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29yrswithaGApass

Gondola

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You know, I recall getting a close-up look at it the one or two times I saw it there. Yet, it wasn't operating when I went. That said, still a very nice memory. Hard to believe that was almost 35 years ago.

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Looks like a Musik Express/ Matterhorn type ride. Is that how it was ran or am I just stupid?

 

You are right, basically it was a very early version of a Himalaya style ride. However, it moved at a much slower speed. Being the park installed the much faster Musik Express the year prior in 1976, the Gondola may have been viewed as a disappointment, especially with teens and thrill seekers. But to any guests that appreciated nostalgia, the ride must have been a big hit!

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I was really excited to find the video of the Gondola at the museum on Youtube:

 

 

To see a ride over 100 years old that has now crossed the Atlantic twice still running like that is amazing!

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Firstly may I say what a wonderfully comprehensive web page about the Rodeo Switchback, pretty much accurate too! I enjoyed seeing many pictures new to me, and I know all about this machine having been part of the group who returned it to UK and restored it, in fact I was the painter. My husband and I also travelled it in UK until selling it to the Fairground Heritage Trust, what a surviver this machine is.

It is the only example of a Spinning Top Switchback. The only survivor of a "standing-top switchback" is the Venetian Gondolas kept at Thursford museum. Visit them both!

We call rides like this with a central drive a Switchback, the even bigger versions where the cars are self propelled were Scenic Railways, none of those survived.

We used to take 2 days building it up and one day to dismantle it at fairs, and we just about managed to keep up with the modern equipment, but it was exhausting. I recall attending a street fair in Salisbury where we had a huge team that managed it in 7 hours. We had to sell the organ to help pay for restoration, and we formed a company with shareholders as well. We used another organ on loan, and the Dingles museum also have yet another loan organ in it now

When we sold it we delivered all five trailers by steam using showmens engines called Princesses Mary and Marina..A DVD exists of this called "The Southern Road Train" . I can say that we were the last people to accomplish both travelling a Switchback and moving it with steam in the world.

We recently saw one of the original car front figures, of a brewer astride a barrel, offered for sale on a US web page for a huge sum. Pity it wont get back with the ride. We did our best to carry on with the work done in US, and others are now following on. Quite a task to keep going, we could see it was never going to be successful as a big modern theme park ride, it is purely an indoor museum piece now.

Vicky Postlethwaite

 

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To anwser the question did anyone ever ride it. Yep sure did!. And everyone is corect it was slow. But a good faimily ride. EVeryone could ride and I mean everyone. ANd just a big thank you to Ms. Postletwaite for the information.

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Welcome to the site "vickyp"! So happy you joined us and shared your stories about the Gondola. Having only operated at the park for one season the ride has always been a mystery for many Great Adventure fans.

 

Do you recall any of the particulars of how the park agreed to get the ride into your hands? Was it a long negotiation or rather simple? I believe the ride didn't leave NJ to 1982 so it must have been in storage for five years or so. From what I understand, the elements took a little bit of a toll on the ride during those years.

 

If you happen to have any pictures of the ride in NJ, either in the park or storage, as well as being transported, we would love to see those.

 

Thanks again Ms. Postlethwaite!

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Just a quick reply as I am about to leave for a week away, we had no pictures of it operating in NJ, it was shipped over in 3 containers all piled in heaps of rotting wood, we believe it was put aside for disposal and only survived due to one employee, Geno ?

Will fill in details on my return in a week.

our web page www.pozzy.co.uk

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In the early 1982 we were invited to attend the openng of an outdoor amusement park on a windswept hillside in the UK which was made up of old/antique rides. It was clear to us that this would not be a success, the owners mentioned that they were planning to bring the Rodeo Switchback back from the US to join this ill conceived enterprise. One of our friends was asked to visit the US to asses the condition of the ride which was then mostly inside shipping containers, there is a photo of these on this website. Some parts were left outside, but luckily one employee had managed to get a large amount inside. It was available free of charge having been deemed a write off in terms of large scale park use, probably a bit of an embarassement. We paid the shipping costs and bought it back for us to restore, the park employees helped a lot.

 

The rides from the park on the hillside came to a bad end as we predicted, they mostly returned eventually to another collection named Hollycombe. I have no pictures of the ride in the US, the only ones I have ever seen are on this site. In the large colour photo it is obvious that the ride is suffering and must have been giving problems from the start. No use to a busy park.

92 years of British climate followed by the New Jersey environment/humidity levels were too much of a change for the old woodwork, some of the carved work just fell to bits, hence the efforts to replace with GRP attempted by Six Flags before they finally gave up. Some of the remaining wooden figureheads were literally a pile of bits when we emptied the shipping containers. Without all the 6 Flags work we would have been overwhelmed by the task.

 

What has happened to the set of galloping horses, you call carousels, that were sold to 6 Flags by the man who also sold them the Switchback ? It had a Gavioli organ and a proper steam centre engine in the middle ? The man in question was called James Williams, you can see him driving one of his trucks in the web page photos, his reputation was somewhat tarnished by the export of these rides, but that is all in the past.

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We have a page on the Carousel (Gallopers) as well: http://www.greatadventurehistory.com/Carousel.htm

 

We've actually trying to find out what happened to the organ from the Carousel. It was retired at some point but we don't know when. Apparently the Carousel was steam powered for a short time at Great Adventure before being converted to compressed air drive and then electric.

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Of course I should have looked for another page regarding the ex-Williams roundabout., it is also very good The top black and white photo was taken in 1973 at the same fair(Salisbury) that we later opened with the Switchback. Jimmy Williams is on the platforms taking the money, his wife is in the centre, I or my husband would have been playing the organ. The ride was steam powered then, and it certainly looks very different now, I will reftrain from any comment on the alterations!

The organ was not fairing well in 1982 when we collected the Switchback from NJ, it had oil dripping onto it from the ride mechanics. We tried to buy it at the time. Was it bought by a preservationist in the US maybe Tim Trager ? The steam engine would certainly find a buyer in the UK, we have no problem operating them as they were designed to be used. I do recall that Jimmy was fairly new to it in Salisbury and ran out of steam at one point, we had to pull it round by hand from the centre for a short period. hoping no-one would notice.

When we took the Switchback to Salisbury our diesel generator failed, no back-up in reach, and we were forced to use the Showman's locomotive that was standing alongside being decorative, it ate a large amount of coal up! The Switchback was much heavier and harder to get away.

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I was able to locate a fact sheet in our collection on the Gondola. I'll have to add a Technical Specification area to the Spotlight. Here are some facts on the ride as it related to Great Adventure:

 

- Constructed in 1881 by Mr. William Savage of King Lynn, England

- Measurements: 23'8" high plus additional 2'6" if chimney is fitted; 54' overall diameter, plu steps which project 4' on opposite sides

- Weight: 35.3 tons, placed on a flat 6"-8" concrete slab foundation which is reinforced with mesh fabric not less than 6 lb per square yard.

- Electirc current required to run the machine is about 500 amps. This is dvided between the 18HP motor driving the mashine, the 2.5HP motor

driving the organ bellows, the 0.25HP motor driving the organ key frame and the lights The motors require about 240 amps, 110 volts DC.

The machine is equipped with one motor generator type rectified (72x31x30) 30HP, 3 phase 208 volts, 6- cycles, motor coupled to 20KW, 110 volt,

DC generator.

- The ride itself, one wight-wheeled lorry, and four trailers for transportation were purchased from James Williams of Mulford Hihll, Tadley, Hants,

England who operated the ride throughout 1974. Purchased price $105,000.

- Williams rebuilt part of the mashine during his period of owenrship. Specifically, defective timberwork and carving was renewed, and the machine

was completely redecorated. The 81-key Fairground Organ installed in the machine was overhauled in 1975 and additional pipes added by an

Organ specialist. The electric wiring and bulbs were renewed in the winter of 1973.

- Light Bulbs: Organ- 260 bulbs x 15 watts, rounding boards - 520 bulbs x 25 watts, top-middle centers - 190 bulbs x 15 watts, strips over top

rounding boards - 190 bulbs x 15 watts, 8 pillars/4 lampls per - 32 bulbs x 300 watts. Total bulbs: 1192.

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Checkout this rare view from 1977 of the Gondola in the center of the games area. Since it was only in the park for one season photos of this ride are pretty scarce.

 

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We had the opportunity to display a rare artifact in the museum this past July - a side arm from one of the original seats on the Gondola. Here are some closeups of this handcarved wooden piece.

 

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The Gondola ride was first featured on the 1975 park map as an attraction centered within the Fortune Festival games area.  Below are a 1975 press photo and caption sheet to promote the ride.  As the Spotlight explains, the ride's installation did not actually occur until 1977 making these two pieces of press material a little premature.

 

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