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Electric Carousel

Motorising and Construction Diagram When Ravenscar Pier was at its first exhibition it soon became obvious that it lacked interest and that something extra was needed to hold the attention of visitors.

On looking round to see what could replace the cafe at the end of the pier, the choice was a carousel, but as a suitable one was not available we decided to build our own.

As with all our model tramways building the carousel was a joint effort, Gordon built and motorised it and Margaret painted the horses and applied the decoration. The diagram shows how it was built and motorised.

The 8 mm wooden pillar under the centre of the pier head was replaced by a plastic tube of the same diameter. This enabled the carousel to be driven from below the base board.




Completed  Base The carousel was built around a 4 mm shaft using four brass Meccano wheels, two as bearings and two supporting the top and bottom.

Three circles of 1 mm card were used, one each for the top and the base 5 inches in diameter, and the third 5¼ inches in diameter for the step round the base.

The base was covered with a printed circle, of photographic paper, with eight sections coloured red and yellow alternately with the edge turned over under the card and glued; the step has the same colours but was fitted to give contrasting colours on the step.

Central Support After gluing both parts together the complete base was given a coat of clear acrylic varnish to seal in the colours.

The octagonal central support for the carousel top was built from 0.6 mm card with an outer layer of photographic paper printed with the same red and yellow of the base.

This was given shape and strength by 1 mm card formers to the top and bottom, each with a hole in the centre to allow the drive shaft to pass through.

This was completed by adding press-on gold trims and spraying with acrylic varnish, again to seal in the colours.

Painted Horse The base had eight coloured sections with two horses in each section making a total of 16 needed. Three sets of 6 Modelpower HO horses were acquired which were all drilled through from top to bottom just behind the shoulder.

They were all fitted on to 1 mm brass rods, and in order to give a sense of movement four were fitted at the lowest level of their movement, eight at the middle and four at the top level. Finally they were painted cream, decorated with acrylics and varnished by Margaret.

Part Completed Carousel The top circle of the carousel was covered on its lower side by metallic gold card to remove the white colour.

16 holes were drilled through the top and base to mount the horses and a further 8 for support rods round the outside between the top and bottom of the carousel.

Both parts of the carousel were fixed by tightening the grub screws and the horses were glued in place, to look as if they were rising and falling as the carousel rotates, followed by the outer ring of support rods.

Carousel Top and Roof A band of card covered by photographic paper, coloured red, decorated with press-on gold trim and then varnished was glued on round the top disc.

Finally a conical roof was made from yellow 200 gsm card with painted alternate red segments to finish off the carousel.




Top Bearing After marking the centre of the pier head, by running a drill up inside the hollow pillar, the deck was removed and a pilot hole drilled from below. This was then enlarged to fit the bush on the Meccano wheel.

This wheel was trial fitted and the Plastikard marked, cut round and removed to allow the wheel to fit snugly on to the deck before it was glued in place.

The position of the lower bearing was set by fitting the 4 mm diameter rod and making sure that it was vertical before the lower bearing was glued in position on the underside of the baseboard.

Lower Bearing, Drive Coupling & Motor It is powered by a 5 volt DC 1:64 geared stepper motor and control board which allows adjustable running & stopped times, acceleration & deceleration, running speed & direction of rotation, This gives a realistic speed up and slow down on each running cycle.

The motor was bolted to a metal bracket, which was screwed on to a block of wood directly below the carousel drive shaft.

As the motor shaft was 5 mm the Meccano coupling used to drive the carousel was drilled out halfway through to accept the larger shaft. This drive shaft had two flats so the coupling was fitted with two securing screws.

A switched feed from the 9 volt DC supply for the Pier lights powers the motor circuit board which was fitted on a fold down panel to enable adjustments to the motor settings to be made while watching the carousel running. A PTFE disc, purchased on Ebay, was positioned between the moving and fixed wheels under the carousel to reduce the friction.



Copper rings on pier deck Lights were important and LED’s seemed to be the answer so a ring of 16, four each of amber, blue, green and red 12 volt LED’s with built in resistances.

Two self-adhesive copper rings ½ inch wide were cut and fitted round the bearing in the centre of the pier head and connected to the power sockets which previously supplied the cafe lights.

Phosphor bronze pickups Underneath the carousel were the four power pickups, these are phosphor-bronze strips, soldered on to brass plates, which were then glued on to the underside of the carousel.

The positive pickups were connected by the short red wire to a brass tube which went up through the centre of the carousel where it was connected to the outer ring of copper tape.

The negative pickups were connected to the green wire which went inside the brass tube to the top where it was connected to the inner ring of copper tape. The 16 LED’s were connected to these.




Photo of completed carousel with link to video The scene was completed by the addition of riders on most of the horses, the carousel crew and the matching ticket sellers hut complete with a gas engine and generator to power the carousel.

This exercise has produced a unique carousel which improves the Ravenscar Pier head experience for its visitors which is completed by the addition of fairground music from a CD player with speakers mounted under the baseboard.


Article Credit:  Gordon Bulmer

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