Jason's Ferris Wheel

A TICKET TO RIDE
This project challenged my shop's vertical space.

SHOP OWNER: Jason Young
LOCATION: Austin, TX

    Recently, I spent about 30 hours building this rather large Ferris wheel for the show that I arrange and had a total blast. It ended up as an 8' diameter wheel on a large base. The overall height was just shy of nine feet. I know because there was less than " of clearance under my 9' garage ceiling. Good thing the client brought the big U-Haul!
Jason's Ferris Wheel

    Using a custom-made trammel with holes for a pencil, I marked the outline for the arc.
Jason's Ferris Wheel

    Utilizing my new jigsaw, an awesome tool, I cut the arcs.

 

Jason's Ferris Wheel

    The sides fastened together with the first set of " dowels. Although it was floppy at this point, adding some " dowels spaced in the gaps firmed things up quite a bit.

 

Jason's Ferris Wheel

    Here I am installing the spokes. I had to fabricate square plywood pockets to house each of the bigger dowels.
Jason's Ferris Wheel

 

    Here I am finishing up the spokes of the wheel. You can see the middle hub. It's glued and screwed together. The main axel is a " x 24" piece of iron pipe. The pipe goes through a piece of PVC that I epoxied into the center hub.
Jason's Ferris Wheel

    This is the finished Ferris wheel with center ribs, 16 cars, and base assembly. The base is " ply on top of " ply. I bolted and glued the side bracing struts and main axle pivot together, which made it solid as a rock. Almost perfectly balanced, the wheel turns incredibly smooth by hand. Almost 200 individual hand-tied knots hold the sixteen cars. The client painted it bright red and will install battery powered lights around the rim. The entire prop weighs in at 100+ lbs. For ease in moving, I built D handles into the base. Just remove the wheel, carry it by the axle, and move the base separately.

. . . Jason Young


 
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