The Paradox Fairground Ride

After the so many years of making Meccano models you’d think that the creative thinking process might be straightforward enough by now, but instead the opposite is true!

In fact, the conflict is magnified even more by my passion in basing many of my models on ideas for fairground rides and that means in some ways my options are fairly limited.

The process always seems to involve two distinctive main things; the base unit itself which makes up the chassis or main framework of the model that is anchored and helps house any motor and moving parts, and then the moving motorised attachment that will eventually dress and showcase the purpose of the model.

Over the years I have tried hard to come up with different ideas for how to combine what are basically just two different component parts and each time the conflict that gives me in trying to do something new pulls me in different directions.

In February 2022 that kind of turmoil is where the creative process once again found me. How could I create another fairground attraction-based model and still feel like I had achieved something new?

The idea that eventually came to me was to come up with something less rigid than the upright towers and frameworks that combining Meccano pieces normally promotes, and I concentrated on thinking up a totally new shape that I hadn’t explored before.

A rectangular 1m wide base is what I started with, and I planned to erect an approximately 1m high tower, but one that instead of upright and proud, would stand no taller than about 60cm and be kind of hunched, or bent over completely with the burdened weight of time sat heavily on its shoulders, but from which it was still gallantly carrying the rotating unit that would come later.

It took me two or three days to create the desired shape and in the end it reminded me of my own mother in her later years — a little stooped over — and of her at her Singer sewing machine, and I was delighted to connect with the feeling the new shape was giving me.

Up until to this point I still did not have an idea about what exactly I would make to fix to this warped base unit and initially went a little off course in constructing a rotating Ferris-type wheel with the usual symmetrical passenger cars all going around in a circle. I wasted a huge amount of time before I took stock and realised I had strayed from what I had hoped to be doing.

Luckily a quick rummage through all my remaining available parts confirmed that I didn’t have enough resources available to make a second matching wheel type unit which was another part of my idea that I wanted to implement, and that helped convince me that it was worth undoing it all and going back to what I had first set out to do.

Believe me, it is not always easy sticking to your ideal aims, and painstakingly disassembling parts you had wasted hours putting together for no gain. But I just had to work my way through that frustration to get to the part where I could give an alternative idea my full focus.

After shaking off my sense of disappointment I started with two long rotating arms from where two sets of passenger boats would be fitted instead, an idea that I have kind of explored before, but this time I wanted to look at it differently.

Once mounted the idea proved to sit fine with me and I cut myself enough slack to continue. Now the aim was to achieve both arms moving in opposite directions to each other!

For that I fitted two separate motors, each one powering one of the arms in counter rotation, and after the first test I found the rotational movement perfectly rewarding.

The main arm was supported with narrow angle girders and struts to ensure it was free from any side movement.

The rest of the process involved the usual adding of finishing touches such as side balustrades acting as safely barriers fitted to the base, some access steps, the ticket kiosk, and the lights to bring the model to life.

As a transportation aid I have ensured the two mains arm and passenger boats can be fairly easily detached to reduce the combined weight.

The creating process can cause conflicting ideas to clash and compete and simultaneously pull me in so many different directions. However, at the end of it all I can say that I am delighted with the end product and the paradox of it all is that in my quest to come up with something completely modern and new, the result has in a way had me connecting instead with fond personal memories and that is the best thing about being constantly pulled opposite directions.

The Paradox — Take a short journey being spun in a different direction!

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