Monday, June 8, 2009

Rickety Ferris Wheel

The Ananda Festival market has all the trappings of a carnival with beer halls and side shows and cotton candy and towering above it all, a Ferris wheel. It didn't look like much during the day, but it gave me ample opportunity to see how it was put together. I'm glad it's not bigger than it is; I noticed a crucial piece of equipment was missing.

Arriving after sunset, I was pleased to see the whole thing lit up. It made for some interesting shots like this one (made with multiple images stacked one upon the other).

They really get the thing going fast, but this time exposure makes it look like it's about to take off.

I estimate that the wheel is a good ten meters high at the top. Not bad for something they haul around in the back of a truck. I could find no marking to indicate the age of the device, but it was certainly bordering on antique status.

What really piqued my interest was the lack of a drive mechanism; it had no motor. I couldn't figure out what they did to get it turning. When I saw the wheel in action that evening, the solution was obvious. Half a dozen young men climbed up into the framework and crawled out to one edge of the wheel to counterbalance the people getting on. That would get it started. They'd jump off and join their friends on the ground pushing the wheel as it went by.

Stopping the wheel was simply a matter of letting it slow down. If they didn't have customers right away, it was easy enough to get the first few people off, but then the wheel wanted to swing around. This required the boys to hang on until the next few people got off. They certainly had their work cut out for them!

No, was not the least bit tempted to go for a ride.

See larger images here.

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