Amusement Park Rides

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WorkSafe

Senior Member
Location
Moore, OK
I recently attended the state fair and while waiting in line, saw a carnival ride employee sticking his hands inside what looked to be a local fabbed electrical panel, no PPE, nothing, and the ride was not shut off.

This electrical panel was slung over the Tilt-A-Whirls railing which contained the circuit breakers for the ride. Directely next to and below the circuit breakers are what looked to be the feeder cables for the ride. There was nothing isolating the breaker handles from the exposed wiring and lugs.

I mentioned to him that he probably should not be doing that, but I got the typical Carnie response of "who gives a F".


My question is:

1. Do amusement park rides, including the electrical equipment, have to meet a certain standard? I figure it's not a NEC thing...but some other requiment?

2. What type of voltages and amperages do these rides typically run off of?
 

iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
I have some background with amusement parks* and some of our rides were of the portable type.

Yes there are standards guarding of live parts etc.

As far as power most portable rides will be 208Y/120, larger stationary rides will often be 480 volt delta with their own transformers to make 120 as needed.

We had a 1970s style Tilt-A-Whirl and yes the factory panel was designed to hang on the railing of the ride near the operator.

It did however have a dead front, obviously someone decided that the dead front was a problem and got rid of it.







* A few unsafe work practices on display. http://www.youtube.com/user/Shockedbywater#p/a
 

cowboyjwc

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Simi Valley, CA
Here in CA we inspect the wiring from the generator to the power source for the rides.

The state inpectors and the insurance inspectors are responsible for the rides.

This includes fairs, carnivals, amusement parks, etc.
 

WorkSafe

Senior Member
Location
Moore, OK
Thanks for the answers thus far.

I did notice a bunch of state inspection stickers on the door to this panel so it makes me think if these inspectors and park operators are not doing their jobs.

A electrical/state inspector should ask how the operator is supposed to open a breaker if the worker is exposed to live wiring while doing so.....

This sort of stuff drives me nuts. Since getting into the safety field years back, I find myself looking at everything in every place I go into even when I am not at work.

I'm sure most of you do the same thing....walk into a store or building and start looking for violations.....bah....
 

iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
All the states are different, in my area most of the stickers are yearly inspection stickers, a lot can happen in a year especially to equipment that is broken and down and moved weekly. I am not defending the carny's just saying that the equipment may have been OK when the sticker went on.

I will say that the lack of dead front would certainly make me question what els they left off.

It is all dependent on the owners of the rides and the standards they keep.

Carnivals can be very safe, breaking the rides down and reassembling them can actually be a good thing because if the owners care any broken or worn parts can be repaired easily at that time.

On the other hand if the owners have low standards each tear down and reassembly can result in lost parts and using the wrong parts to make it work.

For example this ride called "The Enterprise"



Killed a number of people in two different incidents because the guys putting it together in both case decided the spreader bars located between the cabins and the lighting strips where not needed. The truth is they are needed but the last one is a bear to get in place.

In both case this allowed the cabins to come off and fling them onto the people on the Midway.

I know this because we had one of these at the park I worked at and we got reports about it from our insurance carrier.
 

iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
Went to a county fair last weekend, rode all sorts of stuff with my kids, now you have me worried Bob.
I can understand how small things may happen, using the wrong bolts etc., it is not right but I can understand how it could happen

But leaving major parts out blows my mind.

Here is a great shot of the parts that had been left out



The brown orange beam that is about 5" x 2" thick wall tubing and connected with about a 3/4" diameter hardened pin is what they did not install.

This is a beefy substantial piece and I have no idea how someone can look at it and say 'Oh that is not really needed, it's over built'.

With out this bar all the forces that bar would have taken where transferred to the cabin itself which it was never designed to deal with.
 

USMC1302

Senior Member
Location
NW Indiana
Geez! Nobody's perfect, and I've done more than my fair share of unsafe activities, but never if it'll affect someone else. It does amaze me how some can know more about a piece of equipment than the people who built it.
 

MarkyMarkNC

Senior Member
Location
Raleigh NC
Went to a county fair last weekend, rode all sorts of stuff with my kids, now you have me worried Bob.
NC has some of the most stringent carnival ride inspections in the country. The State folks who inspect the elevators are responsible for inspecting them. I've heard them tell some stories about out of State fair companies that come here for the first time, and are shocked at some of the requirements.

Try getting an elevator inspection a week or two before the State Fair, though, and you are probably going to wait a looooong time.
 

roger

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Fl
Occupation
Electrician
NC has some of the most stringent carnival ride inspections in the country. The State folks who inspect the elevators are responsible for inspecting them. I've heard them tell some stories about out of State fair companies that come here for the first time, and are shocked at some of the requirements.

Try getting an elevator inspection a week or two before the State Fair, though, and you are probably going to wait a looooong time.
True, but the D.O.L. inspectors don't exactly grasp all the electrical installations and requirements they are looking at, especially what grounding of generators does or does not do.

Roger
 

zog

Senior Member
Location
Charlotte, NC
True, but the D.O.L. inspectors don't exactly grasp all the electrical installations and requirements they are looking at, especially what grounding of generators does or does not do.

Roger
As long as they make sure the nut is on the bolt that hold the Zipper cage I am in with my daughter I am all good :)
 

iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
As long as they make sure the nut is on the bolt that hold the Zipper cage I am in with my daughter I am all good :)
The Zipper?

OMG, that thing is a death trap on wheels..................:grin:




Just kidding, the zipper has a long history of safe operation although they did have to slow it down from the speed it was originally designed for. They where getting a lot of injuries from people banging around inside the cages and they also had to redesign the cage latches as they had a few that opened up. As you can guess you are screwed if the cage opens.

The Zipper is made by Chance manufacturing http://www.rides.com/services.html which also made the 'Skydiver' both had issues with cage latches but by this point the bugs have been worked out. :grin:
 

iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
Thanks for sharing your Carny knowledge :)
I dove into it like I dive into the NEC, I read all our ride manuals, I would read all the service reports sent out by the ride makers to us and all the info from our insurance carrier.

The makers would occasional send out mandatory alterations as needed. If you did not show them proof that the changes had been made our insurance carrier could pull the insurance for a particular ride and only an absolute moron would operate any ride without insurance.

Some rides or certain ride components have required factory inspections after a certain amount of time and again if you did not get that service and prove it to the insurance carrier you would have an issue.


Anyone like to ride on the older ride called a 'Spider'?

http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/132384/

That cracking of the arms described in the article was a well known issue long before that accident and required careful inspection for every morning.

We would find cracks a few times a season, when we found cracks we would call a certified welding and engineering company in, the would grid out the cracks, weld them in, x-ray them and send the info to our insurance carrier.

In some areas the arms were more 'weld' then arm, but a good grinding and some black paint hides it well from the customers.
 

don_resqcapt19

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Illinois
Occupation
retired electrician
Every time I ride a ride, I try not to remember that half of the engineers graduated in the lower half of their class:grin:

As far as welding that happens even on new rides. On the wicked twister at Cedar Point, they were welding on the upper yellow part of the structure almost every night shortly after they opened the ride. They eventually added more steel to the top of the track.
 
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iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
As far as welding that happens even on new rides.
No doubt about that.

Our newest ride was a Corkscrew loop coaster and that was cracking the frame that held the motor and gear box for the lift hill regularly until I added some heavy steel.

I made up the parts and had one of our own welders, an ex Electric Boat submarine welder install them. He had to do some of the welds via a mirror. I am a good welder but would never do the welding on critical components.
 

cowboyjwc

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Simi Valley, CA
I was inspecting the electrical at our local carnival event. They were putting together a new ride that they had just bought from another carnival. It was an inside loop roller coaster and the were really fighting the thing and couldn't seem to find all the parts, "let's just go to the hardware store and buy what we need", etc. That night we get there and the first ride my daughter wanted to go on was that one, I told her that we would have to wait for that to run for a day or two before we rode it.

I'm now head of security for that same event and this is 20 years later and I still think about that every time I see that ride.:roll:
 
Thing is... amusement rides, especially the permanent ones, are some of the safest place known to man because they do get so much attention. Not to say that there aren't bad ones, too, but I wonder about the mental faculties of the mother that will drive 80 miles to the park but not let their kid on a particular ride because the same one at another park had a problem last year. Much more chance of injury on the highway than at the park.

That said, I've seen some pretty dodgy setups at small carnivals, but the big ones are usually quite good. They're responsive, too- a few years ago, pointed out to a ride supervisor that they had some cables on the ground between rides and people were walking through that area. He thanked me, and within half an hour there were cable ramps in place.
 

iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
Hardware is a huge issue.

The manufactures have strict requirements, of course they do not want hardware of lessor quality used but they also do not want to go the other way either. If the original bolt was a Grade 3 (low strength) they do not want it replaced with a Grade 8. (high strength)
 

cowboyjwc

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Simi Valley, CA
Hardware is a huge issue.

The manufactures have strict requirements, of course they do not want hardware of lessor quality used but they also do not want to go the other way either. If the original bolt was a Grade 3 (low strength) they do not want it replaced with a Grade 8. (high strength)
Now that's interesting. I'm guessing the answer would seem obvious, but I'm going to ask why, any way.
 
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