plates to make them rotate. This worked well and the same mechanism was needed for the other four arms. At this point I decided to change this second unit away from it, also rotating, and I added four carriages instead. It immediately proved easier and reduced the load so that the power unit could cope more effectively.

The main entrance, canopy, steps, kiosk, hand railings and supports followed. I fixed a motor and connected to the two circular girders bolted together with bolts and spacers fitted to the heavy-duty axle fixed to the base.

I started this model on Wednesday the 16th September 2020, and thought I had it finished by Friday the 25th. When I tested the motor it initially started rotating the large canopy well. However, when I bolted the axle in its base for the pinions to rotate in the contrate gear, the motor was found not to be powerful enough to keep it turning any more. Some plates take more to keeping them spinning!

I picked a more powerful motor and added a system of gears and pinions to reduce the overall speed needed and also the required power to move the heavy structure.

The size of this motorised unit was bigger than the replaced one and so to accommodate it in position I needed to increase the height of the whole base which needed a whole load of new modifications resulting in an increased height. This led me to having to redesign the whole front, arches and canopy which I thought was already long ago finished, but the new result elevated the aesthetics of the model and made enough space for me to add a light unit too.

This extra work meant it took me a few extra days before I could test the new power unit, which worked well but was rather fast, so an extra pinion and gear was added to the unit for a further reduction in the speed.

After telling my son about all of the different challenges and alterations I had done, he commented that I kept too many other plates spinning and that it would make a good name for this model too and so the Plate Spinner was born.

Of course, I did not stop there and I decided to change the top of the rotating canopy with a sort of a dome with eight formed slotted strips, adding a circular strip and eight 12½” perforated strips to support the eight arms, then added a few embellishments, plus a warning sign to the riders.

The Plate Spinner — Get ready to have your heart and mind set in a continuous spin.

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