How Does a Carousel Work?

Carousel Structure

The carousel sits on top of a flat platform covered with rollers. These rollers work like large ball bearings, allowing the carousel to turn around in a circle. At the center of the platform is a large electric motor, which turns the carousel. The same motor also provides the energy to move the horses up and down. Older carousels were turned by steam engines and, before that, by cranks.

The Bevel Gear

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The top level of the carousel has a canopy. This canopy serves a decorative function, but it also plays a more important role in the carousel. In the middle of the canopy is a large stationary gear called a bevel gear. Rods radiate out from the center, where they mesh with the gear. As the carousel turns around past the still bevel, it spins the rods.

Moving the Horses

Each rod has one or several hooks on it. The horses are suspended from these hooks. As the hooks move around in the circle, they pull the horses up and down. Because the hooks move in a circle, they also make the horses rock back and forth, creating a galloping motion.


About the Author

Isaiah David is a freelance writer and musician living in Portland, Ore. He has over five years experience as a professional writer and has been published on various online outlets. He holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Michigan.

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