How Do You Build an Old-fashioned Merry-go-round?

Written by collene lawhorn-sanchez
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How Do You Build an Old-fashioned Merry-go-round?
Merry-go-rounds are a part of the history of amusement parks. (carousel horses image by Debbie Torkelson from

Merry-go-rounds represent one of the oldest amusement park attractions. Since the dawn of the industrial revolution, merry-go-rounds, also known as carousels, have captivated both the young and old across the globe. But with the growth of fast-paced thrill rides that fill amusement parks today, merry-go-rounds are harder to come by. If you're interested in capturing a bit of history and entertainment all in one, here's what you can do to create an old-fashioned merry-go-round.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Merry-go-round drive mechanism
  • Large carved animals
  • 1920s era music

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  1. 1

    Locate a merry-go-round drive mechanism. Merry-go-rounds operate through a series of large metal rods and sweeps that are attached to a centre post. Old-fashioned merry-go-rounds were driven by giant motors that used a rotating flywheel to turn the sweeps. Most companies no longer manufacture carousels in this way, so a viable solution is to search auctions for discarded merry-go-round drives.

  2. 2

    Decide on your ride-on mechanisms. Merry-go-rounds usually feature horses, but historically they have featured many animals and characters, such as pigs, birds and unicorns. In addition, merry-go-rounds also feature benches that remain level with the platform. A skilled artisan may be able to carve life-size animals of your choice to attach to a drive mechanism. However, many ride-on features are available through auctions. Because of the historical value of some of the vintage models, prices can be steep, ranging from £65 to £6,500 per animal.

    How Do You Build an Old-fashioned Merry-go-round?
    Ride-on mechanisms not only include horses, but also other animals. (rooster carousel image by Jackie DeBusk from
  3. 3

    Choose your theme music. Merry-go rounds are not complete without the blare of circus music. Historically they were called "musical ballets" because of the strong musical component. Popular themes to choose from include polkas, ragtime and World War I era music.

    How Do You Build an Old-fashioned Merry-go-round?
    The sights and sounds of merry-go-rounds are enjoyable activities. (carousel image by Mat Hayward from

Tips and warnings

  • For safety reasons, height and weight restrictions should be accounted for.

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