I wanted my Disneyland to have some moving parts. the railroad, monorail and roller coasters seemed like obvious choices for motorized movement. The railroad seemed impossible. When I worked building displays at the California State Fair, I heard from Richard and Mark that keeping a model railroad working for an extended period on a display was incredibly tricky. Train tracks are like an invitation which says "please mess with this".
Putting a motor into the Matterhorn seemed more like my speed. First I needed a battery-powered motor which moved very slowly and with a little gusto (torque).
These are surprisingly hard to find. Almost all small battery powered motors are fast and weak (low torque). Personal fans, electric toothbrushes, electric cars, etc., all use a fast motor. For my purposes, I needed an easy, dependable way to slow that power down and torque it up with gearing. Luckily, I already had an answer - Disco ball motors. I had seen battery-powered disco ball motors which were built with gearing and accept a D battery. My plan was to get one of these motors, invert it and to have it spin a disk inside the matterhorn mountain. Small windows into the interior would reveal the bobsleds sliding past as they rotated.
I bought one disco ball motor from Party City for about 8 bucks. It was a little loud, but was appropriately slow and seemed quite robust. The first order of business was to test if one battery could power it for an entire evening of costume contest fun. I attached a drinking straw to spin like a propellor and left it in the garage to run all night long. I wouldn't mind if the motor slowed down, but if it stopped, I’d have to plan for a battery replacement scheme.
I attached a brass tube to the motor and drilled it to provide some structure for the rotating bobsleds. I decided that four bobsleds spinning inside would be ideal.
At first I tried bare wire, but the wires tended to swing around uncontrollably when the motor was turning. I added a foam armature.
Above is a photo of two armatures stacked on top of one another. Note that their shape is made to fit with the shape of an inverted 5-gallon bucket.
A bucket fit the demand for a strong, circular arena for my rotating sleds. The exterior needed to look like a Swiss mountain, but the interior needed to be smooth, to avoid anything catching onto the rotating effects inside. I also wanted the mountain interior to be accessible .
I added a cowl of chicken wire to sculpt the moutain shape. Ready for paper mache!
Did you know that every ride at Disneyland has a page on Wikipedia? Small World's exterior is nothing more than a tall wide facade which conceals a huge warehouse which contains the 15-minute boat ride.
The facade is another icon of Disneyland, random and incredibly detailed. I'd try to replicate this in miniature. Here is a sketch of what I was going for. I needed to accomplish this in about 18 inches of width.
My first try in foamboard was a little too crappy. I quickly realized that I wouldn't be able to cut interior curves out of foamboard with an xacto knife. Also, those three tiny triangles looked ragged.
I tried again. The second time I cut a couple of stencils, hoping to spray on some of the geometric details.
It worked! The silver paint added just the right amount of implied detail.
But I couldn't resist adding more details with a silver marker. Next up, the teacup ride!Please Continue Reading Page 4 of the Disneyland Costume >