TUMBLE BUG work update:
This insect is almost ready to be let loose!


Although work was taking place all over the park today, I chose to do a little update on the Tumble Bug...a subject that has been in question for quite some time now.

As some may already know, the Tumble Bug is a pretty rare ride. First installed here in 1925 by the long-gone Travers Engineering Company of nearby Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, it is one of two of its kind still operating in the world and, actually the oldest of the two.

Maintaining a classic like the Tumble Bug is no easy walk in the park! Because of the rarity of Tumble Bug rides these days, and due to the fact that Tumble Bug production ceased in about the early 1940s, parts are no longer available and replacements need to be remachined from time to time.

Today at the park, the maintenance department was hard at it, working to get this insect ready for summer. I'm no mechanic so I'll try my best to explain what is going on here!

Well, here goes. The main task for the time being is to get new babbit poured into the bearings. The babbit is a soft metal that is used to provide cushion for the axles. As the axles ride on the soft metal (which will be heavily greased), little friction is produced.

To create the bearings the babbit must be heated to a temperature of 720+ degrees F. At this temperature the metal is liquefied. I kept my distance!

Next, the babbit is 'ladled' into the bearings like soup.

As you can see, a steel rod, that's the same size as the actual axle, is placed in the middle of the bearing so that when the babbit is poured, it conforms to the same shape as the actual axle

As the babbit cools, it's put aside until it can be taken to a machine shop that will shave off the excess.

This is what the final product looks like...after the babbit is machined. This is only half of the total bearing unit. This construction is important because it allows the unit to be taken apart easily if maintenance is necessary. Other systems would require the ride to be completely torn apart in the event that maintenance is necessary.

Over 20 total bearings will need poured. This is a very time consuming project but will last a few years before it will need repeated.

Here are the engines. Our Tumble Bug has four of them and they're gigantic!

Here's an engine from the old Idora Park Tumble Bug (theirs was called the Turtle).

Sometimes during the summer an engine on our Tumble Bug might need maintenance work. If this is necessary another backup engine is ready to go so it can be quickly put in place as a substitution. What may be interesting is the fact that when Youngstown's Idora Park closed, Conneaut Lake Park purchased their Tumble Bug engines. Maintenance uses parts from the Idora Park engines which have been cannibalized by ours. So, a small piece of Idora Park lives on in our Tumble Bug!

Here's a photo of one of the Tumble Bug's axles and the wheels.

These wheels weigh a ton! They're about eight inches thick.

After work concludes on the Tumble Bug, it'll be turned over to the paint shop so it can receive a fresh coat of paint. The ride will need to be completely repainted before it opens.

While we're talking about paint...The painting of the Tempest cars are nearing completion and boy do they look sharp. I swear, for a minute I thought I was in Santa's workshop!

After the cars are completed, the ride itself will be taken care of, and then paint work will probably commence on the Tumble Bug.

Ok, that was my attempt at trying to show a little about the Tumble Bug and what is in the works to get this insect back on track. Sorry if it was a little too technical.

Well I hope you enjoyed taking a look at some more behind the scenes stuff today. But this isn't all...more Tumble Bug updates and information will be posted here in the coming weeks. Soooo.... Stay Tuned!

See you at the lake!

3/13/2006 Busy, Busy, Busy: A day in the off-season.

3/29/2006 Spring Cleanup Weekend 1 this week.

Check back next week for another entry! 

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