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The Building of the Maelstrom

By Santiago Plicio

The Maelstrom

Just after completing the building of my first new model of 2011, a Fairground Wheel I named The Disc-Comforter, I was instantly motivated by the idea of a new model. I decided to start constructing it despite not knowing whether I would have sufficient parts as much of my Meccano resources were still currently tied up in two of my other models, The Devil's Whip and The Disc-Comforter. In addition to this I still have a robot model and for the first time in as long as I can remember, I have not started to dismantle previous models before starting the creative process on a new idea.

Perhaps the availability of the rotating canopy from my largest ever model The Storm Rider was partly the reason for this, as I had kept it intact despite dismantling the rest of that model in January. I was always drawn to the idea of modifying it and using it again as part of a future model and I decided to use it, building the rest of the model around it. I had to change all the arms supports and fittings to produce the moving core where new carriages were to be fixed.

Having to be economical with parts resulted in the challenge to make a model that was strong and sturdy but equally lightweight and I believe it helped produce a more refined, sleeker design.

A long tubular arm in a tilting angle was built and fixed to the light supporting structure. At the top end a heavy-duty axle was well supported to hold the much heavier rotating unit with eight arms supporting the eight passenger carriages. A large toothed gear engaged by a small pinion was finally employed to drive the model, but not before several other inadequate systems were tried and discarded after failing to produce the smooth, steady and fast movement to the speed of rotation to the ride.

Due to the ride height of the carriages and where they come to rest at their lowest point, I had to construct the front of this fairground ride to an exact height with the only access by some steps at the immediate front.

A curved decking at both ends of the front added to the model's sleek and modern design resulting with a pleasing aesthetic quality I had not initially expected to achieve. Decorative finishing touches were added including lights and a ticket kiosk.

The lightweight model can be easily transported by removing the rotating unit and cars from its main body.

Some of the detail on the model

Some of the detail on the model

Some of the detail on the model

The speeds that this model can reach are extremely fast and consequently it subjects the ride's passengers to the effects of a thrilling G-force experience. Thrill seekers are thrown into a dry experience of perhaps what it might feel like to be caught in a huge whirlpool in a body of water, and from this idea the name was born.

The Maelstrom: Simple, slight, but a devastating force of nature nevertheless.

» This article appeared in the June 2011 issue of SELMEC News.

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