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The Tilt-A-Whirl is a near-perfect blend of chaos and skill. Most amusement park rides have two problems: they are devoid of randomness and your participation usually starts and ends with getting in and holding on. No matter how exciting the ride is, you're usually stuck with what you might call a passive experience. You don't have those problems with the Tilt-A-Whirl.
You never know which way your car is going to spin. If you sit there and try to do nothing, one minute you could be spinning clockwise and the next minute you're spinning the other way.
The person at the controls can affect your spin at certain times if they want to, but skillful riders can also:
Influence the direction of the spin during lulls.
Make their car spin faster.
Help to defuse the spin in some cases if they are riding with someone who starts to feel sick to their stomach.
Tilt-A-Whirl Tip for Newbies
You can try to get your car to spin in the direction you'd like during lulls, but if your car seems to be favoring a certain direction, it's usually best to go with the flow. If you don't fight it and choose to help it along, the ride will usually be more enjoyable since you'll get faster spins.
Tilt-A-Whirl Tips for Wimps
If spinning fast makes you sick, don't get on the Tilt-A-Whirl.
Stay away from the Tilt-A-Whirl if you hate the uncertainty that randomness provides.
When you don't want to ride the Tilt-A-Whirl because of one of the reasons above, but someone talks you into it anyway, watch the cars while standing in line. Sometimes one of the cars will be kind of a dud. It just doesn't seem to want to spin that much. Keep your eye on that car and try to be the first to grab it when you're let in.
Note: Please do not copy what I wrote above and post it in forums or blogs or anywhere else. Just give a link to this page if you want to share. Thanks.
Tilt-a-Whirl E-Mail from Bill Lambert
(Friday, August 28, 2009)
I operated and helped move a Tilt-a-Whirl numerous times while in the employ of Astro Amusements out of Crystal Lake Illinois. I worked for them on and off over the course of 3 yrs in the early '90s and worked on a few of their rides. I consider the "Tilt" one of the greatest rides ever built. Its drive train was so sturdy and serviceable that it remained basically unchanged until the mid '80s. That's where Tim comes in.
Tim Morris, this particular "tilt's" Foreman, was a wild man and a good friend. This man had no real education, nor design of acquiring one. He was chaotic on all aspects of life except running the tilt and being loyal to people dear to him. Chaotic movement and a chaotic man, is there a better pair?
When the new electric 7 came out, Astro bought one and relegated the old one to the second unit. Tim got to run the new one. Once it was a couple years old, Tim was made foreman. He then developed a way to manipulate the tubs spinning in such a refined way never seen before. At any given time 6 of the 7 tubs would run chaotic while one remained under his thumb. The tub could be any one of the 7. He would pick them at random and take control of its movement.
Many a "tilt man" has done this with the old units equipped with a single motor and clutch. With the new 7 motor system Tim was able to do it better than anyone had ever done it before and I saw potential. The last half of my last season I was put on the tilt to help Tim. We took it to the next level soon thereafter.
The pendant consists of three buttons. An on button, an off button, and a button labeled joy. The joy button is the only one needing explanation. It kills the power to all the motors and applies the brake to the table but not to the tub. This allows the tub to keep spinning free while the table brake redirects force to the free spinning tub. Instead of letting it run at or just below full speed, we would set one tub on the high side left of the gate and lean it toward swinging down hill going counterclockwise. Once it comes around you lift off the joy button and the 7 motors apply force to the table yanking the tub the rest of the way around. With practice we got our timing down to where we could take two minutes to let the table make one revolution while concentrating on the one tub. It spun so fast that the rotational force would lift the whole bullplate and dolly up from the track and slam back down instantly like the back end of a rubber band every time it came to the low side, three times in a revolution. The G-forces involved in spinning so fast, I can only guess. I know from personal experience that the force of the Kamikaze, running at full speed doesn't compare.
I must now note that ride operators caught doing these techniques are heavily fined by the rides owners. The tilt was never designed to hold up to such activities. It breaks apart the dollies and wheels. It also tears up the track over time and warps the bullplates. But man what a ride.
Tim's been dead about four years now. He is missed by many.
In 2011, this company acquired Sellner Manufacturing Company (builders of the Tilt-A-Whirl and other family amusement rides).
Images of a Tilt-A-Whirl being put together from start to finish (Lawrie's Carnival and Amusement Park Pages).
Part one of two articles about the Tilt-A-Whirl and chaotic systems by Ivars Peterson.
Part two of two articles about the Tilt-A-Whirl and chaotic systems by Ivars Peterson (Science News Online).
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Watch these two YouTube videos for more information:
View this page and any external web sites at your own risk. I am not responsible for any possible spiritual, emotional, physical, financial or any other damage to you, your friends, family, ancestors, or descendants in the past, present, or future, living or dead, in this dimension or any other.
Ride the Tilt-A-Whirl at your own risk. If you puke up a pickle or your wig goes flying off your head, I am not responsible.