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Updated 19.02.00

Building up the Scrambler
Building up the Paratrooper
Building up the Tilt-A-Whirl

Building up the funfair is very interesting business for the amusement park and fair enthusiasts. Unfortunately it's not easy to witness the build up, since most of the building up takes place during the working hours on weekdays. Last autumn I finally got an opportunity to see how it's been done, so your most humble servant was on the location at lightning speed.

On these pages we are going to follow the life of the Seitera's Funfair during one day, on 25th of september, 1999. On the previous night the funfair was still operating on Tammisaari, south-west Finland. They closed at ten o'clock, and started to pull down immediately. That took four hours. When all was packed up, the convoy headed for Vantaa (Koivukyla grounds), and arrived there at 04.00 am.


10.00 am.

This is where it all begins. The vehicles are in formation for the following day and the rides are loaded on the trucks.

When the convoy arrives Vantaa, the first thing to do is to park the vehicles ready for the following day. They still have to get the electricity for the living vans before the staff is able to retire beds. Fortunately the fair will not open on saturday, so there will be no hurry tomorrow. Sometimes the fair moves the equipment at night and opens in another location the following night. In that case you are lucky if you can get even two hours of sleep which is followed by a long day of hectic building up and serving customers the whole evening. Tonight some of the guys still got some energy in store and they built up a kiddie chair-o-plane on the same night. They went to sleep at nine o'clock.


Living quarters back of the games truck

The showmen live in the vehicles or in the mobile homes. Some of the mobile homes may have elaborate wood interiors, including bedrooms, living room, kitchen with a fridge, a dishwasher and washing machine, a bathroom, a shower, a central heating... The staff usually have bunkhouses in the back of the games trucks. Everyone have their own private living quarters.

The rides are hauled by the trucks and vans. Some Carnivals got big trailer trucks that are modified to tractors as far as gear-box is concerned. The reason is that there are lower taxes for the tractors. In addition to trucks there are a large selection of vans, pick-ups and miscellaneous vehicles. The rides are typically integrated on the trailer. The quick and easy setting up / pulling down is vital for the travelling funfairs. In practice most of the amusement park rides have been designed for the road. Even some rides in the amusement parks can actually be trailer mounted models.

Toy set

Toy set ready for the road

Sides up and ready to go. This is absolutely the easiest way to build up the ride. Many children's ride are made like this. Unfortunately the major rides could consist of several trailer loads including extremely heavy parts.

Building up starts at noon in Seitera's funfair. It's almost the end of the season, so each and every member of the staff is familiar with his / hers task. The beginning of the season is not so smooth, specially if there are many new employees around. Seitera's carnival has got 15 persons on the payroll. In addition there are the local part-timer staff, who normally look after the ticket booths and the concession stands, but they are not much help building up the rides.


Rides waiting for the build up to begin

Paratrooper load (rear) and Elephant carousel load (front).

The staff is divided into teams of 2...3 workers, who are responsible for certain ride or stand. In that way all the steps needed to build up the ride are familiar and the work goes fast. Usually the members of the team operate the same ride when the fair is open. The Seitera's carnival have four teams. One for the Scrambler, second team for the Paratrooper, third one for the Tilt-A-Whirl and the fourth team for the games and kiosks. There are also separate specialists for the electricity etc.

The build up of the rides starts with lifting the centres from the load. It could consist of several parts like Tilt-A-Whirl, or just one part like Paratrooper. The bigger parts are way too heavy for the workers to lift, so you have to use lifting arms. The most sophisticted rides may have lifting arms integrated to the ride structure. The parts are lifted one by one and they are attached immediately. Typically nuts are not used for joints, because they are too slow to fix. The bolts are secured by cotter pins.


The centre of the Scrambler is lifted by the lifting arm

The frame setup takes most of the time. The engines come next, then lights, seats, floorboards, fences, decorations etc.



The manager of the fair, Miss Daisy Seitera, supervises the build up. The work goes fine, so the manager will not have to bite arses today.

The children's rides are built up last by the whole staff. The kiddie rides are remarkably faster rides to set up than the major rides. The inflatable rides are even better. Their weight may be several hundreds kilos, but once on the ground, thay can be inflated within minutes using the blowers. The bouncy castles must be carefully cleaned before each session. The sand rubs the material damaging the castle. That's the reason why you have to take your shoes off before going in. The inflatable rides are not kept up during the night. They are set up just minutes prior opening.


Setting up the game stalls

Some game stalls and kiosks are ready to open by just lifting the night shutters and the facades. However, they need water and electricity that might be hard to find on the road. That's the reason why the funfairs haul their own diesel generators with the other equipment.

If the fair will not open, the staff is off duty as soon as the rides are ready. Sometimes the watch is organized during the night. Sometimes the drunken customers returning home from the pubs are bigger problem than thieves or vandalism.

Usually the fair opens at noon. At first the staff run a control ride. The rides are ran empty to check that they are in safe condition. All the employees of the fair are operating the rides, keeping the games or selling tickects, concessions etc. Sometimes the crowd is so intense that it's almost impossible to take breaks. However, these are the days when the fair makes most of the profits. There are no specific closing times. It depends on the crowd. At silent night the fair is closed early.

Laitteiden pystytys

1:30 pm

Erecting the rides is going well. In the front there is a Tilt-A-Whirl. The Scrambler is in the middle and Paratrooper at the back. In this stage the frames of the rides are being assembled.


2:20 pm

Within the last hour there has been considerable progress. Paratrooper has got first sweeps. All the cars have been installed to Tilt-A-Whirl. However, the Scrambler team has spent the latest hour repairing the ride. There was a slight problem with the hydraulics.


2:55 pm

Scrambler team is working hard. The ride is finished apart from the cars. The wheel structure of the Paratrooper is about to be finished. The engine of Tilt-A-Whirl is being installed.

Valmiita laitteita

4:30 pm

Paratrooper and Scrambler are ready. The Tilt is still under some tuning. The kiddie rides come next.


Sunday, 12:30 pm

It's showtime again! The fair has been open half an hour. The bouncy castle and the slide have been inflated just a moment before the fair opened.