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The Basics of Carousel Operation

The carousel merry go round revolves around a stationary center pole made of metal or wood. An electric motor drives a small pulley that is controlled by a clutch for smooth starts. This pulley turns a drive belt and a larger pulley that turns a small-diameter, horizontal shaft. The end of the shaft is a pinion gear that turns a platform gear. The platform gear supports a vertical shaft that turns another pinion gear and final drive gear attached to the support beams of the carousel, called sweeps, which extend outward from the center pole like the ribs of an umbrella and support the platform, horses, and riders. The sweeps hold cranking rods that are turned by small gears at the inner ends that are driven by a stationary gear on the center pole. Horse hangers are suspended from the cranks, and as they turn, the horses move up and down about 30 times per minute. A typical carousel platform with horses and riders may weigh 10 tons and be driven by a 10-horsepower electric motor. After the motor’s revolutions are reduced by the series of gears, the riders on the outer row of mounts will gallop along at about 5-11 miles per hour.

Carousels, with colorful figures attached to a revolving horizontal mechanism, have amused the masses since the end of the 1700s. By 1800, carousels were advertised as attractions or amusements as well as an activity that got the blood circulating. After the Civil War, a number of merry-go-round manufacturers started up businesses and popularized the carousel.

The griffin depicted here is the product of Hershell-Spillman Co. of North Tonawanda, NY, a well-known carousel manufacturer nearly a century ago. It is part of a 191 3 merry-go-round now operating six months of the year in Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. With its one-man band mechanism playing charming turn-of-the-century tunes, this carousel remains a great favorite. It was a “park-style model,” manufactured for permanent placement in a park. (Some, like one still operating in Story City, Iowa, was designed to travel and were not for permanent installation.) Children can ride horses, lions, tigers, zebras, and even leaping frogs—all exquisitely carved and painted. Today, carousel figures are treasured for their colorful beauty, and carousel figure collectors pay thousands of dollars for a single animal. Beston manufactures many different types of carousel rides. Click this link to get detailed information and price list:

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