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Fun Story, Funfair Rides

Fiery Dodgems, Tales Of Misadventures

17 December 2020

Just a short one this time about a fiery dodgems ride. For a number of years we provided attractions to a college near Nottingham. The guy in charge Michael was really laid back and grew to be a good friend.

Anyway over time they kept expanding the campus at this college, so we went from attending with 5 or 6 large rides to eventually there was only room for the dodgems.

At last even that space was cut down, Michael told me he had lost about a third of the empty space and could I find him a dodgems to fit what was left. None of ours was suitable, but I managed to find another operator with a specially cut down version.

The Joys Of Using Someone New

Now I had never used this ride before, but to be honest it was all I could find to fit so I explained this to Michael and he was happy to go ahead.

The ride wasn’t the best visually when it turned up, but the safety checks were all present and correct, and it had received its annual inspection not long before.

The first half of the day went off without a hitch. We had games units there and catering so everyone was having a good time.

Riding A Dodgem When Your Are Blindfolded

Michael came up to me after lunch with a hand full of facemasks. He explained that the dodgems had actually been sponsored by a school for the visually impaired and that a number of students from the school had came to take a ride on them. He went on to say that would it be ok for the sighted riders to wear face masks to give them an idea of the struggles the other students faced.

No probs, I thought that was quite poignant, and a really good idea.

Blazing Inferno

I kept thinking it was a good idea right up until the point where one of the dodgem cars burst into flames. Well, that’s a bit dramatic so I will explain. The power to the dodgem car motor is transmitted through the metal floor, and through the pole that is sticking up from the back of the dodgem car.

The whole body, being in contact with the floor is usually negative polarity, and the pole is attached to the positive, as it is a D.C. power system, not the same as your usual household supply.

The section of the car where the pole enters is insulated to prevent the pole shorting to the body. Sometimes because of the continual movement of the pole, the insulation degrades. Normally you get a few sparks and you repair the insulation. Occasionally you do get an actual fire, again no big deal, you stop the ride extinguish it and either replace the insulation or remove the car.

Not this day. This day the insulation decides to burst into flame. But here’s the thing. Everyone on the ride was either blind, or wearing a facemask. So the cars were still running around the track with no one any the wiser.

Frank Spencer With An Extinguisher

The guy in charge came running out with a big fire extinguisher, which was good. In his panic he hadn’t thought to hit the emergency stop on the ride, which was not good.

He then proceeded to chase the burning car around the track to extinguish it. Thing is, the guy in the car was happily trying to drive around in circles. Seeing as he was blindfolded and didn’t know what was happening.

More to the point, the rest of the cars were still going at full tilt. The guy with the extinguisher was knocked down three times before he managed to catch the car on fire.

Of course once he set the extinguisher off there was an almighty ruckus. Imagine being blindfolded driving around in a dodgem car. Next thing you have a jet of compressed dry powder shooting down the back of your shirt.

Fire Extinguisher
Fire Extinguisher

The true star was Michael. Whilst this had been occurring, he and I had been leaning on the safety rails watching the drama unfold. Michael didn’t bat an eyelid, he just looked at me and said “Is it supposed to do that?”

“Hmmmn, not sure” I said, “Don’t think it is”

Now if you would like to hire dodgems that don’t spontaneously combust, get in touch.

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