Carousel Construction - How Does a Carousel Work?

Carousels, one of the oldest amusement rides, are mainly made of wood and metal. Main part of the carousel - center pole, is made of steel. Other metal parts are electric/hydraulic motor, gears, bearings, and crankshafts as well as horse hangers and platform suspension rods which are made with brass sleeves. Wooden parts are horses (if they are made like on classical carousels), platform on which passengers stand, sweeps, rounding boards, panels, and mirror frames.

Picture Of Double Decker Carousel

Before any manufacturing takes place, carousel is designed according to the wishes of the costumer, cost, maintenance considerations and will the carousel be traveling or fixed. (If it will be a traveling carousel, central pole will be made so it can be folded in half. The rest will be the same).

he next part is acquiring of a band organ for the carousel from a specialty manufacturer because carousel can't rotate in silence. Band organs play music when bellows push air through wooden pipes, stops, and valves.

Some carousels use disk players because maintenance of band organs is costly but that is not real carousel music. According to the theme for the carousel or on the customer's favorite historic model, horses are made of wood or of fiberglass or aluminum but modeled after the classic wooden ones. Outer side of the horses (one facing outwards) is more ornate and before making, precise drawings are made which show how the horse will look. These drawings are transferred to a pieces of basswood to help the carver cut the parts of a horse. After cutting and gluing, horse is carved with the consideration of the design but also of the wood grain. Carved block is sanded and other small details like tail and mane are glued on. To finish one carousel horse up to the point when it is prepared for painting, carver needs around 35 hours of work. Horse is then is stained, primed, painted, and varnished according to the original design. They are usually painted in bright colors, and the paints chosen for them are chose to last long and look pretty. Outer side of a horse (so called “romance side”) can be also decorated with rhinestones and other jewels. Other parts of the carousel are made so they can be easily assembled and disassembled which helps with maintenance and moving of the carousel.

Carousels rotate on a stationary center pole and are powered by an electric motors. Electric motor spins a small pulley which drives a drive belt and a larger pulley. Rotation transfers from pulley to a horizontal shaft that is connected to a pinion gear that turns a platform gear and with it the whole carousel. This gear supports a vertical shaft which is connected to another pinion gear and drive gear which drives so called sweeps which are horizontal and are coming out the center towrd the outer edge like rays. They have cranks which are connected to horse hangers and which move horses up and down as the carousel rotates.