The manufacturing processes for Ferris wheels vary depending on the design and manufacturer. Typically, components are constructed in different areas of the shop before being brought to the main construction area for final assembly. For a transportable Ferris wheel used at carnivals and county fairs, a typical sequence of operations is followed. This particular wheel has a diameter of approximately 60 ft (18.3 m) and can accommodate up to 48 riders across its 16 seats when in operation.
Building the chassis
1. The Ferris wheel’s trailer chassis serves as its foundation during transportation and operation. To construct the chassis, component parts are cut to length using a metal-cutting saw or torch and then welded together. Two vertical support posts are attached to the front of the chassis, which secure the upper end of two-wheel support towers when they’re lowered for travel.
2. Once assembled, the chassis undergoes sandblasting to eliminate any scale or spatter that may have formed during welding. This process ensures a smooth surface appearance and prevents chipping later on.
3. After sandblasting, a rust-inhibiting primer is applied to the chassis before one or more coats of finish paint in the desired color are added once it has dried.
Installing the towers
4. The two-wheel support towers are manufactured and painted off-site, then lifted into position on the chassis. They are attached to hinges at the lower ends of each side of the chassis, while their upper ends rest on two support posts. These towers have ladders welded along one edge for easy access to electrical rings and brushes located at wheel hubs, as well as electrical drive motors and wheels that turn the drive rim on either side. Once in place, a center axle is installed between the wheel hubs atop both towers.
5. A long hydraulic cylinder is affixed halfway up each tower’s length between it and the chassis; these cylinders raise the towers upright when setting up for operation. Each cylinder is secured with a pivot pin at both ends.
6. Lateral support arms are separately attached near each tower’s top; they consist of two pieces of square tubing where one piece slides inside another slightly smaller section. When raising wheel support towers for operation, lateral supports extend outwards by pulling them aside while extending inner sections locked in place with pins. Two other hinged square tubing pieces attach to lateral supports’ bases after swinging out from either side of chassis frame providing Ferris Wheel necessary stability from side-to-side movement during use.
7.The hydraulic and electrical lines are routed inside the chassis frame pieces for protection. The operator’s control station is installed and connected, while the installation of chassis axles, brakes, tires, wheels, and stabilizer jacks may occur at this stage or after all other work is complete.
8.Sixteen pairs of spokes run from the center hubs at the tops of the towers out to the seats. To install them in the factory, a pair of spokes is laid flat on the floor with two crossmembers installed between them. One crossmember is placed where drive rims will attach about 5 ft (1.5 m) inward from outer ends of spokes; curved sections of drive rims are bolted on each side at that point leaving one end free.
9.This process repeats until all spokes form a stack pinned together by inner ends with V-shaped lighting booms installed between every other outer crossmember creating a double-star effect.
The stack is lifted onto a trailer using an overhead crane then pinned to hubs starting from topmost pair down to ground level before being pulled into vertical position when towers are raised. Drive rim sections’ free ends swing down and bolted to adjacent spokes forming wheel-like paper fan unfolding.
10.Electrical cables connect electrical rings at wheel hubs to each lighting boom while mechanical support cables surround outer circumference around spoke ends for additional stability along with x-pattern mechanical cables between each pair of spoke also providing extra support.
Finishing the wheel
11.The entrance and exit stairs, walkways, safety fences, and trim pieces have been fabricated, painted, and installed. The seats have also been fabricated and painted. During operation, four of the seats are attached to the wheel while the remaining seats are carried separately on a trailer. These seats are manually lifted and pinned into place after the wheel is erected.
With these final steps completed, the Ferris wheel is now fully assembled.