The Super Whip Fairground Ride

It is hard to believe that it’s been 13 years since 2010 when I created one of my favourites ever models in The Devil’s Whip. This was a kind of personal tribute to an ever popular and iconic fairground ride of yesteryear and one that I loved to ride in my childhood when the fair came to town.

That particular model presented a real challenge for me back then as it was not easy to have a cable going around large pulleys, pulling eight passenger cars on an oval track, and whipping them as they made a kind of radical U-turn at each end.

It took trying out several ideas, which were not easy to implement, but the breakthrough moment eventually came and of course I was delighted to achieve this personal reconnection with my boyhood memory.

I was also very lucky that the model came to be very popular, gaining positive feedback everywhere, and the combination of both things saw me proudly keeping the model intact for over three years until like all things, it made way for something new.

The crux of the ride is a belt pulling these cars on a rectangular platform in a straight line before reaching the curved end where they acquire a quick centrifugal motion rotating at a much faster speed, which causes a surge in exhilaration and excitement, or agitation and commotion to the occupants, depending on your disposition.

I had felt for a while that I had wanted to revisit this type of model especially because due to the width of the base in the original model, it did not allow me to create the full real swinging movement of the cars as they passed the acceleration process. In this case they all proceeded rather rigidly rather than being swung around as in the real-life attraction.

So, in committing to build another version, my main aim was to recreate the freer swinging movements of the cars more realistically.

Having thought it all through, I started the building process on Friday the 26th of August 2023 firstly by joining together 15 large flanged plates in red and yellow together to make a base 105cm wide by 58cm deep, then adding long angle girders to build the 75cm high frame. All were well supported and ready that same afternoon.

I was already getting excited by the thought of it all, but I was away for the weekend and so could only continue from Monday, but by the Friday 1st of September the main structure, pulleys, central console, light, roof and decoration were already made. Now all that was needed was only to add the moving belt and to construct the passenger cars, which I thought might take two to three extra days to make six cars by the time I had fine-tuned them.

This part of the process was actually much trickier than I had remembered from the first-time around. The cord acting as the main belt had to be joined together to make a loop which then needed some attachments on it to serve as passenger car connectors, which would of course drive the cars along as it rotated.

The main wheels had to be castor type so they can freely move in all directions.

Once I had joined the belt to the right dimension fitting all the attachments to hold the cars in position, I tested several options but most of them did not work very well, and the balance was wrong, so I unbolted many parts to make constant changes. I can say that it was a very painful and frustrating long afternoon before I felt like I was getting closer to a perfect fit.

With my alterations all complete, all I needed to do was to re-attach all the cars again and operate the motor and drive to the belt, and then hold my breath hoping.

The movement was almost perfect, but I needed to add a few extra weights and tweaks to the castor wheels so I could be satisfied to give the model the so-called ‘certification of safety’ to be ready for real action.

In my original version of this model I covered all the track, hiding the belt and attachments in the process to kind of keep it a secret, and many club members needing to know, asked me what was the method I had used to manage to achieve such a perfect movement, but I enjoyed keeping it shrouded in guesswork and mystery.

This second time around though I am not so covertly driven so much as I am gleefully whipped around and this time the forces in being swung around are what was originally intended.

It’s incredible how some things can transport us and bridge the gap between our childhood and our latter years like there is no distance at all.

The Super Whip — Being whipped from your adulthood back to your childhood and then whipped right back around once more!

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