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The NCA Primitive Carousel (part 2 of 2)


Things Are Shaping Up In Leavenworth

Article and Photos by Jerry Reinhardt

Image: Primitive carousel set up
The NCA's primitive carousel
in the Leavenworth workshop.
Photos by Jerry Reinhardt.

You know that great big Leavenworth carousel repair shop I bragged about in the last issue of Roundup? It has suddenly gotten much smaller!

The main reason for the shrinkage is that we put the NCA's primitive carousel back together again, and it's ready to operate. And it takes up a lot of space! (How many of you could fit an operating carousel in your workshop?)

It was a bit more of an ordeal to put it back up than it was to take it down. Two of us took it apart on Long Island and loaded it in our truck in about two hours. But it took four or five of us most of a day to get it back together. Thankfully, we took photos of the machine before we took it apart, or we'd still be standing around trying to figure out which part went where. (We used those photos a lot!) We took it down on July 2 and didn't get it back together until the middle of October. So nothing looked familiar.

Image: A Pair of horses.
A pair of the 12 horses now mounted again on
the NCA's primitive carousel. No restoration work
is planned for any of the horses; everyone thinks the
"pitiful" look is attractive and shows their age.

The only thing we did to the carousel was pour a lot of epoxy into the center pole, which was mainly wood rot. The stuff soaked right into the rot and created hard wood again. The center pole was a lot heavier when we put it back up, and you don't really notice the filler unless you know it's there. Fortunately for us, it had been painted battleship gray, from some Navy surplus, and the epoxy is almost the same color. We used an epoxy mix put out by West Products Inc., used primarily for boats and wood rot. It was easy to use, and seemed to work well.

Once we got the frame up, we began putting on the sweeps and spreader bars. We balanced the machine as we did this, by going to opposite sides to hang each sweep. We did the same with the pairs of horses.

Once we got the knack of what we were doing, it went easily. Each horse has a metal rod hanging from a sweep, which goes right through the horse. A large, handmade square nut holds the horse on the end of the pole. Every nut was a different size, and many did not have the hole in the center of the nut-but they still worked slick, even after 150 years or so.
Image: Cranking the carousel by hand.
Charles and Marilyn Blake (Terry Blake's parents), of
Evansville, Ind., hand-cranking the carousel. Charlie
said be was only getting half a horsepower of help out
of Marilyn, but he didn't say which half.

We plan to install some hardwood shims around the main gear to tighten it up-it spins when you turn the hand crank, but the pole doesn't turn. But it is well balanced, and spins with a push of one finger. A photograph of Jewell West (former president of the new museum) and the carousel appeared in the Leavenworth paper, so it's already getting us publicity and more local support.

The C.W. Parker Carousel Museum is located at 320 South Esplanade, Leavenworth KS, 66048. For information call 913-682-1331 or 913-897-2521.

Primitive Flying Horses, Part 1



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