Category: funfair events

funfair events

Best Funfair Stalls For A Wedding

9 April 2022
Hook A Duck Hire

We are often asked what are the best funfair stalls for a wedding. There is a huge range of games available for weddings, parties and events. Having provided them for thousands of events over the years, we have a good idea of what does and doesn’t work. Unfortunately many clients have different ideas.

Working on the ‘customer is always right’ principle, maybe we should just say nothing and let them have what they want. However that usually leads to dissatisfaction, and that isn’t our measure of a good event.

So lets have a look at what you should have, and some of what you shouldn’t have at your big day.

Hook A Duck

This is one that crops up regularly, and is firmly in the don’t recommend camp. The game is simplicity itself, you are armed with a stick, at the end of which dangles a hook. A tank containing little rubber ducks floats about and all you have to do is hook one. Then you get a prize and everyone is happy.

The trouble is, on a traditional fairground, you pay to play, so people have a single go and the prize giving can be controlled. At a wedding or typical corporate event, the guests play for free. So unless you have paid extra for massive amounts of prizes, the kids will play continuously to the prizes are exhausted. Then the game is left unplayed for the rest of the day, skill games like coconut shie will still see use after the prizes are gone because the guests like to prove they can win.

It is possible to slow the prize giving by marking some ducks as winners and most as losers, but the kids are then disappointed as they expect to win.

The usual argument raised in favour is that it lets the little ones win, but we can operate any game in a manner to ‘help’ the kids win.

Hook A Duck Hire
Hook A Duck Hire

Coconut Shie

This is firmly in the recommended camp. Possibly one of the most classic of funfair games, the principle is easy peasy. Throw a wooden ball and knock a coconut off.

Now, I’ll let you into a secret. On a traditional fairground, some of the coconuts were replaced with ‘duds’. These were fake coconuts, made from a really heavy wood. Theoretically you could knock them off. But you would probably need to use an exocet missile.

We don’t need to do that, prizes are part of the hire price so losing them is already factored into the charges.

For the younger players we can move them closer to the targets, and for the really little ones we let them toa coconut rather than knock it off.

Coconut Shie
Coconut Shie

Test Your Strength

Another of the old tyme classics. Swing the hammer, hit the peg ring the bell to win. Again we can adjust the force required to make it easier for smaller guests. Or instead of ringing the bell we can set a number on the 1 to 10 scale for them to win.

It is a common misconception that its pure strength that wins, but in fact its an equal part of strength and accuracy. You need to hit the peg perfectly flatly. Sometimes its fin when a smaller lady is just the right height to hit the peg properly and win, leaving the big musclebound guys hitting it with all their might and walking away failures.

Test Your Strength For Hire
Test Your Strength For Hire

Cans Off The Shelf

This is one of our harder to play games. Knock the cans off the shelf using the three soft balls. Sounds simple, but the cans are heavy and they have to be completely off the shelf to win. This does require a fair bit of strength, along with accuracy. We help the smaller guests by reducing the can count, knocking some off for them, in fact we can guarantee a win when we need do.

This makes a great second game, being a bit harder it gets the competitive juices flowing, testosterone kicks in and the guys need to prove who can do it.

Cans Off The Shelf Branded
Cans Off The Shelf Branded

Hoopla

Another of those, dead easy to play, really hard to win. Well not so hard really, cos our rings are larger than normal. What happens on the fairground, (another of those secret things we are letting you in on here), is that usually the square blocks with the good prizes on are only fractionally smaller than the rings. It is possible to win, only just. Some of the blocks with the boxes of sweets on are smaller so it appears that a stream of people do take prizes.

Hoopla Game
Hoopla Game

Shooting Gallery

Traditionally we used air rifles and pellets. Sadly with the Health and Safety Gestapo, sorry executive, its too much hassle. A little known fact is that as members of the Showmen’s Guild, we actually have a firearms exemption certificate which allows us to buy actual live guns that fire real bullets without needing a licence, although we are restricted to 0.22 calibre. I would love to see the local HSE guys face when we turned up with that one.

Anyway the easiest solution now is cork firing guns. Totally safe and still fun we have a range of targets of differing levels of difficulty so can tailor a game to suit any requirements.

Corks also add a random element to the game as they tend to fly in random directions. Probably why the British Army use bullet shaped bullets rather than corked shaped ones.

What I love is when someone who has never fired a gun picks one up and is transformed into a long range sniper. Well in his own head at least.

So what would we recommend as the best funfair stalls for a wedding? Our most popular package is coconut shie, hoopla and cans off the shelf. These provide a selection that suit all ages and abilities. As well as being different enough from each other to make it fun. If you want to add to them, shooting gallery would probably be our recommendation.

Whatever your requirements, if you are looking to hire funfair games, get in touch and we can tailor a package for you.

Event Planning, funfair events

6 Tips On Dodgem Hire

3 April 2022
Broken Dodgems

Dodgems are easily one the most popular funfair ride available to hire. There are some absolutely fabulous examples available. Unfortunately there are also some complete cowboys, operating complete garbage. Read our 6 tips on dodgem hire to avoid the junk.

When have read through it, visit us for a dodgem quote for your event.

1 Work Out What Type You Need

There are 2 main types of dodgem rides, continental or traditional British style. Although the ride experience is essentially the same, they each have some unique strengths.

Hire Dodgems Continental Style

This type is the modern, slightly larger, ofton oblong shaped dodgem track. The ride essentially folds up on itself, and is then raised hydraulically off the floor allowing wheels to be fitted. The main advantage of this type is speed. Generally a smaller crew, can erect a continental dodgem in half the time of the traditional type. They also tend to be more highly decorated, with better sound systems and airbrushed artwork. The main drawback is the fact that they need to be driven into position. They cant be taken over a wall, through a narrow gate or up stairs.

Continental Dodgems For Hire
Continental Dodgems For Hire

Traditional Dodgems

The traditional dodgem on the other hand, dismantles into small sections. It can be carried into almost any venue. The drawback with the ride, is the fact that it can take 6-8 hours to erect, as opposed to 3-4 hours for a continental type.

Traditional Funfair Dodgems Ride
Traditional Dodgems For Hire

2 Find Out Exactly What You Are Getting

Most rides of either type, need 2 heavy goods vehicles (averaging around 7 m.p.g), a support vehicle. Generator, 4-6 staff. 2 days to set up, operate and dismantle. Insurance, maintenance and general running costs. All legitimate operators have these as fixed, unavoidable expenses. So when someone offers you a dodgem for half the price of everybody else, you should be suspect.

I know of 2 unscrupulous operators with the following deals;

The first would offer you dodgems for around £800. Less than half the going rate. You would book them thinking you are getting a super deal. When the dodgems arrive and erected, you find that they have no lights, no music, no rain cover and 4 dodgem cars. When you query this sorry state of affairs, you are shown a folder with a picture of the £800 dodgems in, which is what you’ve hired. The operator would then turn a page showing a picture of the £1000 dodgems, which is the same ride but with a rain cover added. This process would be repeated a page at a time, until the final picture showed a fully set up dodgems for around the £2200 mark. Your choice at this point is to go ahead with the rubbish you’ve hired. Or pony up another £1400 to get a proper specced set up.

Broken Dodgems
What You Could End Up With

The Second Deal

The second one was even worse. They guy would quote a super low price, but when you wanted to book you have to agree to fork up a £500 non refundable deposit. The day before your event, you are informed that the dodgems, sadly, have broken down, but don’t worry, you are going to be supplied with a simulator ride, or a Miami or similar. When you complain that’s not what you want and ask to cancel, you are told you don’t get your deposit back. Again your choice is to accept what you are offered, or start court proceedings Would you win? Most probably, but would the hassle and stress be worth it?

3 Agree Your Operating Times

This is a must, a standard time slot is around 6 hours opening. They also need to be consecutive hours. We had one client booked us for 6 hours and wanted 3 hours one day, and 3 2 days later. Sorry, but the price quoted wasn’t to cover the ride being tied up for an additional 2 days. You wouldn’t be able to do that when you hired a car, so why would you think you could in this scenario.

4 Agree Set Up Times

Usually dodgems are erected the evening before they are needed, and dismantled straight after the event. Depending on the work load, an operator may agree to leave them in situ when the event finishes and come back the next day. However don’t just presume this. Quite often we can be operating on a saturday night at one venue, and need to be in position at another Sunday morning.

5 Make Sure You Receive All The Safety Docs

Of all our 6 tips on dodgem hire, this one is the most important.

Currently a reputable operator should be able to supply as a minimum;

  • Public Liability Insurance Certificate Of At Least £5 Million
  • Risk Assessments
  • Method Statements
  • Daily Check Log Book
  • Adips Annual Inspection Certificate

The good operators will go farther and supply additional health and safety documentation. With regards to the ADIPS certificate, check it out at ADIPS.co.uk to ensure it is genuine. The advent of the scanner and photo shop means a young kid can alter the date or name on a certificate. Same goes for the insurance.

6 Ask For Testimonials

The best operators in the hire arena tend to specialise in these jobs exclusively. Some operators spend most of their time at traditional funfairs, and the private jobs are an afterthought. That’s not to say some of these aren’t quite good. They are, but the best operators tend to pay more attention to customer service, and operate to a higher standard. By all means ask for contact names at some of the larger corporate clients they have had. A good operator should have no issue with sending you details of jobs they have done.

If after reading our 6 tips on dodgem hire you are still unsure, by all means drop us an email asking for help.

Catering, Event Planning, funfair events

When The Fair Comes To Town

30 March 2022
Fair From The Air

Have you ever wondered about when the fair comes town. It suddenly appear on your doorstep, almost overnight in many cases?

The funfair owner just gets up one day and decides to come and set up in the park across from your house right?

Erm, no, not exactly. Most events are planned months in advance. Indeed many fairs follow a regular date, in some cases stretching back hundreds of years. They tend to be the culmination of much planning, regular meetings, inspections and so on.

We were responsible for a few years for the fairground supplied in conjunction with the summer festival at Gainsborough. I had happened across the event whilst passing through the town one summer day. I contacted the organisers about attending with some attractions at the following years event. This was politely declined, and I tried again the following year with a similar result. Out of the blue I received an email asking if I would like to supply a couple of candy floss and Popcorn stalls. So cue a meeting with the relevant people, a deal was agreed and I was asked to supply all of my safety documentation.

A few weeks later, again out of the blue, the organisers asked if I would be interested in supplying a full range of attractions. This meant another meeting and plans being discussed. This proceeded quite well, until it was pointed out that the council couldn’t agree this with us directly, it had to be put out to tender to a minimum of 3 operators.

All 3 of us submitted tenders, and eventually we were notified that we had been successful.

More Meetings

After receiving the green light, we submitted details of the actual line up we proposed along with safety documentation. Then the council Health & Safety team contacted us asking for an onsite meeting. Cue another trip to Gainsborough to talk through their concerns.

Full steam ahead now, or so we thought. Until we were informed that part of the car park could not be occupied. It turns out that a local solicitors needed 24hr access to their building. So this meant a rewrite of the plan, and some modification to the line up we were bringing.

The day before the event, we had to be in Gainsborough to oversee the setting up and siting of rides. We were obviously there for the day of the event. Also the day after to ensure we had cleaned the site up and caused no damage. Oh, and the organisers wanted a debriefing meeting to discuss any issues that had come up.

So you can see, far from just rolling up, we had not only to deal with numerous organisations and individuals at the planning stage. We also had to travel to Gainsborough a number of times, for in the end what was a 1 day event.

When the fair comes to town, its the result of a lot of hard work, before the rides even turn up.

funfair events, Funfair Rides, Major Fairs

Tilburg Kermis, A Major Fair

23 March 2022
Tilburg Skyline

Another of our quick look at major fairs, a little different this time as it is in the Netherlands. Dating back to 1570, the Tilburg Kermis is the largest fair in the Benelux region, attracting over a million visitors annually which makes it big by any standard.

Playing host to upto 250 attractions spread over a 4.5km city centre site Tilburg is held around the third week in July. Like many fairs in the UK, it started as a market, being held to honour Tilburg’s patron saint. Unlike many UK based events though, the local community and businesses play an active part in the event. With local pubs and restaurants staging music events, large scale DJ sets and themed evenings. A stark contrast to the UK based scene, where many local businesses close for the duration of the fair.

Tilburg Fair
Tilburg Fair
Pink Monday Revellers
Pink Monday Revellers

Pink Monday

One of the most popular days of the fair, is Pink monday (Rose Maandag). Celebrating lgbt values, it brings gays and lesbians from across Europe, with many of the attractions sporting pink decor for the day. Attracting over 350,000 visitors this is a definite boost for the event. The slogan for the day is “Be Gay For A Day”

Pink Monday Slogan
Pink Monday Slogan
Pink Is The Colour
Pink Is The Colour

The event even has it’s own radio station. Kermis FM, offering a mix of information about the event, traffic data and kermis style music.

The final day of the Tilburg Kermis sees a massive procession towards the pius harbour. Culminating in a 15 minute firework display.

Resources: Kermis Tilburg Official Website

Event Planning, Fun Story, funfair events, Funfair Rides

Nottingham Goose Fair, A Major Fair

27 September 2021
Goosey

Another of our looks at some of the major funfair events throughout the UK. One of three fairs to carry the name ‘Goose Fair’. nottingham is the largest. The others being in Tavistock and Colyford East Devon.

History dates the event back to a royal charter in 1284 granted by King Edward I. Though fairs in Nottingham were thought to predate this. Originally taking place in September, it was moved to an October date in 1752 when the Gregorian calendar was adopted.

It has taken place every year since then, save for 1646 when an outbreak of the bubonic plague stopped it, the two World wars, and obviously 2020 when the covid pandemic struck.

Early History

The creation of fairs by royal charter was a common occurrence in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. King Henry II had granted a charter for an annual Martinmas fair in Lenton Priory in November. This gave prominence to that event and prevented other fairs from competing with it. The 1284 charter giving Nottingham it’s own fair saw the event grow in size and prestige.

Records first mention the Goose Fair name in 1541, where it is referred to in borough records as ‘goosey fair day.’ The name comes from the thousands of geese driven from Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire to be sold in Nottingham. Like many fairs it started as a trade fair, for the sale of livestock, geese and most famously its high quality cheese. At this time it was based in the Old Market Square.

When It Really Was A Goose Fair
When It Really Was A Goose Fair

Entertainment

In common with other events of the nature, side shows and other entertainment was added to the event, gradually diminishing the trade element. As shops evolved and transport links increased, annual events like this were no longer a necessity to stock up the larder. The dawn of steam and mechanisation saw rides being added to the event. The traditional carousels, switchbacks, gondola rides and animal manageries gradually increasing in mumber.

Historic Nottingham Goose Fair
Historic Nottingham Goose Fair

As the event spread out it overwhelmed the market square and began to cause problems with congestion, not helped by the increase in traffic through the town centre. The decision as taken to move the event in 1928 to the Forest Recreation ground. A move resisted by the showmen, but in the event proving ideal, being twice the size of the market square.

Modern History

Held annually on the recreation ground for five days, it boasts over five hundred attractions. Everything from traditional carousels to the latest white knuckle thrill attractions.

The roundabout on the approach to the fair is notable for its giant fibreglass goose called ‘Goosey’ which appears in the run up to the fair taking place. The Lord Mayor opens the event with the ringing of a pair of silver bells. Still a massively popular event attracting over 500,000 visitors annually the fair has an excellent record as regards safety and trouble happening.

Goosey
Goosey
Event Planning, Fun Story, funfair events, Funfair Rides

Orton, Sons and Spooner Ltd., A Manufacturer Profile

14 September 2021
Orton Spooners Three Abreast

The golden years of fairgrounds in the UK, pretty much the Victorian era really. Saw numerous home grown companies providing the ever expanding scene with rides and shows that were works of art. Sadly like much of British industry, few ride manufacturers still remain. The legendary names of old seem to limp along in various forms until about the last third of the 20th century before finally fading away. Orton, Sons and Spooner Ltd was one such name, responsible for some of the most ornate switchbacks, arks and shows ever to appear on the fairground, they ended as equipment handling manufacturers before ceasing to trade around 1977.

George Orton

Originally they were two separate companies. The first being the Lion Carriage Works. Set up by George Orton who manufactured gypsy wagons as well as drays and carriages for other industries. Based in Burton upon Trent, he received his first commision for a Showman’s wagon around 1883. At that period in history, showmen not only lived in their wagons, but they tended to be highly carved and ornate and formed the front part of a travelling show.

Typical Orton & Spooner Showmans Wagon
Typical Orton & Spooner Showmans Wagon

Charles Spooner

A young man named Charles Spooner, owner of the ‘Swan Works’, in Burton was one of Orton’s suppliers. A wood carver who had been apprenticed to Walter Gifford Hilton he supplied drays and carts to the thriving brewing industry in Burton.

Orton contracted him to provide carvings for his showfronts and wagons. This symbiotic relationship flourished to the point that the two companies were amalgamated in 1925 as Orton, Sons and Spooner Ltd.

Ride Manufacturing

They soon expanded their range into the full scale building of rides and showfronts and came to dominate the market. Their highly ornate, exquisitely decorated constructions were far in advance of the plainer, less impressive offerings from competitors, indeed the breathtaking scale of their offerings haven’t been matched since.

Scenic Railway Whale

The picture above is a typical example taken from one of their scenic railways. Superbly detailed and robustly constructed, these cars were said to weigh around 1500kg’s each, with a complete ride in the 35-40 tonne bracket.

They built their first scenic for Holland Brothers in 1912, some 57 feet in diameter and powered by no fewer than eight electric motors. Over the next twenty years they completed over 30 of these rides.

World War I

The first World War, saw the company requisitioned to produce aircraft hangers, but successfully re launched into the fairground market in 1919 with another scenic railway.

Their final scenic was delivered in 1925, with the type coming to the end of its popularity. Smaller and lighter attractions now ruled the roost, with Noah’s Arks, Waltzers and Speedways being in demand. They also turned out an estimated 50 dodgem tracks, along with ghost trains, shows and side stalls. They built the first skid ride for the famous Midlands showman Pat Collins in 1928.

Sadly George Orton passed away at the age of 81 in 1924. The company now being in the hands of his sons, and Charles Spooner, who had married his daughter Anne.

From the onset the business employed only the best artisans and artists. The father and son teaming of Albert and Sid Howell being responsible for some of the stunning art gracing the fronts and rounding boards of these rides.

Painted By The Howells, My Gt Grandfather Fred Thompson's Ark Front.
Painted By The Howells, My Gt Grandfather Fred Thompson’s Ark Front.
Widely Considered Sid Howells Best Artwork, Edwards's Ben Hur
Widely Considered Sid Howells Best Artwork, Edwards’s Ben Hur

The Ben Hur front for Edwards ark was considered to be Sid Howells greatest work. The image above doesn’t do justice to the sheer size and scale of the work which was around 15ft high and over 40ft long.

Carving

Charles Spooner gained a reputation as being amongst the finest wood carvers in the business. Creating examples of pretty much everything required on rides at that time. The company was quick to respond to current affairs. Producing animals carved as Generals during the Boer war, and armoured cars and tanks during WWI.

Boer War Generals Carved As Centaurs
Boer War Generals Carved As Centaurs

They successfully transitioned from their early Rococo style creations, as the country moved into the Art Deco period. They produced modern, for the time, decor with curves and swooping forms. Decorated with modern airplanes and train engines, mixed in with bright colours and influences of the exotic from the far east and Egypt.

In common with much of industry, they gradually moved away from the one off hand crafted work. To a more standardised production line using stencils and patterned parts. To keep up with increased demand and competition this was a necessary evil. It did mean though that we would never again see the wonderful fronts and carvings for which they had become famous.

World War II

Charles Spooner died at the beginning of WWII. The bulk of the companies efforts being the manufacturing of military vehicles during the war.

They recommenced work in the fairground industry after the war. But it was a changed world, demand from the showmen was dropping off, and they began to diversify into other engineering work. 1954 marked the final break with fairground manufacture, and the company soldiered on until finally falling into receivership in 1977.

Orton, Sons and Spooner Ltd will be remembered as one of the greats of the last century.

Sources;

The Fairground Heritage Trust https://www.fairground-heritage.org.uk/

National Fairground And Circus Archive https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/nfca

Fun Story, funfair events, Funfair Rides

An Insta Worthy Coffee Shop

22 July 2021

Nottingham…yes that’s right I said Nottingham is home to an Insta worthy coffee shop…with a twist. The twist being the fairground theme oh and the hidden tattoo parlor too!. Neon Wolf opened in January.

An Insta worthy coffee shop at Darby Road

The coffee shop that can be found on Derby Road, is home to fluorescent pink lights creating a candy floss like haze and both dodgem and waltzer cars for tables and seats. Don’t worry though the custom made cars have been fitted to the flooring meaning that you won’t be spun round whilst enjoying your coffee. You also don’t have to dodge other people in your dodgem car whilst trying not to spill your tea!.

Dodgem Car Seats

The fun theme to this coffee shop has caught the eye of many Instagram users who have deemed the cafe as an Instagram worthy coffee shop. In today’s society that is among one of the best compliments to receive. There are now 4.20 billion social media uses around the world. This figure has shown a  growth of over 490 million people  in the last 12 months. With more than 37% of the population using Instagram it’s important that businesses utilize social media. Due to the coffee shop being Insta worthy it means that visitors will be more likely to take photos and share it to their Instagram site. This meaning all their ‘followers’ will see the post. This is basically free advertising as once people see the photo they may wish to visit the coffee shop too

Custom Designs

The waltzer car has been manufactured especially for the cafe rather than being a second hand piece from a waltzer. Being custom made ensued that then cafe could put their own touch to the center piece. They had them fitted out with velvet seating and labelled with the phrase ‘sorry mum’ and ‘cry wolf’ in reference to the hidden tattoo parlor under the cafe. The dodgem cars have been restored as they was in very bad condition. With the outside framework being reconditioned and the interior being fitted with the same velvet seating as the waltzer cars.

Waltzer car seat and table found in an insta worthy coffee shop
Waltzer car seat and table found in an insta worthy coffee shop

Goose Fair Vibes

Many visitors have said that the cafe gives them major goose fair vibes. Nottingham goose fair is one of the biggest events on both the showmen and public’s social calendar’s. The goose fair turns up to Nottingham the first week of October and can be traced back more than 700 years. Originally a trade fair selling geese among other things it has now evolved into one of the largest fairs in the country. Nottingham Goose fair is now home to more than 500 attractions.

Nottingham Goose Fair 2018 at night

So for 51 weeks of the year if your missing your goose fair fix then you need to visit Neon wolf.The Instagram worthy coffee shop and take a seat in the waltzer car and imagine your being spun round till your dizzy! 

Catering, Event Planning, Fun Story, funfair events, Funfair Rides

Blast From The Past, A look Back At Our Old Blog

18 July 2021

Another selection of misadventures from our past history.

Keep Them Wheels Turning 2010

When we first started and was operating on a limited budget, we frequently had problems with equipment failures and vehicle breakdowns. As we grew and ended up in a position to buy better equipment, and also put back up systems in place we found that things seemed to run a lot more smoothly.

However the law of averages caught up with us the other day, we had quite a busy schedule, calling at a small village in Surrey to apply 125 chair covers and sashes and set up a chocolate fountain, then on to Sevenoaks to set a number of stalls and a couple of catering carts up, back to the first venue to drop two members of staff off, then I continued on to Walton on Thames to operate a candy floss and popcorn cart. As soon as I finished I derigged everything and shot back to the first venue with the intention of picking my staff up to travel home to Yorkshire, grab a couple of hours sleep, load the van up with the rest of the equipment for the Sevenoaks job and set back off down South.

Bang Goes The Tyre

Everything was going great guns when a bang, signalled that I had a tyre blown out, ‘great, just what I wanted on a lane in the middle of nowhere, a tyre change.’ In time I ended up wishing I was changing a tyre, because when I crawled under the back of the van I discovered the spare wheel missing (it was a hire van). I rang the owner and ot him out of bed, “ring the AA he said, the van is covered”, trouble is when I explained the problem they informed me that under their terms of service, not having a spare wheel meant that I wasn’t covered. Rang John again, “Ring a tyre firm he said and bill me”. An hour later after ringing every number I could find on the internet I rang John again. After an exchange of ideas, he informed me that he was setting off with a spare wheel, wonderful, the three of us only had to sit and wait in the van whilst John covered the 216 miles to us.

Now before John set off he had to nip up to our place and pick up the items I needed for the next day, this included a striker (test your strength machine). On our striker the base unit is made from 20mm steel plate to give it the weight needed to remain stationary whilst being hammered. The base unit is kept on a small set of wheel which allow it to be moved about the yard. When John and my other half lifted it into the van, John had not realised that the wheels were not part of the structure and left his fingers underneath when they dropped it into the back of the van. My wife rang me to tell me that John was running around the yard squealing about his fingers. She wasn’t in the mood for sympathy and told him that if he went to the hospital they would only tape his fingers up, and she offered to lend him a roll of tape to ensure he got on his way quicker.

When he arrived at our end the first thing he did was show me his fingers, which by then were black and blue and quite swollen. Bloody well serves him right for removing the spare wheel.

Squashed Fingers
Squashed Fingers

Mobile Bar Buzz 2010

We recently installed a bar at an event for a major motor industry manufacturer and a games console company. This was a pre paid job with us supplying a fixed package of drinks, including cocktails and one of our Jagermeister tap machines.

The event went stormingly with everyone in fancy dress and the room buzzing. Sabine Schmitz (the German female racing driver who raced Jeremy Clarkson around the Nurburgring race track, with Jeremy in a Jaguar S type, and Sabine in a Transit Van, she lost by only 9 seconds. Ms Schmitz and a cohort of German friends managed to consume our stocks of Jagermeister, before moving onto frozen Margarita cocktails with an added shot of Vodka, something our cocktail mixologist insisted you couldn’t do, but the Schmitz party proving you obviously could!

Our Mobile Bar
Our Mobile Bar

De Computer Sez So 2010

Quite often nowadays I don’t have time to keep this blog updated. Odd occasions I do have time I sometimes struggle for something newsworthy to write. Occasionally however something drops in my lap that I just have to put on here. I recently added a new van to our line up, and insured it with the company that insurers our other CItroen dispatch. In common with our other insurances we pay in a lump sum at the start of the insurance term. A couple of days ago the postman knocked on the door to deliver a registered letter from said company, upon opening it I read a formal notice that as I had not settled an outstanding amount they would be cancelling my insurance unless it was paid in the next 7 days. Now this puzzled me as I know I paid in full at the start of the policy term.

Upon reading further down the page, the amount outstanding was in large bold type to make it more noticable. It read that I owed them £0.00 that’s right Zero pounds and zero pence. I sent them a very nice email admitting that I owed this amount and asking if they would like a cheque for £0.00 or would they like it in cash in which case I would send them an empty envelope.

Amsterdam 2010

February, which is usually our quietest month (although this year turned out to be a busy one), saw us managing to fit a 3 day break to Amsterdam in. I have been there in the past both when I was single, and also spent part of my honeymoon there whilst touring Europe.

As is normal nowadays, everything was booked online a few weeks before, with the booking system informing me that actual airline tickets are no longer issued, we instead have E tickets. Anyway a couple of days before we were due to fly I discovered that my other half’s E ticket had been issued in her maiden name, and knowing that airlines are particularly picky about names since 9/11 I rang our carriers, KLM straight up. “No problem Mr Moody, said a pleasant Dutch voice, we can change names quite easily.” was followed by “Oh, sorry we can’t change your ticket”. Upon inquiring as to why, I was told that since I had booked them through a travel agent, the agent would have to make the name change request. I duly rang the agents to do this. (No problem Mr Moody, that’s quite easy, please hold the line”, was again followed by “Oh, we can’t do it”. The reason this time turned out to be the fact that it was Saturday, and the KLM office which deals with name changes doesn’t work weekends.

SO we ended up being told that we should get to the airport early, and the ticket desk there should change the name for us. On the morning we were flying we arrived bright and early only to be met with a queue of about 80 people! We informed an airport attendant of our predicament and asked if there was anyway of getting the ticket sorted sooner, upon asking to see our ticket, his reply was “I wouldn’t worry about your ticket mate, that flight was canceled last night”, turned out that the plane we were supposed to be on didn’t land because of fog.

Five bloody hours were in that queue for. Mid way through it the rumour seemed to be that the next available flight was the day after.Not wanting to lose a day of a short break, I got my laptop out, connected to KLM’s site and booked three seats on a later flight, reasoning that I would worry about refunds later. After booking the seats I was informed that I would have to pay for them at the ticket desk, so I would still have to stand in the bloody queue.

Anyway as we reached nearly to the front of the queue I discovered that the ticket agent was in fact booking people on the same plane I had just reserved 3 seats on, great it looked like I would have 6 seats on the flight, but at least one of the 6 would be in my wife’s current name. I duly reached the front of the queue to meet the ticket agent, a short stern faced lady who looked like she would make a good concentration camp guard in the movie industry.

I was just about to launch into a tirade about waiting 5 bloody hours and not being informed of cancelled flights when a young man dropped a bundle of papers on her desk and exclaimed innocently “These need taking care of when you get a minute”, the look she gave him would have welded steel from 40 paces, and her reply of “You know what you can do with those Stephen, shove them up your bloody arse!” seemed to modify my temper somewhat.

As she turned that steely gaze upon me I gave her my best smile, what I hoped was a slightly pleading look in my eyes, and informed her that not only did we need our flights sorting out, but my wife’s ticket was in the wrong name. Her eyes narrowed, her shoulders tightened and a visible shudder ran through her, taking a hold or herself she sighed loudly, stared towards the heavens, closed her eyes for a long moment then sorted everything out for us.

Amsterdam turned out much as I remember it, the Dutch must be the most laid back and pleasant race in Europe, and we spent a pleasant 3 days strolling around the city, with a short trip to the seaside town of Vollendam thrown in. THe first tram we boarded into the city centre, I asked the conductor for the price of the ticket (most locals use pre paid cards much like the oyster system in London), he just smiled and told me not to worry and get of when we were ready.

The next day having some experience of the tram system, we boarded the tram outside our hotel and I asked for 3 day passes. The lady conductor smiled sweetly and apologised for having run out of them. “It is not a problem”, she said, “Just buy them from a ticket machine when you get off”. Can you imagine that, over here it would go like this, “3 Day passes please”,
“Can’t do that mate I’ve run out”
“Oh, well can I buy them when I get off at the other end”
“No sorry can’t do that you need a ticket to travel”
“Oh well give me 3 tickets please”
“Sorry, just told you I’ve run out!”

Mid way through I had a headache coming on so thought I would nip into a chemist for some pain relief. What greeted me must have been one of the barest shelves of painkillers I have ever seen, about the size of a television set, it contained pretty much only what you could buy from a late night garage in this country. Upon inquiring about something a bit stronger I was informed that I would need a doctors prescription. “So let me get this straight,” I said, “I can walk into anyone of a million coffee shops and buy cannabis or marijuana, without any problems, but if I want something stronger than 400mg of Ibuprofen I need a prescription?”.
“That’s pretty much it”, replied the chemist.
“Strange country”,
“Yep” came the retort, along with that pleasant Dutch laid back smile.

Amsterdam Coffee Shops
Amsterdam Coffee Shops

Ready to come home, we reached Schipol airport, and found that they have a fully automated system to book in and be issued with your boarding card. I entered our E ticket number, only to learn that I was booked on the flight along with our daughter, but not my wife. It made me think of a recent case where an immigration official had waved his wife off at the airport in London, went back to work and added her to the known terrorist list of people banned from entering the UK, and then proceeded to live the single life until he was found out 4 years later, in the meantime his wife had spent 4 years stuck in Pakistan unable to find out why she wasn’t allowed to board a flight back to England!

As it turned out, because of the name change we had made at Bradford, my wife had received a separate reservation, which no one had bothered to inform me of.

If you missed them take a look at some of our other old stories here.

Event Planning, funfair events, Funfair Rides

Chance Rides, A Manufacturer Profile

14 July 2021

Our look today is at one of the larger ride manufacturers on the States. Currently producing a range of amusement rides, roller coasters, people movers and giant wheels. Chance Rides operate from a 40 acre site with around 310,000 sq ft of buildings in Wichita Kansas. The area is regarded as the aviation capital of the world, and provides a large pool of highly skilled workers, along with many specialised manufacturers.

The C.P. Huntington Train

The original C.P. Huntington was a locomotive purchased by the Central Pacific railway, the third of their loco’s in 1863. When it was sold to the Southern Pacific railway company it was named in honour of Collis P. Huntington, their third President.

The Original C.P.Huntington
The Original C.P.Huntington

Richard Harold Chance, who had originally been building small trains for the Ottaway Amusement Company since 1946, designed a 2ft guage replica of the Locomotive. In 1960 he began to build these using petrol, diesel, propane or electric engines for sale to amusement parks, zoo’s and similar.

The very first one was delivered to the Joyland Amusement Park in Wichita. Replacing their original miniature train that had operated since 1933. It has been the most popular park train model since The Allan Herschell Company merged with Chance closing down the production line for their Iron Horse train. The company has built over 400 trains and coaches for customers around the globe. With prices running upwards of $200,000 for an engine and $60k or so for a coach.

A Modern Chance Locomotive Replica
A Modern Chance Locomotive Replica

Chance Carrousels

Chance Manufacturing was incorporated in 1961 and by 1971. They launched their first carrousel (deliberately spelt that way by Chance) after they had acquired the Allan Herschell Co. At that time the largest Amusement ride manufacturer in the States. Their designs were modified to a more ornate decorative style. The company then acquired Bradley & Kaye in 1986, another carousel manufacturer to acquire their stock of molds. David Bradley had reproduced many of the historic carousel figures in fibreglass and had over 60 molds for them. When the D.H.Morgan carousel company was merged into the group it added even more unique figures for the company to use.

This wide range of ornate, highly detailed animals has become something of a trademark on Chance built carousels.

Chance Carousel Horse
Chance Carousel Horse

D.H. Morgan Acquisition

When Chance acquired Morgan, and formed Chance Morgan, they didn’t just get access to the companies line of carousel figures. But also its roller coaster manufacturing line up.

They had built coasters as early as 1969, producing the Walter House designed Toboggan. A portable ride where a train climbed up a vertical tower before spiralling back down the outside. They built 32 of these and also introduced a children’s big dipper coaster.

The integration of the D.H. Morgan line took their ability to design coasters to a new level. With their own track manufacturing technology and the ability to offer a range of designs.

Chance Morgan Coaster
Chance Morgan Coaster

Ferris Wheels

1967 saw the first Ferris wheel from Chance, debuting at the Iowa State fair. Carrying 32 passengers in 16 cars. Their first park model was an 8-ft Giant Wheel for an amusement park in Minnesota. A tie up with Ronald Bussink, of Switzerland and Dutch Wheels BV, part of the Vekoma rides organisation saw the combine building observation wheels. Giant wheels that place the riders in cabins or pobs rather than seats. They acquired the rights from Bussink Design GmbH to build and sell the R80XL 76metre wheel in North America.

R80XL Wheel
R80XL Wheel

Sources;

Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chance_Rides

Chance Rides https://www.chancerides.com/

Chance Morgan https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chance_Morgan

Fun Story, funfair events, Funfair Rides

Our Family Transport Artwork

17 June 2021

Over time we have managed to acquire 5 highly detailed prints of some of our family transport on the fairground, they show some of the classic British trucks that were once so prevalent, not only on the fairground scene, but worldwide.

Roland Tucker’s Scammell Pioneer

Roland Tucker's Scammell Pioneer
Roland Tucker’s Scammell Pioneer

Owned by Roland Tucker, a well known Yorkshire showman, this was a fabulous example of its type. Scammell was a late Victorian era wheelwright and coach building business that provided maintenance services to owners of Foden steam wagons. Eventually they were asked by a customer to build a high power haulage unit. World War I put a stop to the project, but equally proved the concept of mechanical haulage over horse drawn carts. By 1920 Scammell had presented a concept for a new model at the Commercial Motor show, taking 50 orders during the event and launching one the worlds most famous heavy haulage marques.

Pioneer

Designed as a 6 x 4 off road vehicle for use in Britain’s colonies where the roads were less than pristine. A bit like the A road network in the UK today. THe combination of incredible suspension travel, with excellent traction and a low revving high torque engine gave it impressive performance. Eventually being chosen as the basis for a heavy artillery tractor during WWII. The type was also developed into a heavy recovery vehicle and a tank transporter. The units were equipped with a Gardner 6 cylinder engine developing a mighty 102 BHP, driving the four rear wheels through a constant mesh gearbox with a top speed of 24mph and powering a Scammell winch.

Our family model was named Invader and used to tow

Dunny Tucker’s S36 Foden

Dunny Tucker's S36 Foden
Dunny Tucker’s S36 Foden

Foden, one of the most popular makes on the fairground scene along with E.R.F, which stood for Edwin Richard Foden, a member of the Foden family who resigned and started a new firm specifically to build diesel powered trucks, rather than the steam wagons that Foden insisted on continuing with.

The company was originally founded towards the end of the 19th Century, and came to prominence when it won MOD trials to supply a series of 3-ton wagons for the military. The family split over diesel power led to the creation of ERF, but Foden was quick to switch its own production to diesel power. Sadly the last Foden rolled of the production lines in 2006 when the American owners Paccar mothballed the brand.

Dunny’s S36 tractor unit, was in the classic funfair style of carrying a couple of generators to power the rides, and towing a couple of trailers, in this case a waltzer ride.

Robert Moody’s E.R.F. ‘Sabrina’

Robert Moody’s E.R.F. ‘Sabrina’

The family split that led to E.R.F.’s creation, saw a range of well regarded vehicles produced. They were built in much the same style as Foden’s offerings, with glass fibre cabs, Gardner engines (though over the years Cummins, Caterpillar, Rolls Royce and Detroit diesel engines were also offered) and Eaton/Fuller gearboxes.

The model above was the KV or Kleer Vue cab. Most of them were typical flat fronted cabs, what the Americans call cabovers. But a number of bonneted versions were produced and proved popular with brewery operators. The rather large appendage on the front led to them being christened ‘Sabrina’ in homage to a busty television personality of the era (her real name was Norma Ann Sykes) a glamour model famous for her tiny 18 inch waist and erm, rather large 41 inch upper works.

This vehicle was used to carry a children’s ride in the North East, and eventually ended up at the end of its life with the engine being removed to build a generator with.

A.R. Moody’s Foden 4000 Series

A.R. Moody's Foden 4000 Series
A.R. Moody’s Foden 4000 Series

Another entry from the Foden stable, this one was unusual in that it started life as a 4000 Series model, which is actually more modern than the picture shows. The reason was the company that owned it had all day cabbed vehicles (the type that didn’t have a bed built in), and their changing work pattern meant that they needed a sleeper cab. Rather than purchase a new vehicle, they swapped the cab for an older type cab they had in a corner of the yard. The lorry had a 14 litre Cummins engine, a type revered for its high power and torque, though less well liked for its high fuel consumption.

This carried a pair of silenced generating units, along with supplies for a catering unit, and was used to tow the owners 40ft living caravan, along with occasional trips with a children’s ride attached.

A.R. Moody’s Atkinson MkII

A.R. Moody's Atkinson MKII
A.R. Moody’s Atkinson MKII

The last entry is from Atkinson Lorries, another old British brand. The original firm, like many others manfactured steam wagons. However it didn’t make the transition to diesel and eventually was fading away, before being bought and re established to manufacture diesels. Again using the well trodden path of those days, ie, a Gardner engine, David Brown gearbox and Kirkstall drive axle. Eventually graduating to Rolls Royce, Perkins and Cummins engines as Gardner’s began to lag behind in power outputs.

This one carried two children’s rides from the famous British ride manufacturer of Coulson’s of Ripon. It had a Gardner 5LW engine producing 94 BHP and a two speed eaton back axle that doubled the number of gear ratios. I remember it well as I spent hours painting and polishing it as a kid. Then as others got more up to date transport, hours begging my dad to swap it in. This he refused to do, until one day travelling through the Tyne Tunnel, we passed a broken down vehicle, a short time later the recovery vehicle saw us travelling that slowly they tried to recover us, due to the low engine power and the large caravan on the back meaning we were at about cycle speed on inclines.

He swapped it in shortly after for a Seddon Atkinson 400 series, which at the time was a quantum leap forward in British lorry engineering, and had the ‘high’ powered Gardner 6LXB engine with the startling output of 180 BHP.