Originally Posted by Matthew Jones
Mentioning the ride you were speaking about. You basically were pumping it like a swing except the seating position was sideways so you threw yourself side to side based on the position of the swing. Am I right?
How did you pump the machine while it was in rotation? Or was the pumping action channeled through some sort of gearing or something to accelerate at the center shaft?
There was no seat. This was all done while standing. On a swing you are basically extending your legs out in front of you, or behind you, to shift weight. In the cage, you can move your entire body from one side to the other to shift weight. At first, you are swinging the cage in a pendulous motion, and going for height with each arc. When you get almost to the very top, and the cage is pretty much at a standstill, you throw all your weight at the side of the cage that will become the downhill outside after going over the top. After a little practice, you develop a feel for how to move your body, and precisely when to move for the best gains. Besides moving from side to side to shift weight, it also works to advantage to adjust your height by bending your knees. While the bars that you hold onto are not connected to any mechanism that would "pump" the device for gain, you work with the bars in a way that feels like you are pulling the cage downward, and then lifting it upward as you rotate. This ride was known as the Swinging Gym
, and it was eventually outlawed in most places because of serious injuries resulting from people not maintaining a firm handhold, losing their balance, and getting buffeted around inside the cage. The earlier one I went on was in an amusement park in New Jersey, and was larger in scale than the later one which I found at a carnival here in Maine. Here's a video showing one of the smaller ones in action, and you can see how the cage is supported and counterweighted. The counterweights weigh less than the cage and its occupants, but help to make going over the top possible. Most people who try this never make it over the top because, like the people in this video, they fail to understand how and when to shift their weight for best advantage. When you finally get it right, you understand the principles that will make a gravity wheel rotate, but mimicking the successful human movements for rotation using mechanical devices is tricky. Not impossible - just difficult. So far I haven't found a good video showing continuous rotation of the Swinging Gym, but I'll keep looking. Close scrutiny of a successful run would reveal the necessary method, timing, and forces involved in a way that is quite difficult to put into words that one can correctly visualize.
YouTube - Dennis Barber Swinging Gyms Hanbury Steam Rally Stoke Prior Fair 19th September 2009