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Doc's Merkur-Built Ami-Lac Ferris Wheel

Hi folks, Doc here. This time around I have another amusement park ride for you. In the past, I have built such ride models from both Classic and Renaissance period Gilbert Erector sets; you can view all of those models here in the Model Gallery. However, for this model I chose a Ferris Wheel ride from an Ami/Lac brochure. I love this particular take on the traditional "full-wheel" ride design, and since the Merkur system has many similarities to the Meccano/Marlin-like Ami/Lac system, it was a good choice to use for building the model. Why not just build it with Ami/Lac? Well, I'll do that too, and I'll show you the results here in the Model Gallery soon.

Most Ferris wheels I've seen - and ridden - over the years are the "full-wheel" type I mentioned previously, like the one shown at right. In that design, the wheel is formed from two circular rings with spokes connecting the rings to the wheel hubs; the rings form the circumference of the wheel. In the Ami/Lac design, the smaller rings function as braces between the spokes, which extend well beyond the rings. In addition, because there are no long curved girders or strips in the Ami/Lac and Merkur systems, the rings in this design are formed from straight strips, making them polygonal rather than circular. In the original Ami/Lac design, the wheel has eight spokes and octagonal rings; my Merkur-built version has six spokes and hexagonal rings, because the large gears that form the wheel hubs have only six sets of mounting holes. Otherwise, the two versions are nearly identical in every other way. My finished model stands 26"" tall on an 11" square by 2" tall base. The wheel itself is 20" in diameter. Also, I motorized my version (the original was maually operated). The final model makes a truly beautiful display piece, particularly when in motion with its moving colored lights - I'll show you some video of that here soon...